It's that time of the year again. It is time to get out those cheat sheets, try out your strategies in mock drafts and berate Matthew Berry for his love/hate articles. It is fantasy baseball season.
This is the year for all of us die-hard fantasy junkies to try to rekindle the magic from 2010, or come out of the fantasy cellar.
Draft preparation is in full force. With spring training games in full swing, some breakout stars are making their case for a late-round selection, while solid veterans are trying to win you over for a first-round nod.
The biggest day of the fantasy season, outside of championship week, is draft day. Online drafts are fun and get the butterflies going, but nothing can beat a live draft. Seeing your opponents cower in fear as you cement yourself as a fantasy genius is priceless.
Preparation, preparation, preparation. I cannot stress just how important it is to go into your draft with a plan. In a live draft, this becomes even more crucial. If you came in without any idea of what you are doing, it will be completely obvious to your fellow drafters.
When you use a draft client on ESPN for instance, you can see which players come off the board and also get an idea of when a player is going to be selected by judging who is still available. In a live draft, you don't have the luxury of seeing players come off the board in a gigantic list. If you aren't keeping track, you could be that guy who selects a player who was already chosen. No one wants to claim that title.
Making your own cheat sheet is essential to a successful live draft. An in-depth, insanely intense cheat sheet will let you go in with confidence and leave with a killer team.
A live draft, flat-out, creates a stronger owner.
A live draft helps breed tradition. Having everyone meet at the same house, same bar or wherever you choose to have your draft each and every year is the glue that will keep your league together.
This draft now becomes an all-year event. You have something to look forward to and excitement builds up to the day of the draft. An unique bond is built and camaraderie grows as this yearly tradition is shared amongst everyone involved.
An online draft does not have the same aura. Sure, you might always draft with the same group of friends, but you are sitting in front of a computer screen. There is no time spent together with everyone in the same location.
Nothing beats the traditions that an annual live draft creates.
Sleepers can make or break your draft. When drafting a sleeper, you are ultimately taking a risk: one that can pan out, or blow up in your face. Finding a sleeper and zeroing in on that specific draft pick is what really gets the blood flowing.
When you have a live draft, sometimes potential sleepers can slip further and further on draft boards, setting up a savvy owner for a potential season-changing pick. Without a list of names in front of you that a draft client provides, it is extremely easy to overlook potential break-out stars.
Those who sleepwalk through drafts and rely on a pre-draft ranking already put in front of us will miss out on these diamonds in the rough. Prepared owners will have a list of potential sleepers already laid out and will be ready to clean up in those late rounds.
Online drafts act as a crutch for those who might not have a keen eye for late-round studs on draft day.
What fun is trash talk if you have to do it through a chat room?
Live drafts provide you with a platform that just asks for some smack talk. Ragging on your friend for his pick of Mariano Rivera in the second round or for passing up on Prince Fielder in a contract year should not go without some friendly jabbing.
Trash talk is the fuel to the draft day fire.
A live draft is similar to a poker match. Bluffing occurs, people talk up players and sometimes you lose out on a pick because you didn't pull the trigger.
That is the sheer fun of it. When you sit in front of your laptop in the confines of your home, the element of surprise is gone. You can't effectively create hype about a player to start an early run for shortstops. Sure, you can type it in, "Oh man don't miss out on Alcides Escobar," but realistically, it will have little to no effect.
Drafting in person allows you to pick up on a trend that you might have missed, or pick up on someone's strategy. Just as an effective poker player can sense what their opponents are doing with their hand, a skilled owners' ability to sense what others are going to do during a live draft will give them the upper hand.
When I say "Guys Time," I am not trying to single out those avid female fantasy baseball players, I am just generalizing.
A live draft gives you the ability to hang out with friends, kick back and do what we all love. It is an opportunity to check out from the real world and live out your fantasy.
Maybe you had a bad review from your boss or your girlfriend or boyfriend just dumped you, it doesn't matter for those few hours. You're totally zoned and the drags of the daily grind are put to bed.
When you are gearing up for a live draft, the excitement and anticipation is through the roof. People are getting ready for weeks. Your work in the office suffers and those you love are ignored all because of that inevitable day.
All of the blood, sweet and tears that you have put into gearing up for draft day is just not that rewarding when you sit in a chair and stare at a computer screen for three hours. When everyone is getting into it, the whole season starts out with a bang.
With a scheduled live draft, the percentage of having a deadbeat owner is drastically reduced.
If everyone is getting together, time is put forth into the draft, meaning that everyone will want to win the championship. Everyone will compete since next year, you do not want to be the guy singled out for leaving your team with empty roster spots during the season. Your roster becomes your baby.
Sitting at your desk drafting can be boring, we all have been there and know what it is like. It drags on and frankly, you get sloppy. During a live draft, every pick seems to matter just that much more.
When the words "Autopick" show up on your computer screen during a draft, the whole fantasy world dies a little.
A live draft completely eliminates that factor. No more will a team end up with five second basemen. No longer will a guy you are eyeing up some how end up at the top of the queue right before your pick and be gone in the blink of an eye.
In a live draft, if you are present, you draft. No longer will Matthew Berry do it for you.
Autopick ruins drafts. Plain and simple.
Some people count down the days until Valentine's Day. Other until Christmas. Fantasy junkies count down until draft day. To us, it is the most important day of the year.
If Groundhog's day is a holiday, why not draft day? I mean, TV shows have been created solely around the fantasy phenomenon.
What it boils down to is that a live draft can not be replaced or duplicated by an impersonal online draft. Camaraderie is formed, competition reaches an unforeseen level and lives are dedicated to that one infamous day.
Give one a try. I promise, you will never look at an online draft the same.