Welcome to Fantasy Island!
This island is inhabited solely by obsessed baseball beancounters, always ready to throw down the gauntlet at the mere hinting of a "The best second baseman is..." assertion.
I can hear the conversation now:
"What's his fantasy, boss?"I read once that virtually any court case can be won or lost during jury selection. Friends have told me the same is true for fantasy baseball. -Have a good draft, and you're two thirds the way to the trophy. So, as I clinically research all my "sleeper" & "lock" picks, I realize that, along with the usual fantasy pitfalls of durability and production, there's added difficulty in this year's draft. Specifically, age and steroids.
"Aah, Tattoo, his fantasy is to correctly pick the best catcher in the league, have a team that stays healthy for the entire season, and go on a date, with a woman, during the All-Star break."
"That's not going to be easy, boss."
"I know, Tattoo"
Age is simple; is this the year aging wonders like Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Barry Bonds all hit the wall?
Barry Bonds? That reminds me -steroids! Here's the real problem. Along with the new, more stringent steroid testing that Bud Selig expects to "effectively rid our sport of steroids", many people expect hitting production to plummet. Indeed, Der Kornheiser has set the bar at 50 home runs for Barry Bonds, saying if he doesn't hit at least that many, then the whole world will look at it as proof that he was on steroids.
(On a side note, there are still nay-sayers amongst us who point out that, despite the new testing, over 100 different types of steroids have been synthesized since 1990, not all of which are tested for in MLB. In fact, that was the Victor Conte promise, that the clear and the cream were undetectable by MLB testing. So keep that in mind!)
So what's it gonna be, fantasy owners? Are you like me and beginning to lose faith in suspiciously bulked-up power-hitters? Are the reports of players mentioned in a certain Jucied book, showing up to spring training vastly underweight giving you draft anxiety dreams?
Let me share with you what I've heard. Pudge Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa have mysteriously lost over 20 pounds each. The two major pick-ups of the Mariners (Beltre and Sexton) are steroid poster-boys. Giambi has admitted using in court and has had every affliction from the flu to parasites. Gary Sheffield was also called to testify in the BALCO case. So all those guys are clear risks (although Sheff had a great year last year).
My question to you is, what about the other guys? Here's a list of players I think are not on steroids (although, I've been wrong before): A-Rod, Vlad, Soriano, Manny, Phat Albert, Ichiro, Jeter, Nomar, Javy Lopez, Chris Crawford, Chone Figgins, Juan Pierre, Torii Hunter, Jeff Kent, Johnny Damon, & Jose Posada.
Now here's a list of guys I just can't tell: Beltran, Tejada, Rolen, Helton, Abreu, Thome, Teixeira, Chavez, Mora, David Ortiz, Aramis Ramírez, Jim Edmonds, & Blalock.
Feel free to add to my lists and correct me where you think fit. Again, none of this will matter if the steroid problem is over-exaggerated or if the new testing is as easy to get around as some think. Still, no one wants to draft the next Brady Anderson out there, so let's help each other out.