Friends, Family and Falzone: The Sequel

I know what you’re thinking – sequels suck.

I couldn’t agree more.

The second Van Halen record (cleverly named “Van Halen II”) pales in comparison to the almighty first album, “Van Halen.” “The Empire Strikes Back” might actually be better than “Star Wars,” but the other four sequels are borderline unwatchable. Any book with any of the characters from “Lonesome Dove” other than “Lonesome Dove” is a snooze. Every “Peanuts” TV special after, say, 1979 is just plain awful. And don’t even get me started on those latter-day “Tom & Jerry” episodes when they’re not mortal enemies anymore, but friends. Friends!!!

In my humble opinion, there are really only two exceptions to the sequels-suck rule: Ms. Pac-Man … and Friends, Family, & Falzone, Year 2.

To anyone just joining the program, last season Mister Fantasy Big Shot Brandon Funston invited me, an average Joe, to join a league full of fantasy baseball experts. You know, the guys you turn to for advice on who to draft, who to trade for and who to avoid like someone with a bad rash who really wants a hug.

Anyway, I took them all on … and finished fourth. Tied for fourth, actually.

Not too shabby for the Average Joe. But not good enough.

So now I’m back. This time, I’m a wily veteran of the Yahoo! Friends and Family battle. This time, I’m looking to add another shiny object to my Yahoo Sports trophy case. To paraphrase that really freaky line from The Warriors: “Experts … come out to plaaay!”

Ok, let’s get started. Funston already gave you a nice recap of the Friends and Family draft, so I’m going to focus on Team Falzone’s picks:

Round 1: Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Round 2: B.J. Upton, 2B,OF
Round 3: Lance Berkman, 1B,OF

After I completely bungled my first round pick last season – drafting Alfonso Soriano while A-Rod was still on the board – this time, I couldn’t highlight A-Rod’s name and click “Draft” fast enough. He’s been on the Yankees three years now and he’s won two MVPs. Baby boomers would hate to admit it, but it’s like seeing Mickey Mantle in his prime. With my next two picks, I took who I considered to be the next two best available players. Upton went undrafted in my private league last year, but this year, anything less than 25 HRs/25 SBs would be a disappointment. And like Iceman said to Maverick, Berkman can be my wingman anytime.

Round 4: Josh Beckett, SP
Round 5: C.C. Sabathia, SP
Round 6: Brian McCann, C

As Funston reported, I like taking an ace starter early and then waiting several rounds before thinking about taking any more. So two aces are twice as nice. I hate, hate, hate worrying about my catcher slot all year long and McCann in the 6th is terrific value.

Round 7: Miguel Tejada, SS
Round 8: Todd Helton, 1B
Round 9: Matt Kemp, OF

I can’t see how Tejada doesn’t go at least 20 HRs/100 RBIs in that juicebox in Houston. That’ll look mighty nice in my SS slot. When I saw Helton available, I had visions of moving Berkman to my OF, provided I could snag another good hitter to be my CI. I think this will be the last year for quite awhile that nearly 100 players get drafted before Kemp.

Round 10: Brad Lidge, RP
Round 11: Joakim Soria, RP
Round 12: Pat Burrell, OF

My Lidge pick drew a couple jeers, but I expected that. His stuff is as good as anybody’s in the game and last year, his head seemed back on straight. Hopefully the rest of him starts cooperating soon. Soria reminds me of Mariano Rivera. Seriously. If Pat Burrell were a beer, he’d be Adam Dunn Lite. He doesn’t quite have Dunn’s power, but he’s not a risk to hit .230, either. Tastes great, less filling, you could say.

Round 13: Josh Hamilton, OF
Round 14: Johnny Damon, OF
Round 15: Tim Hudson, SP

If “Wonderboy” Hamilton doesn’t go .300/30/100 this season, I’ll be disappointed. And if he does, getting him in Round 13 … friends, that’s how fantasy baseball titles are won. I got great value drafting both Damon and Hudson this late. They’re both on the wrong side of 30, but they both can still be pretty terrific.

Round 16: Ken Griffey Jr., OF
Round 17: Raul Ibanez, OF
Round 18: Heath Bell, RP

I don’t see any reason why Junior can’t hit 30 HRs again. I always make sure to have a stud middle reliever like Bell on my staff to collect those vulture wins and keep racking up the Ks. I had my usual mid-draft panic move, grabbing Ibanez as my time expired. It kills me to look at all the guys that went between that pick and my next, all guys I could’ve really used – Billy Butler, Casey Kotchman, Hank Blalock, Aaron Hill and Ty Wigginton. Oh well.

Round 19: Oliver Perez, SP
Round 20: Felipe Lopez, 2B,SS
Round 21: Richie Sexson, 1B
Round: 22: Corey Patterson, OF

Lopez and Sexson have already been banished to the waiver wire, so the less said about them, the better. Perez in Round 19? The guy had 175 Ks and an ERA of 3.50 last year. Even if his ERA leaps to 4.00, this is a great, great pick. But I saved the best for last. Mark my words – “Peppermint” Patterson is going to put up the best numbers of his career and at the end of the year, they’re going to look scarily similar to Carl Crawford’s. Seriously. Not bad for the 264th and final pick of the draft. Not bad for the Average Joe.

So that’s a wrap. Next time we meet, the new baseball season will be well underway. I’m going to go all Sally Field and say I really like my team. I really, really like it. But we’ll see if it’s good enough to beat the experts … or at least good enough to keep me from royally screwing it up. Stay tuned.

Craig Falzone is playing in the Yahoo! Friends and Family League and writing about it all season long. He's been playing fantasy baseball since the days it was known as rotisserie baseball, which was so much better because it sounded less like Dungeons & Dragons and more like really good chicken.
Updated Thursday, Mar 27, 2008