Another baseball season has come and gone, and once again, the Beer Garden Bombers failed to take the crown.
What's that? You've never heard of the Bombers? Maybe that's because they happen to be my baseball fantasy league team -- a pennant-winning franchise in years past that finished a disappointing fourth this season.
Usually, I spend the offseason reflecting on last year's mistakes -- like wasting a top draft pick on injured Dodgers pitcher Eric Gagne -- and scouting for up-and-coming stars that might make my opening-day roster next year. Only 120 more days till spring training!
However, things will be much different this winter. Rather than just biding my time until April rolls around, I plan to stay sharp by participating in an even more challenging competition -- fantasy-league stocks.
There are no points for stolen bases or home runs, but the new Motley Fool CAPS service can be every bit as fun as fantasy-league baseball or football -- and far more profitable. I'll tell you how it works.
Who gets the thumbs-up?
Getting started is easy enough; just select a few of the market's most (or least) promising players to round out your team. Then, tell us whether you believe those stocks will beat or lag the S&P 500. There is no draft, so almost every domestically traded company is up for grabs -- with a few exceptions.
From there, we compile the results and assign everyone a rating based on both the accuracy of each player's picks and the percentage by which his or her selections outperformed or underperformed the S&P.
While getting in the game is simple, climbing to the top of the leader board is no easy task. With more than 7,000 players already in the system and more signing up every day, competition is fierce.
Once your team has taken the field, its success or failure hinges entirely on your analytical skills and managerial decisions. Of course, calling all the shots on the baseball diamond isn't quite the same as beating the S&P. After all, you can't just anchor your lineup with proven superstars like Albert Pujols. Or can you? Some traits are equally desirable on and off the field.
In this game, the only scoring category that matters is the one that has the most direct impact on your bottom line -- stock performance. At the top of the standings, beverage distributor Hansen Natural
Not far behind, Chico's FAS
On the other hand, maybe last season's stats don't interest you. If you were among the first to scoop up a relatively unheralded rookie like Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who went on to post a .471 slugging percentage, you might instead be the type who prefers to search for talent in hidden places.
If so, you might want to scout out our "Newly Starred" list for stocks that are just beginning to gather a following. There, you'll find companies like broadband Internet provider CBeyond
Then again, you might be the type of manager who places a premium on consistency and experience. You always reserve a spot for aging but reliable performers like Roger Clemens. If so, you might load up on proven blue chips like Johnson & Johnson
You wouldn't be alone. In fact, nearly 1,000 players have given Johnson & Johnson the thumbs-up so far. Not surprisingly, managers who are bullish on JNJ have also drafted Procter & Gamble
Looking beneath the standings
Generally speaking, most of us who play fantasy sports do so simply for the thrill of competition -- to capture the virtual first-place trophy.
On that front, CAPS can most definitely satisfy your competitive streak and allow the best stock pickers an opportunity to showcase their prowess. Heck, you can even talk smack to lower-rated players if you like.
However, while the Fool goes out of its way to make investing fun and entertaining, CAPS is much more than just a game. Even in its infancy, the service has already become an invaluable resource to harness the collective intelligence of the Fool community. I don't intend to buy another stock without first checking its CAPS rating and then reading a few well-reasoned bull and bear arguments. Still, I wouldn't mind taking home the trophy, either.
Get your team signed up here, and I'll see you on the field.