Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Fantasy Baseball 2008

Before you can fully appreciate why I’m writing this article of pure fantasy, there are two key situations that you need to understand.

1.) I decided not to draft a fantasy baseball team this season.
2.) My friend Eric is taking a year off of life to travel the country with his wife.

Let me explain each in detail…

I was actually in Tucson, Arizona, watching the Brewers play the White Sox, when I realized that I hadn’t yet scheduled a fantasy baseball draft. I don’t belong to a regular fantasy league, but I have played in at least two free Yahoo! Leagues for the past 8 or 9 years. But as I was watching Ryan Braun’s monster home run sail out of Tucson Electric Park, it occurred to me that this year’s fantasy team was already assembled. Think about it; if I were going to draft a 2008 fantasy team, I’d be sure to focus on getting Prince in the first round, Braun in the second, and since I’d need pitching…Sheets in the third. The next few rounds might consist of non-Brewers, I suppose but there would certainly be other Brewers I’d want on my roster. I mean, how could you not want Corey Hart’s combo of speed and power? And since I didn’t get a shortstop in the first few rounds, there wouldn’t be a better value than JJ. And what second baseman this late in the draft will give you a better combination of HRs, SBs, and runs scored than Rickie (not Rick) Weeks. Obviously, I’d have to get Gallardo and Parra—since they’d be sure to come cheap in the later rounds. I’d take a gamble on Cameron, and I probably make Riske a sleeper pick, since I still think he might end up as the Brewers closer when all is said and done. And so it became obvious—I don’t need a fantasy team this year. They already play at Miller Park.

Now Eric is making a much bigger sacrifice—he’s going to give up his fantasy football team as he travels about the free world. Personally, I equate turning over my fantasy football team to another man to turning over my man parts to another man. I mean what happens if Chad, who’s assuming control of Eric’s…uhm…squad, wins the championship? I can’t imagine anything worse than finding out that the other guy uses your junk more effectively. Am I right?

But the fact is I’m envious of Eric’s ability to just leave it all behind and travel at will. I’m not exactly sure when my ex-roommate developed the ability to defecate fifty dollar bills, but it’s a neat trick. And as I sat there basking in the Arizona sun, I started to think about what my ideal journey would entail. And it was a pretty easy answer—I’d follow the Brewers as they embarked on their championship 2008 season. So here’s a little taste of what I envision. This, my dear seven readers, is the ultimate fantasy season…

April 23, 2008
The journey begins for my wife, my daughter and I at Miller Park on my 35th birthday. To make me feel just a little less old, Rickie Weeks scores on a little league type homer when Pat Burrell of the Phillies lets a ground ball get past him and all the way to the wall. He tries to throw Rickie out at third, but throws the ball into the stands. This is the exact same way I had my first “home run” against Oakfield as an 8-year-old. The only difference is that Weeks homer is the winning run—the LeRoy little league team could never beat Oakfield. But for whatever it’s worth, now I feel vindicated.

April 26, 2008
We take a trip to New York City to watch the NFL Draft. I initially planned to talk about the Packers surprise draft day trade to acquire Jason Taylor. After seeing him prance about on Dancing With the Stars, however, I don’t want him anymore. Disappointed that Keith Rivers is off the board for the Pack’s first pick, I remain optimistic about Dustin Keller, the TE from Purdue.

April 29, 2008
We take a trip to the urinal of a ballpark better known as Wrigley Field. Mike Cameron plays in his first game as a Brewer and hits for the cycle.

May 1, 2008
After being trashed talked to by a group of Cubs fans, my 6-month-old daughter strings together her first phrase as she yells “Cubs stink.” The Brewers lose 5-4, but all-in-all I consider the day to be a victory.

May 6, 2008
Since Eric and his wife are off on their own journey, we crash at their place after watching the Brewers suffer a tough loss to the Marlins on a Hanley Ramirez walk-off homer off Gagne. After the baby falls asleep, my wife and I decide to christen Eric’s bed with our love—just like we used to do when he was my roommate.

May 7, 2008
The Brewers hit seven home runs and romp over the Marlins 18 – 4. We drive back to Orlando, and decide to make love in all of the places of Eric’s that we used to—his couch, his closet, his guitar case and, of course, his humidor.

May 10, 2008
The Brewers have traveled back to Milwaukee for a series with the Cardinals, but we decide to spend another couple days in Orlando.

May 16, 2008
Fenway Park. Ryan Braun has a three home run game and all are over the Green Monster. The Brewers rough up Dice K for 11 runs and win 12-3.

May 20, 2008
As the Brewers knock out Zach Duke in the first inning, I get a text message that the Bucks just earned the second pick in the lottery.

May 23, 2008
Ben Sheets throws the second no-hitter in Brewers history at the new ball park in Washington D.C. The only one who comes close to getting a hit is Ronnie Belliard, but as he loligags into first on a one-hopper to right, Corey Hart throws him out at first.

May 31, 2008—
Saying that he simply doesn’t have the heart to play anymore, Carlos Lee retires from the Astros to become a fulltime cantle rancher.

June 7, 2008—
Colorado. While Matt Holiday goes 0-4 with three strike outs, Prince Fielder goes five-for-five with two home runs and seven RBI.

June 8, 2008—
Colorado. While Troy Tulowitski goes 0-4 with three strike outs, Ryan Braun goes five-for-five with two home runs and seven RBI.

June 17, 2008—
After appearing on the cover of Tiger Beat magazine, J.J. Hardy hits a walk-off homer to beat the Blue Jays at Miller Park. Sixteen year old girls scream for curtain calls until midnight. Oh…and so does my wife.

June 25th, 2008—
Atlanta. Ben Sheets strikes out 19 Braves in a 5-1 Brewers win.

June 26th, 2008—
As the Brewers travel from Atlanta to Minnesota, my family makes a stop in New York City for the NBA draft. With the second pick, the Bucks select Derrick Rose from Memphis. For the first time in my 35 years, the nickname “Rose” is actually cool.

July 3, 2008—
3-2 pitchers duel in Arizona. Sheets beats Webb and talk of an NLCS preview dominates the airwaves.

July 15, 2008—
Yankee Stadium. Prince Fielder is named the MVP of the All-Star game as he collects a record 7 RBIs and leads the NL past the AL 10-4. The NL will have home field advantage in the World Series. (In playwriting we call this foreshadowing.)

July 20, 2008—
San Francisco. Yovanni Gallardo throws a one hit shut out against the San Francisco Giants. When asked about the kids stuff, Ben Sheets is quoted as saying, “The kid's nasty. The only thing I have that he doesn’t is a no-hitter.”

July 25, 2008—
Yovanni Gallardo throws a no-hitter against the Astros at Miller Park.

July 28, 2008—Prince Fielder hits a home run off of Carlos Zambrano in the 5th inning. In the 7th, Zambrano plunks Prince. The melee that ensues is a true Miller Park memory, complete with Prince bodyslamming Zambrano on top off the mound. Unfortunately, Prince, Rickie, Hall, Kendall, and coach Ed Sedar are all suspended for seven games. Although the players alternate their suspensions, the Brewers play sub-five-hundred baseball during the next three weeks. After the season, they will admit that it was totally worth it.

August 6, 2008—
Back from his suspension, Bill Hall reminds fans how much he loves hitting in Cincy with a three homer game. The third comes off of Closer Francisco Cordero and leads the Brewers to a 7-5 win.

August 12, 2008—
Trailing the Cubs by four games, the Brewers win the first game of an important series in San Diego. The winning run comes in the form of Corey Hart, who steals home in the top of the 9th.

August 26, 2008—
Rickie Weeks hits four triples and the Brewers beat the Cardinals 7-2 in St. Louis. They trail the Cubs by 3 games.

September 3, 2008—
Carlos Beltran hits a ninth inning homer off Ben Sheets, who loses to the Johan Santana 1-0. The Mets sweep the three game series and in the post game press conference, Ned Yost declares, “one of these days we’re going to figure out how to beat those guys.”
Meanwhile, the sweep drops the Brewers to 5 games back of the Cubs.

September 18, 2008—
The Brewers beat the Cubs 5-2, taking two games of the three game series. They leave Wrigley 3 games back of the Cubs.

September 25, 2008—
Jeff Suppan throws a complete game, 14 hit shut-out against the Pirates. The Cubs are up next for the final series of the season. The Brewers trail the Cubs by two games for the division and the Padres by two games for the Wild Card.

September 26, 2008—
Trailing 3-2 in the 9th, Fielder and Braun hit back-to-back HRs against Kerry Wood. The Brewers trail the Cubs by one game.

September 27, 2008—
Gabe Kapler hits a pinch hit two run, go-ahead homer in the bottom of the 8th. David Riske (the closer since June) saves the game. The Cubs and Brewers are tied heading into the last game of the season.

September 28, 2008—
Sheets vs. Zambrano. The Padres, Brewers and Cubs all enter the day tied. After a 1-2-3 Cubs first—Rickie singles, Cameron singles, Prince walks, Braun singles, Hall doubles, Hart singles, Hardy doubles, Sheets strikes out, Kendall singles, Weeks triples…and Zambrano is removed. The great pitching duel never materializes as the Brewers win 18-0. Worse yet for the Cubs, the Padres win, and they’re eliminated from play-off contention...

So there it is—the ultimate fantasy season. I don’t know the exact dates of the play-off games, but just know that the Brewers sweep the Diamondbacks in the first round and then win a grueling seven game series against the Mets. The World Series? A four game sweep of the Yankees…

Am I dreaming? Maybe.

But it’s my fantasy team. And they’re the only ones I’m drafting this season.