Saturday, April 02, 2005

Sleeping with the Enemy

This year Blue joined the Fantasy League with me. If anything interesting happens, we'll write about it. Last year I finished 2nd in the regular season, drew a bye, then lost horribly in the 2nd round of the playoffs. So I am what you might call a LOOZAH.

I didn't think I'd have the time every day to keep my team current, but somehow I found 5 minutes every morning to change my pitchers and bench the bums. You begin to feel responsibility for your team, sort of like caring for a Tamagotchi. Having said that, there's a strong possibility that I'm going to be so busy with work this summer that I'll fall way behind - same with Blue. But hey, I still like having a team. At worst, I'll be like the Tigers or Orioles. I don't think I'm the Blue Jays. (Knock on wood.)

The team I drafted this year (in a fit of panic) is, unintentionally, a lot like me: 40-ish guys past their prime, some underachievers, and guys stuck in New York who made their name somewhere else. Oddly, I have 5 ex-Red Sox and 7 Mets and Yankees. Yes sports fans, this season I will be rooting for Roger... Pedro... and, even more agonizingly... for Piazza (yuk!)... Matsui (nooo!)... and (gasp!) Mariano. It's like sleeping with the enemy.

Thankfully, I have a pair of Sox to keep me warm: Johnny D and "Brandon" Arroyo.

This year there's 10 players in the league, up from 6 last year. 10 should be more fun. The core players are 6 kids from Vassar College, taking a break from the extreme pressures of the Ya-Ya sisterhood. They include 5 Sox fans (see photo below) and 1 Yankee fan. The Yankee fan is Ryan (team name Petrograd Bolsheviks), who I'm certain has endured post-season abuse of Jesus-esque proportions.

The four left-overs are:

- Katie's off-campus friend Mooch. Not sure of his Sox-Yankees orientation. My only gossip is that I hear he sports a triple Mohawk. (Yet he didn't draft Joe Charboneau). Mooch's team is called GoingGoingGonorrhea , but it will always be 3G to me. (Or is that G3?)
- Kelly's dad. His team is the Havana Daydreamers.
- My Boy Blue. His team is the MUY MACHO Lock and Load.
- And moi. My team is Who's Your Dealer.

All in all, it's like a bad episode of The Surreal Life. After reading those names, don't you feel like washing your hands?

Blue takes it seriously, because after all - it's baseball. He does his homework (very well) and is a relentless trash talker. On the trash talk page I started calling him "The Load" - and now EVERYONE calls him The Load. (Heh heh.) But I think he might get the last laugh - it looks like he drafted one of the best teams. He'll definitely be in the top 2 or 3.

Of course, the trash talk in the league is already way out of hand. It wouldn't be any fun without it. Let the record show that:

A) I started it
B) I have been rewarded by being called a "crack whore"
C) I have launched an underground movement to impeach the commissioner (because he changed the categories after the draft... TWICE)
D) And that despite my campaign, I have been accused of secretly condoning the commish's underhanded methods, though they clearly hurt my team.

Maybe it's because the commish and I finished 1-2 in the regular season last year. Or maybe it's the fact that we're related. Not sure. I have noticed, however, that the commish punctuates his own trash talk with ominous evil laughter, i.e. "bwaa ha ha!" Which is kinda cool.

The name Who's Your Dealer was, of course, intended to honor Fenway's legendary bleacher chant, which was directed at Balco Sheffield during the playoffs ... and remarkably never mentioned by the Fox broadcasters (despite their round-the-clock focus on the humorless Who's Your Daddy chant). In trash talk however, I quickly devolved into a slimy character called, simply, "The Dealer," who blithely doles out steroids and other recreational narcotics, apparently targeting not just the Yankees but America's youth. My team, however, is devoid of abusers (as far as I know). And probably because of that, I fully expect to finish in the middle of the league - somewhere between 5th and 7th. Or maybe 8th. Or 9th. Or...

Anyway... here is the cast of characters, lumped into 3 groups. The 1st group is the teams to beat - CLEARLY the two best teams. After the top two guys the field seems VERY VERY tight and hard to predict. The other two groups are according to their drafting tactics: People who focused on bulking up a couple key categories (i.e. power, speed, starters) vs. people who tried to maintain balance across the categories.

Group 1 - The Teams to Beat

The Liberal Elite - Surprise! Fittingly, the Liberal Elite is a real-life Liberal Elite who also happens to have a Liberal commish-ing style (or should I say borderline radical fascist) and about a dozen Elite players. He's fixed the rules so he can't lose, plus he's got a sick squad with monster numbers, i.e. Rolen, Ortiz, Berkman, Kent. He's got four monster starters (i.e. Randy Johnson) and four monster closers (i.e. Jose Mesa), blah blah blah blibbety blah. Like Bonds, he didn't need to cheat. The balance on his pitching staff is PERFECT. Thankfully, as we learned last year, anything can happen in the post-season. (Bwaa ha ha!)

Lock & Load - My Boy Blue's team is DEEP and he'll contend in the post-season. He's a poor man's Elite. He also gets A for effort, which will be important when things get ugly with injuries and pennant races in July and August. The Load landed lots of low A-listers and high B-listers in the draft, so he's extremely deep. Beltre and Pujols are supported by guys like Sosa, Walker and Jeter. He has a nice sleeper in Griffey. The pitching is the same way - loaded with almost top-tier guys like Sheets, Hudson and Benitez. Plus he took Dave Roberts in the round that I was gonna nab him. @#$%!

Group 2 - "Focused" Strategies

GoingGoingGonorrhea - G3 is STACKED on offense with six 30/100 guys. His AVG/OPS is excellent too. He would be on the other side of the line if the pitching matched. After Schmidt and Lidge there's a drop off, but still lots of Ws. Nice sleeper with Jared Wright too. G3 is just one trade away from the top tier.

The Manic Photons - This would be a pretty cool team in real life, built around batting average and speed. The Photes have guys like Ichiro, Pierre and Abreu who will bring lots of wins in the SBs, Rs, and AVG categories. She's thin on quality starters but has focused on relief pitching with A-List closers Cordero and Isringhausen. It's doable, but definitely an uphill climb.

The Rebel Alliance - I have to open the season against the Alliance, and I'm not feeling good about it. Her pitching staff will be frustratingly inconsistent over the long haul - relying on Colon, Mussina and Prior (already on the DL) - but they'll be dangerous on any given week. The key Alliance weapon is her hitters. She is 30/100 crazy wild insane with dudes like Guerrero, Thome, Alou, etc. Not bad in the speed categories either. Fun team to manage too, because it's stocked with Sox.

Nucleophilic Attack - The pitching staff is built around 6 really good relievers, which is definitely creative. He's guaranteed the S and WHIP categories every week. The Nuke's lineup has no true A listers outside of Soriano - but like the Load's team, it's deceptively deep. There are excellent SBs and Rs and 30/100 guys like Aramis Ramirez, Aubrey Huff, and Chipper Jones.

Petrograd Bolsheviks - The Vix are the flip side of the Nukes (ha ha). Rather than relievers, the pitching focus is on quality starters - maybe the best in the league after the Elite. Only Gagne is there for relief - which may be good enough to beat any team except the Nuke in the S category. The Vix strategy could definitely work, especially in the playoffs. His hitting is huge with A-Rod, Edmonds and a bunch of 30/90 guys. If anyone can crack the Top 2, it's the Vix.

Group 3 - "Balanced" Strategies

Havana Daydreamers - The Dreamer clearly knows what he's doing. He's got a solid starter at EVERY position. The top half of his staff is ridiculous, with Santana, Beckett, K-Rod, and Percival, and ya gotta love his sleeper pick, Andy Pettitte. Unfortunately the Dreamer has been creamed by hard luck: He had a crummy draft position... he was hurt the most by the Commish's highly questionable category changes... then he lost Bonds for half the season. I'm keeping my eye on him though.

Embodied Systems - The Systems are closest to my team in terms of strategy, balance and talent. Like the Dealers, the Systems can win in any category in any given week. He is anchored by Manny and Schilling with heavy support from guys like Teixeira and Mora. Very nice pen with Nathan and Kolb. And I like the loyal Sox picks of Matt Clement and Wade Miller - I didn't have the guts to choose them. It's gonna be a war when we play each other.

Who's Your Dealer - My stud is Beltran - same as last year - but I have many many question marks after that. The marquee names on my team look better than their numbers. Essentially I'm relying on the aforementioned old guys to repeat big years. Hence my basement potential. My sleepers are Kazmir, Halladay, Smoltz and Andruw Jones. And I'm secretly thinking Matsui could have an MVP season. (Shhh!)

There you have it, Blue.

Vintage Vassar, just minutes after Foulke-to-Mientkiewicz. L-R: Katie, team name Manic Photons... Andrew, Liberal Elite (and commish)... Tyler, Embodied Systems... Adam, Nucleophilic Attack... and Kelly, The Rebel Alliance. Posted by Hello


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jimmy Fallon goes to Vassar?

11:02 AM  
Blogger The Rivals said...

UPDATE: GoingGoingGonorrhea has posted trash talk and come out of the closet. His allegiance is with... (drum roll please)... THE EVIL EMPIRE. (cue screeching violins from "Psycho") - Evan

11:06 AM  
Blogger The Rivals said...

UPDATE: More dirt from 3G in trash talk yesterday. Turns out the thing about him not going to Vassar was bad info. So to set the record straight: 1) There are SEVEN core kids from Vassar, and 2) TWO of them are Yankee fans. Unless he's punking me. - Evan

7:55 AM  

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