If asked what is special about April 1, many people would say it is April Fools’ Day. However, this year it also marks the start of the 2021 Major League Baseball season. Baseball is regarded as the National Pastime and I have long believed Opening Day should be celebrated as a national holiday.
The arrival of the baseball season symbolizes the transition from winter to spring and the promise that summer is right around the corner. The days are long, the temperature is starting to rise, the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. Simply put, there is reason for optimism after making it through the winter doldrums.
Opening Day holds the same optimism for all 30 teams in Major League Baseball. On this day every team is in first place and has the potential to win a World Series championship. For many teams and their fans reality will rear its ugly head soon enough, but until then there is a chance to dream.
Yes, there is excitement in the year. However, for me and many others, that excitement started to build last weekend fantasy baseball players around the country gathered around their computers to participate in their league drafts. This year marks the 37th season of the Clarinda Baseball League. I have been the proud manager of the Sharks since 1994.
So, what is fantasy baseball? It is a game where members of the league select actual Major League Baseball players to be members of their fictional teams and earn points throughout the year based on their performance.
The Clarinda Baseball League has 14 members this year and we held our salary cap draft Saturday afternoon. During the draft the 14 owners bid to sign the services of 22 players to their team and have an imaginary budget of $260 to sign the players. There is then an eight round reserve draft to select your Triple A squad.
Each league member as their own strategy on how to build their team and which statistics will be most helpful to them over the course of the season. The team that scores the most point in 12 designated statistical categories, six being for hitters and the other six being for pitchers, is declared the winner at the end of the season.
There is a certain thrill that comes with signing one of the stars of baseball or one of your favorite players from your favorite team. If you have read some of my columns in the past, you are aware I am a lifelong fan of the Cincinnati Reds and I was fortunate enough to add a few of their players to the Sharks’ lineup this season.
However, the greatest feeling in a fantasy draft is sneaking a young player you have high hopes for past the other owners and adding them to your team. The Nightmares executed this to perfection by signing highly touted Tampa Bay Rays prospect Wander Franco at the end of the salary cap draft. Similarly, the Doosan Bears added the top prospect of the Kansas City Royals, Bobby Witt, Jr., in the first round of the reserve draft.
Although I did not come away with any spectacular bargains this season, I was happy with the way I distributed my budget. I believe I have compiled a team that can compete for the league championship that is anchored by a robust infield on offense and a solid rotation of starting pitchers. The true success of the Sharks will depend on the performance of my outfielders and relief pitchers.
So, without further ado, I present the roster of the 2021 Sharks: Catcher, Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers; First Base, Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox; Third Base, Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds; Corner Infielder, Pete Alonso, New York Mets; Second Base, Nick Madrigal, Chicago White Sox; Shortstop, Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees, Middle Infielder, Gavin Lux, Los Angeles Dodgers; Outfielder, Michael Conforto, New York Mets; Outfielder, Clint Frazier, New York Yankees; Outfielder, Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox; Outfielder, Eddie Rosario, Cleveland Indians; Outfielder, Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds; and Utility player Leody Taveras, Texas Rangers.
The pitching staffs of fantasy baseball teams consist of nine pitchers. The starting pitchers for the Sharks this season are Ian Anderson, Atlanta Braves; Luis Castillo, Cincinnati Reds; Jesus Luzardo, Oakland A’s; Zach Plesac, Cleveland Indians; Eduardo Rodriguez, Boston Red Sox; and Tony Gonsolin, Los Angeles Dodgers. The three relief pitchers in my starting lineup are Raisel Iglesias, Los Angeles Angels; Anthony Bass, Miami Marlins; and Aaron Bummer, Chicago White Sox.
We concluded the draft with eight rounds of reserve picks. My reserve hitters are Catcher, Tyler Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds; Second Base, Jazz Chisholm, Miami Marlins; Outfielder, Jo Adell, Los Angeles Angels; and Outfielder, Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates. My reserve pitchers are Chris Bassitt, Oakland A’s; Stefan Crichton, Arizona Diamondbacks; Spencer Howard, Philadelphia Phillies; and Carlos Rodon, Chicago White Sox.
I will keep you updated on the standings for the Clarinda Baseball League from time to time this season as well as the performance of the players for the Sharks. Until then, “Play ball!”