When the contract talks began to stall—I wanted to be paid in American currency, while they were offering Canadian nickels, coupons for skim milk at Ralph’s, and the bare-bones edition of the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind DVD—I didn’t think I’d be back for a second season. Until the elderly bald man in the corner spoke up.

With fluorescents from the boardroom’s overheads bouncing off his gorgeous dome, he said the two magic words that put an end to the stalemate: “spring training!” After shouting them, he hopped from his seat and ran from the room. Thinking he had an intestinal issue to sort out, and “spring training” was secret code for his men’s-room activities, I ignored the geezer.

But when the 14 members of the McSweeney’s Sports Conglomerate Round Table made phone calls—in unison—to building security, who found him minutes later, naked in the hallway doffing an imaginary hat while greeting passersby with a hearty Olde English “G’day, gov’ner,” I gave his words a little more weight. For, as my mother always put it, trusting the sane is relatively easy. Trusting the “loonies”? That’s a challenge.

From Baldy, I was given a new bargaining chip to lay on the Round Table’s round table: foot the bill for my spring-training scouting adventures, and I’d be back for a second season of fantasy-baseball advice. Politely, they declined.

They did, however, up their offer to include the new two-disc Special Collector’s Edition of the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind DVD. A moral victory was had. A second season was confirmed.

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Albert Pujols is good.

Just thought this information would behoove you. If you have the first overall pick, go ahead and grab him. If he’s available at the second overall pick, make a sarcastic comment to the owner in front of you, and snatch him up. He’s better than A-Rod, a lot less hatable, and has a last name your mom will find amusing when she says it out loud. Over and over.

When in doubt,
go with consistently mediocre over one-year wonder.

Like you need another excuse to draft Julio Franco, 84 years young this August. Do it. What you see in your opponents’ faces isn’t laughter contained, but instead veiled jealousy. Trust me.

How much do you trust Adrian Beltre?

I, for one, trust him about as far as I can throw him. Taking into consideration that I assume I can bench 350 pounds, I trust him about 5 feet. By my calculations, that roughly translates into drafting him somewhere in the third round.

It’s not that he won’t be a welcome addition to your squad. It’s just that, following a season of career highs (during the all-important contract year, mind you), his value is higher than Billy Bush on Satan’s Favorites list. Anytime before the third round … why not let another owner take a gamble on him instead?

Incorporate once-popular culture into your team name.

Nothing is more of a lock to elicit your fellow-owners’ laughter (and thus their respect) than by having your team name reference one of the following: (a) a one-hit wonder, (b) a once-popular TV show, © Scott Baio, or (d) any ’80s movie.

When they look at the schedule and see they’re playing the Nikky-Boom-Boom-Downs, Alf’s Feline Quiche, Scott Baio, or Wheel of Fish!, they’ll immediately begin laughing and won’t stop until the end of the week, failing to change their lineup, and giving you the not-so-hard-earned victory.

Old Faces, New Places.

A lot has happened since the Red Sox told Bambino where to shove his curse: we learned that tsunamis aren’t cool; that national fiscal irresponsibility is acceptable, as long as gays stay where they belong—on television or, lately, in the Washington press; that baseball players actually (super-audible gasp!) did steroids; that Tom Waits still got it; that the Patriots are officially a dynasty; that God delights in trying to drown L.A.; and that Jamie Foxx is finally ready for that Stevie Wonder biopic.

Also, and this relates to us, a few important baseball players changed their uniforms. Go do some research, find out where they ended up, and rank them, taking into account their new places of residence. I’ll help you with the first few:

1. Pitching with the Yankee lineup behind him, Randy Johnson should win no fewer than 50 games.

2. Whenever Moises Alou comes to bat, Barry Bonds will be on base.

3. The front of Carlos Delgado’s jerseys have been soaked this off-season from his salivating at having Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo hitting ahead of him in Florida.

4. Playing in St. Louis, Mark Mulder should be able to give up seven runs and still feel comfortable about getting the win.

5. Pedro Martinez, playing in New York, will most likely either be wounded or killed by midseason. Draft accordingly.

Remember the name Wade Miller.

Miller will start the season on the injured list but should be ready by midseason to give your team a much-needed scrotum-electrode jolt of power as you head into the playoffs.

When the rest of the league marvels at your foresight and planning, don’t give me any credit. It’ll be our little secret. Simply name your first born after me and we’ll call it even. Oh, and try to have a son first. It’ll make it easier for all of us, especially little Ricky.

Don’t reply to posts in the Casual Encounters section of Craigslist.


Bring The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers to the draft.

Before you head over to your friend’s basement for the live draft, stop by the bookstore and pick up this fantastic 500-page opus on the history of “pitching, pitchers, and pitches.” In the car, power-flip through the pages, dog-ear the corners, spill some coffee on it, and ruin the cover—make it look used. Cap it off by sticking a bookmark in at the last page.

When the commissioner asks if everyone is ready to start the draft, raise your hand and say, “Just one more thing,” pick up the book at the bookmarked page, pretend to read it, slam it closed, give them all the wink/thumbs-up combination, saying you’re “all ready,” and wish good luck to everyone.

The rest of the league will now fear you. Use it!

Take no bathroom breaks.

Doing so will not only interrupt your in-draft train of thought, but you’ll also miss witty banter amongst your fellow-owners, blockbuster trades, making fun of whoever drafts Ken Griffey Jr., discussing the pros and cons of the Electoral College, and being preached Scientology by your recently converted friend.

Plus, when you leave the room, everyone else talks about you. Mostly, they make fun of the new way you’re combing your hair, the face of your current girlfriend, and the direction of your life. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Explore the dreaded catheter option if you must.