Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Where Are They Now?

Let me bring y’alls back to March 2001. Seriously, we were all still in college. I know because the crumpled up piece of paper in my closet says I graduated later that Spring. The number one song was “Angel” by Shaggy and the top draw at the box office was Exit Wounds. Who would have predicted that one little password was about to change our lives? Even more than Exit Wounds.

On an unseasonably warm March day*, somewhere between 4 and 8 fantasy sports pioneers gathered around their computers to embark on a journey that continues to this day. With a click of the mouse, Rich Gallup made Pedro Martinez the first official member of a KFS team. The first round continued with luminaries such as Jeff Bagwell, Kevin Brown, Sammy Sosa, and Darin Erstad being called to the stage as a PornBat, or a Numbnut, or a Bergie.

*may have been snowing several inches per hour

And while a few owners considered the draft over when the ghost of Mike Keyes drafted Richard Hidalgo in Round 7, the best was actually yet to come. Lance Berkman to Bookland in Round 13? Nope. Ichiro to VHQ in Round 19? Child’s play. Surely, I mean Mike Sirotka to T-Dub in Round 15. No, I’m talking about the tradition like none other – the final round funny pick. So let’s hop in the wayback machine and revisit Round 23, 6 years ago.

By the way, that initial league password? “jonrobbins”. Continue, if you can…

Pick 177 – VHQ StalkerDodgers – Travis “Gookie” Dawkins

2001: The homeless man’s Pokey Reese did not appear in one MLB game in 2001, choosing instead to bust out a year later with 5 hits in 48 ABs to the tune of a .389 OPS.

Where is Gookie now: After spending ’06 with the Pirates AAA affiliate in Indianapolis, where he played in 66 games and outhit Chris Truby, Gookie was one of 4 non-roster invitee infielders in Seattle Mariners camp in 2007. The other 3 (and I am not making this up) were Rey Ordonez, Matt Tuiasosopo, and Sean Burroughs. I can’t figure out if he’s been cut yet, but it appears he might begin the season with the big club. This once again proves my theory – making the Mariners squad is very difficult.

Pick 178 – EMF EscortWagons – Turk Wendell

2001: Turk went 4-5 with 1 save in 70 total appearances for the Mets and Phillies. His WHIP, and I know you were wondering, was 1.448.

Where is Turk now: OK, first of all, Turk Wendell went to Quinnipiac? How did I not know that. You guys knew that, right? Anyway, after he was told he wasn’t good enough to pitch in Colorado, Wendell somehow avoided killing himself before finally calling it quits in 2005. He is now most known for pointing at former teammates and saying “NANNY NANNY STEROID USER!” He also wears a Jeff Stanley t-shirt to all public appearances.

Pick 179 – T-Dub Firestones – Mitch Meluskey

2001: Yet another final-round selection who failed to show up in the box score in 2001, Meluskey clearly plateaued a year earlier by hitting 14 of his 15 career home runs and stealing 1 of his 2 career stolen bases

Where is Mitch now: The once-promising heir to the Randy Kutcher redneck name throne fizzled out after taking hitting lessons from Brad Ausmus for 3 seasons and punching out teammate Matt Mieske during a batting-cage fight. I’m totally remembering all this stuff off the top of my head…

Pick 180 – Rich’s Sales Clerks – DeWayne Wise

2001: Continuing our theme, Larry DeWayne Wise played nary a game in ’01. But forget that, why did we let Adler name his team “Rich’s”? That was totally confusing, especially since they both wore vests a lot at work.

Where is DeWayne now: When not being the annoying voiceover guy for CNN Headline Sports (no?), Wise can be found plying his trade as a member of the AAA Louisville Bats, where he shares a locker room with Dan Conway (not that Dan Conway), Rick Asadoorian (that Rick Asadoorian) and Mark Bellhorn (definitely that Mark Bellhorn)

Pick 181 – Bookland PornBats – Rocky Biddle

2001: Funny name, sure. But a serious game also. Biddle won a whopping 7 games for the White Sox in ’01, despite bowing to pressure and walking 3 batters intentionally. Pussy.

Where is Rocky now: Perhaps most well known for winning a Pitcher of the Week award in 2003, when he saved 34 games for Montreal and New Haven, Lee Francis “Rocky” Biddle suffered a torn labrum in 2005 and was released by the Washington Nationals. To answer the question, though, I have no idea.

Pick 182 – MSDW Numbnuts – Bengie Molina

2001: The slowest Molina (which is like the tallest Braden) hit 5 home runs and knocked in 40 for the Wherever Angels of Wherever. He was 0 for 1 on stolen base attempts, thus costing MSDW GM Jon Watterson a crucial point in, lets say Week 9.

Where is Bengie now: A tradition within a tradition began with this pick, as Watterson tried to pick actual MLB contributors in the final round while the rest of us frantically scrolled for hyphens and z’s in names. 84 career home runs and 2 gold gloves qualifies as contributing I suppose, so Molina fits the bill. In 2007, Bengie will try and replace SF icon Mike Matheny behind the plate. He has recently been spotted lapping Barry Bonds in windsprints around the diamond.

Pick 183 – Baybutt Pirates – Vinny Castilla

2001: After getting over the irony of a Mexican being drafted by a guy who went to college in the middle of the woods in Virginia, Castilla easily trounced his final round brethren in performance, hitting 25 bombs in Tampa and Houston

Where is Vinny now: Short story? He’s retired. Long story? His last professional baseball appearance came as a member of the 2007 Mexican entry into the Caribbean Series. His team finished last in the tournament, despite being led in home runs by Alfredo Amezaga (1).

Pick 184 – Bergiez – Bobby Bonilla

2001: When is a non-humor pick the best humor pick ever? When it’s our very first Mr. Irrelevant and his name is Bobby freaking Bonilla, that’s when. Bobby batted .213 in 93 games with the Cardinals in ’01, and pretty much faded into Bolivia shortly thereafter.

Where is Bobby now: I was afraid to look, but fear not - Bobby is somehow a functioning member of society, currently holding it down as an MLB union rep. He also sits grudgingly in a tie for 124th on the all-time home run list, his dogged pursuit of Kent Hrbek having apparently stalled just six measly dingers short.

So there you have it. Who will be added to this pantheon this weekend? Tune in at 8:45 ET this Saturday to find out. Actually, tune in and then go away for about an hour while actual rosters are boringly constructed out of middle-of-the-road Brewers pitchers. THEN tune back in towards the end.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Top 10: Mocking Myself

I'll be honest, I haven't really been prepping for the draft as well as I have in years past. Of course, the time-invested-to-quality-pick ratio that I displayed last year pretty much indicated that I wasted my time. It's always hard to judge Spring Training, so I try not to pay attention. The problem is that baseball is my favorite pro sport, so I can't stay away from it. The results of the column reading and box score research that I do pre-season have produced the likes of Jay Gibbons, Brad Wilkerson, and Daniel Cabrera as fantasy picks. That Gabe Gross pick I made in 2005 wasn't a humor pick. He was supposed to be my draft steal. That all vanished when the Blue Jays sent him to AAA. This year don't be surprised if I grab any of the following players:

Daniel Cabrera - I... can't... stop... Seriously, if this guy ever wins more than 12 games, it had better be for my team.
Garret Anderson - G.A. was a cornerstone of my teams when I was in college. Apparently he's healthy this year. Which means I should expect big numbers again. Which I will expect. And probably not get.
Troy Tulowitzki - He's the next great thing in this town. And he's got an awesome Polish name to boot. Besides, why have only one fantasy player on my hometown team, when I can have two?
Aaron Harang - No one else will take him. I can almost guarantee it.
Dan Uggla - I don't even like this guy. I guess I have a soft spot for him just because everyone on Yahoo! says he's going to suck, when in fact it is they who suck.
Khalil Greene - So my hybrid SS/MI could be named Khalil Tulowitzki. I have just decided that my first born son shall be named Khalil Tulowitzki Bielecki.
Kenny Rogers - Just the kind of somewhat decent, undesirable pitcher that would wind up on my team. Ooo, he's having a good spring. The dude is 43, Bielecki. He ain't gonna have a breakout year.
Felix Hernandez - I usually make one pick every year with the sole purpose of drawing the envy of the rest of the league. At least until Week 2. I (or whoever takes 'Lix) will be that person.
Raul Ibanez - The hitters' version of Aaron Harang. He is also the son-in-law of the lady I worked for at UM.
Roger Clemens - Everyone's got to have him as their 25th pick. I have him as my 24th.