And With the First Selection in this Year’s Draft, the Turf Slugs Take…
Sitting around a long wooden table in a small room, 10 men quietly stare at the materials in front of them. Each one has waited almost five months for this day to finally come. Over the past months, these owners have compiled lists, statistics, and strategies for this highly anticipated event. Today is Draft Day. The day when the 10 owners go through hour upon hour choosing their teams for the upcoming baseball season. The pizza and beer has arrived, the door is locked, and fantasy baseball draft day 2001 is ready to begin.
Robby’s heart is racing as he draws his number. Flashes of greatness dart through his mind. He peers down to look and the smile tells it all; he has the vaunted first pick. Quietly, the others watch each other’s expressions as the numbers, are picked and the draft order is set. Round One is set to begin.
Robby’s team, the Turf Slugs, choose Pedro Martinez, the game’s most dominant pitcher. With this pick, Robby knows the core player for his team has been chosen. Martinez is the best in the game, giving the Slugs a supreme starter. Now, Robby must wait as the other owners make their selections. He will watch as 18 other players are chosen before he is again able to add to his team. The draft order gives the owner with the last pick in the first round a chance to choose two players, as the order is reversed for Round Two.
David is now on the clock with the second selection of the first round. He searches through magazine after magazine and article after article trying to decide whether to pick a pitcher or a position player for his first choice. Certain experts felt that a team needs a true number one starter, yet David’s favorite online source disagreed. He is caught in limbo. Finally his team, the Flor Pagans, select Richard Hildago, the outfielder for Houston. A shocked wow hovers over the room as each owner whispers to himself, wondering what possessed David to make such a risky choice with his first pick. Hildago is a good player, but certainly does not warrant the second overall pick of the draft. Some of the owners wonder if David knows something they don’t, while others laugh at his choice. Eyes pierce from one owner to the next as they try to read each other’s minds; but this early in the draft, no one is budging on their strategies.
As round one comes to a close, players begin to get crossed off lists and sweat begins to seep onto the brows of some of the owners. They know that as the rounds pile up, so too will the difficulties in choosing players-the stars get chosen early.
Round Two finishes with Robby finding a gem in Frank Thomas, who was passed over two selections earlier by John for Carlos Delgado, the first base slugger for the Toronto Blue Jays. John had anticipated choosing between these two players months earlier while envisioning his dream team. His extensive research had shown that Delgado would be more productive playing in the hitter-friendly Skydome, while Thomas plays in the Windy City, a risk that John did not want to take. The long hours in the library looking over statistics has paid off.
As more rounds pass and rosters begin to mold together, the excitement of D-Day builds with every selection. However, the fatigue also begins to set in for some owners. The later rounds are where forgotten players become stars and when the young players begin to shine. In these rounds, only the well-prepared and strong-willed owners survive.
Ryan, owner of the Spidermen, has the first pick of the seventh round. He has built momentum from round six when he stole overlooked outfielder Juan Gonzalez, who slipped due to a poor performance in Detroit last season. Ryan scours over his lineup, almost drooling at the prospect of a middle batting order of Manny Ramirez, Gonzalez, and his first selection of Sammy Sosa. However, he must now focus on pitching, as his team lacks depth at pitcher.
“Has that Glavine guy been picked yet?” he sluringly asks, as the beer begins to settle in. Unfortunately for him, Atlanta ace Tom Glavine was selected in Round Two. The Spidermen must turn their attention to a young pitcher who will hopefully have a breakout season. With the first selection of Round Seven, the Spidermen select Tomo Okha.
“Who the hell is Tomo Okha?” asks Robby to himself. He nervously glances through his fantasy materials, hoping he did not miss out on a prized young star. As it turns out, he had. His materials clearly show Okha pitched well in limited action last season for Boston and most likely will have a strong season. Ryan has found his man, while the other owners look for that one player that could make the difference between a great and good season.
Laughter has begun to fill the room as the intensity level drops with each round. The men become more concerned with drafting on a whim than with statistics because the players left in the later rounds are going to be hit or miss. As the last round approaches, each owner struggles to find that last player to round out the roster. The room is much more relaxed during this round, with the owners cracking jokes about many of the choices. As the draft inches towards closure, John is left with the last pick. Ichiro Suzuki, the outfielder signed by the Mariners in the offseason is still on the board. John decides to take a chance on the Japanese star with this last selection of Draft Day 2001.
“I had a pet Ichiro when I was in eighth grade. It’s like a chia pet, only you didn’t have to water it,” Robby blurts out.
The wear and tear of D-Day had finally gotten to these men as they searched for their fantasy baseball dreams. After seven hours of intense thought, boxes of pizza, cases of beer, and ultimately bad jokes, the fat lady finally sang on D-Day 2001. The thought of home runs, wins, and ultimately the prize money had driven them to this long wooden table in this small room. Draft Day 2001 is over. Let the fantasy games begin!
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