Believe it or not, Draft Day 2003 is just around the corner, and you are all about to participate in a four-hour battle of wits, stamina and will that will effectively determine how much you will enjoy -- or fail to enjoy -- the next six months out of your year. I’m not implying that there is any pressure on this year’s draft, or anything, but a friendly word to the wise: Prepare like there is no tomorrow.
TALE OF THE TRIBE?
Believe it or not, 2003 marks the 19th year of the Hot Stove League. As first runner-up to The Greatest Story Ever Told, our own league’s epic tale traces its humble beginnings to my little ramshackle, cold-water flat in the Chalet Apartments complex, where in March of 1985 Big Guy, Shamu* and I picked the first Hot Stove League teams of all time, with the Skipper having the honor of picking our first league champion -- for Possum. For any naysayers, as the great Casey used to say, “You kin look it up.”
In any event, little did we know then that our fledgling league would soon expand to five, then six, then eight, then ten, then twelve, and now thirteen baseball addicts who share a common passion for our national pastime.
This will be our eleventh year in the Bill James Fantasy Baseball system. As Sir Charles proved in 1994 (with a little help from Don Fehr), and as McBlunder proved again in 1999, anybody can win this thing, and it doesn’t really matter if you draft first, second or last in terms of your chances of picking a winner. So have hope, all, and especially you, U-Bob, because 2003 could be the year of the Tribe, or the year of the Pirate, or the year of the Bronx Bomber, or even -- perish the thought -- the year of the Redbird.
On Tuesday, March 18, 2003, several of us gathered at our usual spot, Trovato’s, for our customary pre-Draft mock draft. Unfortunately, Itchie, out defending champion, was saddled with domestic duties (it’s Spring break for the kids, and J.T.’s in charge) and could not make it to our gathering. Magpie was busy getting his top blocked and likewise could not attend. Mouse’s whereabouts are still unknown. But those of us who did make it gave it our best shot, and we share the results, including Possum’s customary trial dirigibles, as follows:
Just for fun, we are also providing you here the top two rounds from 1988 to 2002.
I’m not referring here to Stretch’s anticipated emergence from the closet or anything like it, but instead, to some of the questions that need to be asked this year as we embark upon a new HSL season:
t Will U-Bob finally get the gaggle of monkeys off of his back and take home his first-ever HSL crown?
t Will bowling balls start growing hair?
t Will Mouse take anyone other than a damned Yankee in the first five rounds of the Draft?
t Will Tirebiter plateau at ten beers in ten rounds, or only start to accelerate his consumption at that point?
t During which round will McBlunder’s walk to the easel first begin to resemble the Bataan Death March?
t Will this be the year that Stretch snaps at Screech that, “You don’t know me well enough to say that to me.”
t Just how much is B.T. paying Screech, anyway?
t Will it be Bridesmaid Revisited IV for Magpie/Curby/Tricko?
t Will Shamu* waltz in a svelte 175 and lumber out well over the bicentennial mark after feasting on B.T.’s complimentary Runzas, chili, brownies and more? Does he have one more asterisk in him?
t Will Itchie select an aging RJ or a herniated A-Rod with his first pick? Has he spent as much time preparing for the Draft as he has watching Judge Judy and the rest of the idiot jurists on Court TV?
t Can Big Guy pull himself up out of the cellar and back toward respectability? Will reverting back to his “points over the median” logarithm do anything more than confuse SloPay and Shamu*? And isn’t that the point?
t How will Mouse handle drafting from an Upper Division berth? How did Leif Garrett handle success?
t Has Denny ever counted up all of the money he has pissed away in this Ponzi scheme? How many nuns could he have helped sponsor with those frittered-away monies?
t Will Possum again personally clog up the HSL website if not the entire Internet Superhighway with his rambling, stream-of-half-conscious mutterings, musings and half-cocked observations?
These, and many more burning questions, promise to be answered on Draft Day and in the fullness of time. You won’t want to miss it.
See you on Saturday, Gaines Pansing War Room, 1 p.m. sharp.
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