Obviously, we’d all like to do our fantasy drafts the day before the MLB season opens, but more often than not, someone in your league has some ill-timed commitment to fulfill and the league is then forced into some madcap, Keystone Kop-like struggle to try and settle on a draft date that works for everyone. Calendars are opened, spreadsheets are created and Google docs are distributed. Finally, after an annoying round of emails where you are forced to learn of children’s birthday parties, visits from in-laws and how some idiot in your league thinks that his life is more important than that of anyone else, you settle in on a date three weeks before Opening Day. The date, while convenient for everyone, is certainly not ideal.
The early draft stinks, plain and simple. With all of the anxiousness an offseason brings and all the hype that leads up to draft day, picking your team and then having to wait nearly a full month before seeing them in action is agonizing. It’s like being a ten-year old kid who gets a remote-controlled car for Christmas but your parents forgot to buy batteries and every store is already closed. There it is all shiny and new looking all sorts of awesome and…nothing. Can’t do a damn thing with it. But sitting there with your fantasy team drafted and lots of spring training still to go can be a whole lot worse.
First, there are the annoying trade offers from unrelenting owners who obviously think you’re a moron. You may not be thrilled with having to jump on the waiver wire to find a second baseman to play over Jurickson Profar, but you’re not desperate enough to trade him for Mark Ellis, are you? Or how about the opportunistic town crier in your league? You know him…he’s the guy who is always quick on the draw with a call or a text to tell you that Hanley Ramirez is having thumb surgery and your second-round draft choice is out for two months. Inevitably, he follows it up with an offer that makes you want to throw up in your mouth.
And speaking of injuries, there’s obviously that aspect too. So far, we’ve got Hanley’s thumb (thanks WBC!), Chase Headley’s thumb, Mark Teixeira’s wrist, Curtis Granderson’s arm, David Ortiz’ heels, Nick Markakis’ neck, Alcides Escobar’s back, Jason Kipnis’ elbow, and the rib cages of Brett Lawrie and David Wright. And that’s just scratching the surface right now. Spring injuries are a natural part of the game, but at least with a late draft you have the ability to hedge your bets and maybe look at a more healthy alternative from the same tier level. Now you’re sitting there with a gaping hole in your lineup and have to deal with the waiver wire right from the onset when even the worst of owners are completely in tune with the free agent pool and looking to make moves.
Then, of course, there also remains the position battles that haven’t been won or lost yet. Wouldn’t you like to know who the starting third baseman for the Braves is going to be? Or the second baseman for the Royals or the A’s? How about the Oriole’s left fielder or the Yankees first baseman or the Tigers’ closer or who will be manning the hot corner in Colorado? The player pool may be rich with talent but there’s plenty more to be had and all of the unsettled battles are just flush with hidden gems. Drafting before they get settled could mean that you end up with the guy who finds himself on the losing end and you’re, again, forced to the waiver wire earlier than you’d really like.
So do yourself and the rest of your league a favor. You know when the baseball season starts, right? Be a team player and clear your calendar for the week before. Family emergencies and last-minute work snafus are one thing, but don’t let the wife schedule a weekend getaway to her parent’s house. R.S.V.P. no to your sister’s birthday dinner with all her friends. Set up your kids’ play dates at their friends’ houses. Leave yourself that simple seven day stretch wide open for your league. You’ll all be better off in the end.
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