Saturday, February 25, 2012

It's Just a Fantasy

It’s seven hours before I embark on my first attempt at drafting a fantasy baseball team and I’m obsessing over the fear of making the late-round picks.

As much as I enjoy baseball, I’ve only played fantasy baseball one time and I finished sixth in a 12-team division. It was the baseball season after my wife passed away and I was just looking for anything to take my mind off my situation. I let the host, Yahoo!, choose my picks that time.

This time, I’m doing it for real.

A newspaper reporter friend of mine called me the other day about a story he was working on and, as reporters do, we quickly drifted to talking about sports. He said he had drafted his team on Yahoo! and was pleased. I then decided I would give it a try.

I am at a disadvantage. As much as I love baseball, I know the history of the game and its oldtimers, rather than the current players and their propensities for playing well. I’ve played APBA baseball for years; I know past seasons. Give me a draft for 1932 and I’m on it. I understand the statistical probabilities for third-string catchers for 1964 and I’m all over 1987.

But this season? I don’t know the difference between a Milkyway and a Melky Cabrera. Do I fish the 21st round for Mike Carp or Mike Trout, both American League outfielders? Do I forego my hatred for the Boston Red Sox and chose Adrian Gonzalez if I have the chance? The early picks seem easy — take who is available. But the late rounds become more of a mystery. Who do I chose for my shortstop when all the good ones are gone? Who is a good bench player? Who should be on my bullpen staff?

All questions I must have answered within 7 hours. Oops, 6 hours and nine minutes now.

Since last night, I’ve done four mock drafts, pretend drafts to give the players a feel of how the selection process goes. I felt I did okay in two. The others, I think I stunk.

I was razzed for my picks in one draft by another player who felt an obligation to criticize my choices. He made fun of my selection of Atlanta Braves' reliever Craig Kimbrell as my reliever and then hammered me for choosing St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder Lance Berkman. “I wish you were in my money-league,” he wrote in the chat section of the draft. I wanted to write back something about his mom, but instead, I weakly wrote some inane reply that I lived near St. Louis and was just showing favoritism.

So, there’s 6 hours left before my first draft. My notes are scattered across the desk, my baseball preview magazine is opened to the team pages. I need to run to the store to stock up on Pepsi and chips. I am trying to cram baseball knowledge quickly and I'm nervous.

Let the draft begin.

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