StrategyMarch 11, 2003

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I Feel a Draft!

By Paul Worstell

Just after midnight every year on Christmas I pull out the calendar and start counting down the weeks until draft day. There is no better feeling than waking up early on draft day, which our league always holds on the Saturday before the season starts, and having a million fantasy thoughts running through your mind. Then I break out the Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch, which takes my mind off baseball for a while – but that is a different article.

Every fantasy draft has its own twists and turns and yes, if your’re not prepared you could be setting yourself up for a long, long season. However, don’t judge the quality of your team based solely on your draft. There are several factors you need to consider once the draft is over in order to become a fantasy baseball champ.

The first thing is not to rely on your first impression of your roster, thinking your team is either terrible or terrific when you drive away from the draft. Three years ago I left the draft thinking I had the best fantasy team known to man. How in the world could I lose with The Unit, Juan Gone, Larry Walker, Rafael Palmerio et al? Well, I wound up in sixth place out of eight teams that year. Last year, I felt that my team was awful after the end of the draft, but ended up winning my first fantasty baseball championship. So don’t worry about what your team looks like after draft night. With free agency, trades and injuries it will change.

The second factor is to stay up to date on all the current injuries within your lineup and make sure you have or are able to acquire viable backups. There are many fantasy websites with injury updates and player recomondations that can give your team the boost it needs when that dreaded injury bug strikes. Similarly, take advantage of all the advice available, especially through the Cafe and other websites.

Third, watch your team! One of my favorite things to do during baseball season comes at 9pm. Allow me to reenact a scene from our house for a second. “Ok Kristi, the boys are in bed – how about watching Baseball Tonight with me? The Big Unit is pitching and I want to follow his progress.” Kristi usually responds by saying, “Are you kidding? (Insert 48 Hours, Dateline or 20/20 here) is on and I have to watch it.” That is when I pull out the ammo. Not that kind, you freaks! “Hey how ’bout I go and get that tingly lotion stuff and rub your feet while we watch it?” Then her eyes get really big and she says, “Really…? Then ok.” Music to my ears but not my hands. See? You can track the progress of your team and spend quality time with that significent other in one setting. Just make sure no deep conversations are allowed, especially during the game updates. That organ music is our cue to stop what we are doing. Man do I need a life or what.

Fourth, don’t take an owner up on a trade until you analyze it thoroughly (unless somebody calls you and offers you Pedro Martinez for Joe Randa). There are many factors that you have to consider in a trade, such as whether your league is a keeper league, how it will affect your decisions at the end of the year, how injury prone the players involved are, etc. Again, look for advice. The Cafe is a great source and the responses are really in-depth and immediate.

My fifth area to focus on is taking advantage of other owners’ impatience. I will give you two examples of this. Last year, one of the owners in our league dropped Kevin Millwood around the first of May. After watching his next start on TBS I immediately went down to the computer and picked him up. I did the same thing with Jason Schmidt; needless to say, without those two moves I probably would not have won the league.

Finally keep an upbeat attitude and have fun. As we all know fantasy baseball is just that… fantasy. It is a great outlet to take us away from the stress in our lives. So enjoy it whether you win or lose… but if you win, enjoy it a lot. I think all those who have ever won a fantasy baseball title should rent out a big room. Then buy a ton of chilled champagne or sprakling apple cider and go nuts. C’mon, haven’t you all wanted to do that… oh yeah, back to reality!

Paul Worstell has been playing fantasy baseball for over eight years. He finally won his first league championship last year. Paul is from Kansas City and is an avid Royals fan (although he sometimes wonders why), and also enjoys following the Braves (Thank you, TBS). He welcomes all comments about this article, either in the Cafe’s forums or at dontyoudarecritizemyarticle@paul’

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