THE INVITATION CAME ON 8 FEBRUARY in a gilded envelope, printed with the finest inks of the Far East, on the heaviest parchment I’d ever felt. One knew, simply by sight, that the contents of the envelope were destined to change the life of the man– or woman– to whom it was addressed.
It came from a man named “Donkey Teeth”… I assume this is a man, as sure as I am that the post was not, in fact, sent by the sentient protrusions from the alveolar of an ass. This Mr. D. Teeth was inviting all recipients of the missive to something called a RazzSlam.
Of course, I should not toy with you, dear reader. I knew quite well to what Mr. Teeth referred. For you see, I participated in the inaugural RazzSlam during the infernal calendar year Two Thousand Twenty, a season so marred by plague one would be excused for confusing it with 1347 (though our beloved base ball did not yet exist then).
The game was on. Preparations were required. There were lists to be made, strategies to be deduced, and of course, leagues to be filled. For certain, one of those events was outside my control, but I set forth post-haste with the former two.
Being, as it is, a Cutline points competition, the RazzSlam differs from, say, The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, or the venerable old guard of our cottage industry, your LABRs and your Touts. So a special kind of preparation was required. Points calculated. A new strategem concocted.
Leading up to the day that the drafts were to begin, I found my league assignment. I had been placed in opposition to Mr. Teeth. Surely, I thought, this must be a mistake. The mysterious benefactor behind the entire enterprise could not, himself, be participating?! Before crying “foul!” and throwing my hands up in despair, I paused.
DT ain’t shit, I thought.
I hope you, dear reader, will forgive me my Français, for I do not mean Mr. Teeth any personal ill will. I was simply psyching myself up, as it were.
Now, a slow draft of any magnitude is an undertaking not to be embarked upon lightly. Oh no. But this… this monstrosity of a forty-two round marathon would be something else entirely. One need not simply gird his (or her) loins, but prepare for the worst.
I decided, early on, to zig when my leaguemates were likely to zag (or so I thought). Many will tell you, the risk in procuring an early rifleman, as opposed to the bat-wielding melee type, is far too great and should be shunned. Others, still, swear to the god of Pocket Aces, declaring The Right Way to be sipping from the pool of the pitchers not once, but twice in the first two rounds.
I decided early on, that I would invent a new strategy, one that I have no confidence will work, but relative confidence would not likely be duplicated. I set out to complete The Acefecta.
Yes, dear reader, your interpretation of my clever wordplay is in fact correct: Three rounds, three pitchers.
The morning came, and I put my plan into motion. Selecting my soldiers from the seventh slot I waited, and waited… and Gerrit Cole of the Pinstripes of New York (née the Highlanders) became the first member of my Acefecta. More men were selected by my opposition, and the choice swung back around to me… when I was pleased to see, still available, Señor Castillo de Cincinnati.
Now, I wish to remind you, good reader, that heretofore this strategy would not seem particularly odd to my enemies. They’d all seen Pocket Aces before. But I tell you, when my turn came back around and my clarion call rang out, summoning to my forces one Flaherty-comma-Jack of the Saint Louis Redbirds, the wailing and gnashing of teeth could be heard through the draft room and all over the land.
Or so I believe. I’m pretty sure. I mean, I’d like to think so.
Another turn and I demurred. I considered, only momentarily, transforming my Acefecta into a Quadraces, a hydra-like nightmare of changeups and sliders, but nay. The quality of arms had declined precipitously as my colleagues raced to grab what few fireballers remained of the upper echelon. So I turned my eyes, instead, toward home plate, and the men who were to stand in the batter’s box.
First, young Master Robert of the Chicago White Stockings. Whose name, I guarantee, I will pronounce with francophone flair, even if he himself does not. And then, in the fifth round of this leviathan draft, I came to an impasse.
I needed to decide between two gentlemen outfielders who could not be more alike. Of identical age, height, and weight, to wit: 32 years, 1 meter and 862 millimeters, and a Pomeranian’s right testicle shy of 14 stone. Their predicted production for the coming campaign, also comparable.
To break the stalemate, I decided to send what I happened to have in my pocket (a late-19th century gold sovereign, of course) end-over-end, tails for Marte, heads for Merrifield (for you see, a starling has a tail, while my wit knows no end).
Up the coin went, down it came, tails side up, and Mr. Marte of the South Florida Trophy Fish was appended to the roster.
And that is where I stand at the time of this writing. Three snipers, two rangers, with war on the horizon.
Welcome, to RazzSlam.
Bob Allison Chains