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Trio in running for $1M in new fantasy game

Trio in running for $1M in new fantasy game

Trio in running for $1M in new fantasy game
Clayton Kershaw is starting at home Friday night against Houston.

It can be reasonably assumed that MLB.com regulars james8, joshua_daniel_smith and greg.schmidt50 will be taking the Dodgers in that one. The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner has been nearly untouchable at Chavez Ravine, with a 1.41 ERA in his last 18 home starts.

But what about the other 14 games on the evening's Major League Baseball schedule? Can Cliff Lee get into the 2012 win column -- at St. Louis? Will the surprising Indians keep winning as they hit the road? Is this where Cubs starter Ryan Dempster ends a 16-game winless streak?

Pay close attention, because all three of the aforementioned prognosticators on this site have a chance to win $1 million simply by correctly predicting all 15 winning teams. And if you think that is impossible, think again. They just did it on Tuesday, which puts them in position for what would be the biggest payday on this site yet.

MLB.com Million Dollar Pick 'Em is a new MLB.com fantasy game where users can play for free and win $1 million or a weekly prize of $1,000. It works by picking which teams will win on Tuesdays and Fridays of every week. If you are the first to correctly predict all games on Tuesday and Friday in the same week, you win $1 million.

That trio of james8, joshua_daniel_smith and greg.schmidt50 were a perfect 15-for-15 on Tuesday. Sure, they were among the 94 percent of entrants who correctly picked Texas to win at Seattle, but they got to this point by going against the grain when needed. They were among only 11 percent of fans who correctly picked the last-place Twins to beat the White Sox on the road, and they were among only 17 percent who got it right with Cincinnati winning at home against Atlanta.

All picks must be submitted by 7 p.m. ET on Friday. Any picks can be changed up until then, and all three of them are probably researching like mad at this very moment, perhaps wrestling with that Tim Lincecum-Josh Johnson matchup in Miami. Ivan Nova will be pitching against Oakland for the first time, and one wonders if all three expect the Yankees' righty to continue his momentum. These three long days in between games surely have summoned all kinds of thoughts and strategy, and you can be sure that all three of these fans are getting more advice then they want.

"We wanted a simple, fun way for fans to get excited about the outcome of MLB games regardless of where your team loyalty lies," said Josh Frost, manager of MLB.com product development. "Would a lifelong Cubs fan pick against their team for a shot at $1 million if the matchup seemingly favored their opponent? That's for the user to decide. The beauty of the Million Dollar Pick 'Em is that you can give your picks a lot of thought -- or make them all in 10 seconds -- and still have the same chance at becoming a millionaire."

What if they all go 15-for-15? It would come down to the tiebreaker, which is predicting the final score of Phillies at Cardinals. It's Lee (0-2) opposite Kyle Lohse (5-1) in that one.

What happens if no one wins the $1 million? Someone is still guaranteed to win at least $1,000 -- and it might not be one of those three. Whoever has the most combined correct picks from Tuesday and Friday in the same week gets the top prize.

MLB.com awarded $1,000 last week to MLB.com user ash_spruce after that fan correctly predicted 22 of 28 games, the top finisher. That entrant was 11-for-14 both days. In that first week of this new fantasy game, user santsg24 was the only person to get 12 of 14 correct on the Tuesday slate, so you can see why this week's three-way tie of 15-for-15 upped the suspense level.

The three candidates for $1 million this week pay little attention to home field, having picked seven road winners Tuesday. What's the best strategy to make your pick? Some entrants prefer team allegiances, won-lost records and pitching matchups. But what about weather forecasts? Travel schedule the day before? Night game, day game? You can also connect with your friends on Facebook to see how they have fared in the game, and ask them to see who they are picking.

Of course, this is not even the biggest prize offering at MLB.com. The world is still waiting for the first person to "break" Joe DiMaggio's immortal record and win $5.6 million in MLB.com Beat the Streak presented by Scotts. The longest current streak entering Thursday was 27 games. That one also is free, and in that game, you simply choose one player who you think will get a hit that day.

For james8, joshua_daniel_smith and greg.schmidt50, there are 15 games to think about. They have been waiting and wondering since the end of Tuesday's action, and by the time Kershaw takes the hill at Dodger Stadium, they hope to still be in the hunt. Perhaps in their perfect worlds, it would come down to him having the ball and needing to do his usual thing at home.

joshua_daniel_smith james8
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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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