Monday, March 24, 2008


I feel I need to respond to the Southern Bureau's dig in the comments yesterday, where he seems to go overboard with the Chuck James references. For those of you who don't know, yes, that was a dig. Because I drafted Chuck James (high) in our fantasy baseball draft in January. And I think it's time to tell that story. But to save everyone embarrassment, I'll tell it in true story form, so that it comes across nearly fictional.

It was late January. It was cold in Boston...January cold. Four friends walked into the Boston University bookstore, looking for various knicknacks that they didn't need that they would buy just because it had their school logo on it.
John had a mission. He went straight to the magazine rack, knowing if he found the right magazine, he'd be able to spend the rest of the afternoon scouting for that night's fantasy baseball draft. John hadn't done much scouting, and he was a little embarrassed by that fact. What had been pages of research in year one of this league was down to an afternoon of scrambling to pick out the players he thought would perform best in an effort to defend his title. Well, half-title. He had to share the championship last year with Kevin.

Kevin. He'd probably been scouting since last October. Probably even September, before last year ended. That kid thinks about fantasy baseball all day, morning and night. John knew he had to work hard that afternoon to best Kevin.

He also knew Dave was one to worry about. Though he wouldn't pay much attention during the season, Dave was always well prepared for a draft. The draft played to his strengths. Stats. Spreadsheets. The rest of the season was just fluff. But John knew he had to get his players before they fell into Dave's lap. Justin, he wasn't too worried about, draft-wise. Justin knew his stuff, John knew, but he didn't prepare for a draft. He was like Allen Iverson - practice?! Justin just showed up and played.

One thing that did worry John about Justin was that he had a familiarity with the players. They all did, actually. More than he did, anyway. This was because they had spent the day before cutting out mini-pictures of all the players, putting together a tremendous draft board for the big night. So they knew the players...and not just their names, but what they looked like.

So this was the scenario facing John as he bought the magazine, and pored over it at the BU Hockey game that night. While Justin was obsessing over the Hot Dog and Jesus, and Kevin and Dave enjoyed the game, John had half an eye on hockey and the other half in his magazine.

He wasn't crazy about the magazine, to be honest. It was the "Fantasy Baseball 2008 Guide", and it gave projected stats for the players for the year ahead. The title sounded good, he thought, and you can't go wrong with projections, he thought.....if they're right. He looked at guys like David Wright, Carlos Beltran....they seemed reasonable. So he was sold.

John figured if he looked at the major players for each team, just to get an idea of their numbers, he would do OK. "Chipper Jones is made for our league," (where OBP is valued high) thought John. "I'll make him one of my top draft choices." And on and on he went. While still looking through the Braves, John came across Chuck James:

Projected 2008 stats: 15-9, 3.50 ERA, 191 IP, 61 walks, 173 strikeouts.

He did a double take.

Projected 2008 stats: 15-9, 3.50 ERA, 191 IP, 61 walks, 173 strikeouts.

He just found the steal of the draft. "I can't let anyone know about this," he thought. "If they find out about the year Chuck James is going to have, they'll take him before I can!" John became suspicious the rest of the night. He became very protective about his magazine. "I can't let them find out!"

The secret burned inside John. After the game, the four friends stopped for a bite to eat. John couldn't stop thinking about Chuck James. The draft finally came, and with the 36th overall pick, in the 9th round, John selected Chuck James.

The room fell silent.

"Not what I expected in that spot," said Kevin.

Justin laughed.

John got defensive. Now he felt stupid for believing a magazine prediction. He immediately realized he could have picked Chuck James up off the waiver wire.

In the grand scheme of things, not much was lost....except for John's pride. He would now join Dave in the annals of "Making Strange Picks Way Too High"...matching the Shea Hillenbrand pick Dave had made a couple of years earlier. And John still stood by the fact that James will have a good year - once he gets back from AAA Richmond, and fully recovers from the Tommy John surgery that wasn't mentioned in the magazine he hurriedly bought at Barnes & Noble at Boston University.

1 comment:

Southern Bureau said...

Greatest story ever.

The best part: I've been waiting two months to make those Chuck James jokes on the blog. I kept waiting and waiting for your yearly awards list. Then you delayed them because of the Final Four. And then...FINALLY!!

He probably will win the Cy Young, and we'll all look like idiots. Except you, of course.