While I love and am part of a far larger contingent of fantasy football players, my true passion has always been with fantasy baseball. I play in as traditional a league as possible, one with weekly match-ups, simple scoring that emphasizes pitching prowess even as the real game becomes one where wins and saves become more of a crapshoot, and the potential of losing points for errors and home runs allowed, thus making weekly results more of a uncertainty than a strictly additive structure would allow
As someone who owns Mets closer Edwin Diaz for the second consecutive year, that matters to me.
What matters to me more is that our draft, which used to be in person on the Saturday morning prior to the typical Monday (or Sunday night) start to the season, has now become a virtual quickie, over in an hour and a a half on a Sunday night while I multitasked watching the Grammy Awards. The pandemic, as well as the fact that several of our members have relocated out of Los Angeles, made this a necessity. I suppose I should be grateful for the chance to still have some sort of connection.
Still, I sorely miss our annual ritual, typically held at a bistro like Barney’s Beanery or the San Francisco Saloon, where we’d guzzle Bloody Marys, munch on very fattening omelettes and lug reams of printouts of rankings and literally dozens of preview publications with various predictions on which players presented the best values.
Many of our league members had roles with sports departments of media companies, which often had them traveling to Florida or Arizona to actually watch games in person, and in some cases even interact with players, managers and general managers. We’d posture arrogantly, tease mercilessly and mock our technology-challenged comrades who couldn’t show up in person, screaming at them in unison when their cellphone reception would drop off and we’d sit for minutes on end waiting for them to make their selection. This was exacerbated when teams would be split and consensus between partners was required. There have been few more interminable periods of time than waiting to see if Tim Salmon was worth a third round pick of not.
Complicating matters in our league more is the presence of a particularly aggressive trader who loves to “shake things up”. As soon as the draft order would be announced several weeks prior to the draft, he’d furiously e-mail several of us at the same time trying to move up in earlier rounds by offering the carrot of extra or improved positions in later rounds in exchange. He’d position each move as one with spin befitting of his full-time job as a network publicist, citing data that backed up his desired moves “objectively”. Most of the competitors laughed it off; occasionally out of both intrigue and desperation I’d bite. It rarely paid off for me.
To be honest, I have rarely had success in this league. Where I did succeed was in another league populated by even higher ranking media executives. One year I was in a league that included Chase Carey, the top News Corporation executive who was often distracted by real world responsibilities, such as helping educate Rupert Murdoch on baseball. At one point, he was instrumental in arranging a trade that effectively sent Mike Piazza to the Florida Marlins for Sportschannel Florida. The Marlins, owned by bankrupt Blockbuster Video magnate Wayne Huizenga, couldn’t afford either the network or the player. A week later, Piazza was flipped to the Mets, and they quickly began a rebound that had them in a Subway Series within three years. He was so distracted by this that he ignored needed roster moves for weeks and I finished in the money ahead of him. Thanks, Chase.
This year, the league members get an auto bot-written evaluation of their draft in letter grade form. Shockingly, I rated an “A”. Here’s how the bot massaged my ego yesterday:
You managed to find yourself in the middle of the pack with the 5th best draft overall. One thing that prevented you from being lower in the rankings are your infielders,,,our ability to put together that good group is all the more impressive given that you had the 2nd most difficult path through the draft. You had to watch as good value picks like Yasmani Grandal, Nelson Cruz, and Ian Anderson were snatched right before it was your turn.
Your Path Through the Draft
True Point Value Available to You 1568.5211th Most
True Point Value* Drafted by You 1126.24 5th Most
Percentage of Possible Points Drafted 72% 2nd Best
I can’t explain those stats succinctly, and even I could most of you would not have the bandwidth to want to understand, But I guess it’s better than being dissed by a computer.
Oh, my best draft pick? Pirates’ third baseman KeBryan Hayes, a quality backup with the highest vague draft slot score of any of my draftees. Ahh,,but I lost a starting pitcher to injury and had to pick up someone from the free agent pool to make sure I had four starters for the short week Someone had to go, and it sadly had to be Hayes. My third best? Ahem: Diaz.
So much for robot critic.