Thursday, March 13, 2008

Fantasy Baseball Draft Preparation - The Real Secret

(Originally appeared at The Love Of Sports as part of my weekly column, this post deals with topics ranging from baseball to illegal immigration, and back again - with underlying themes of ingenuity and the importance of fantasy baseball in today's democratic societies. If you have any interest in sports, freedom, or foreigners, than you should read on below.)

Baseball’s back. And along with baseball, comes – you guessed it - fantasy baseball.

So now’s the perfect time to let you in on a few of my fantasy baseball draft secrets.

The truth is, it’s all about the preparation. Especially when you’re drafting in a keeper league, like mine.

And I’m not talking about simply poring over rankings, and sifting through 2008 player projections for hours upon hours - many weeks and months before draft day. Or memorizing stat lines for every position player over the past 6 years, and calculating your own projections derived from a complex multivariable-calculus-based algorithm.

This data is then uploaded to a server farm in India (via secure satellite transmission), which crunches the numbers and spits out the left-handed second basemen who bat the best against pitchers with more than 4 vowels in their last names – and whose high school mascots were some variety of eagle (bald, golden, screaming, etc.).

Fantasy draft data-crunching, now outsourced to India.

Every average fantasy manager does that stuff nowadays.

And I don’t mean traveling to Florida, Arizona, and the Dominican Republic to attend Winter Ball and/or Spring Training games in order to scout the starting position battles, and get a jump on the latest news.

Top fantasy gamers have been doing that for 5 or 6 years now, easy.

If this is all you’ve been doing to prepare for your draft, I’m afraid you need to step up your game, my friends.

In my current league, we’re able to draft minor league players. For example, I drafted Hunter Pence and Jacoby Ellsbury last year before they even played their first game in the majors.

Several years ago, one guy in our league drafted Scott Kazmir…..while he was still a junior in high school. I’m not kidding.

So, if you’re going to keep pace with crazy people like me, or my Kazmir-loving colleague, you need to look at all available avenues.

My suggestions if you REALLY want to win your keeper league?

1) Learn Spanish

2) Book a trip to Cuba (you’ll need to go through Canada, Mexico, or Bermuda).

3) Bring some extra suitcases.

4) Hang around some playgrounds and junior high school ball fields.

5) Evade the Castro regime’s “Policia Secreto.”

6) Take copious notes regarding the 13 year-old with the 102 mph slider and the unorthodox leg kick.

7) Discover the mythical 230-pound, 14 year-old right fielder with a howitzer arm and ability to hit a baseball so hard, it actually vaporizes upon contact with his bat.

8) Marvel at the natural beauty of La Isla Cubana - Make mental note to write congressman about lifting embargoes against Cuba, and allow for free travel to and from the island nation.

9) Gather all relevant personal information on the aforementioned individuals. You’ll need this info on draft day.

10) Find their younger siblings – play catch with them. Maybe hit a few balls around as well.

11) If talented - and small enough - place siblings in extra suitcases.

12) Don’t forget plenty of air holes, and stock suitcases with juice boxes and snacks.

13) Once safely in the USA, send the Cuban youngsters to Prep school and encourage them to play baseball.

14) Wait a few years. Draft. Repeat.

There you have it. You’ll be dominating your keeper league within 10-12 years.

These young Cuban children are of different ethnicities, but Castro has instilled baseball greatness in all his people. At least one is a future All-Star - if you can get him off the island.

Alternatively, you could follow a similar process in Japan, or Texas. Both of which would be easier on a number of levels - legally, politically, and logistically. But more difficult on several other levels - larger children in Texas = harder to smuggle back to prep school, and Japanese is a really tough language to learn = difficult to convince parents that kids would be better off with you in America, and on your fantasy baseball team, which might be nearly impossible to explain exactly what a fantasy baseball team is in Japanese. They might think you're going to train their children for an "American Idol" spinoff, or something - which could be used as a great cover, come to think of it.

"Hello, Continental Airlines? One ticket to Tokyo please!"

In any case, best of luck in your draft preparations. May you discover the next rookie phenom, and draft him before anyone else even knows his name.

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