I sit on the edge of my shitty wooden chair as the bidding for Felix Hernandez blows past all reasonable estimates. Said chair is at the head of a large, boardroom style table, overflowing with burgers, corned beef hash, cheese fries, beer, and 12 scheming, devious fantasy baseball fanatics who I call my friends. It is our annual dynasty league auction draft located in a private backroom at Smith & Wollensky’s Steakhouse in Manhattan, and you can cut the tension with a butter knife right now (because butter knives are all we have; if you thought $100/person would get you steak at a steakhouse, you thought wrong). The bidding for Felix is down to two people, me and Greg.
“I’ll go $41,” a stone faced Greg announces from the other end of the table.
“$42,” I quickly fire back. The time for games is over. Felix is the last available “ace” on the board. The only other aces who were free agents in this year’s auction, David Price and Zach Grienke, already sold for $45 and $44, respectively ($260 budget). I bowed out of the bidding on both of those guys once the price hit $40, thinking I might be able to get Felix at a slight discount. Hah!
A brief silence falls over the room. “$43,” Greg finally squeaks out, sounding pretty unsure of himself.
I know a bunch of teams have cap space this year, but this is getting out of control. Felix Hernandez had a down year last year! There are red flags! I’m supposed to get him at a discount, goddamnit! I bite down hard, and try to summon some throwaway wisdom to help me rationalize the reckless bid I am about to make. “Fortune favors the bold,” I meekly blurt out to the room. “$44.”
The silence stretches on for longer this time. Greg looks like he might be ready to call it quits. “Alright man, I think I’m going to …” he stops mid-sentence. “Actually, nevermind, I’m going $45.”
You have got to be kidding me! Just at this moment, our waiter rolls in a cart filled with the 12 tequila shots we ordered earlier. I am at my wit’s end. Throwaway wisdom is not going to do it anymore. I need liquid courage! I stand up from this fucking horribly uncomfortable wooden chair, grab one of the glasses filled with a little too much tequila, and fire the shot back like a champ. “Felix Hernandez for 46!?!?” I shout out to the amused faces staring back at me from around the table. I did it! Felix is all but mine. No way Greg goes $47, he almost quit at $45!
“$46.50,” Greg says …
By Michael Halpern
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)