The reality is that fantasy baseball has a hold on me

April 03, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

We all have our vices. Some drink. Some smoke. Some gamble. Some cheer for the Bengals.

Sportswriters play fantasy baseball.

One of the most anticipated events of spring for the newsroom is the fantasy draft (now drafts, with the expansion to three separate leagues ... hey, I told you this was a vice) held at Bob Parasiliti's house.

Personally, my obsession is becoming unhealthy. After going a league-worst 5-19 last year (including the lowest one-week score in the league's four-year history), I spent 10 hours making up my own draft board for last Saturday, determined not to be embarassed again.

As sports editor Mark Keller said, "If you spent that kind of time on your writing, you'd win a Pulitzer." But Pulitzers pale in comparison to winning the "Mail Ball" title.


How did I do?

  • I had the third overall pick. The Big Unit and A-Rod went 1-2, so the choice came down to Barry Bonds or Vladimir Guerrero. It's a no-lose situation, unless Bonds severely tweaks his hamstring. I took Bonds, increasing his injury chances ten-fold.

  • I targeted a pitcher in the second round. Everyone knew Johnson and Curt Schilling would be long gone. When my third choice - Houston's Roy Oswalt - landed in my lap, I rejoiced.

  • When all three top-tier third basemen (Scott Rolen, Troy Glaus and Eric Chavez) fell into round three, I was sure I'd get one of them with the eighth pick of the round. Wrong. Rolen went third, Glaus fifth and Chavez - the guy I really wanted - sixth. With a mixture of shock and dejection, I settled for ex-third baseman Chipper Jones, now solely an outfielder.

  • I took White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko in the fourth round, a full 15 picks (including another one of mine) ahead of where Royals star Mike Sweeney was taken. Bad mistake. I could have picked a stud at second (Jose Vidro) or catcher (I-Rod) and taken Sweeney later.

  • Mike Mussina - my fourth-ranked pitcher - fell to me in round five. That's two of the top four starters (according to my thoroughly researched and likely inaccurate projections) on my team. I guess that's something to smile about.

  • With all the best catchers, second basemen, third basemen and shortstops gone, I loaded up in the outfield, taking Gary Sheffield and Luis Gonzalez in rounds six and seven. That's Bonds, Chipper, Sheffield and Gonzo. Then I got Juan Gonzalez in a 14th-round steal. Yikes.

  • Unfortunately, I fell asleep at the wheel later.

I drafted closers Mariano Rivera and Jason Isringhausen, unaware that both would start the season on the disabled list and leave me short a pitcher against Mark this week. Then with my final pick, I took Cleveland catching prospect Victor Martinez - who didn't even make the Indians' roster.

In summary, I have one heck of an outfield, decent pitching (adding Freddy Garcia and Keith Foulke) but not enough of it, and question marks around the infield (Fernando Vina and Eric Young at second, Edgardo Alfonzo and Corey Koskie at third, Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Guillen at short) and behind the plate (Mike Barrett).

Probably not as bad as that 5-19 team last year. Probably not worth the 10 hours of studying I put in. But still good enough to beat Mark this week (Well, not exactly).

Now about that Pulitzer ...

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