Tuesday, March 28, 2006

'L'Affair PAPELBON.'

Okay. So. I'm in Lexington, Kentucky, with a nasty case of insomnia at 2:09 am on a wednesday morning. I'm downstairs in the basement office room which also serves as my sleeping quarters at my buddy Rick St. Peter's house. Rick is directing me in 'Rounding Third' the two-man play about little league baseball here at Actor's Guild of Lexington.

Up until now I've had no internet access, save the offices of AGL, which I can't get to but once a day, usually at night... But today, while doing laundry at home, I noticed Rick & Laura's prehistoric eTower 466id home computer sitting unused in a corner. I took it to the old seer guy from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. He told me "THIS MEAN SIX KHADDAM HIGH!! AND-- TAKE BACK ONE KHADDAM-- TO HONOR THE HEBREW GOD WHOSE ARK THIS IS." I said "Okay."... and slowly backed out the door without making eye contact.

I brushed the cobwebs off of the 'Flinsonian' PC, ran SCANDISK, re-configured the modem, plugged it into the phone jack, hit the 'AOL' Icon and VOILA! Instant internet access. I am now typing this blog entry courtesy of the fine folks who designed AOL 4.0... That's what I said. FOUR-POINT-OH. It feels like 1995 all over again. That was the year I graduated from college. This old computer program is so far out-- I wonder if I can email people in the past??

"Dear Dad: Sorry, but you'll have to hold onto my comic books and Larry Bird Memorabilia for at least like twelve more years..."

"Dear Folks at SALLIE MAE: Don't hold your breath. Seriously."

"Dear Jennifer: You don't know me yet, but I'm the guy you'll end up marrying. I hope you have a good sense of humor... I'm totally & completely serious-- I'm a friggin' HOBBIT."

"Dear Vegas; I would like to place large wagers on the following teams in the following sports...."

"Dear Peter Jackson-- I would like to audition for the part of 'Gollum' in your movie version of LORD OF THE RINGS..."

"Dear Mr. Keaton: Please don't open the screenplay for JACK FROST. Put it down, and WALK AWAY."

Man, how stuff changes.

I remember back in 1998 I was using this very same AOL program to read my favorite writer-- Bill Simmons, the 'Boston Sports Guy'-- through the 'Digital City Boston' web portal on the AOL Red Sox page. Back then I was a struggling actor, and he was a part-time bartender and up-and coming sportswriter. Now he's a six-figure ESPN Columnist with a best-selling book on Amazon.com; He's hanging out with TV Stars, poppin' crystal and hanging at the Playboy Mansion... Meanwhile I'm a struggling actor who currently happens to be drinking ice-water out of a pink plastic BARBIE cup in the basement of my best friend's house....

Bhavatu, Sabbe, Mangalam. (May all beings be happy.)

I have been vey fortunate, though. My Co-star, Adam Luckey, had his apartment broken into last week and had every valuable thing he owned stolen right out from under him. So I guess I should consider myself... Luckey... I'm going straight to hell.


Sunday night was my first ever Fantasy baseball draft. I'm new to this whole 'Fantasy-Baseball' thing. I'm a lifelong, diehard baseball fan and avid Sox enthusiast; I like to think I have more than a passing knowledge of the game. During the summer, I generally eat, sleep and breathe baseball... Yet oddly enough, I have never participated in a Fantasy Season before, for several reasons.

Reason #1: I am a diehard Red Sox fan. I can't begin to imagine how it would feel to have a non-Sox player on my fantasy roster and rooting for that guy to do well when the Sox are in town-- It's a conflict of interest that makes me feel dirty and, frankly, creeps me out. If 'my' guy comes up against the Sox in a clutch situation and does well-- Well, hell-- I just can't imagine taking even a sliver of satisfaction from that... Just can't wrap my mind around it.

Reason #2: The thought of ending up with a Yankee on my team is enough to make me want to hurl. Stats be damned, no Posadas,Jeters, Matsuis, or Sheffields for me, thanks. That will never happen. As Larry Bird said in defiance of a prediction of victory by one of the Houston Rockets in the 1986 NBA Finals, "You'd have a better chance of seeing God."

Reason #3: I didn't want to be "the guy who mentions how he 'traded for', 'just acquired', or 'Just released' EVERY PLAYER ON SPORTSCENTER." It makes for a really annoying conversation when one of my friends won't shut up about his 'NL-Only 5x5 Keeper league' 24/7/365. Now I know how my wife feels listening to me talk about the sox day in & Day out....

And I don't want to be the guy making fantasy trades as they re-posess his entire house-- You know, the guy who's scouring CBSsportsline.com for a decent lefty while smoking through a hole in his neck and roasting a cocktail wheenie on a pile of STREET & SMITH's magazines as he talks agitatedly on his GO PHONE, trying to swing a deal for Placido Polanco while his kids are being raised by wolves... That ain't me.

But after being invited by my buddies, Jack-- and and the aforementioned Rick-- and after having read Sam Walker's great new book FANTASYLAND cover-to-cover on an 18 HOUR BUS RIDE OUT HERE FROM RICHMOND, VIRGINIA (all to altruistically save Rick's Theatre Some $$$) I became really excited about the prospect of giving Fantasy baseball a try. the draft was set for sunday, March 26th. A Yahoo! Fantasy Sports League. Perfect.

So anyway, this past sunday... It's draft day, and I'm trying to fill my team out with a good group of players. For some reason I have put a hefty premium on pitching. I've devoured all the magazines, the online fantasy draft guides, the player prognostications, etc (yet like a dork, I've somehow missed the news coming out of Chicago). The team I am taking over has two big names coming back that I could claim or release back into the draft pool-- Minnesota Twins lefty Johan Santana, a nasty Cy Young award-winning pitcher; And Mark Prior, the oft-injured hard-luck righty from the Cubs whose best years may be behind him-- and he's only 25.

So I took them both, not knowing that Prior is in severely bad shape (Put on the 15-day DL just today-- GENIUS!!) and won't be on the opening-day roster. Apparently I have been in a cave or something since my 10-day Vipassanna Course ended. Couple that decision with my severe brain damage and jolly demeanor and I'm the next Lou Gorman. So the draft started in earnest. Names where being typed int Yahoo! Messenger fast & furiously. I had already claimed Santana as my first pick in round one... I would, one would think, naturally be picking again some eleven picks later. Right?? WRONG.

See, Unbeknownst to me, the draft was a 'serpentine' draft, meaning if you pick a player TWELFTH in round ONE, you THEN pick FIRST in round TWO. My team was set to pick at #11 in the first round, and I had already claimed Santana in that spot, so I was settling back to see what players fell where. I even contemplated running to Subway or something since I thought I had all day. My next two picks (In rounds three and Four) had been spoken for as well-- one was Prior, and the other one was traded by the previous owner of my team the year before, so I was under the impression that I had a lot of time before making my selection. Na-AAAANH!!

Before I knew it, Rick was hollering "You're Up, Dude!!" From his computer across the AGL office. I snapped to attention-- 'No way!!' I thought, "Already??" I said "Are you sure??" Rick shot back, "It's a serpentine draft, dude!!"

I hadn't really anticipated that. I looked at the computer screen. The cursor flashed below the chat text, obviously waiting for me to enter my team name and player selection. The other ten guys running teams in the league were waiting all over the country for their chance to pick. Rick was in the office with me. The guy who went before me (With the clever team name 'NoMo Yankee My Wanky') had snapped up my favorite fantasy player, Ichiro Suzuki, and my other coveted selection, Carl Crawford had flown off the board as the third pick overall.(Thanks, Matt.)

I looked over at my notes, where I had written "Go for Pitching" on a yellow-lined legal pad with a makeshift lineup card. I began to sweat as I glanced at the names I had written down, checking them against the ones crossed off of the draft board. My eyes floated across a name in the pitching column, and for the briefest of seconds, I thought "Cool-- No one has THIS guy yet..." I had the second pick in the second round of my very first Fantasy Baseball Draft; I couldn't screw this up. I had to get a good arm-- Somebody so good that no one would see it coming-- A diamond in the rough. Everything was crystal clear. I was nervous, because as a rookie I knew I would get godd-natured-ly 'slammed' for taking too long with my selection (Even though only like a few seconds had elapsed)so-- I took a deep breath, and with fumbling fingers I typed in these words:


I Hit 'Enter'.

There was a collective CACKLE heard throughout various parts of the country as the reality of the situation closed in on me like a demon predator in one of the EVIL DEAD films. What the hell did I just do??

My first pick-- in the second round, no less-- was JONATHIN FREAKING PAPELBON. A good player, to be sure, but a guy without a definite role as of yet, and at best a talented rookie with some serious UPPP Side, but NOT NEARLY a first-or-second-rounder. Needless to say, the tale of my rookie pick will probably live longer than me. Days later I am still getting HAMMERED on the message boards. No one will ever take me seriously EVER AGAIN. If I ever run for office, I will be 'Swift-Boated' with two words. JONATHAN PAPELBON.

To make things worse-- I still have Prior on my roster for some ungodly reason, his arm dangling by a thread and the season a week away. I COULD have had Pedro. I COULD have had Josh Beckett. I COULD have taken JAVY VASQUEZ and it wouldn't have been this much of a shock. I can't explain it. Unbelieveable. I'm the ANTI-THEO.

I think about Grady, Buckner, Torrez and Bill Lee, and the crap they had to put up with publicly for the decisions they made in clutch situations, and I can't fathom having to exist under that kind if scrutiny-- But I absolutely laughed my ass off when we got home from the draft; The kind of laughter where you can't breathe and your face hurts... Rick shouted things like "MAN!! Papelbon went nineteenth in the Papelbon FAMILY DRAFT!!... and "He's a second round pick!! In 2012!!" Dude was KILLING me. I just rolled with laughter. Good God, I'm a funny little guy. What the hell is wrong with me?? JOHNATHAN PAPELBON?? SECOND ROUND?? OKAY!! I'M ALL IN!!

Well, needless to say, I sure made some splash with my new Fantasy League. It's gonna be a great year. By the way, Look for Jonathan Papelbon to do great things... BWAAAAAHAHAHAHAH!!!

And the final funny thing is, there's one line in the show we're rehearsing that now-- I will never be able to say with a straight face ever again:

Don: "Mike, if there is a secret to my success, it would be this: I DRAFT WELL."

...That's why they call it 'Acting'!!

That's all for now....




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