Thursday, July 25, 2013

Diary of a Drafter II

Finally the snow starts to melt and the news in the paper and on the Internet is about the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.  You have ideas of who you want to keep, how long you want to sign a player for and who you have an eye on in the draft.

Then the “real- life” GMs and managers start to toy with you.  Reports out of Arizona and Florida indicate that your pitcher is on the bubble to make the rotation.  Your hot-shot rookie shortstop is being challenged for his job by a recently signed veteran.  Your home-run hitting outfielder is going to bat seventh because he struggled against lefties last year.  And all of a sudden your best laid plans from the winter come crashing down.  With two months to go until The Draft, you feel like you’re starting from scratch.

You diligently watch the news feeds, watch MLB Network, search through the minor leagues and perform different machinations of your roster to see what the best fit is between season projections and salary cap.  Then you submit your roster cuts, locking in on the promise of your team for the upcoming season.

Shortly after you submit your cuts you receive a list of everyone else’s cuts.  NOW you know who is available.  You can decide to go after the big star that will cost a lot of money or you can try to piecemeal your roster with guys who will perform better than expected but not at the All-Star level.  Why do it that way?  Because you won’t need to spend as much money.  If the budget is tight, finding the second-tier solid performers may be the way to go.

You have a strategy in place.  You’re ready to go and now you just have to wait until Draft Day.  That may be harder to do than actually drafting a team.  If you are not in a fantasy baseball league, think back to when you were nine and your parents told you there were six days left until Christmas.  You’re out of school, sitting around the house and six days takes 36 days to arrive.  That’s what it’s like from the time you submit your Roster Cuts until Draft Day.

Draft Day finally, finally arrives and even though you have the alarm set, you awake three hours before.  You’ve pre-packed your computer and snacks and notepads (or if you are the Copperfields - your two six-inch thick three ring binders) the night before but you still check to make sure everything is there.  You have already checked Mapquest to know that it will take you 36 minutes to arrive at the draft location.  Even so, you leave well ahead of that – just in case.  You pull into the parking lot, scoping out the other cars to see who already has arrived.

Patiently, or perhaps not so much, you wait for the elevator to take you to the conference room in which you will be drafting.  Walk down the hallway, trying to suppress a nervous grin on your face.  You enter the Draft Room to find most of the other owners already set up and waiting for the festivities to begin and you feel jealous, frustrated, anxious.  “I should have gotten here earlier!” you scream in your mind.  “Everything has started without me.”  When the reality is nothing can start until the last owner arrives.

The last owner finally arrives and it’s time to get serious.

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