Seen & Heard

September 03, 2006

Let's PlayTwo
The upstart Twins followed up a big win with their raucous fantasy footballdraft

WHAT HAPPENS whenyou gather almost 30 Minnesota Twins players, coaches, clubhouse workers andfriends and ply them with burgers and Bud Light as they conduct their fantasyfootball draft? A night of endless trash talk and raunchy (but oftengut-splitting) banter, only some of which meets the editorial standards forthese pages. And if no one had regularly screamed at Joe Nathan's team to hurryup and pick, they all might still be there.

The idea wassimple: Sit in on the Twins' Aug. 20 draft, two hours after the team had beatenthe American League Central-- rival Chicago White Sox 7--3, and document thehigh jinks that ensue. The affair was held in the "VIP room of VIProoms," according to the hostess at Trocaderos restaurant in Minneapolis,with food and drinks paid for by CBS SportsLine, the site the league uses tomanage its season. "Open bar?" Twins manager Ron Gardenhire asks uponhearing the news. "I'll just take a keg."

There are 12teams in the league, officially called the Bobby Dorey Fantasy Football Leagueafter a Twins clubhouse worker from the 1980s, one of the league's founders (in'82). Among the franchises are the Blasters, owned by catcher Joe Mauer, firstbaseman Justin Morneau, outfielder Jason Tyner and rightfielder MichaelCuddyer; the Plugs (Gardenhire and third base coach Scott Ullger); and the C's(outfielder Josh Rabe and pitchers Johan Santana and Carlos Silva). Suffice itto say that the names of the Blasters, Plugs and C's have been shortened forreasons other than brevity.

The grand prize?A trophy and bragging rights--and nothing more, the participants say. That'stheir story, and they're sticking to it.

At 6:45 p.m., 45minutes after the scheduled start time, righthander Brad Radke's team (HiRollerz) kicks off the 13-round draft by taking the Chiefs' Larry Johnson.Three picks later the upstate New York--raised Nathan, one of five owners ofthe Dumb Dumbs, confers with his partners and chooses the Giants' Tiki Barber.The needling starts immediately. "That must have been Nathan's pick,"says third baseman Nick Punto, co-owner of Blue Steel with outfielder Lew Ford."A New York guy."

The first tworounds, which speed by in most drafts, are moving a little too slowly for some."Holy s--- farts," Rabe says as the Dumb Dumbs debate their secondselection. "Hurry up!"

To end the secondround, Radke's team selects Bengals receiver Chad Johnson. Instantly, jeerserupt. Punto jumps out of his chair and starts throwing Tiger Woodsian fistpumps across the room. Screams ring out that the Hi Rollerz should lose thepick. Punto then tosses a yellow paper napkin, weighted with a mint toimpersonate a football referee's penalty flag, at the Rollerz. ImmediatelyRadke and his co-owner, clubhouse employee Rod McCormick, realize their error:Johnson has already been picked. "Why don't you take Peyton Manning!"someone shouts. The Rollerz settle for Chester Taylor.

In the next roundGardenhire takes Lions receiver Roy Williams, which draws a "Nice pick"from Rabe, a rookie who has played in only one game in eight days. Punto, whoby now has taken on the role as official referee, throws the flag again, thistime at Rabe. Punto quiets the room, then says, "Rabe said 'Nice pick.'He's just trying to get playing time." People howl. (Rabe would be sentdown to Triple A Rochester three days later.)

The roundscontinue to move at a glacial pace. Perhaps it's the alcohol or the youngblonde waitress in a skimpy black skirt that's barely more than a rumor, or thedifficulty that comes with deciding among so many players of similar caliber.It's obvious, though, that the main culprits are the Dumb Dumbs, whose unwieldymembership--four relievers (Nathan, Jesse Crain, Willie Eyre and Matt Guerrier)and clubhouse employee Nate Reese--has made it difficult for them to reach aconsensus. "Where's [Dennys] Reyes and the rest of the bullpen?" shoutsMorneau. Someone else adds, "Jesus, they have too many cooks in thekitchen."

After the DumbDumbs announce their pick (Rod Smith), Eyre heads for the bathroom. Secondslater he comes running out, yelling, "Timeout! Timeout!" Eyre, itseems, had been preceded in the restroom by Brian Monette, a clubhouse employeeand a co-owner of Velvet Underground. "We have a nonflusher!" Eyresays, pointing to Monette. "Mo is the newest nonflusher!" Laughter andapplause fill the room, and Monette acknowledges the crowd by raising his handand nodding his head proudly, the assistant clubhouse manager's version of acurtain call.

In the eighthround Punto and Ford select Titans rookie LenDale White. A few feet away Tynercan't control himself. "First third-string running back taken," he saysto Ford, his voice laced with sarcasm. "Good pick."

"What do youmean third-string?" Ford asks. "On our team or on the Titans?"

"On theTitans," Tyner says. "But he may be a starter for you."

Seven picks laterthe Dumb Dumbs quickly announce their selection of Braylon Edwards. "Yes,we all agree!" exclaims Guerrier. The group exchanges high fives allaround.

At 8:30 the draftis still in round 10, and everyone wants to go home. With Blue Steel on theclock, Gardenhire shouts, "Let's go, Lew. It's getting late." Ford,realizing it's the manager speaking, follows his advice and finally selectsJason Elam. Someone interjects, "You took that long to draft akicker?"

In round 11 theCheetahs, the defending champions (with owners from outside the organization),pick Jake Plummer, who's already taken. Punto, of course, throws the penaltyflag again, albeit with far less gusto than he did eight rounds (and two hours)earlier.

When the 13th andfinal round mercifully arrives, the focus is less and less on fantasy football.Gardenhire takes off even before the draft ends. Radke bolts soon after hismanager. Others gather around the blonde waitress. (Morneau tips her $40.)Finally, two hours and 15 minutes after the first pick, the nonflusher isstanding near the big draft board at the front of the room and consulting withhis teammate by cellphone for the last pick of the draft. "JermaineWiggins," Monette shouts. "He's the only guy I could think of."

STUDS &DUDS
Get regular updates on who's hot and who's not every day at SI.com/fantasy.

HARD-CORE

Some baseballplayers can't get enough fantasy football. In addition to competing in theBobby Dorey League, Twins rightfielder Michael Cuddyer (above) plays in aleague against pitchers Brad Lidge, Greg Maddux, B.J. Ryan, Ben Sheets andeight other major leaguers. "This is one of my favorite times of theyear," says Cuddyer. "Fantasy football draft day is right up there withChristmas for me."

THE RUNDOWN:NOTABLE TEAMS

THEBLASTERS
JOE MAUER

1 CADILLACWILLIAMS RB, Bucs
2 STEVE SMITH WR, Panthers
3 COREY DILLON RB, Patriots
4 JAMAL LEWIS RB, Ravens
5 FRANK GORE RB, 49ers
6 ANDRE JOHNSON WR, Texans
7 DOMINIC RHODES RB, Colts
8 DREW BENNETT WR, Titans
9 K. JOHNSON WR, Panthers
10 DREW BREES QB, Saints
11 STEVE MCNAIR QB, Ravens
12 DAVID AKERS K, Eagles
13 CHRIS SIMMS QB, Bucs

THE DUMBDUMBS
JOE NATHAN

1 TIKI BARBER RB,Giants
2 WILLIS MCGAHEE RB, Bills
3 ANTONIO GATES TE, Chargers
4 ELI MANNING QB, Giants
5 JAKE DELHOMME QB, Panthers
6 ROD SMITH WR, Broncos
7 DEION BRANCH WR, Patriots
8 BRAYLON EDWARDS WR, Browns
9 SHAYNE GRAHAM K, Bengals
10 JERRY PORTER WR, Raiders
11 KELLEN WINSLOW TE, Browns
12 BRIAN CALHOUN RB, Lions
13 R. MCMICHAEL TE, Dolphins

HI ROLLERZ
BRAD RADKE

1 LARRY JOHNSONRB, Chiefs
2 CHESTER TAYLOR RB, Vikings
3 KEVIN JONES RB, Lions
4 DONOVAN MCNABB QB, Eagles
5 PLAXICO BURRESS WR, Giants
6 NATE BURLESON WR, Seahawks
7 ADAM VINATIERI K, Colts
8 DONTÉ STALLWORTH WR, Saints
9 MIKE ANDERSON RB, Ravens
10 BRETT FAVRE QB, Packers
11 ERIC MOULDS WR, Texans
12 ANTOWAIN SMITH RB, Texans
13 S. JANIKOWSKI K, Raiders

THE C'S
JOHAN SANTANA

1 L. TOMLINSONRB, Chargers
2 RANDY MOSS WR, Raiders
3 DESHAUN FOSTER RB, Panthers
4 KURT WARNER QB, Cardinals
5 JOSEPH ADDAI RB, Colts
6 LEE EVANS WR, Bills
7 KEVAN BARLOW RB, Jets
8 CHRIS BROWN RB, Titans
9 JEREMY SHOCKEY TE, Giants
10 BYRON LEFTWICH QB, Jaguars
11 JOHN KASAY K, Panthers
12 MICHAEL TURNER RB, Chargers
13 MICHAEL BENNETT RB, Chiefs

PHOTOMICHAEL PIMENTEL/ICON SMI (CUDDYER) PHOTOTOM DAHLIN (GROUP)DOUBLING HIS PLEASURE A few hours after celebrating Torii Hunter's homer,Morneau (back row, third from left) was cheering the end of the Twins' draftwith teammates: (front row, from left) Eyre, Ford, Punto, Crain; (back row,from left) Nathan, Guerrier, Mauer, Radke, Tyner and Rabe. PHOTOBRUCE KLUCKHOHN (INSET)[Seecaption above] TWO PHOTOSTOM DAHLIN (BLUE STEEL, DUMB DUMBS)BRAINTRUSTS Punto (top, left, with Ford), kept things from flagging, though the DumbDumbs (above) often slowed the pace. FOUR PHOTOSROBBIE ROGERS/MLB PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES (4)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)