Here's the scoop: April 3, 2013

Spring is Bobbling Along
Saturday evening marked the return of spring for me. That’s when members of the Catskill Mountain Fantasy Baseball League (CMFBL) gathered for the league’s annual draft.

I periodically mention CMFBL in this space because it’s a pretty big part of my life for six months each year. Some may say it’s too big of a part of my life. For that reason, I’ve learned to keep my enthusiasm for this “sport” to myself — unless I’m talking to fellow league members. They understand.

I won’t get into the gory (some nonbelievers say boring) details of Fantasy Baseball, but let’s just say that real people (like me) “draft” a team of real players (not named A-Rod) and follow their success — or failure — throughout the season. The teams that accumulate the most points win a few dollars for holiday shopping. More importantly, the first-place club gets a Bobblehead doll signifying a league championship. It’s not about the money. Really. Ask the millions of people who are involved in this pastime.

On top of all that, the season-opening draft has added significance. Because we draft as close to the start of Opening Day as we can, this date usually means the weather is improving. That’s a good thing, as Martha Stewart would say.

Sacred evening
Draft night is also one of rituals. Each team (some go solo, others have as many as three “managers”) comes equipped with a stash of pizza, snacks and an ample amount of beverage of choice. Then the player selection begins. It takes a long time — nearly five hours.

Last Saturday, several of us “old-timers” were discussing how we did things in the league’s early days. We’d have monthly meetings where we wrote out our statistics by hand and turned them in to determine the standings. There was reliance on: A. Everyone showing up. And B. Everyone’s math skills. The system was seriously flawed.

Today, we subscribe to a website that takes care of all those details for us. Daily e-mails keep league members up-to-date on statistics, injuries and more baseball information than anyone could ever need to know. It’s great.

Out of character
I’m not generally an “early arriver,” but I was the first one at the designated draft site last week. When another friend showed up, we discussed how much we enjoy the brotherhood (ladies are welcome, too) of draft night. An hour later, we were cursing rivals for “stealing” our favorite players moments before we had planned to select them in the draft. It’s part of the fun.

Along with the website, many other elements of the draft have evolved. The draft starts much earlier, I think to accommodate fellows who don’t generally stay up too late anymore. The beverage consumption often includes sodas and seltzer, not just suds.

And, this year, for the first time, one grizzled veteran didn’t go around to his league mates and offer, “You want to go out for one?” The “one” could often get confused with the questionable math skills mentioned earlier.

Before the draft started, I was chatting with a couple of other old-timers who also have considerable passion for Fantasy Baseball. One friend used to have a partner, but that fellow has drifted out of the picture. Several years ago, my friend asked his (former) partner’s wife if her husband was still going to participate. She responded, “You still do that? It’s kind of childish.”
Right. And the League Championship Bobblehead is a mere toy.
— Brian Sweeney