Fantasy Baseball Is Real Competitive
March 28, 2011

It's hard to believe that one hour in the middle of a Sunday March afternoon can govern your life for the next six months, but in my case, it does. Well, at least part of my recreational life.

Yesterday was the annual fantasy baseball draft, where you pick a bunch of players to make up a make believe team. Each week your team goes head-to-head against another team, combining hits, homers, wins, strikeouts, and other categories against each other. You get a win or a loss in each category, standings are kept, and in September, playoffs are held and a champion is crowned. It is a good way to follow major league baseball. I may be a fan of the Dodgers, but if I have a Tampa Bay Ray on my team, I pay attention to what happens there.

My league is a big one. 14 teams, and 8-by-8 scoring, which means scoring is kept in eight hitting and eight pitching categories (a standard league has 10-12 teams and is 5-by-5). It's also a keeper league, which means you can protect up to four players you had last year, and keep them for this season. We don't play for money, and honestly, I only know about half the guys in the league personally, but that doesn't mean you don't care who wins. We have a football and basketball league too (was runner-up in football, currently in the playoffs in basketball), but baseball is the most seriously competitive one.

It's not only bragging rights and trash talk that drives you to want to beat the other guy, but in my case, it's this: My team is really good, but I haven't won the big one. In 2009, I had the best record in the league, but finished third after the playoffs. Last year, I came in second in the regular season, and ended up finishing third after the playoffs. I'm kind of like Charles Barkley and Karl Malone in the NBA. Great players, great teams, but never won it all.

So I spent several hours during the week, preparing for yesterday's draft. I went over which players are protected, which players will likely be available in the 13th round, and so on. I got excited to find out that Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw was left unprotected, but then disappointed when he was selected by another team, just before I was to pick. But that's how the draft goes.

By the way, this league is through Yahoo sports, so, trying not to take myself too seriously, my team name is the Unemployed Yawhoos (it was originally the Yuba County Yawhoos, but I changed it last season). My team should be pretty good this year. I brought back Hanley Ramirez, Prince Fielder, and Brandon Phillips, and my top draft choices were Adrian Beltre, David Price, Jered Weaver, and Vernon Wells. Lots of Angels this year (Torii Hunter as well), but so far only one Dodger (Jonathan Broxton). I'm trying to trade for Kershaw. Oh, and I have a personal no-Giant rule, which so far has worked out pretty well (one team in our league is called Dodger Haters).

So how the hour spent during yesterday's draft will now determine how good my team turns out to be this season. I even play my arch-rival the first week (kind of like Dodgers-Giants). After 22 weeks of play, and 4 weeks of playoffs, maybe I'll finally get to do in a make believe way what Barkley and Malone didn't quite do in reality. Win it all.

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