Fantasy Opening Day is upon us

Fantasy Opening Day is upon us

Many of us are still bundling up in clothes fit for an arctic expedition and making a beeline for our cars or the subway as soon as we step outdoors, but fear not, fair-weather fans, as there are signs that spring is on the way. The days are getting longer, the Super Bowl ads are beginning to lose their buzz, and most importantly, Fantasy Opening Day has arrived.

We know what you're thinking: "Is it already time to start thinking about who I want to draft for my fantasy team this year?" The answer is a resounding "Yes." Few can explain why more articulately than Gregg Klayman, MLB.com's head of fantasy and interactive games, who notes:

"When players first start making their way down to Florida and Arizona, it's a natural reaction for baseball fans to start thinking about the upcoming season. For fantasy owners, the frustrations left behind from 2006 disappear the moment they start seeing highlights of players stretching and running around in nice weather, and the thought of assembling this year's fantasy team suddenly becomes the most exciting thing to daydream about."

Implicit in his words is just how much fantasy has become embedded in the baseball landscape. No longer does the mention of training camp merely fill us with the hope that warm days at the ballpark are just around the corner. For millions of fantasy participants around the world, it also rekindles the desire to piece together a perfect squad of mashers, firemen, speed demons and sleepers.

And so, it follows that now is the ideal time to begin stockpiling information and formulating important strategies for draft day. From in-depth articles to expert testimonials to the opportunity to get your fantasy league up and rolling, MLB.com leaves no base unturned on Fantasy Opening Day. Here's what prospective owners can check out today:

• The chance to win tickets to the 2007 All-Star Game. Sign up to play fantasy baseball at MLB.com, ESPN.com or CBS SportsLine.com by 11:59 p.m. ET on Feb. 15, and you'll be automatically entered into a sweepstakes to win two tickets to attend the 2007 Home Run Derby and Midsummer Classic at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

• Informative articles covering the fantasy basics, sleeper picks, future stars, Spring Training positional battles and bargain sources for steals and saves. In addition, we'll take a look at the members of fantasy baseball's Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame, as well as the 10 worst types of people to have at your draft.

• Our Fantasy Preview show, airing on baseballchannel.TV from 12-1 p.m. ET, in which MLB Radio's Mike Siano and Cory Schwartz discuss the most overrated and underrated players at each position in the 2007 draft.

• A special edition of the Fantasy 411, from 1-3 p.m., in which Siano and Schwartz will be joined by experts from ESPN.com, CBS Sportsline.com, SportingNews.com and the National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC).

• The first opportunity to begin drafting players in the 2007 MLB.com Open, an easy-to-play, head-to-head weekly fantasy game. The Open's overall champion will receive $10,000 in cash and earn a spot in the inaugural World Series of Fantasy Baseball, which will pit the champions from MLB.com and several of its licensed fantasy partners in a head-to-head, postseason tournament to crown the ultimate fantasy baseball champion for 2007.

Fantasy Opening Day also gives fans the chance to check out MLB.com's 2007 fantasy preview, which features bios, projections, dollar values and rankings for more than 800 Major and Minor Leaguers.

So don't be deceived by the frosty forecast, erstwhile owners. It may not be time to ditch the winter coat just yet, but it is time to start putting on the thinking cap and speculating about which players you want on your team.

Tim Ott is a fantasy writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.