Updated: Monday, August 14, 2006

Escaped robot becomes sportswriter, film at 11:00

**Simmons module engaged, uploading college football parameters .....complete. Begin weekly column.**

The Sports Guy Goes to an Auction

So I'm sitting there the other day watching ESPN Classic and I see that 2005 USC-ND game is on again. There is nobody, with the possible exception of Pete Carroll, that I dislike more than Matt Leinart. In the pantheon of people that 'Make the Sports Guy Annoyed,' these two are a 'Jim Rome'.

The phone rings. It's my friend Bish. fuming! Bish is always willing to discuss our mutual distaste for Matt Leinart. Don't get me wrong--we respect his abilities. But he's the Horshach of sports. Totally annoying, yet on TV all the time. Bish mentions that it would be nice if Matt Leinart caught a case of cholera at the beginning of September, paving the way for the Niners to the playoffs like Maurice Clarett on Grey Goose.

Bish points out that the chances that Matt Leinart will come down with cholera in September are minimal, but that if we expanded the possibilities, there would be a greater chance for debilitating success. As usual, Bish is a crazy genius.

Here is what we came up with:

4. Matt Leinart receives a vicious frog splash from Tom Brady in front of 40,000 fans jammed into the Meadowlands.

(On a side note, has there ever been a greater moment in sports than when the Steiner Brothers beat the Rockers? I don't even care if it was fake, that was wicked. That rivals Gene Hackman's speech in "Hoosiers" for 'Most Inspirational Non-Real Sports Moment 2006.)

3. Matt Leinart is informed by his girlfriend that their child was not fathered by him but rather by either any kicker from Florida State or Dennis Franchione.

2. Matt Leinart hangs scrapbook-style clippings of Brandon Walsh and Billy Zabka in his locker and is immediately put on the DL.

1. Matt Leinart meets Rudy from "Survivor", falls in love, and leaves team to begin filming a Nick Lachey biopic.

After we finish with the conversation about Matt Leinart we turn ourselves to the real topic of conversation, the upcoming draft of the Holly Rowe is Sexy Memorial Football Association, a new fantasy league that Bish and I will be joining this year.

Ordinarily, I'm never an advocate of partnering up to own a fantasy college team. That's like getting picked up by Paris Hilton and going back to her place, only to find out that Shawn Kemp is already there. If the best you get is to share, sometimes it's not worth it at all, right?

However, this league only had one slot open, so Bish and I agreed to partner up, in the hope that one of us could switch over and manage the next vacancy. After much debate, and eliminating the excellent possibilities of 'Naked Jenga with mango chutney salsa' and 'Charlie Weis's Shiny Sportsbook as potential team names, we settle on 'Flutie's Flakes.'

It's basically a winners pool. Take each program's record and add 'em up. Best record wins. The thing that's exciting about this league is that it's an auction format league, which is totally different than a draft league. I mean, it seems as though it would be the same as a draft league, but it's not. It's like the difference between NHL 93 and NHL 94-you take out fighting and add one-timers, you've got a whole different game, even if they are both hockey. Any good sports fan knows that Alabama has won the last 55 national championships but not everyone knows how to do an auction.

Pre-Auction preparation is important. First, it is important to choose a date when the auction will take place. This is easy. Choose the date when the whipped guy does not have to go to a stranger's wedding, and that's your date. Finding the whipped-guy-can-make-it date is crucial for auction success. (speaking of which, what is with all these girlfriends who think that 'fantasy draft' is code for 'I'm going to have my buddies over to watch Loverboy perform musical theater while eating a bananna? Though that would be cool.)

Next, and more difficult, is the auction location selection. Many times people will choose to have their auction in a sportsbar. This is a bad idea. Nothing good can come of this; at the end of the day every person in the room is going to be fighting drunk and have an extremely sore back after four hours on a crappy barstool.

No, the auction must be held in someone's house-biggest furnished basement wins. The coolness of the wife/significant other can be a deciding factor if two people have similar options-say, if owner A has Xbox360 NCAA Football 2007, but owner B has a case of Natural Light. Nothing will kill a fun evening faster than the host's wife emasculating him with a 'I don't know how you can spend that much money on a fantasy league.' We have selected next Tuesday night, at 8 pm, at a guy's house where his wife will be at "hip-hop pilates", and therefore unable to disrupt the festivities.

I will not be sharing with you my team ratings for this coming season-after all, Tommy Tuberville doesn't play poker with the hand face up-but I will give you some insight into my auction strategy. The thing is, an auction has so much more of an influence on your season than a draft does. In an auction, every player in the league is at your disposal. Everyone starts out equal. It's the national socialism of fantasy sports.

It's also like a watching a 4-hour ND game on NBC. It requires endurance, it requires stamina, it requires concentration and planning. Without further ado, here is my 'Sports Guy Auction Strategy Guide':

Round One-establish your jab

Once the auction starts, timing and strategy are much more important than they are in a traditional draft. The first hour or so of the auction has to be spent feeling out your opponents. Are they particularly loyal to the Oregon Ducks? Do they have a tendency toward being a Boston College "superfan"? You are looking for weaknesses that you can exploit later on. Store these like ticket stubs.

Everyone is going to get some good teams at this point, so make sure you don't overpay and find yourself begging for money like Johnny Drama asking for Vinny Chase's AMEX Black.

Round Two-Have a Sense of Criminology

In round two, there will be one moment that defines your draft. Things will be going along smoothly, and all of a sudden you'll get involved in a bidding war on a team. It's not unlike a big pot in a no-limit hold-em tournament-you'll have your Danny LaRusso-Johnny All Valley Karate Tournament moment, and you need to decide what to do.

Oftentimes, this will come down to a single dollar, here or there-if you bid $50 for Florida, you know you'll get them, but you're facing a bid with the clock ticking. Are you going to be a hero, carried off the field like Joe Montana? Or are you Tyrone Willingham, skulking off the field into the jeering history of your team's fans, with only your family still willing to speak with you. Now is your moment. Set the tone.

Round Three-Moving Day

Hour three of the draft is moving day, like the third day of the Western Open. You need to shoot a 68. This is where you'll fill out a lot of the teams that, while less sexfully endowed, make up the core of your team. Do not discount the importance of moving day. If you wait until the next phase to build the core of your team, you'll find yourself as lonely as the USC Song Girls at a Song Guy party.

Moving day is the time to make things happen for your team. This is where you are going to define the season that you have. If you end up moving day by taking an accurate mix of under-the-radar, sleeper picks, and Central Florida, you'll be okay.

Round Four-The Game of Trivial Pursuit

By the end of the fantasy auction, the endeavor has become ginormous. The only thing it can be compared to is a game of Trivial Pursuit, played among friends. Something that, at the beginning of the endeavor, seemed like such fun, but by the end of it, is just a group of people banging their heads against the wall, adamantly trying to finish what they started, the joy of competing against your friends replaced with a desire to prove that you are the Baron of All Trivia and that is that.

In this phase of the auction, you must be careful. This is the 'go get your *bleeping* shinebox' moment of the draft. People will be exploding like gas trucks in a Bruckheimer movie, screaming incomprehensible things like Ed Orgeron and threatening to punch something if they do not get their way.

Just bite your lip, set your jaw, and try and endure. It's a long season coming forward.

'Who's the wild man, now?'

**Output completed. It is safe to shut down your computer.**

Johnny 5 is the latest addition to the FireMarkMay.com staff following 4-6 weeks shipping and handling. He is currently in charge of input.



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