Never Too Early To Start Next Year’s Draft Prep

by Moonlight Graham

The top ten in my draft this season were Pujols, Hanley, ARod, Mauer, Utley, Braun, Miguel Cabrera, Howard, Longoria and Lincecum.  I know it’s early, but how many of these are still in next year’s first round and who replaces the guys that drop?  Artie DiSori -  Wallin, PA

Hey, Artie.  Looks like your fantasy baseball draft was standard, shotgun format last season. However, it’ll bear little resemblance to next year’s I’m afraid, especially with the emergence of a few young superstars.  If I was to sit at a draft table today, I’d still expect Pujols to top the list.  What follows may surprise some, but it’s how Moonlight’s first draft list will look.  Votto, Hanley, Cabrera, Cano, Braun, CarGO, Longoria, Tulo and King Felix.  Don’t get me wrong; I still love guys like Mauer and Lincecum but prefer to populate my Top Ten with young studs on the rise. Continue reading »

by Moonlight Graham

You know you’ve had a good run as a Fantasy Baseball League when you’ve been around to see the entire career of a Hall of Famer like Ken Griffey Jr. Long the property of the Monroe Pearls of the Hausier’s Krowedum Rotisserie League, Griffey was one of the reasons the league decided to no longer retain players from year to year. “I’d like a shot at Junior”, was a common refrain, “why should Fat Cat get to keep him forever?” Griffey, a first-ballot Cooperstown entrant regardless of the injuries that plagued the latter part of his career, was one of the game’s greats; certainly one of Fantasy Baseball’s greatest, and, now that he’s decided to retire,  will be missed. However, he was not the only giant lost to the Fantasy Baseball world as Forte Bellino, long-time owner of the U.B.40′s, U.B. Jews and charter member of the HK Roto League as well as its first champion, passed away suddenly at the sinfully young age of fifty eight.  A high school teacher, administrator and coach, Fortunato left behind legions of family, students, colleagues and waiters (his favorites)  that he filed under the one category that mattered to him most: friend. Continue reading »

HorsefeathersThe calendar says it’s early July, time for most to enjoy a summer that is just beginning.  For an ever increasing contingent of Fantasy Football players, however, the calendar tells them there’s three weeks until training camps open as they count down the days of summer in anticipation of the coming football season.   The Fantasy preview magazines have hit the stands, there are fantasy rankings to consider and draft cheat sheets to be written.  There is also the very important business of deciding where to house your online fantasy football league and what kind of players should be a part of it.

In its infancy, Fantasy Football appealed to its participants for a number of reasons.  It allowed them to pit their knowledge of the game against one another, compete for cash prizes and stay connected with friends.  Back in the day, anyone that wanted to play fantasy football had to first assemble at least nine others with a common passion; not always an easy task. Next, one of the members needed to agree to be the “stat guy”, diving into the NFL summaries each Monday morning in order to update the league’s standings.  Weekly transactions became problematic if league owners were remiss in phoning in their lineups.  Not a perfect system but, all in all, better than the alternative: no league at all.

Before the advent of online fantasy football, many who wished to be participants found themselves on the outside looking in.  Simply put, if you couldn’t find enough guys to play, you couldn’t play either.  Until CBSSportsline, Yahoo and ESPN came to the rescue.  Now, individuals have the ability to link up with each other regardless of their geographic location and experience the same enjoyment as those in a friends’ league.  With the new technology, however, comes a number of choices to be made regarding statistics, rankings and drafts.

Of the three, I prefer CBSSportsline.  While free leagues are offered, their premium leagues offer quite a bit more than Yahoo and ESPN for the fee charged.  Mock drafts, player updates, rankings, cheat sheets, injury reports roster grids and a player comparison tool are all featured on a site more easily navigated than its competitors.  YAHOO and ESPN offer more than enough to satisfy the Fantasy Football Fanatic and do so mostly at no cost.  The one thing each has over CBS is the ability to tailor free friends’ leagues, something not available on CBS,

Finally, for Mock Drafts, the pick here is Mock Draft Central, as it offers free signup for once daily drafts and membership options that range from monthly to yearly.  Essentially, for a few bucks, you can sign up for one month in July and get unlimited mocks until your draft in August.  Also, members are allowed to create drafts, giving you an opportunity to simulate the draft circumstances that exist around your own tailored leagues.

Off Season Prep and the next Fantasy Baseball Season

So, Moonlight, what can I do over the winter to prepare for next season?  It’s a question that’s found its way into my mailbag more than a few times over the last few weeks.  Now, I don’t expect that many of you follow the box scores from the Arizona Fall League or the Hawaii Fall League but, aside from those, there are a few easy steps to lay the groundwork for next season.

For the moderately serious fantasy player, a weekly check of sites like CBSSportsline or ESPN will provide you with Hot Stove updates regarding transactions, injury rehabs, contract status, etc.  Keeping yourself informed about these types of situations could potentially add a little more flavor to the player evaluations you’ll start during Spring training.

Serious players subscribe to the numerous websites available.  Two of my favorites have been Rotowire.com and Ron Shandler’s BaseballHQ.  As many know, Shandler is the founder of Tout Wars, a league of Roto experts chronicled by Sam Walker in his highly entertaining book, Fantasyland.  It was Shandler who first bridged the gap between the worlds of Fantasy and Major League baseball when he was hired as a consultant by the St. Louis Cardinals.  His annual tome, The Baseball Forecaster comes out in December and is full of all kinds of trends and analyses that I use to support or debunk some of my own opinions.

Also in December, the website MockDraftCentral.com begins hosting mock drafts for baseball.  They can be an invaluable tool in slotting players in your upcoming draft as well as getting a feel for how long you might be able to wait on your favorite fantasy sleeper picks.

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It was an eventful year for the members of the HK Fantasy league.  The league title wasn’t determined until the final batter of the final game when Seattle’s J.J. Putz recorded a save that gave Bobby Carr the half point he needed to break a three way tie with Lou Carducci and Luke, Bob and Lou Ricciardi. More importantly, as has always been the case in the HKRBL, friends who remain in touch with each other because of Fantasy Baseball were able to share in each other’s accomplishments and milestones.  Jack Sullivan’s son, Andrew, exploded on to the college recruiting scene with his 90 MPH fastball that has even drawn interest from the Chicago White Sox.  Unfortunately, Andy’s rights are currently held by the Shady Gradys and have been deemed untouchable.
Eddie Mayrose proudly watched his son, Terrence, complete his college football career on his way to a Sport Management degree in May 2009.  Luke Ricciardi, at the tender age of 9, became the youngest fantasy owner in league history as well as the youngest player to go yard in his Little League.  Jamie Farley survived his first year in the league while both Tim Alfano and Chris Aucone got to face the television during the draft.  Most importantly, Ken Jankowski is expecting any day and will join Patrick Grady as a brand new father.

While on the subject of the Shady Gradys, they easily take the award for milestones this year.  Not only did Patrick welcome his two baby girls into the world but Dylan Grady, nephew of Pat and Brendan brought a little class to the operation as a new owner.  Uncle Brendan will be the league MVP next week as he and his beautiful fiancée, Kelly Dolan, tie the knot.  All in all, it’s been a great year. Despite all of the economic worries and fears about job security our spirits were buoyed by each other and our mutual friend; Baseball.

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Well, you know I… I never got to bat in the major leagues. I would have liked to have had that chance. Just once. To stare down a big league pitcher. To stare him down, and just as he goes into his windup, wink. Make him think you know something he doesn’t. That’s what I wish for. Chance to squint at a sky so blue that it hurts your eyes just to look at it. To feel the tingling in your arm as you connect with the ball. To run the bases – stretch a double into a triple, and flop face-first into third, wrap your arms around the bag. That’s my wish, Ray Kinsella. That’s my wish. And is there enough magic out there in the moonlight to make this dream come true?  Archibald “Moonlight” Graham

Enjoy the Holidays.  Ninety four days till pitchers and catchers.

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