Live Fantasy Draft in Canton

Huge shout-out to homeboys of the Summer of Sizemore fantasy baseball league; who are comprised of many former Malone Collegiate baseball players (and 1 pitching coach who happens to be a former teammate of mine. You guys were awesome yesterday and without a doubt had I not went just a bit too hard the entire week prior to our meeting, I would have happily have came out with you guys and line up and taken the 13 shots I owed you all for trying to take someone who was on the board. It was my first live draft in 10 years, so cut me a few breaks.

I woke up, grabbed a cup of joe and made the 2 hour ten minute commute yesterday to Tozzi’s on 12th, and when I arrived the fun began.

I didn’t have nearly enough time to catch up with my good friend Mike, we were both scrambling from the onset to make our picks and trying to organize some semblance of strategy. That’s the thing with a live draft. For all the things that they’re great for, catching up with old friends would not be one of them.

However, I like what a live draft brings to the table. You have to come prepared and with your own tools to be successful. Take the ten guys in our league. Except for a few of us, everyone had a different list, thus the guys in the available pool are all ranked differently depending on what the source thought of the players. That’s what makes it fun. More variability than in an online draft where you’re all going in order of Yahoo’s draft. A few of the guys had FranGraphs fired up on their computer. A few others had some wacky documents about which ballparks are the best for fantasy numbers. Beers were served, the food was awesome, and there were some laughs to be had.

And for most of us that will never be real GM’s, this is as close as it gets for us as far as being in a war room goes. And I got texts on my cell phone during the draft, as I was fielding offers for Zach Greinke and Josh Johnson. The guy knew my affinity for Jay Bruce. You’ll be happy to know I didn’t give in (even my fiance begged me not to do anything stupid to acquire Jay Bruce this season. It does neither Bruce nor I any good in terms of his production). I got close, but at the end of the day I shut down the phones and had my self a pretty nice little draft.

If you show up with a cheat sheet, you’re still going to select someone who has already been taken. It’s inevitable. The guys in the league made an amendment to the league draft rules; if you selected a guy who was already taken, you were to do a shot. And if they would have enforced it, I would have been doing about 15 shots.

For the duration of the draft–which lasted about 3 hours and 15 minutes–I was doing live research. Coco Cordero or Craig Kimbrel? Go back and forth in my head a dozen times. Or do I take steals off the board even though I don’t need anymore so that no one else can have them? Do I have enough reserve infielders. Eyeball about 8 projected sets of stats. And then pick a guy who you think is best available regardless of position.

I watched the commish and defending 3-time champion of the league do something very, very smart. He tried to start a run where closers were selected, so it came back around to him and everyone else at every position was still there available to him. It didn’t work, but what a great move.

Alright, here’s my draft. It’s a 10-team league, rotisserie 5×5. And it’s a keeper league so a few of the guys in the league overpaid for Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. But here is my squad in what I think was the best draft I’ve ever had:

C Brian McCann
1B Adam Dunn
2B Chase Utley
SS Hanley Ramirez
3B Pedro Alvarez
OF Jason Heyward
OF Mike Stanton
OF Micheal Bourn
Reserves: Brett Gardner, Dominic Brown, Lorenzo Cain, Neil Walker and a few others I’m definitely missing.
Pitching: Lincecum, Greinke, Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Madison Bumgarner, Jonathan Sanchez, Rafael Soriano, Joakim Soria, and a few others I’m missing.

And if you ever happen to find yourself in Canton, Ohio; do yourself a favor and stop by Tozzi’s on 12th. It’s a nice, classy Italian joint where you can stop and get yourself dinner and a drink. But DO NOT order pasta. Get the calamari, and then get the beef tips dinner (pictured above). When you picture beef, I know you don’t picture it like steak. But what I had yesterday was basically sirloin steak with vegetables and rice.

Again, Tozzi’s on 12th in Canton. Tell them Clint sent you.

A great Saturday is in the books, and I’m officially ready for the season to get underway now. If you are the commish of a league, talk to your boys and talk about organizing a live draft. It’s something that every fantasy baseball geek should experience at least once in a lifetime.