Tout Wars never fails to deliver when it comes to good story-telling. And the Tout Wars 2012 Draft weekend was no different.
You might remember my last Tout Wars tale from a few year ago, which happened to be the year I ended up winning the whole shebang! So before I discuss my Tout Wars Fantasy Baseball team, let me tell you about the whole Tout Wars weekend!
New York, New York
I always love traveling to New York each spring, and even though I’ve been about a dozen times now, it’s still relatively foreign. I still end up getting switched around on which side of Times Square I’m on. And the avenues seem to be just enough far apart so that you can’t see which number avenue is that way and which one is that way, so you walk to it – and it’s always the one you didn’t want it to be.
I went up with my old CBSSports.com co-baseball writer Emack, my wife, Sara, and our friend Shannon. We all stayed in one room at The Sanctuary Hotel, in a room smaller than my living room – but outfitted with two queen beds. It really was a nice room, but a little tiny. The furniture was like pieces you could find at sites similar to antiquesworld.co.uk and I really loved that. It just added something special to the room, even though it was quite small. I’ve had bigger buckets of chicken wings.
On the plane ride up, another former co-worker at CBS, Jamey Eisenberg, happened to be on our plane. He sat in first class with the aristocrats, while Sara and I sat in Thunderdome. (I had to win a knife fight just to get pretzels!) Jamey was going up to see family, including his aunt who just turned 100 years old, and his cousin, Jesse Eisenberg – the Oscar-nominated actor from “The Social Network.” Jesse was filming a movie in the city, with Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson and Michael Caine. Needless to say, Sara and I were hoping to become extras in “Beerfest II” or whatever they called their movie. Spoiler alert: It didn’t happen.
We met up with Emack and Shannon and had lunch in Chinatown – worst nachos I’ve ever eaten.
Every Tout Wars weekend, the entire gang gets together at Foley’s Bar, near the Empire State Building. First, Nando had us meet him at a bar called Playwright, where his buddy (who works for a liquor company) had an open tab. Nando’s our favorite! We hung out there for a bit with Nando and his buddies, and ESPN’s Matthew Berry hung out with us for a bit. (Eisenberg, Berry — my name-dropping pretty much ends there for this trip.)
Then we went to Foley’s – but not after Emack and I played (and lost) our annual “which side of the Empire State Building is Foley’s on again?” game. It’s a pretty sweet bar, with lots of baseball memorabilia. (Pretty sure I heard that the owner is B.J. Upton’s agent! He literally has to call Bossman Junior, “Bossman!” And since it’s a sports bar and March Madness is going on, it’s always a packed house when the Tout Wars crew arrives.
This year, Emack, Sara, Shannon and I walked into the back to see a sea of SABR-heads. Nerds as far as the eye can see (Note: Since Emack and I are nerds ourselves, we’re allowed to call them nerds. From now on, when I say the N-word, it will mean – nevermind. Skip that.)
We were familiar with most of the nerds, since they were also Fantasy Baseball writers from other sites. Plus, their propeller hats gave them away. But there were a couple handfuls of guys I didn’t know. These are guys that came out to talk baseball and discuss the Fantasy game with people that “get them.” Unfortunately, every year, there is always one or two of these guys that are … just a little off.
I’ll call him “Ted,” so that we don’t reveal his real name. (Also because his name was Dave and I wanted to keep his name and my name separate!) He was a big fella with a babyface and extra hair. He made you think of an adult-sized kid, really. He was nice, as he chatted with Mike Siano and I, then later on when he talked with myself and Siano’s counterpart at MLB.com, Cory Schwartz. To be honest, I figured “Ted” was a buddy of theirs or a co-worker or someone they were being a Big Brother to.
“Ted” was getting a little sloppy with his beers and doing a good amount of “close-talking.” Then Cory mentioned tattoos (notice: mentioned, not displayed), and out of the blue, “Ted” nearly takes off his shirt to show off his tattoo painted down his shoulder/arm. It was right around here that I looked at Cory with the raised eyebrow and curled lip (the universal look of WTF!?!). Cory talked him into re-robing, as he’s apparently so good at, and we marked him. As we talked with the ladies (no one else in the entire room noticed there were girls in the room), “Ted” worked his way back into our table and into whatever we were discussing. At this point, Emack is trying to figure the guy out too. Then finally, “Ted” peeled off his shirt and showed us his pierced nipples.
Intermission: Interested in learning more about Fantasy Baseball? Check out RotoExperts.com! And now, back to your program.
Pierced man boobies were now just a foot from my face! It was like time stood still for a second. Birds were caught in mid-flight. A dog unknowingly stepped in his own poop. I heard an angel weeping.
Finally, after hearing several shrieks and seeing all of us cover our beers, “Ted” put his shirt back on.
Then Cory convinced “Ted” it was time to return back to his home under the abandoned carnival. It was over.
Well, not yet.
[Parents will want to shield their child’s eyes. The following is PG-holy-crap-that’s-gross.]
“Ted” stood up to leave, and well, let’s just say he either brought a remote control with him to the bar or he was just really happy to see us. Emack hung his coat from it. Cory poked it with a tree branch. Sara and Shannon got his phone number.
And then he left. It was over. We all looked at each other like we just experienced a dream together. I heard Cory call his kids and tell them he loved them. The madness was behind us.
The rest of the night was relatively uninteresting. We went up to the front of the bar, where Nando and Co. were holding court, sang some songs to make fun of Nando, then the four of us headed to Papaya Dog, where we ate horribly bad-for-you food. Then we trumped that by going next door and getting a couple slices of pizza.
The next morning, in the restroom, did not go well.
We went to a famous cupcake place called “Magnolia” as a sequel to our continental breakfast. We checked out Rockefeller Center and the ice rink, and a few other sites. I bought an awesome Ron Swanson mug (from “Parks and Recreation”) and we went to a nice corner restaurant for a great lunch.
The girls continued on to go shopping and take a walk through Central Park, and Emack and I went back to the room to get ready for our draft at 3pm.
About 20 minutes before our Tout Wars 2012 Draft, on our way to the Sirius/XM building, Jamey emailed me to say that he and Jesse were going to try to stop by to watch the draft. So I texted the girls to let them know, then Emack and I went to the draft. I let the radio guys know Jesse Eisenberg was going to be here to watch Tout Wars – and they looked at me blankly.
“Jesse Eisenberg,” I said. “He was in ‘The Social Network’ … The Facebook movie?” And they responded, “Oh … uh yeah … is he a celebrity?” I gave the semi-eye-roll and said, “Yeah. He’s big. Hosted SNL? Nothing?” Then I realized, the only way they’d know him was if he had a 13:1 K/BB ratio. I was hoping they’d get him in the booth to talk about baseball – but no dice.
It was just as well. Once Jamey and Jesse showed up and we talked for a while, I realized that Jamey had duped Jesse into coming up there. He was under the impression it was the REAL MLB Draft. He kept asking me questions, and I tried to explain what it was, but it wasn’t really dawning on him. Jesse was Jamey’s best man in his wedding a few years ago, when we first met him, but we were drunk. So this time, it was nice to have a discussion with him, even though he was tricked into it. We started talking about college basketball and how Emack was praying our draft ends quickly so he can catch Syracuse vs. Ohio State. Then Jesse offered us some orange Tic-Tacs, which we declined. I still say that’s the reason the Orange lost. We coulda had a lucky orange Tic-Tac!
Jesse was cool, and they stuck around for 10 minutes or so into the Tout Wars 2012 Draft, before Jesse finally realized his cousin punk’d him. I have a feeling the chances of Jesse playing Sam Walker in a remake of “FantasyLand: The Movie” are officially dead.
The girls never got a chance to see Jesse, and they are still blaming us for them not looking at my text earlier.
Oh Yeah – The Draft!
Emack, Nando and I parked ourselves in the corner of the fishbowl studio, with glass walls on all four sides. It was a cool setup, although it was a pretty tight fit. It would be nice to see Tout Wars management have their own draft in there with 15 owners, an auctioneer, a llama, a live blogger, a Gonos, a spreadsheet tracker and a mariachi band, like we had to.
I was still dealing with a headache I had developed since the flight the day before. So I was uncharacteristically quiet –so five people told me. Emack, Jeff Erickson, Jason Collette and a couple other guys, including RotoExperts’ Jake Cielly, all chided me for my low-key auction. Am I hear to amuse you? … Oh. I am.
Emack has a different annoying theme every season. This year, his theme was “Let’s hurry! The ‘Cuse starts in two hours!!!” Last year, his theme was, “Hello!” which he said annoyingly every time he won a player. And two years ago, his theme was, “Boiled-egg-skunk-fart breath.”
So between Emack’s constant prodding and Erickson’s speedy auctioneering, we ripped through a very fast auction.
I’ll discuss my team and strategies in another blog. And I discussed the overall auction the other day. This one is more about the pageantry and surrounding stories.
Saturday night, we went to “Tonic,” a sports bar in Times Square. Just our luck (remember the rejected orange Tic-Tac!?!?!), it was an Ohio State bar. It HAD to be the only Buckeye bar in the city. It’s like going on a blind date with your ex’s sister.
After the Syracuse loss, we grumpily went back to the room, and then headed out to see some stand-up comics at The Comedy Store in the Village. If you’ve ever seen the TV show, “Louie,” this is the place Louis C.K. walks down into during the opening credits. It’s also the club he’s always in when they show him doing standup. It’s like Disney World for people that love stand-up comics.
It’s weird though. Why are comedy clubs SOOO uncomfortable to sit in? Every one I’ve been in has crappy tables with uneven chairs that are barely held together. I can’t even imagine how disgusting these places would be if the lights were ever turned on.
Anyway, we got to see several good comics, including the roastmaster himself, Jeff Ross, Gary Gulman (from “Last Comic Standing”) and a couple other guys. The best part was – Aziz Ansari, from “Parks and Recreation” dropped in for a quick set of stories that he was trying out before Wednesday’s episode of “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.”
Soooooo, between Jesse and Aziz, we basically got to hang out with the cast of “30 Minutes Or Less.” I was waiting for Kenny Powers to deliver linens at our hotel. “You’re F-ING OUT – of towels, here you go.”
It’s good that Saturday was so full of events because Sunday was uneventful. We checked out Central Park, hit some more good restaurants and watched some more good basketball before finally, Sara and I flew back home.
Emack stayed back and saw Mamma Mia – and now he won’t stop humming ABBA songs.
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.