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A new player enters the daily fantasy arena -- Weather Battle

WX Battle has joined the DFS arena. WXbattle.com

We have officially entered the summer sports doldrums, and if you are a daily fantasy player this period is likely especially frustrating, maybe you are even getting the DFS shakes.  However, if you are willing to live a little bit outside of the box I may have a solution for you. Now you can play daily fantasy all summer long, and in fact all year long with a new game that never goes out of season.  How is this possible you ask? All sports have a season right? Well yes, they do, but do you know what doesn’t ever have an off season? The weather. Yes, a game called Weather Battle (also written as WX Battle) has brought weather forecasting into the daily fantasy arena.

I have been following this game’s development over the past year and earlier this month it officially launched for all to play.  Even better, is that for about the next month games will be free to play, but will still have real money payouts for winners.

So who had this brilliant idea? That would be Mike Collier - the Chief Meteorologist at the NBC affiliate TV Station in Tulsa, Okla.  Weather Battle was born out of Mike’s love of daily fantasy. Mike told me that a couple of years ago he, like many avid DFS players, was left wanting more at the conclusion of football season.  He wished for a game that could be played everyday and had no off season. It was then that weather forecasting - the thing he does every day - struck him as the solution. Weather, like sports, does not have a pre-defined outcome, nor does it ever stop, making it a perfect vessel for the daily fantasy model.  And just as with sports a player can test their skill and knowledge by attempting to pick the best possible outcome to gain the most points – the only difference being that points come in degrees or inches of rain instead of touchdowns and yards.

Even better is that you don’t have to have an in-depth knowledge, or really any knowledge at all, of meteorology to play.  Weather Battle has made it very simple for both the weather-enthused as well as the average fantasy sports player to participate.

Gameplay

First you have to go to weatherbattle.com. Once you log-in and hit the “Play Now” button you are taken to a page to select which contest you would like to participate in.  

As of now there are four types of games: a heat battle, cold battle, rain battle, and wind battle.  The names are pretty self-explanatory. In each of these “battles” you pick cities that you think will have the most of whatever condition the battle is for.  Keep in mind that you will be forecasting for the 24 hour period ending on the date given on the battle. Just like in regular daily fantasy each contest has an entry fee as well as a prize payout for winners.  However, as I mentioned earlier, for about the next month all contests will be free to enter.

I went ahead and chose the heat battle, and after doing so was lead to this screen to make my selections:

You are given a list of 40 cities, of which you can choose ten, however you must stay within the given 40,000 point budget.  Each city is assigned a point value, with the sure thing picks (ie. in heat contests traditionally hot cities like Phoenix) being the most expensive.  Scoring is done by totaling up all the high temperatures (or inches of rain, max winds in those other contests) in each of your selected cities. You have to choose your cities wisely though to get the most points possible while staying under budget.  Sure, you could pick Aaron Rodgers, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell for your daily fantasy team, but you would be hard-pressed to fill out the rest of your roster. The same balancing act applies here.

Also, remember how I mentioned you don’t need to know a whole lot about meteorology to play? Well when you roll over the mouse over the city names a bubble pops up on the map to the right showing both the forecasted temperature as well as the average temperature for that day. Sure, you could consult some weather forecasts or simple weather models, however doing so is not necessary to have a good shot of winning.  Simply looking at the information Weather Battle provides you could see that on this particular day value picks can be found in cities like Portland or Cincinnati where the forecast temperature is 85 but the cost of picking those cities is relatively low. It’s like an average running back having a matchup against the leagues worst run defense. Finally, after you submit your picks you can return to the site the next day to see how you did and if you won any money. It is that easy.

Weather Battle plans to drastically expand the game over the coming months.  The plan is to add contests for forecasting severe weather, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other weather events.  They also plan to increase the prize pools to make these games even more attractive. However, even with contests presently limited to just four categories, over the past month participation has increased exponentially.  The first day it launched there were less than 10 people playing, but in less than a month hundreds are now playing with participation growing each day. My guess is that more than just those with a deep interest in weather will give this game a try. At the very least it is a change of pace during these dead summer months.  And finally, it will give those who love to claim that weather forecasts are a bunch of crap a chance to put their money where their mouth is.

If you decide to give it a try let me know, I would love to hear thoughts from other participants.   You can let me know via twitter @stephenuzick.


 

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McCullers has always been hands-on with dogs. Photo courtesy of the Lance McCullers, Jr. Foundation.

Saturday, August 13 marked the successful, long-awaited, faith-restored return of a real-life Houston hero — who happens to pitch for the Houston Astros.

Lance McCullers Jr. threw a baseball in earnest for the first time since Game 4 of last year’s American League Divisional Series. He was sidelined for 305 days with a right flexor pronator strain (a body part I never knew existed. If you can’t pull it out with a tweezer in the game Operation, it’s not part of the human anatomy.)

It took him that long, forever in baseball terms, to return to the Astros and Minute Maid Park. How’d he do?

He struck out five, allowed only two hits over six innings, received three standing ovations from 34,000 fans, and got the W in the Astros 8-0 victory over the (for some odd reason) pesky Oakland A’s on Hall of Fame Weekend.

“I was a little bit anxious before the game,” McCullers said after his win. “Everybody’s been so supportive and really have helped me get back to this point. I’m talking about the guys in the clubhouse and they were all excited for me to be back today.”

Lance back = best news for the future
With Jake Odorizzi gone and the possibility that Justin Verlander (who loves him some Nancy’s Hustle burgers) may leave after this season, McCullers’ return was good news for the Astros’ drive to the World Series this year, and the next, and the next.

He’s already carved into Houston legend for the time he threw 24 straight curveballs against the Yankees to propel the Astros to the World Series in 2017. Watch that insane performance here:

McCullers throws 24 straight curveballs to close out the AL Pennantwww.youtube.com

And, McCullers was the starting pitcher against the Dodgers in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series when the Astros won their first and only championship. As Yahoo Sports pointed out, McCullers completely owned the boys in pinstripes.

But that’s not why he’s a hero in my book.

More than a sports hero
McCullers and his wife Kara are animal lovers and they’ve put their passion into relentless action. The Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation supports local pet organizations like Houston Pets Alive and Rescued Pet Movement. The foundation’s goal is to promote pet adoption and fostering, raise awareness and donations for animal shelters and continue the journey to make Houston a no-kill community. The motto is “Protecting Pets, Creating Families.”

“Since partnering with the Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation, thousands of pets are being saved each month that otherwise didn’t have a chance. Thousands of homeless dogs and cats’ lives have been saved,” Rescued Pet Movement notes. “To date, because of LMJF, almost 60,000 homeless dogs and cats’ lives have been saved.”

Photo courtesy of the Lance McCullers, Jr. Foundation

McCullers didn’t just attach his name to the foundation and step back. As we frequently cover here, he personally shows up to help locals in need: whether it’s handing out Thanksgiving turkeys or supplying 10,000 meals to the Houston Food Bank during the pandemic. “This city has embraced me and my family,” he told us in 2019, “everywhere we go, people couldn’t be more gracious to us.”

No big surprise that he handles his foundation the same way—he hosts events, advocates tirelessly for animals, and gets his hands dirty supporting efforts to save pets lives. To donate or volunteer to his organization, visit the How to Help section on the official site.

The Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation is a donor-advised fund at Athletes and Causes, a nonprofit with federal tax exempt status and a public charity.

Photo courtesy of the Lance McCullers, Jr. Foundation

Here’s the cherry on top why I love and support his foundation. He reminds people that 75-percent of dogs available for adoption in shelters are mixed breeds. I got one of those sitting next to me right now.

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