The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

If Bill Simmons cared about Cleveland sports…

Posted by disappointmentzone on 2 August 2006

Perhaps he’d write something like this:

The Sports Guy Goes to an Auction

So I’m sitting there the other day watching ESPN2 and I see that AJ Pierzynski had a great game. There is nobody, with the possible exception of Charlie Manuel, that I dislike more than AJ Pierzynski. In the pantheon of people that ‘Make the Sports Guy pissed off,’ these two are a nail-biter.

The phone rings. It’s my friend Bish. Awesome! Bish is always willing to discuss our mutual distaste for AJ Pierzynski. Don’t get me wrong–we respect his abilities. But he’s the Phoebe from “Friends” of sports. Totally annoying, yet on TV all the time. Bish mentions that it would be nice if AJ Pierzynski caught a case of herpes at the beginning of September, opening a Ron Dayne on HGH-sized hole for the Indians to cruise to the playoffs.

Bish points out that the chances that AJ Pierzynski will come down with herpes in September are minimal, but that if we expanded the possibilities, there would be a greater chance for debilitation of some sort. As usual, Bish is a crazy genius.

Here is what we came up with:

4. AJ Pierzynski receives a vicious suplex from Travis Hafner in front of 40,000 fans jammed into Jacobs Field.

(On a side note, has there ever been a greater moment in sports than when Bret Hart beat Stone Cold Steve Austin in Wrestlemania XIII? That and when all the starters on Notre Dame’s football team hand in their jerseys and say they won’t play unless Rudy can dress for the final home game of the season are the winners of the ‘Most Awesome Non-Real-Life Sports Moment Competition 2006.’)

3. AJ Pierzynski is informed by his wife that their child was not fathered by him but rather by either Jose Mesa or Isaiah Thomas.

2. AJ Pierzynski hangs a homemade collage featuring scrabook-style clippings of Steve Sanders and Daniel LaRusso in his locker. He is immediately placed on the DL with ‘flu-like symptoms.’

1. AJ Pierzynski meets Johanna from Real World: Austin, falls in love, and leaves team to begin filming ‘Eight Men Out.

After we finish with the conversation about AJ Pierzynski we turn ourselves to the real topic of conversation, the upcoming draft of the Suzy Kolber is Sexy Memorial Baseball Association, a new fantasy league that Bish and I will be joining this year.

Ordinarily, I’m never an advocate of partnering up to own a fantasy baseball team. That’s like getting picked up by Posh Spice and going back to her place, only to find out that Shawn Kemp is already there. If the best you get is to share, sometimes it’s not worth it at all, right?

However, this league only had one slot open, so Bish and I agreed to partner up, in the hope that one of us could switch over and manage the next vacancy. After much debate, and eliminating the excellent possibilities of ‘Naked Monopoly with Muffins’ and ‘Cecil Fielder’s Shiny as a Prostitute’ as potential team names, we settle on ‘Sporting Wood.’

The thing that’s exciting about this league is that it is an auction format league, which is totally different than a draft league. I mean, it seems as though it would be the same as a draft league, but it’s not. It’s like the difference between NHL ’93 and NHL ’94–you take out fighting and add one-timers, you’ve got a whole different game, even if they are both hockey. Any good sports fan knows that the Cavs are good, but not everyone knows how to conduct an auction.

Pre-Auction preparation is important. First, it is important to choose a date when the auction will take place. This is easy. Choose the date when the whipped guy in the league does not have to tend to his wife, and that’s your date. Finding the whipped-guy-can-make-it date is a crucial part of auction success. (Speaking of which, what is with all these girlfriends who think that ‘fantasy draft’ is code for ‘I’m going to have my buddies over to watch John Daly perform Guns N Roses while greko-roman wrestling?’ Don’t they realize we’d rather play fantasy baseball? Though that would be cool.)

Next, and more difficult, is the auction location selection. Many times people will choose to have auctions in the sports bar. This is a bad idea. Nothing good can come of this; every person in the room is going to be sad and have an extremely sore ear after four hours. No, the auction must be held in someone’s house–best furnished basement wins. The coolness of the wife/significant other can be a deciding factor if two people have similar options–say, if owner A has a Super Mario Brothers arcade game, but owner B has a case of PBR. Nothing will kill a fun evening faster than the host’s wife emasculating him with a ‘Stop being an ass, ass.’ We have selected next Tuesday night, at 8 pm, at a guy’s house where his wife will be gossiping, and therefore unable to disrupt the festivities.

I will not be sharing with you my player ratings for this coming season–after all, Johnny Chan doesn’t play poker with the hand face up–but I will give you some insight into my auction strategy. The thing is, an auction has so much more of an influence on your season than a draft does. In an auction, every player in the league is at your disposal. Everyone starts out equal. It’s the communism of fantasy sports.

It’s also like a marathon. It requires endurance, it requires stamina, it requires concentration and planning. Without further ado, here is my ‘Sports Guy Auction Strategy Guide’:

Round One-When you move around on the balls of your feet, make sure you put your feet on the ground before you throw a punch. You will get about 60% more power guaranteed

Once the auction starts, timing and strategy are much more important than they are in a traditional draft. The first hour or so of the auction has to be spent feeling out your opponents. Are they particularly loyal to the Kansas City Royals? Do they have a tendency toward farting in poorly vented rooms? You are looking for weaknesses that you can exploit later on. Store these like Money.

Here is a good place to test people by chucking out a few names of guys you’d never want on your team-aging, oft-injured players, like Gary Sheffield, or over-hyped rookies that never panned out, like Brandon Philips.

Everyone is going to get some good players at this point, so make sure you don’t overpay and find yourself begging for money like Johnny Drama asking for Vinny Chase’s AMEX Black.

Round Two-Have a Sense of Sociology

In round two, there will be one moment that defines your draft. Things will be going along smoothly, and all of a sudden you’ll get involved in a bidding war on a player. It’s not unlike a big pot in a no-limit hold-em tournament–you’ll have your the Joker-Batman in Batman moment, and you need to decide what to do.

Oftentimes, this will come down to a single dollar, here or there–if you bid $28 for Jason Michaels, you know you’ll get him, but you’re facing a bid with the clock ticking. Are you going to be a hero, carried off the field like David Ortiz? Or are you Lloyd Carr, skulking off the field into the jeering history of your team’s fans, with only your family still willing to speak with you. Now is your moment. Set the tone.

Round Three-Moving Day

Phase three of the draft is moving day, like day three of The Masters. You need to shoot a four under 68. This is where you’ll fill out a lot of the players that, while less sexy, make up the core of your team. Do not discount the importance of moving day. If you wait until the next phase to build the core of your team, you’ll find yourself as lonely as Paris Hilton in a room full of Mormons.

Moving day is the time to make things happen for your team. This is where you are going to define the season that you have. If you end up moving day by taking an accurate mix of future stars, injury-risk players, and Jhonny Peralta, you’ll be okay.

Round Four-The Game of Trivial Pursuit

By the end of the fantasy auction, the endeavor has become mind-numbing. The only thing it can be compared to is a game of Trivial Pursuit, played among friends. Something that, at the beginning of the day, seemed like such fun, but by the end of it, is just a group of people banging their heads against the wall, adamantly trying to finish what they started, the joy of competing against your friends replaced with a desire to prove that you are The King of All Trivia and that is that.

In this phase of the auction, you must be careful. This is the ‘It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business’ moment of the draft. People will be exploding like a supernova, screaming incomprehensible things like Fenster from The Usual Suspects and threatening to punch each other if they do not get their way.

Just bite your lip, set your jaw, and try and endure. It’s a long season coming forward.

‘Help me, Luke. You’re my only hope.’

This was generated with the Write Your Own Bill Simmons Column generator.

UPDATE: This will be the only Bill Simmons-esque post on this site. There are already about 500,000 Lesser Simmonses blogging about sports and the Karate Kid, and they are all boring and wildly derivative. Simmons owns the market on infusing columns about sports with pop culture references and he’s been doing it for about 10 years. He’s very good. No one else need try. And for those who keep trying, please stop.


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