Tonight’s Late Snack is…well, it’s more than a snack. Last night was the draft for the 2013 Sports Junkies Fantasy Baseball League, and between welcoming back baseball and Sweet 16 action, Friday was a great night for sports. Here for your enjoyment is a diary of the evening, our first here at The Orange Wedge:
I’m filled with anxiety as a basket of crumpled paper is passed around, and each contestant carefully selects his destiny. We’re picking the draft order, to some degree shaping the season with our first brushstroke. Poetic as it is, “Getting a High Pick” isn’t one of my strong suits, and I’m saddled with the sixth overall selection. This is officially a 10-team league, but there are only 6 bodies present. One is drafting via Facebook, one is having his entire team picked for him, and two are running late. I pick for my late buddy, and draw him the fifth pick. Figures.
We give a phone call to our absent buddy Max who’s essentially hitting the Autodraft button. So of course he “draws” first overall. Max is a solid bar buddy, in fact I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen him in sunlight. To top things off, his phone is off! We give him Mike Trout, and we are unceremoniously underway.
With a possible suspension looming, Ryan Braun free falls out of the top five. He’s available at six, but I take Joey Votto. Nothing against Braun, in fact I had him last year, but I think Votto is primed for an MVP season. Braun falls all the way to the eighth pick, where our chum Adam is more than happy to scoop him up.
Our first tardy arrival Dan walks in just in time for the first wraparound. Picking ninth, He takes Verlander and immediately nabs Strasburg two picks later. Instant contender.
After taking Votto, Stanton, and now Adam Jones, I’ve gone 3 rounds with no pitching. And you know what? I’m fine with it. Elite pitching draws comparisons to elite quarterbacks, and after the first few are gone I promise myself I won’t reach. Also, pitchers don’t play every day! You’ll get 150 games out of an elite hitter. Out of a SP, maybe 40? I’m taking my offense.
Our last arrival Rob shows up and is instantly fixated on the Board. He’s been phoning in his picks, but now he can really soak it all in before his fourth round choice.
“This is a critical selection,” he says quietly, his eyes scanning the board.
He scrolls his phone intensely as we feed him names to consider. The most popular is Johan Santana, who we learned earlier in the day would miss the entire season (again). Finally he announces he is reaching for Yoenis Cespedes, and only then does he find a couch and unpack his laptop.
I’m in a good rhythm, personally willing Michigan to come up big and somehow landing all the players I’ve been eyeing.
On the walk back to my seat after grabbing Michael Bourn, I can hear cussing from another part of the room. Bourn was coveted. Victory.
Aside from the sheer excitement of building a team, isn’t taking a player right from under someone’s nose the best feeling in a draft? There’s nothing like the feeling of your heart dropping out of your chest because someone just took Yadier Molina. And when I can inflict that feeling upon someone else, I make sure to savor it.
The same thing happens with Kris Medlen. I’m on a roll.
Michigan has completed an unbelievable comeback, stalling a few picks but saving all relevant brackets left in the room. Awards right now:
Most Valuable: Trey Burke, who almost broke the DVR after the 25th replay
Least Valuable: Domino’s deliveryman Miguel, who is seriously pushing his “You Got 30 Minutes” motto.
I take Neil Walker at 2nd base. This leads to the story about how Walker’s father Tom nearly boarded the rescue plane Roberto Clemente was killed on. Unfortunately, our buddy Adam mishears and asks if it was actually Neil who almost traveled with Clemente. In 1972. After a good laugh, we ultimately declare that the chances of Baby Neil Walker sneaking onto Clemente’s plane were next to impossible (he was born in 1985). But hilarious.
Florida Gulf Coast opens their first Sweet 16 game with a nice run, but in the War Room an even more interesting run is being made. Rob has taken four straight closers, a devastating move to the few teams still looking for a top reliever. By 11 the well has all but dried up.
The elephant in the room has become the ever-ticking clock. Time limits aren’t being strictly enforced on these picks, and it’s becoming clear we aren’t finishing anytime soon.
Everyone hates Alan. Stuck with family obligations, Alan is doing his drafting via Facebook chat. Sometimes he responds, other times, the messages linger unread. But as rounds progress, his picks slump in quality, and the rest of us are getting edgy.
Trend developing: If you ask if a player has been taken yet, we’re telling you he’s hurt. If you ask if a player is suspended, we’re telling you he’s hurt. If you ask if a player is hurt, we’re telling you you’re probably better off with Johan.
The Commissioner informs us that there is only one DL spot. Anarchy ensues.
Alcides Escobar earns me my third “Fuck You” of the night, putting me up there with the greats. I’m in fine form tonight. I’ve gotten everyone I wanted, I just don’t know if they’re any good.
After our Round 16 picks, Ryan Rob and I, picking 4th 5th and 6th respectively, makes a bolt for 7-11. It’s candy time, bitches. I head inside and grab a
Take-Five and Snickers PB box of Matzoh and we make it back without missing a beat.
It has officially become a struggle. I’m on a couch in the next room; doing that thing where I’m listening and paying attention to the draft but also my eyes are closed and falling asleep would kick ass. But I’m not asleep, and right as I hear my name called, I reply back with a quick “Ben Revere”. We push onward.
Andrew is in the corner drafting 3 teams and it is beginning to wear the big man down. He is our lone lifeline to Facebook Alan, and has been making “Best Available” selections for Absent Max all night. He’s about halfway through a 2 liter of cola, and at this point, it may not be enough.
I have begun to share my resources. Tonight I’m only using two printouts: An ESPN Top 300 ranking, and an ESPN positional rankings sheet that I’ve highlighted with sleepers and overhyped players from rotochamp.com. Sure enough, Ryan’s laptop shuts off and destroys his spreadsheet in the process. I give him my spare Top 300 and let him peer at the positional list. He is intrigued by its highlighting. I explain it’s for sleepers and overhyped players, but don’t reveal which one is which. Being evil can be fun.
“GODDAMIT BABY NEIL WALKER GET OFF THIS PLANE!!!”
I have identified the Wild Card in the room. Every league has a guy that nobody takes seriously, and his team never gets enough respect. Then they usually fare pretty well. Well this league has Brennan. Brennan’s best friends with the Commish, and has been using his advice effectively. It’s three rounds before I notice he’s taken A.J. Pierzynski, and by that time there aren’t many catchers left.
If midnight was a struggle, the 1 am hour has turned this into a chore. “How It’s Made” drones on in the background, as we’ve all grown sick of SportsCenter reruns. We are plowing through the last two rounds standing up; Brennan and the Commish make their final picks with their coats on and leave shortly after.
It’s over. We breathe a sigh of relief and marvel at the Board, our color-coded bounty standing before us. Suddenly, life becomes easier to manage, and we sit for an extra 20 minutes just marveling at our creation. Analyzing a newly completed draft board like it’s a work of art; we compare each other’s newly formed squads and, of course, talk early trade. Rob’s run on closers becomes the main storyline of the draft, but it comes with a price- he didn’t take a catcher. Rob settled for J.P Arencibia in the final round, but he may have to deal a closer or two if he wants to improve.
Another successful draft indeed, and 5 hours of drafting now parlays into 5 months of fantasy action. Good luck in your own league, and thanks for pretending to care about mine.