I recently returned from my annual Fantasy Baseball Draft in Las Vegas. This is year thirteen of our league, and over the course of that time the number of Padres taken in our draft has been few to zero.
This year was no different. In fact this year was a little worse than normal. I almost drafted Yonder Alonso out of pity. Another person in our league joked about taking Carlos Quentin to fill his DL spot, and we used Will Venable’s sticker to hold up the draft board. It’s not that we don’t want to draft Padres players; its just there really isn’t any point.
When we started our Fantasy League in 2000, the very first player picked was Trevor Hoffman. We made fun of the guy who did this immediately, to which he replied, “I have a strategy.” Needless to say his strategy didn’t pay off.
Since that first draft there have been few Padres worthy of a selection. Heath Bell, Jake Peavy, Mat Latos, and Adrian Gonzalez all had good runs. Brian Giles had a minute, Chris Young had a moment, and of course Khalil Greene had an issue. But, it’s been few and far between for quite awhile. I know you might be thinking, “A lot of teams don’t have players you would draft in a fantasy league.” That statement is correct. The Royals only have a couple, as do the Pirates, Rockies, and Indians. I mean hell, when we started our league we only had seven guys, so to make things even we made the Tampa Bay Devil Rays our eighth. Which meant you couldn’t draft any Devil Rays, and that was fine because you really didn’t want to. Remember this was the early 2000’s when the Devil Rays were still a joke. Yes, there are and have been plenty of teams who have had less than desirable fantasy players, but I write about the Padres not those other teams. For the most part drafting a Padre means you’re taking a pitcher or taking a chance. Now with the fences moved in, all that has changed. Not one Padres hurler was taken this year, not one. And, we have some pretty good candidates: Clayton Richard could be okay, Huston Street should have a strong season, and Andrew Cashner might end up with a regular line that tempts owners with a waiver wire pick up. I can only assume that the hesitation is in part due to PETCO’s fences being moved in, and I understand that, as I also refuse to draft any Padres pitchers this year. And, I’m the guy who picked up Joe Randa more than once – in the same season.
In our fantasy league there is a lot of hometown bias. Guys want to try and draft as many players from their hometown team as possible. We have a Dodgers fan, an Angels fan, an Orioles fan, a Giants fan, and four Padres fans. One of my favorite things to do is find out who the up and coming stud is in one of these organizations and snatch ‘em up before the homer does. It drives them crazy, and makes me happy. Dork jokes. You want the star player on your fantasy team that you get to watch on your real team, but when that star doesn’t really exist? It’s tough.
This year Chase Headley was kept, and someone drafted Jedd Gyorko as a minor leaguer. Yes, we do a minor league draft. If you don’t then I pity your league. But, both of those picks are attached to a whole lot of wishful thinking. We hope that Gyorko is the player he looks like he could be. We hope that Headley continues his 2012 stride. Of course, if both of those things happen it won’t only benefit the Padres, it will benefit our fantasy league. We could have a couple fantasy stars that are talked about, and offered in deals, and admired for a few years to come. This is would be good. It would be a point of pride for me on two levels, and I want to live on two levels. I’m a diehard Padres fan, and I am more hopeful than most that this season could be a real step up for the team. I want people in my fantasy league to drive up the prices of players who no one thought of before. I want the Padres to be the envy of statheads, and roto-junkies everywhere. I want that, because it echoes why most of us get in to Fantasy Baseball: A fun escape from the mundane realism of the actual game itself. It can trudge on and forcing yourself to pay attention to every facet of that mundane realism ends up making it more exciting and ultimately fascinating. You not only care about players and teams you once hated, but you start to care about your own hometown team even more. You want reality to imitate the fantasy, but in Baseball that can never be true, because as much as you cheer Cameron Maybin on as the hope of the future, he’ll almost certainly never be worth it.
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