It’s time for part two of my draft day diary. I believe I misspelled some names in my previous post. You try posting when you’re hung over and have slept poorly for three days. Actually, don’t. You’ll make me look bad.
I mentioned briefly yesterday that a key to a fantasy league is the personalities in that league. In my league, we have a lot of characters. It was one thing for us to gather in a friend’s basement, make some picks, do some shots, and take some shots at each other. We were going to be at a casino for three days together. Instead of our normal draft eve poker match we were going to be in day one of a drinking and eating binge the likes of which I haven’t seen since the last time I was in New Orleans.
There were 13 of us heading for Tunica, Mississippi. The reason we traveled there was that we could get all the owners to show up. There’s nothing worse than having that one owner on the phone or in a chat room asking “who was taken?” all day. We had ten people coming in from Atlanta and three out of towners. One guy flew from Miami. Another drove from Chicago, a mind-numbing 14 hour drive.
A few of my friends travel a lot for business, so when we meet in the Atlanta airport at 8:30 in the morning, the first thing he did was hand us drink tickets. Yes, I had my opening beverage at about 10 a.m. with the obligatory “way to go” look from the stewardess.
We arrived at the airport and immediately went to a bar. The bartender was used to our sort, as she asked if we wanted the “big” beer (no duh) and if we wanted a shot (not quite yet). The Memphis leg of the trip ended with a BBQ stop (Neeley’s, not as good as I’d hoped) and a drive-by of Graceland.
Tunica, which we found out later is actually a town called Robinsonville, is in the middle of Mississippi. I mean it’s in the middle of nowhere. We made one liquor store owner’s day when we nearly sold him out of the hard stuff. We had a conference room locked down for the following day but we wanted our own “penalty shot” materials. We got in, met with the group, damaged our stomachs with a trip to the Paula Dean buffet and drew cards for our draft slots. I got pick number eight and thought that I would struggle with my first pick. We managed to recreate our friendly card game by getting a Texas Hold ‘Em game rolling. Our buy in was $40. Usually we’re playing for $10 and it’s dicey if we have to rebuy. I’d say about half of our group bought more chips. We played until about one in the morning and retired.
The draft room the following day was my worry. Our usual start time is nine in the morning. You haven’t lived until you’ve taken a shot of vodka at 9:15 on a Saturday morning. We decided to start at eleven. Since I had organized our rooms, I got us the use of a conference room. I ordered pizza, beer, soda, and on the request of one owner who feared being called a “girl”, a veggie tray. The veggie tray was well received.
Although it was uncertain if we’d get rolling on time, the service was good. The pizzas arrived a bit early but they sent us replacements. Our group lined up a set of liquor bottles that averaged about half a gallon per person. I plugged in my laptop and got the Draft Dominator rolling. I was going to offer its usage to the league but everyone was full of cheat sheets and magazines. The commish put the draft board up, congratulated our champion and we began.
I had an extra duty besides room organizer. When baseball players come up to bat, the PA system plays a few seconds of their song. I wanted to recreate this so I asked all league owners to pick a song and I got my iPod player rolling. The only difficulty with this was that I was trying to keep track of picks and some owners would make their pick before I could change the song. There was a little too much of a sense of urgency.
I won’t lie. We started slowly. No one would break the pizza or beer seal and the guys in “Tequila Alley” were tentative. After we breezed through four rounds in an hour the room loosened up. I got my first shot, lemon vodka, which tasted too good. I played my game of QB chicken and I’ll say it, I think I won. I know it’s a keeper league and I know I didn’t get an elite guy. I’ll find a keeper out of the three I drafted. When I picked in the eighth round and prepared to announce very loudly that I was taking BRETT LORENZO FAVRE, a hotel representative came in the room and asked to talk to me.
There were two issues. Our group had ordered cookies and brownies. I had to sign for them. Yeah, I haven’t seen the bill yet. It’s going to be epic. Also, I was told that we were not allowed to have outside liquor. I tried to soberly assess the situation (no irony there), and promised that we’d take care of it. My executive decision? I told everyone to put their bottles under the table.
The drinking continued. I shared a bottle of Jaegermeister with a friend. I don’t really like hard liquor and the taste of licorice isn’t my bag, yet I did four shots of the stuff with some beer as a chaser. I continued making what I thought were good picks. I tried to sneak Arian Foster and did about as well as Eli Manning avoiding a sack.
We completed the draft. The natural follow up was a dip in the pool. Pina coladas were ordered. I’m now up to at least four types of alcohol in one day. I would have wine with dinner, a giant steak that was exactly what I needed.
I’d like to say that we were wild and crazy. Really, people lost some money, and we’re talking waiting until midnight to be able to withdraw more money from the ATM, and we had no regard to our bodies with our meals. Face it. We were in Tunica. What kind of shenanigans were we really going to get into?
It was fun and this week will be a big-time detox. I might be able to look at a bottle of liquor without getting queasy by September.