Shootout At The Fantasy Factory (Apologies to CCR )

March 15

This might have been the silliest sports day of the year.

First, I filled out NCAA tournament brackets based on mere cursory knowledge of the Butlers and Northern Iowas of the world. Brackets are what make the tournament go round. Without small-time gambling, I’d still watch the tournament, but it wouldn’t be half as exciting.

Is that so wrong?

I know certain people are above the brackets. I know those people view people like me as common fools, and I respect that. I probably threw away 20 bucks today.

Yet Americans need cheap thrills like this in our otherwise desultory existence. We love to talk about our “sleeper” picks and “chalk-busters,” as though people can’t tell we’re speaking out of a rear orifice. How many of us have seen Murray State play this year?

As a sports anchor I can make an educated guess about who will win, but for the most part we’re on a level plane — butcher and baker, milkman and housewife. That’s what makes it fun. Right now, everyone feels they have a shot at bracket glory. That is, if they pick Kansas to win it all.

The basketball isn’t that good until perhaps the Final Four, and even then the quality of play can be sketchy. Coaches have imposed their will on the college game to the point that it often resembles a funeral march, and it’s hard to find a good shooter. That along with the NBA have gutted college hoops, but the tournament is still thick with drama because it’s one-and-done … and there’s money on the line.

That doesn’t mean I love Madness so much that I want to see the tournament expand. That would be the worst idea since the “new” Coke. You can barely find 32 good teams now, let alone 64.


Now we leave Madness Mountain for Nerdville.

I have become that which I once despised. I am in a fantasy baseball league. Today was Draft Day.

Nerd alert activated.

I did this out of necessity, and I blame my Best Man, Orr. Two years ago, he disbanded our simulation baseball league, which makes fantasy baseball look like the sandbox in the school yard. As commissioner, he became tired of the workload caused by managers not taking care of business, and so America’s best and most realistic computer-based league — in which we are general managers and in-game managers in head to head competition — was gone from our lives.

Nature hates a void, so I had to feed my competitive desire somehow. I joined an in-house fantasy league here at KNBR. My Walk of Shame has begun, but the alternative — a life without checking on the projected numbers of Asdrubal Cabrera and the like — was just too awful to imagine.

This is not easy for a married man. ( Some of you are actually thinking, “so get divorced.” Tsk, tsk. ) I have a lot on my plate, but undeterred, I always find room for the trivial. I crammed for the draft last night, and in a 12-team league I looked at every possible scenario.

Except the one that actually happened today. I never figured I would draft first. Helllooooo, Albert Pujols.

The problem is, with a serpentine draft, I had to wait 23 turns for my next pick. In the meantime I watched in horror as Hanley Ramirez dropped to fourth. Not that it mattered to me.

Probably the highlight of the early rounds was when producer Mike Hohler’s team, F — The Yankees, picked Alex Rodriguez sixth overall. Mike had the look of someone who was force-fed liver and onions. Then he picked C.C. Sabathia in the third round. A name change might be in order.

( Other team names in our league include: Bruce Bochy’s Head, Honey Nut Ichiros, and In Billy Beane I Trust. We are quite the clever bunch, don’t you think? )

As for my team, the Danville Tire Kickers, the long wait until the end of the second round was richly rewarded. There, like a lonely waif looking for a home, was Roy Halladay. We wrapped him a blanket, took him home for a warm cup of cocoa, then told him nigh-night.

Time will judge the wisdom of my later picks, such as Shin Soo-Choo at the beginning of the 5th round, Clayton Kershaw at the end of the 6th and Matt Wieters at the start of the 7th. There’s some upside there. Now if I can convince the government of South Korea to delay Shin’s mandatory two-year military stint next year, my outfield is set.

I pride myself on two things in a draft: the ability to snap up young talent, and the ability to go into a late-round grind. Hence the choices of Wieters, Kershaw, and Julio Borbon … and the late-round pickups such as Mike Gonzalez, Adrian Beltre, and Howie Kendrick. FYI, Stephen Strasburg went in the 9th round, a possible steal for our league commissioner.

What this all means I’m not sure, except that I have descended into the type of nerdi-ness I thought I left behind in Junior High School. Then again, if you spent a day at my job, you’d have an 8th grade flashback.

Wish me luck. And don’t tell my wife.


In closing, God Bless Daylight Savings Time.


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