fantasy_baseballFantasy sports is a socially acceptable form of Dungeons and Dragons. Instead of 20-sided dice, D&D books and a cape, the fantasy sports player comes to the draft armed with player rankings and an appetite for sausages and beer.

We just had our fantasy baseball draft at Mac’s house Saturday night, and while listing the details of a fantasy draft is about as exciting to the non-participant as listening to a stranger talk about the ups and downs of their kid’s school play, there were some things worth noting.

One striking thing about this draft was how ill prepared everyone was. All I brought was an issue of ESPN The Magazine, which included a few lists of player rankings but no stats. Not only that, but two of the participants (no-shows Felz and Sean) committed the unforgivable sin of letting us use the Yahoo player rankings to select their teams for them. No conflict of interest there. Neal and Francis were drafting via phone from Southern California, so the only drafters actually present in San Jose were Jake, Carp, Mac and myself.

In chronological order, here were the highlights of the 2008 draft for the league named “The Tools of Ignorance” (my team’s name: Randy Lose…yep, I’m real optimistic about the Gigantes this year).

- Before the draft even started, Francis (drafting fifth) said if anybody selected Hanley Ramirez, he would hang up. After Felz was granted A-Rod with the first pick, Neal quickly snatched up Ramirez with the second pick via Carp’s speakerphone. Immediately, a “click” was heard from Mac’s line. When we called Francis back, we asked if he had hung up. A peeved Francis simply said, “yeah,” like we shouldn’t have been surprised. Actually, we probably shouldn’t have.

- Picking last, Mac got to select two players in a row. He picked Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, leading me to ask whether that was the first time somebody had ever gone over 500 lbs combined with their first two picks. Jake thought it was more like 600 lbs.

- Still trying to cope with Felz getting Justin Morneau, Francis (a huge Twins fan) got a little bonus only four picks later in the fifth round. Further proof that this draft wasn’t quite as serious as those in years past, Carp kept losing track of the draft order, and after I selected Derek Jeter he yelled out “C.C. Sabathia!”

Little problem: it was Francis’s pick. He jumped on the opportunity, grabbing the big left-hander from Vallejo. After that Carp looked like Dennis Erickson when he coached the Niners, and he used to have that permanent facial expression of somebody who just ate a bad sunflower seed.

- Bad times for Randy Lose: In the eighth round, Mac selected Carlos Zambrano, a guy I’ve taken every year since we all became fantasy nerds. I have to hand it to Mac, because a reason Zambrano has always been on my team is that the rest of my friends undervalue him every year. I should have taken Ryan Zimmerman (one of Mac’s “guys”) just to spite him, but I like my third basemen to hit home runs.

- In a development that could only happen in a baseball draft, Felz’s two picks in a row in the eighth and ninth round were Hunter Pence and Torii Hunter.

- Feel-good pick of the draft for Team Randy: Matt Cain in the ninth round. I love Cain, even though selecting a Giants starting pitcher that high means I’m probably punting wins.

- We found out Mac’s phone will actually read his text messages out loud with a Stephanie Hawking-esque electronic voice. Needless to say, this led to a lot of fun throughout the evening.

warrior-fan- Leave it to the Warriors to make sure this draft’s key moment had nothing to do with baseball. Mac’s neighbor Joe Baker came into the backyard mid-draft and started making fun of us for playing fantasy sports, in what has quickly become a tradition. A tradition that begs the question: if we’re dorks, why do you always come over and watch the entire draft?

Joe was wearing a sparkling-new Baron Davis orange road jersey, which of course reached his kneecaps. That led to Carp mentioning a short video directed by Sloan from Entourage, where Baron’s on roller-skates and wearing an effeminate tank top and short-shorts. He’s supposed to be playing a character named Sam, but he seems to be playing a bearded, basketball-playing Brian Boitano, which led to a rousing “Is he or isn’t he” discussion.

It already upset Joe that earlier Carp wondered aloud if the orange jersey truly matched his orange W’s hat, pulled over his ears in true Fat Joe (the rapper – Joe Baker is actually quite svelte) style. But Sloan’s video and the subsequent discussion made Joe look like he was watching his daughter on “Girls Gone Wild.” Then Joe’s friend David had the line of the night when he suggested that maybe Joe should put a belt around his Baron jersey.

As usual, the draft was a great time. As is the result after every one of these get-togethers, everybody was very pleased with the team they selected (c’mon, Fukudome!). It would have been nice if we had more people present at the draft, but next year I think we’ll have more people willing to play the sports version of D&D in person.