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AP Photo- Mike Nichols boasts, "Iím hungry for my second RSERBBL championship. Just watch me eat up the competition this year".

Judging from the photo, it looks like Nick already has eaten his competition.

Q&A SESSION WITH AN RSERBBL LEGEND Sports Weekly Ė By John Hunt

SAN DIEGO Ė Forget about Bob Ciminiís first RSERBBL fantasy baseball title. Nobody besides Bob gives a crap who won last year. The only thing that matters is this year. With the baseball draft scheduled for 4/5/03, the league will enter its historic 15th season. Other than a nude photo session with Anna Kournikova, is there a better way to bring in the new season than to interview a fantasy baseball legend?

The RSERBBL is nationally recognized as one of the oldest and most competitive fantasy baseball leagues. The league is filled with some of Americaís most anal-retentive owners. Naturally, that brings us to Michael Lorne Nichols. Nichols was born and raised in the frozen tundra of Minnesota. His love for baseball took its roots by watching local heroes like Kirby Puckett, Bert Blyleven and Jim Eisenreich. Then, he attended college at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). While at RPI, he learned many valuable things about life. Like how to consume alcohol by the gallon, how to heckle minor leaguers at AC Yankee games, how to participate in barroom brawls, how to beat up his fellow fraternity brothers, and how to threaten police officers in Troy, NY. That was his idea of fun.

This type of alcohol-induced violence is part of Nickís past (or so he says). Big Nick has definitely grown. Sure, he has grown into his size 48 pants. But, Nick has also grown into a man that epitomizes what the RSERBBL stands for. Someone who:

  • Mercilessly insults other owners
  • Finds legal loopholes in the RSERBBL rules
  • Provides false information about players leading up to the draft
  • Tries to convince fellow owners into bad trades
  • Fears the long-term commitment of marriage

After leaving RPI, there have been four constants in Nickís life: Beer drinking, beer farts, beer belly and fantasy baseball. Nichols is one of only three people to have participated in each of the RSERBBLís 14 prior seasons. Due to his omnipresence in the league and his bulging stature, our magazine wanted to get some words of wisdom from the Big Guy. Senior staff member John Hunt, along with a posse of other Sports Weekly reporters, interviewed Nick to get his opinion on the past, present and future of the RSERBBL:

JH: Why is baseball your favorite sport?

[Before responding, Nick chugs a beer] MN: Well, you may have noticed that I have a little bit of a weight problem. I love baseball because fat guys can be really good at it. Everyone knows about fat-guy legends like Babe Ruth and Kirby Puckett. But, how many of you noticed that Fat Sid Fernandez and Fatnando Valenzuela both got votes in the latest round of Hall of Fame voting? It was truly an honor to see such recognition for two of the fat legends of the game.

JH: Who are your favorite players in the game today?

[Two questions and two Milwaukeeís Best beers have been chugged]

MN: David Wells is at the top of my list. This stellar athlete could stand to lose 5 or 10 pounds like me. He recently admitted that he pitched his perfect game while hung-over. Heís a role model for every baseball player. Other guys who have potential to make it to the top of my list are Ruben Quefato, Antonio Alfatseca, Benny Agfatyani, Livan Fatnandez and Sidney Fatson.

Off the record, I am heavily scouting a youngster named Prince Fielder. This beefy 19-year-old already tips the scales at 260 lbs. His daddy, Cecil, is a legendary fat guy. So, the bloodlines are definitely there. Since this interview is going so well, Iím sure I can trust that you wonít publish anything about Fielder, since he is my deep sleeper for the 2003 draft.

JH: Which RSERBBL owner do you fear the most?

MN: Dan Joseph. This Neanderthal has one scary looking face. If youíve never met him, he looks like a white Otis Nixon.

JH: Who is the least respected owner in the league?

MN: This is a tough question because I donít respect anyone in this league. Let me think. [Nick chugs beers #3 and #4]

There are many qualified candidates Ö Keith, Clancy, Smith, Jeff, Ken, Kitt just to name a few of our leagueís mental midgets.

But, if you forced me to pick one owner, it would have to be a Rookie owner with a big mouth. Joanna Fritz Strydom fits the bill the closest. For example, last year he bragged about leading the league after two weeks. Since the draft is conducted one week after the season starts, any idiot can draft hitters who have already hit HRís and pitchers who have already won a game. It doesnít take Einstein to figure out why Fritz had the early lead last year.

But, thatís not the only reason that itís difficult to respect Fritz. Does Big Mouth realize that he hasnít finished in the top three in any season this century? Did he notice that he finished almost 20 points behind Clancy last year? Did he recognize that no one responded to any of the 42,693 e-mails he sent to the RSERBBL last year? Does he remember that he justified a 2001 trade by saying that Albert Pujols is not protectable, and then he protected him in 2002? Rookie!

JH: Who is the most respected owner in the league?

[After slamming down a more expensive beer (Pabst Blue Ribbon), Nick smiles and says]

MN: Youíre looking at him. As Keith has learned, if you donít respect me, I will beat respect into you. Besides, I have impeccable credentials. Iím one of only three people to participate in the league every year. Iím only one of seven people to have won the RSERBBL. My 1996 championship team ranks as the best all time RSERBBL fantasy team. The 17.5 point separation between first and second place is the widest margin of victory ever. Like Joe Dimaggioís hitting streak, this record will not be broken! Iím also the smartest owner, because Iím the only one with a PhD. I have served as league commissioner. I track everyoneís lifetime stats. Last, but not least, other owners copy my super-genius draft strategy every year.

JH: Super-genius draft strategy? Wouldnít you admit that your draft strategy in 1999 sucked? That was when you drafted all your hitters before picking any starting pitcher or non-closer. Or, what about your 1991 strategy, when three Cubs starting pitchers not named Greg Maddux anchored your pitching staff. Does the name Ivan Boskie ring a bell?

[Nick moves his thumb and index finger within a half inch of one another]:

MN: You are this freakiní close to getting your ass kicked. Just so you know, I was forced into those strategies because of extenuating circumstances. Move on to the next question needle-dick, before I really get pissed.

JH: My apologies. Iíll try to be more careful with my choice of words. Can you assess your performance last year? And, can you explain your, "Super-Genius Draft Strategy"?

[To calm down, Nick downs three shots of Jack Daniels]

MN: Well, I finished in the money, so I didnít do too badly. I was super-genius enough to trade Josh Fogg and Richard Hidalgo when they still had trade value. I ditched Greg Vaughn, and picked up Luis Castillo for nothing. Sooooooooooper-Genius! But, the main reason that I didnít win is because other owners have copied my super-genius drafting strategy. Last year, Buffalo Bob used my strategy and won. He should give me a portion of his winnings. The year before, Duck copied it.

My bulletproof Super-Genius Draft Strategy, which led to my dominating RSERBBL win in 1996, includes the following:

  • Donít shower for a week leading up to the draft.
  • The night before the draft, drink heavily. At 4AM, eat 13 spicy burritos with triple beans.
  • As other owners enter the draft room, unleash a barrage of lethal farts.
  • As the draft starts, threaten to kill another owner (usually Keith) to simultaneously scare and further distract other owners.
  • Take two solid closers with your first two picks, draft an ace starting pitcher between the third and sixth rounds, and get as many everyday hitters as you can. Easy money, just like 1996.

JH: You keep talking about 1996 as if it were yesterday. Truth be told, you havenít won in seven years, and youíve only recorded one win in 14 years. One could easily argue that you simply got lucky in 1996. If you were really a super-genius, wouldnít you adapt your strategy from year-to-year to stay ahead of the competition?

(Nick stands up, calmly takes off his eyeglasses, and then charges like a crazed lunatic on steroids toward John Hunt. Huntís inexperience in barroom-style combat is evident as he starts getting pummeled. Huntís life is saved by 12 reporters who separate the two warriors. While being fitted with a straight jacket, Nick then yells):

MN: Hunt! I am going to rip off your testicles and shove them up your freakiní ass!

(After being shot with an elephant gun five times, Nick softly mumbles to himself):

MN: Let it go. Let Ö it Ö go! I donít want to go back to that worthless anger management counseling class.

(A few minutes pass. The room is quiet. After letting out a big sigh, Nick breaks the silence):

MN: Iím OK. Let me go. Iíll explain my answer so that even a freakiní retard, like this Mike Hunt jerk, can understand. I did not get lucky in 1996. It was pure skill. My draft strategy is perfect, and it needs no modifications.

JH: Um, letís wrap up this interview with the obvious question. Who is going to win the RSERBBL in 2003?

MN: With a little help from Rich DeSalvo, I developed a model that predicts everyoneís odds to win in 2003.

The model accounts for each ownerís experience, draft pick situation, protectable players/closers and historical performance. My vast experience led me to believe that the model also needed emphasize the following:

  • Rookie owners (people with 13 or fewer years of experience in the RSERBBL) have virtually no chance to win
  • Having two protectable closers helps your odds
  • Trevor Hoffmanís right shoulder injury is irrelevant (because he pitches just as well left-handed)
  • Having won more than one RSERBBL title in the past hurt your odds (because youíve been too lucky)
  • Having won no RSERBBL titles hurt your odds (because you havenít proved diddly squat)

The model predicts that I am the overwhelming favorite in 2003. This isnít too surprising since I possess a unique combination of baseball knowledge, quality closers, draft experience, and a history of success. I will close this interview with a little poem: Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Nick is going to win championship number two!


NICKís 2003

RSERBBL

ODDS

 

ODDS

 

OWNER

DRAFT PICK SITUATION

PROTECTABLE PLAYERS & CLOSERS

 

COMMENTS

1 to 10

NICK

NOT A PROBLEM FOR A SUPER-GENIUS LIKE ME Picks Traded: 6 Picks Acquired: 11

Trevor Hoffman,

Troy Percival,

Mark Prior,

Carlos Delgado

Big Nick is the total package in the RSERBBL.

A lock for the 2003 RSERBBL championship.

200

to 1

WANKER

NO PICKS EXCHANGED

Troy Glaus,

Bob Abreu,

Gary Sheffield,

Billy Wagner

He has experience, and that gives him an edge on most owners. After a twelve-year drought, heís due for a lucky year. Wanker just might get lucky enough to finish in second place.

250

to 1

DUCK

SUCKS FOR HIM

Picks Traded: 6, 15 Picks Acquired: 14, 23

Big Unit,

Miguel Tejada,

Eduardo Guardado,

Pat Burrell

Finished 2nd last year. But, Duck did win the 2002 Carangelo championship (i.e., he led on the strike date). Sacrificing a 6th rounder hurts. And, he is way overdue for a string of bad luck.

300

to 1

SMITH

WILL SACRIFICE HIS 2004 DRAFT PICKS

Picks Traded: 14,16,17,18

Picks Acquired: 3, 4, 5, 10

Ichiro

Smithís patented "Try-to-contend-every-other-year-strategy" bodes well for him in 2003. Last year, he amazingly managed to beat two owners with no draft picks, no effort & no Bonds

400

to 1

MARK

EXTRA PICK HELPS

Picks Traded: 22 Picks Acquired: 7

Alfonso Soriano,

Lance Berkman,

Several Possibilities

The 2000 winner gets paid to talk about sports. Whoíll join our league next? Peter Gammons? Bill James? Since heís a professional sports geek, thatís enough to keep him under 500:1.

500

to 1

FRIBBLE

NO PICKS EXCHANGED

Jason Giambi,

Eric Gagne,

John Smoltz

Nice keepers give him an outside chance at finishing a distant 2nd. But, Iím still pissed at him for not trading me Eric Gagne last year.

750

to 1

COHEN

EXTRA PICKS ENSURES GETTING MANY YANKEES

Picks Traded: 13,15,16,19

Picks Acquired: 5, 6,10,11

Mariano Rivera

Prediction on the players Cohen will draft:

1st Ė Mariano Rivera, 2nd Ė Bernie Williams, 3rd Ė Mike Mussina, 4th Ė Roger Clemens, 5th Ė Jorge Posada, 5th Ė Hideki Matsui, 6th Ė Andy Pettite, 6th Ė Robin Ventura, 7th Ė Raul Mondesi, 8th Ė David Wells

9th Ė Jose Contreras, 10th Ė Jeff Weaver

1,000

to 1

SAM

NO PICKS EXCHANGED

Vladimir Guerrero, Kazuhiro Sasaki,

Larry Walker,

Alan Embree

A couple of nice keepers give him a remote chance to finish in the money. Canít rank him much higher, because he had a bunch of extra draft picks last year and failed to capitalize.

2,000

to 1

DAN

NOT ENOUGH TO HELP Picks Traded: 23 Picks Acquired: 15

Magglio Ordonez,

Rafael Palmeiro,

Roberto Alomar,

Mike Dejean

Kittís best friend readily admits that he canít pick pitchers to save his life. Weíve got news for Dan. He canít pick hitters very well either.

3,000

to 1

JEFF

NO PICKS EXCHANGED

Manny Ramirez,

Kerry Wood,

Kelvim Escobar,

Danys Baez

His odds will improve greatly if he can pick up Luis Gonzalez as a free agent after the draft ends.

5,000

to 1

ANY NEW OWNER

NO PICKS EXCHANGED

NONE

By the time a new owner figures out all of the loopholes in the rules, the season is over.

10,000

to 1

KEN

NO PICKS EXCHANGED

Pedro Martinez,

Nomar Garciaparra,

Jorge Julio,

Several Possibilities

Good keepers give him a remote chance. Ken knows a lot about a lot of different things. Just ask him. Fortunately for the rest of us, baseball isnít one of those things.

50,000

to 1

CLUNKY

NO PICKS EXCHANGED

Sammy Sosa,

Jeff Kent,

Jose Mesa,

Several Possibilities

The most colorful addition to the league in the last five years. Thatís a nice way of saying heís "easy to pick on". Clunkyís odds will improve if plans pan out to trade his 20th round pick for A-Rod, Big Unit, Barry Bonds, Vlad Guerrero, Eric Gagne, Alfonso Soriano & Barry Zito.

100,000

to 1

TIETZ

NEEDS MORE DRAFT PICK DONATIONS Picks Traded: 11 Picks Acquired: 6

Billy Koch,

Several Possibilities

What do I think of how Tietz picks on draft day?

He picks his nose better than he picks his players.

1,000,000

to 1

FRITZ

MADE MANY DONATIONS TO TRANSACTION FUND Picks Traded: 5,10,11,13,14,18,22

Picks Acquired: 3,6,8,8,13,18,19

Albert Pujols,

Greg Maddux,

Carlos Beltran,

Derek Jeter

 

Now weíre getting to the super-ultra longshots. Dumb enough to protect Griffey Jr. last year. Will this Rookie protect Barry Larkin this year? Or, will this Rookie trade picks for the right to protect Griffey again? Even with extra picks, this Rookie is bound to do something stupid.

100,000,000

to 1

KEITH

MIGHT DO BETTER WITHOUT EXTRA PICKS

(SEE LAST YEARíS DRAFT)

Alex Rodriguez,

Mike Sweeney,

Scott Stewart,

Mark Mulder,

Several Possibilities

Never did Keithís inexperience show itself better than last year. He gets A-Rod. He had 14 more picks in the first 11 rounds. He gets lucky with two catchers, and picks up two free agent closers during the season. Even with all these things going for him, he didnít finish in the top 3.

1 Billion

to 1

KITT

IS IT 2004 YET?

Picks Traded: 3, 7, 8, 10 Picks Acquired: 15,16,22,22

Barry Bonds,

Jason Isringhausen,

Jeff Bagwell,

Jose Jimenez

Forget the lack of draft picks, and the fact that he can only protect two players this year.

Anyone dumb enough to trade draft picks for Mike Lamb, a guy who averaged 6 HR and 1SB the last three years, needs to be a billion to one.

Infinity

to 1

BOB

REST IN PEACE Picks Traded: 3, 4, 6, 8 Picks Acquired: 13,14,16,18

Robb Nen,

Brian Giles,

Barry Zito,

Mike Williams

I recommend that Sponge Bob resorts to Smithís "every other year" strategy! There ainít no way in hell he can do it two years in a row after sacrificing 4 of his top 8 picks.

Infinity Squared

to 1

RICH

ZERO FOR THIRTEEN

Picks Traded: 5 Picks Acquired: 17

Shawn Green,

Mike Piazza,

Curt Schilling,

Ugueth Urbina,

Several Possibilities

Sure, Rich finished a surprising third last year. However, the odds listed are the odds to "win". Like his hometown Red Sox, he wonít ever win. Desalvo has been in the league since 1990. He is still paying the price for missing the 1989 league when he allowed Rick Mormino to join.

Is it the "Curse of the Mormino"?


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Keith Carangelo
E-mail: mail@kcaran.com