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March 19, 2008

Welcome to Fantasy Island

I have probably mentioned before that I am an assistant commissioner in an intense, extensive franchise baseball league called The Wood, the Abad, and the Uggla (registration required, e-mail me for fan account access), or WAU for short. We have a four-round amateur draft, a Rule 5 draft, and a draft for minor league free agents (as opposed to the MLB way of acquiring international talent, players from other countries are not acquired by throwing millions at unproven teenagers).

This season will be only the second year of competition, and already owners are anxious to begin. The commissioner devised an exceptional extension policy that takes into consideration player performance in the 14 scoring categories (home runs, runs, runs batted in, stolen bases, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage; holds, saves, strikeouts, wins, earned run average, strikeout to walk ratio, and walks and hits per inning pitched), year the player is extended, and if the player was “held back” from being promoted in the league.

The people who run the league put countless hours into making sure it runs as well as it can. I am so devoted to it I have been checking into the discussion even while 5,000 miles from home.

The relatives I’m staying with don’t have an internet connection, so at night after eating some of my favorite Hawaiian and local foods I work on projects (such as an Excel spreadsheet that calculates bid points for free agency and the average annual value of extended contracts or tools to project the league’s economy). I log onto the site from a Starbucks every morning, excited to participate in the discussion.

The last few days the discussion about extensions has gotten heated. After years on the internet I should probably be used to the rude and obstinate personae people assume when writing in the anonymity of a virtual world. And yet it still surprises me, takes me aback when flame wars ensue over Monopoly money in a game. It’s just a game.

People in Hawai‘i are renowned for living with aloha. It is not merely a greeting or farewell, but also means compassion, affection, love, mercy, and peace. For most of the day I am surrounded by that spirit, only to have it swept away every morning by the squabbles in my league.

The next time I run a league, I’m going to make sure a majority of the participants have an inkling of understanding of what aloha means.

December 8, 2007

How the VWR Stole Christmas

For the first time since its inception I did not get an invite to Christmas at Fenway. Instead, I spent hours looking at this:


Judging by the threads at SoSH and Royal Rooters, I was lucky to have purchased tickets at all. I didn’t get the Holy Grail of Sox Pax, the Opening Day, but I did get the Cactus and TGIF offerings. Usually every pack has a Yankee game included, but in this post-championship year the weekend sets don’t include that premium perk.

I was particularly interested in seeing the Diamondbacks in person because that is my team in the all-encompassing fantasy franchise league I am in, The Wood, the Abad, and the Uggla (registration required; contact me for a guest account), called WAU (pronounced “wow,” I think) for short. This league has taken over a considerable part of my life since its inception last year and I must admit that my affection for a few of my remaining Diamondbacks almost matches that for the Red Sox. Almost.

The league has deepened my appreciation for younger players, and even though some of the filler games included seem to be clunkers, there are exciting kids to look for on each team.

  • Blue Jays: LF Adam Lind, RHP Jesse Litsch, C Curtis Thigpen
  • Cardinals: C Bryan Anderson, CF Colby Rasmus, RHP Chris Perez
  • Devil Rays: 3B Evan Longoria, RHP Jeff Niemann, 2B/OF B.J. Upton
  • Diamondbacks: SS Stephen Drew, RF Justin Upton, CF Chris Young
  • Rangers: RHP Matt Harrison, RHP Edinson Volquez, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

March 30, 2006

Going, Going, Gone

Get up, get get, get down. The prices certainly were not in the fantasy auction I participated in last night. My ten team, AL-only rotisserie league with scoring based on categories had its first auction last night. I won’t delve into too much detail because the auction isn’t completed yet, but one of the GMs who has worked in nuclear power plants likened the pace to that of a nuclear accident.

The auction draft format is much more suited to my current capabilities than live drafts. For a newbie like me, it’s far easier to quantify the value of certain players with monetary units rather than draft slot. I also like that the general managers are all constrained by a salary cap. My ideal league would draft players via auction and score with points rather than categories and have a keeper component as well.

One of the neat parts is that the auctioneer, a veteran fantasy GM, used a red upper case typeface to conduct the proceedings. It was one part fantasy baseball, one part Good Omens, with the auctioneer playing Metatron, the Voice of God. At the end of the bidding, he would conclude with the player’s name, winning bidder, and final price. On occasion, he would improvise. For Johnny Damon, he wrote, SATAN V7D 22. Although V7D shelled out 22 bucks for the unfrozen caveman center fielder, it was priceless for the rest of us.

March 7, 2006

Is This the Real Life, Is This Just Fantasy

In life, there are three topics that only captivating to the individuals directly involved and immensely tedious to those who are subject to the rantings and ravings on said topics. These three things are: children, vacations, and fantasy baseball teams. Since I’ve inflicted you all with my vacation posts (I’m finally back on the East Coast) and I don’t have offspring, it is now time for me to enthrall you with dispatches from my first season playing fantasy baseball.

I had my first draft this past Saturday at 5:30 AM Hawaiian Standard Time, so I can use that was an excuse. It was for a 16-team keeper rotisserie league with 18 categories: R, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, SB, OBP, SLG, OPS, W, CG, SHO, SV, HR, K, ERA, WHIP, and K/9. I didn’t consider which young players to take in the later rounds as potential keepers, but I was at least aware that this should be part of the strategy.

  1. (11) T. Hafner
  2. (22) C. Carpenter
  3. (43) J. Peralta
  4. (54) R. Johnson
  5. (75) H. Matsui
  6. (86) H. Blalock
  7. (107) B. Zito
  8. (118) F. García
  9. (139) R. Mackowiak
  10. (150) B. Wickman
  11. (171) N. Johnson
  12. (182) J. Posada
  13. (203) W. Peña
  14. (214) G. Maddux
  15. (235) M. Kotsay
  16. (246) D. Báez
  17. (267) B. Arroyo
  18. (278) J. Tavárez
  19. (299) Ja. Wilson
  20. (310) A. Pierzynski
I think it was a mistake to pass on David Ortiz with my first pick, but I don’t believe Hafner is an awful choice. I understand that I took Mackowiak way too early. There was a run on reliable closers, so at the moment I’m conceding saves for other pitching categories.

Like Sam Walker, the author of Fantasyland, I’ll probably regret not having Ortiz on my team. I saw an interview with Walker where he describes trading Ortiz around the time of the All-Star break with Ortiz’s blessing. Shortly thereafter, Papi went on a tear. The author had another opportunity to talk with Ortiz after the trade, and the designated hitter said something to the effect of, “Well, I thought I was going to get hot, but I wasn’t going to jinx it by telling you that.”

I’m also in another keeper league in which I inherited a team that included Victor Martinez. Almost immediately after I joined the league, another GM proposed Chirs Shelton and Andy Pettitte for him. I hemmed and hawed, since that GM also had Miguel Cabrera, a player I coveted. Other permutations were propositioned, including a Bobby Abreu deal. But I held out long enough and we traded Martinez and Cabrera straight up.

Since I’m green to this, this is definitely a tinkering year. But it is readily apparent why this can be addictive. Is there a support group for this?

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