HumorMarch 12, 2008

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Behind in the Count #3

By Toby Mergler

Well, I just finished my first fantasy baseball draft and I feel like Agent Kujan at the end of The Usual Suspects. Given previous success in other fantasy sports, I thought this would be no problem. I came into the draft confident and sure of myself. I had my sheets all lined up, my research done, a meticulous plan formed and ready to be executed. I was the smartest &$%# in the room, couldn’t be beaten. Fast forward two hours and I’ve got a broken beer bottle at my feet as I stare at my wrecked board wondering how I got my butt kicked by a bunch of cripples.

In retrospect my confidence was supremely misplaced as my friends are both very smart and largely very knowledgeable about baseball. I think it’s safe to say they know more than me, considering I drafted Shannon Stewart. I might as well have drafted Scott Bakula and hoped Major League 3: Back to the Minors was actually a documentary. But we’ll get to that in time. If you’re confused at why some of the picks were made, click here to read about the league’s unusual scoring system. If you are still confused, that’s understandable; I made more questionable choices than the world’s most famous client #9. Here is a round-by-round look at how I managed to ruin my season before it even began.

Pre-Draft – I set up my “war room” (i.e. dining room). I’m sporting an old jersey and my lucky headband. If a slow-pitch softball game broke out in my living room, I’d still be overdressed. I’m pretty sure my girlfriend is frantically searching the Missed Connections section on Craigslist hoping one is about her, so she could leave me for someone better (Yes, I’m aware of the type of people who use that site. Point still stands.). I don’t care, I’m locked and loaded.

Round 1 – My IM screen starts blowing up. The guy with the number 1 pick is panicking because he can’t get in the draft room. He ends up auto-drafting Alex Rodriguez. I think he’ll be ok. I’ve got the 2nd choice and am set up to make my first mistake. I end up choosing Hanley Ramirez, with my rationale being position scarcity. Decent rationale, horrible pick. Turns out that unbeknownst to me, OF has become the scarce position and my pick should have been Holliday (especially since my league rewards power). What the heck happened in the outfield? I thought corner outfielders earned their spot with their stick and shortstops earned theirs with the leather. Now every team in the league has a guy hitting his weight starting in the outfield. If you had Prince Fielder out there hitting .400 that would be fine, but these guys aren’t in his class. I don’t know it yet, but I’m screwed.

Rounds 2-3 – Now I know it. This is officially where my season ended. I had hoped to nab Magglio Ordonez here, but my buddy Adam snagged him midway through the round. This would become a recurring theme. Under the relentless 60 second clock, I panicked and took B.J. Upton (again because of position scarcity). He was on top of ESPN’s autodraft list and I felt good for roughly 10 seconds. Then I looked down at my sheets and staring back at me was one name on top of my personal “do not overpay for” list. Crap. Just like that, I convince myself I’m done. To make matters worse, the guy at the turn takes roughly 3 seconds to draft Texeira and Berkman putting me back on the clock. That 60 second clock is beating towards doom again. Instead of re-evaluating, I decide it’s time to play the lottery to make up for my last terrible pick. Powerball, thy name is Chipper Jones. The wheels are officially off and I can’t figure out what the heck happened. The only thing that makes me feel better is when my friend John takes Ryan Zimmerman 29th overall, singlehandedly raising his ADP (Average Draft Position) five spots. They went to school together, maybe they are married to each other on Facebook, and thus, he had to pick him to avoid a messy virtual divorce. You know how emotional Ryan can be. I wanted him in the 8th, guess I should have reached.

Rounds 4-5 – 46 picks have gone by and I don’t have a first baseman or an outfielder. Everyone else has two of each. Perfect. I’m on my knees praying Carlos Pena somehow falls back to me. No luck, Adam grabs him in front of me again. I’m thinking of calling in a bomb threat to his building. I quickly pick Todd Helton and Hideki Matsui and go back to openly weeping. I think I hear my girlfriend’s date arrive, I’m too distraught to care.

Rounds 6-7 – I have not made a good pick yet. I figure by blind luck, that streak has got to snap. No dice. After sacrificing a lamb in the middle of my living room, I demand the gods allow Andruw Jones to fall to me (yes, I’m that desperate). Adam grabs him again. I almost miss my pick because I’m so busy looking up federal sentencing guidelines for kidnapping. There has to be a family member nearby he cares about. I decide it’s not worth it, though if he does it again, his Aunt Jill is appearing bound and gagged on a webcam like we were in an episode of 24. At the last minute, I pull the trigger on Jorge Posada, knowing I was paying for a career year. Scanning my roster, I see I’ve got four guys over 32 years of age and two guys under 25. Since a typical players’ peak years (non-roids version) are the ages 25-32, I can tell I’m clearly nailing it. I abandon my strategy for a third time and decide to go with whoever had the most points last year under our points system. I clearly have no judgment, might as well let math blindly choose for me. I grab Placido Polanco, shifting Upton to my OF. I think I feel a glimmer of hope, but it’s more than likely the intoxicating mixture of disillusion and depression. My friends are openly convinced I’m tanking this year in order to get A-Rod in ’09.

Rounds 8-9 – I continue with the highest previous total strategy, rounding out my OF with Aaron Rowand and Jose Guillen. Yup, that’s right, I got pieces of the Giants and Royals offensive juggernauts. How could I resist? For my next picks, I have my eyes on several members of the Rockford Peaches. You throw in Rowand’s moving to a pitchers park and Guillen’s upcoming steroid suspension and it’s impossible to figure out how these guys fell this far. I’m this close to disappearing into Canada to escape this draft.

Rounds 10-11 – Oh man, this was too good to be true. Forget the Peaches. My strategy demanded that my next two picks be…. wait for it… Randy Winn and David DeJesus! The draft dealers dealt me an 11, I had to double down baby. Why own just one hunk of junk car, when you can own two at twice the price? I had to pull the trigger though for two reasons. One, I didn’t know enough to recognize a majority of the players left and the ones I did made me ill. It was like I was a manager walking out to the mound and seeing Dan Kolb and Eric Gagne warming up in the pen. I’m not tapping either arm in that situation, I’m signaling for a pistol so I can shoot myself in the face. Second, I had to have DeJesus because of his name. It allowed me to finally christen my team. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to “Nobodies, F@#%s, and DeJesus.” Too true, though the last part is probably unnecessary.

Rounds 12-15 – I kept my strategy in trying to fill up my bench. Ended up with Casey Blake, Aubrey Huff, and the one and only minor-league bound Shannon Stewart. There is a decent chance all three of these guys will be cut from my team by the time you read this. I did deviate from the strategy in round 13 though, rolling the dice on Hank Blalock. Considering his resurrection is now the key to my team, I might as well start working on my football cheat sheet right now.

So there you go, a blueprint on how not to draft. Hope you were taking notes. If you were, please ball them up and light them on fire. You can use my $50 bucks as kindling. In the end, I learned a few valuable lessons. One, 60 seconds is entirely too short for each pick. We did this to try to avoid having the draft last too long. Big mistake. I had prepared for an open-book exam, not a memory test. I didn’t have time to really consult my notes. As such, my championship dreams were drowned in a vast ocean of my own ignorance. Too bad.

Two, if you are going to employ some buzzword strategy like position scarcity, you should doublecheck to make sure the position is – what’s the word – scarce. SS and 2B were far deeper than I thought and that’s where I spent my first two picks. Meanwhile, the league was going to have 48 starting outfielders and I picked one in the first seven rounds. This is how you end up one near-certain Matsui injury away from starting a fantasy OF consisting of all Giants and Royals. Aces. I out-thought myself on this one. Best player available is clearly the way to go if you don’t know what the heck you are doing.

Finally, I definitely underestimated the GWRBI (Game Winning Run Batted In) stat when I was doing my planning. Some people consider it a “luck” or “random” stat, but it stands to reason that if you have a guy who plays on a winning team and drives in a lot of runs, he’s going to have a lot more GWRBI’s than the alternative. My team is full of players from teams who will be competing for the cellar in their division. Not a lot of game winners to be had when you’ve won 12 games in two months. I’m screwed and I deserve to be for not thinking this one through.

After this draft, I’ve been knocked down but I’m not out for the count yet. I need your help to get me back into this. If you have tips on waiver wire guys or lineup suggestions, please send them on. I may have struggled in this draft, but I’m far from giving up. I’m already lobbing out trade proposals like so many piss-filled balloons in West Baltimore. Like Namond, I’m pretty sure they are going to end up falling back on me.

I’m also hooked and anxious to get back in the ring. I joined a 6×6 roto league today, so if you have tips on how to improve my performance, please send them on. As you look at my lineup below (as compared to my friend’s lineup), you’ll see I clearly need them. See you guys next Tuesday.


C Jorge Posada

1B Todd Helton
2B Placido Polanco
3B Chipper Jones
SS Hanley Ramirez
OF B.J. Upton
OF Hideki Matsui
OF Aaron Rowand
OF Jose Guillen
UTIL Hank Blalock
Bench David DeJesus
Bench Randy Winn
Bench Casey Blake
Bench Shannon Stewart
Bench Aubrey Huff
DL Empty


C Michael Barrett

1B Carlos Pena
2B Ian Kinsler
3B Garrett Atkins
SS Julio Lugo
OF Matt Holliday
OF Magglio Ordonez
OF Andruw Jones
OF Delmon Young
UTIL Troy Glaus
Bench Kosuke Fukudome
Bench Barry Bonds
Bench Freddy Sanchez
Bench Scott Rolen
Bench Lastings Milledge
DL Empty


Toby Mergler is a new member of Fantasy Cafe. Before stumbling into the Cafe, he has previously wrote for humor sites Nicefire and The Sports Court. He hopes to have more success here, which won't be hard since both of the other sites have gone dark. Toby can be reached by email at and can be found on the forums posting under the name of heyrook_nicepiece.
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