MLB.com set to crown millionaire

MLB.com offers million dollar fantasy

How easy is it to make $1 million?

If you do it the old-fashioned way, by getting a job and saving every possible penny, it could take 20 or 200 years.

If you visit your local neighborhood drugstore and splurge on a few lottery tickets, odds are you won't be retiring anytime soon.

But if you play MLB.com Beat the Streak presented by Mitchum, your chances will be much better than if you work for a living or play the lottery.

Introduced in 2001, Beat the Streak presented by Mitchum invites you to select one player every day who you think will record a base hit. The goal is to correctly pick a player for 57 straight days, which would "break" the record 56-game hitting streak set by Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio in 1941.

Last year, the grand prize for beating the streak was $100,000. This year, the stakes have been raised to $1 million, by far the largest ever offered to the winner of a full-season fantasy game.

More than 1.1 million people have taken part in Beat the Streak presented by Mitchum since its inception, with participation growing every year. In 2007 alone, more than 250,000 fans logged on to play.

Last year also produced a record number of people with streaks that reached at least 40 games, with Michael Karatzia of Sea Bright, N.J., topping the field with his 49-game run. Maybe the bigger jackpot is just what's needed to tempt the fates and spark an unprecedented run to 57 straight winning days.

For those who have yet to try out the game, the rules are simple. You select the one player from a given day's slate of games who you think is most likely to collect a hit. If he comes through, you get to build on that streak the next day, either by picking the same player or someone else. If your player goes hitless, the streak ends and you start over.

It's free, it's quick and it doesn't require an encyclopedic knowledge of baseball.

"We created Beat the Streak back in 2001 so that anyone -- from the brand-new baseball fan to the seasoned fantasy veteran -- would have a game they could compete in together," said Gregg Klayman, creator of Beat the Streak and MLB.com's head of fantasy. "Knowledge of every player and every statistic isn't necessary, and unlike traditional fantasy games, people can take less than a minute to play, something that fits in nicely with today's fast-paced world."

To be sure, there's room in Beat the Streak presented by Mitchum for baseball experts to formulate strategies and for mathematical geniuses to develop algorithms they think will give them an advantage, but the inherent simplicity of the game is such that anybody can succeed. If you're a casual fan and are only familiar with All-Stars like Ichiro Suzuki, Albert Pujols and Derek Jeter, you still stand a pretty good chance of selecting players who can keep your streak going. All it takes is a few seconds to go online and make your choice before each day's games begin.

Of course, DiMaggio's magic number of 56 remains untouched. Will this be the year when fortune smiles upon a fan over a two-month stretch of flawless selections? With a $1 million prize awaiting the winner, the incentive is there for everybody to give it a try.

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