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31

Nobody asked me, but ...

By Drew Markol, Contributing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Do you remember your first fantasy baseball draft?

How lost you felt and how nervous you were as player after player was brought up and then whisked away by another owner who had been down the road you'd never traveled.

And, at the end of the auction (yes, an auction, never a draft - a draft is way too easy, even for newbies), how rotten you felt because your team looked like a group of misfit toys? We've all been there and, hopefully, we've all learned.

That brings us to today. When baseball leagues are no longer called Rotisserie leagues (even though they should to honor the guys who figured out long ago how much fun these things can be) and instead are called fantasy leagues.

Fantasy leagues? Maybe it's just me, But shouldn't something called a fantasy league not involve rooting for sweaty, smelly guys in dirty uniforms? I have a different definition of fantasy, but I digress.

I'm going with Rotis leagues for baseball because that's the way it should be. My problem with the modern day version is how some folks handle them.

True Rotis diehards not only know every player on every team - most leagues are either made up of players from either the National or American league and hopefully not both - but they know what's going to happen if one of those players get hurt or traded.

It's called preparation and it also means following the minor leagues and holding a minor league draft right after your auction to help stockpile players for your team in the future.

If it sounds like a lot of work, it should because it is. It's a year-round effort that culminates with an auction a couple of days before the start of the season.

That's when the phone rang. A buddy was on the line and asked me if I'd be interested in joining his league.

"What league? Football? Some sort of NBA or NHL playoff deal?"

"Nah, a baseball league," he said. "The draft is Monday night."

"Draft? Monday night?

"Drafts are lame and are only for people who don't follow the game and only join a league to say they're in a league. And Monday night? The darn season started a week ago and everybody already knows what rookies are playing and who is the closer for every team. It's foolproof."

"Well, yeah, but we couldn't get things together soon enough and they still want to do it," he said.

"It'll be fun."

Now, this is a lifelong friend in a bind, so my choices are limited. Tell him thanks, but no thanks, and I feel like a crumb. Which left me with this, suck it up and do it and try to look interested.

As expected, there was a pile of cheat sheets on a table and most of the conversation before the draft centered around Boston's Jackie Bradley Jr. and Detroit's Joaquin Benoit.

What bugged me about it was that half of these guys wouldn't have known Bradley or Benoit if they had knocked on their door a week earlier. Now they spoke of them as if they were going to be cornerstones of their teams.

Nauseating. This is the easy way out and these guys who know little about Rotis leagues now have a decent chance of taking my money.

That's when I brought up the "A" word right before things started.

"Hey, guys, instead of a draft, why don't we do an auction? You know, you bid on players and you have a salary cap?" (a polite way of saying, "Let's see who is a fraud and who can stand the heat" without saying it out loud).

Well, you know what the reaction was.

"Nobody said anything about that."

"I've never done that before."

"That sounds too hard."

I had to try, but was shot down by a nine-to-one vote. Not surprising, but again, I had to take a shot.

Man, I have to win this (Rotis) league.

Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia- area newspapers for over 25 years.

04/09 09:16:25 ET