MARINA DEL RAY, CALIF. — When people first heard I was doing a Burger Draft with my buddies, they were more confused than Tom Brady looking for a high five. “So you’re drafting hamburgers? That sounds dumb.”
“Well, yes, no, it’s not really that simple. It’s fun. There’s strategy involved. You might not even get to eat the burger you chose! Depends where you pick.”
“What? Why would you do that?”
It’s at this point I realized the people I was explaining this to either a) don’t understand how the NFL or NBA Drafts work or b) aren’t the type of freaks to seek out competition, to wager on things like whose bags come out first at the airport or who the person three lanes down at the bowling alley calls their favorite football team. Or they just don’t have a sick crew of friends who can accelerate a Wednesday night from zero-to-Ferrari like I do.
So be it.
Last year, at the inaugural Burger Draft, we had six guys; this year, 10, which meant FOUR MORE BURGERS. We decided to stick with 26 Beach as the host venue, which is known for its exotic burger choices with names like New York Mile High, UFO and Viking; 28 burgers in all on the menu and each one it’s own special kind of delicious.
Upon our arrival we were escorted through the restaurant and into this private back room away from the rest of the regular patrons; like the “Goodfellas” Copacabana scene except the opposite. It’s almost as if they knew what kind of morons were showing up to destroy some Grade A beef. The room was straight out of Wayne Manor with the lighting (which we had control of with a dimmer), tree benches, and these white royal-looking chairs at the head of the table. The perfect combination of space and separation from society.
Matt kicked off the burger selection process with Yuki’s Spicy Tuna. Law followed from there with PB&J and we were off and running. Here’s the final eight chosen: Soft Shell Crab (Parker), ABC (Phil), Mori Eel (Eric), New York Mile High (me), Salsita (Hall), Cattleman (Cahill), King Kobe (Brad) and Texas (Shawn).
(for complete 26 Beach burger menu including description, CLICK HERE)
We then drew for draft position. Each burger was cut in half, which meant TWO ROUNDS. We did standard fantasy football snake draft for selecting and when all the burgers were delivered in front of us we got started. There were some surprises.
1.) Eric — New York Mile High
2.) Law — Soft Shell Crab
3.) Phil — New York Mile High
4.) Brad — Soft Shell Crab
5.) Hall — Salsita
6.) Brockman — Texas
7.) Parker — Yuki’s Spicy Tuna
8.) Shawn — Cattleman
9.) Matt — Yuki’s Spicy Tuna (traded 1/4 to Brad for 1/4 of Soft Shell Crab)
10.) Cahill — Cattleman
11.) Cahill — King Kobe (traded 1/4 to Eric for 1/4 PB&J + a beer)
12.) Matt — Mori Eel
13.) Shawn — ABC
14.) Parker — PB&J
15.) Brockman — King Kobe
16.) Hall — ABC
17.) Brad — Salsita (traded 1/4 to Brad for 1/4 of Soft Shell Crab)
18.) Phil — Mori Eel
19.) Law — Texas (traded 1/4 to Cahill for 1/4 of PB&J)
20.) Eric — PB&J (traded 1/4 to Cahill for 1/4 of King Kobe + a beer)
What really took the draft to the next level was the amount of trades that went on in the minutes after. Cahill started the wheelin’ and dealin’ and the frenetic pace snowballed from there. For a minute I thought we might need a second set with Daniel Jeremiah and Ian Rapoport breaking them all down. I even tweeted as much.
All in all, I’d say everyone was pleased with their selections. Even the PB&J burger sounded like a hit. Things got out of hand at the end, however, when Law challenged Eric to eat another whole New York Mile High with anchovy salad in 20 minutes for his share of the bill. Remember that scene in “The Great Outdoors” where Chet eats the Ole ’96er? Picture that. It wasn’t pretty though he came pretty damn close to finishing.
BALTIMORE — The most exciting day of the year for my college buddies and I isn’t Christmas, any of the eight days of Hanukkah or Thanksgiving. It isn’t a big movie premiere, birthday or even finally getting a date with that girl from the subway; it’s the day in the first week of August when the Retired Orangemen Fantasy Football League Draft Book arrives in the mail. It’s the very best day of the year because it means two things are in our immediate future: the upcoming NFL season, and the annual ROFFL Draft Weekend.
The ROFFL dates back to 2002 and as you guessed, consists of me and my Syracuse University buddies, along with a few stragglers we needed back in the day to fill out the league (Binghamton, Haverford and Oneonta are also represented). But it’s turned into much, much more with a website, weekly articles, a podcast, an entire Draft Weekend, trophies for first and last place, and the aforementioned Draft Book. That first season we picked our players via an autodraft, and ironically, the guy who won has never had a winning season in 12 years.
In 2003 though, it all changed when we decided to have a yearly live draft in Atlantic City. For our 10th anniversary we tore down Las Vegas (what can I say, we like to gamble) and for our 13th year we started a new tradition: holding our draft in the city of the team that wins the Super Bowl. So as it was we all packed up our magazines, ADP lists and team gear for the state where crab cakes and football are emphatically done: Maryland.
Admittedly, Baltimore wasn’t my first choice. Being a West Coast Guy now, I was rooting for San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII, but to say the Charm City was anything but a fantastic host would be a classic Barry Sanders stretch run. For the 12 of us who made the trek – Parker had to phone in from Los Angeles and Jarrett from New Jersey – it was arguably the most fun we’ve had at a Draft Weekend.
It all started with a night at Camden Yards in a suite to watch the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics but not before a few of us hit up Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, which is home to some of the rarest comic books in the world. Jason, Jay and Marc are makeshift nerds and were geeking out upon seeing the first edition Superman and Batman, as well as old action figures, movie posters and the like from pop culture throughout the years. It was a pretty amazing and well curated museum, and the history buff in me enjoyed it immensely. A couple of them even bought Avengers keychains, while I would’ve loved to have taken home an Elvis poster.
But the real reason we were there Friday night was to see some baseball, stuff our face with Boog Powell’s BBQ and announce our keepers for the upcoming season. See, the ROFFL is a 2-player keeper league and you can retain any player for you want for a maximum of three seasons; so there’s definitely some strategy that goes into who you’re keeping on a year-to-year basis. This season was the end of my time with Texans superstar running back Arian Foster, so I was forced to keep Jaguars stud Maurice Jones-Drew and Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. I debated keeping Mike Wallace over Ryan since quarterback has some depth this year, and even had a plan hatched earlier in the week to wait and draft Andrew Luck and a Colts receiver, but I chickened out and made the safe play with The Mattural and the high-powered Atlanta offense.
All-in-all, the keepers went pretty much as I predicted in my mock draft, aside from Rob Gronkowski not being kept, one guy keeping Antonio Brown instead of Reggie Wayne and another keeping Ray Rice over Reggie Bush (we’re a PPR league), and so as the Orioles game went on – and they rallied for a 9-7 win thanks to a Brian Roberts’ grand slam – talk in the suite and the bar afterward turned to draft strategy. Back into the mix this season were all-world running backs Adrian Peterson, Foster, LeSean McCoy, and some studs who were not kept, such as Marshawn Lynch, Alfred Morris, Larry Fitzgerald and Stevan Ridley. As I was picking in the 8 hole, I figured to have my selection of one of the latter four, which I was completely OK with.
Before I get ahead of myself, Saturday kicked off with a trip to the smallest and most-stupidly-staffed Dunkin Donuts in the 410 and a pre-draft tour of M&T Bank Stadium, also known as the Ravens Nest (I don’t know if anyone actually calls it that, but let’s be honest, they should). Originally, I wasn’t too keen on taking a tour of a football stadium, as I’d been in a couple before, and generally speaking, when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.
Boy was I wrong.
Some highlites: the stadium is made with 1.5 million bricks, and if you laid them out end-to-end would cover 155 miles to Ocean City, Md.; the new-and-improved concourse wasn’t open to the public for last Thursday’s preseason game, which made us the first civilians to walk through it; our tour guide was this 70-year old named Tom who used to be a roadie for the Allman Brothers Band; a luxury suite can be yours for the cool price of $125,000 a year, which includes 28 tickets and 23/hour a day access throughout the entire year; Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti’s two-story luxury suite has bulletproof glass for when President Obama comes to visit; they have 3 jail cells in the depths and roughly kick out 150 people per game, most of them women; when John Madden used to still broadcast games for Fox and NBC, he’d drink a half case of beer before each contest and Tom said he almost got fired once for knocking a beer all over the broadcast console; our buddy Josh, who set the whole thing up and worked a year for RaveTV, wrote some of the inspirational essays that adorn the Club Level walls, which was pretty neat to see; the Ravens lockeroom is located 30 seconds from the field, whereas the visitors takes a few minutes to access. Tom made sure to let us know that’s a huge advantage come halftime.
However, the ultimate highlite of the tour was when Tom let us go on the field to run rampant like those brats in “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” but not before we walked through the Ray Lewis Memorial Look At Me And All My Awesomeness Tunnel. Of course, I had to do the dance. The only thing missing was a giant heap of sod for me to throw off myself and shove down my throat, which Tom assured us Ray would do before each game after posing for a picture with the weekly sod giver contest winner. Once on the field, we went Ray Kinsela after he finally finished the Field of Dreams and stood there and soaked in what he had created. Our jaws were agape and eyes buggin’ at what we were absorbing through our sports fan pours. Now, I’ve covered many football games in my sportswriting days and even stood on the sideline next to the head coach for most of them, but I have to admit, it was pretty awesome being on a NFL field with your 10 buddies and a football. My arm isn’t what it used to be, but I turned back the clock a bit throwing touchdown passes to the guys. Oh, and I even dusted off my shoe and drained a 25-yard field goal (on my 2nd attempt). So if Justin Tucker misses any chip shots in the first couple games, I’M READY!!!!
As for the draft itself, I was more than happy to take Ridley with my first pick. I debated between him and Morris for a couple minutes, but in the end, it’s always fun to have a player on the team you root for (and one who could score 15 touchdowns this season). So instead of Tom Brady touchdown passes, I’ll be hoping receivers get tackled at the 5 and Ridley takes it in from there. The problem with my league is that most of my buddies tend to over-think and over-analyze who’s available and their potential. As has been proven time and time again, fantasy football is 98% luck and 2% setting yourself up to have good luck, so there’s roughly no difference between who you’re taking in the later rounds. Such, our draft runs insanely long, and that’s just what happened last weekend. Thankfully, there was an Orioles game going on we could peek out the windows of the B&O Warehouse behind Camden Yards (oh, did I fail to mention we drafted in the warehouse behind Camden Yards? my bad) and take in while Jason and Nick spent an episode of Ray Donovan debating between Brian Hartline and Toby Gerhart.
In the end, I was very satisfied with my top selections (MJD, Ryan, Ridley, Marques Colston, Tony Gonzalez), my defense (Seahawks) and my backups with starting potential (Roy Helu and Andre Roberts). I took a flyer on a couple sleepers (DeAndre Hopkins and Markus Wheaton) and went back to old reliable with my kicker (Sebastian Janikowski). Is this finally the year the Gregg Moore Trophy takes its rightful home at Brockman Manor? I don’t know, since an injury could squash all title hopes faster than you can pronounce Michael Hoomanawanui. The Colt .45 LA Bandits have been so close before and came up short, but with another season anew I’m hopeful, and that’s no fantasy.
LOS ANGELES — Obviously, I was sickened by the tragedy in Aurora, Colo. I’ll admit, it really shook me. So much, that when Parker asked if I wanted to go to a Saturday night showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” opening weekend, I hesitated. But we did go and I greatly enjoyed the 164-minute finale of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. It was the conclusion of an epic and triumphant superhero series by a very talented film maker. I could rave on and on, but I’m not going to. Just know it was really, really good and if you haven’t seen it by now, shame on you.
HOWEVER, there were some things that made me go Hmmmmm … And since it’s been out over a week now, here’s some that caught my eye, perhaps you saw the same.
**SPOILER ALERT** (you’ve been warned)
1.) In probably the biggest WTF in the entire film, and one that everyone keeps talking about: How in Michael Caine’s incoherent drivel did Bruce Wayne get from the back to Gotham after escaping the cave prison? Wasn’t that prison halfway around the world? Wouldn’t there have been some Bane henchman at the top waiting for him on the .00001% chance Wayne made it out? Also, we’re led to believe that a little girl could make that Super Mario Bros. leap and not a grown ass man because she didn’t fear it? AND, how did a broken back heal in 3 months with just that rope swing contraption and some pushups? That’s some Dr. Nick kind of medicine right there. Then, to top it all off, how did he get back IN to Gotham? The whole plot point centered around no one being able to LEAVE, yet he as Batman got back IN? Does he have Willie Beamen’s invisible juice on that utility belt?
2.) OK, so once Batman is back in Gotham, he just appears on the ice after Commissioner Gordon and the others are exiled to the ice: How are they able to walk in the ice!!?! Everyone exiled has fallen through the ice. Every. Single. One. And Gordon and like 5 other dudes walk out on the ice, right next to each other, I might add, and no one falls through! Then, Batman shows up on the ice and is strutting like Denzel and HE doesn’t fall through either! Speaking of Gordon, how did he survive like 5 gunshots and a log flume ride through the sewers?! I want some of whatever’s in the water in Gotham.
3.) So, I’ve had facial hair for a long time, and I know the rate at which it grows. Generally, I shave every 2-3 days depending what I have going on. If I’m going somewhere, or have to be seen, I’ll clean it up. If not, then I’ll wait an extra day or two. No big deal. Now, when a thousand cops are trapped underground for 3 months, there’s going to be a) some funky smells, b) some stupid arguments and c) some serious facial hair. Now, what do you think happened when they were finally freed? Yup, all clean shaven, just like when they were trapped. I know it’s a little thing, but c’mon. You’re supposed to be the greatest current film maker, can’t leave out something like that.
4.) OK, you’re Batman. You whoop everyone’s ass but you haven’t done anything for eight years and you’re limping. You’re hobbling worse than Joe Namath. You have a cane. Why not go to the doc and get your leg checked out at some point? No, you’ll wait a while til some caterer robs you. OK, then all of a sudden this doc gives you a knee brace and you’re able to kick through walls? Umm, where can I get one of those? And shouldn’t you have this brace on all the time? And wouldn’t you limp without it. No limp. No brace.
5.) So Bane is an absolute badass. We get it. He basically played Major League Baseball in the early 2000s with that body. But he wasn’t without flaws, same with his scenes. Obviously, his speech was hard to comprehend. I would’ve been OK with subtitles, I think. And that mask, was it electronic? If so, wouldn’t Batman’s ENP had shut that thing down during their epic fight that leads to Bane putting Batman in the prison? Prior to, Bane essentially robs the stock exchange when it opens, then a chase ensues and it’s night time. That was really confusing, or they were hacking the computer system with AOL dial up, then the morning to night made perfect sense.
6.) And that brings me to Bane’s death. Yeah, no kidding, a rocket from from Batman’s two-wheeled cruiser would take out anyone. What makes it problematic for me, is that Catwoman was behind the trigger. Look, it’s cool she got some big moment since we know Batman didn’t like to kill anyone (just knock everyone out with one punch), but didn’t you want to see him end Bane himself? And it just happens too nonchalantly is the epitome of anticlimaticism (definitely just made that word up, but you all get me.) It’s like in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” when Indiana Jones is about to sword fight the guy and then remembers he’s strapped and shoots him instead, only not cool or funny like that was, and I’m pretty sure Christian Bale didn’t have the flu that day on set like Harry Ford.
7.) Back to Commish Gordon for a second; is he dumbest police commissioner of all time? Seriously, like everyone in Gotham knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman except him. He’s supposed to be the crafty-est of the crafty, supposed to know all the tricks of the trade, supposed to read into the mind of the demented and criminal, yet he can’t figure out who the masked vigiliante is? Um, hello, it takes a really rich dude to have a car that flys. By the end of the film, I was shocked he could remember helping a young Bruce Wayne the night his parents were killed. One too many trips through the sewers, I guess.
8.) Speaking of Wayne, isn’t he still broke? Bane dying didn’t erase the fact that the muscled up villain bankrupt him, did it? So how’d he get to Italy? Presuming Selina Kyle (Catwoman) is on the FBI Most Wanted list or whatever for being an internationally known thief, how would either of them make it through customs, TSA or any airport security post? Private plane? But still, it’s not like they’re wearing disguises. The ending would’ve been better off with a shot of Alfred just nodding. Leave it open who he’s nodding to, like “Inception.”
Brockman Stamp of Approval: 4.5/5 fingerprints.
LOS ANGELES — The Crossover returns after a two-month hiatus and we bring the hoops Heat, as the Brosefolophogus of JerseyChaser.com checks in to talk everything LeBron James and the NBA Finals after Miami closed out Oklahoma City in 5 games, Thursday night. (The Crossover Ep. 25 – click here to listen)
After calling him out on Twitter and offered him the floor should LeBron come through and win his first championship, I threw up the Bat Signal Friday afternoon and the Bro delivers. He comes into The Crossover and lays down his manlove for LeBron and goes all out after the haters who dogged the King for the 9 long years he’s been chasing this championship. He is unapologetic in his priase and makes some bold predictions for the Chosen One’s future.
We also touch on some of what critics have plagued LeBron for in the past, if he’ll retire with the Heat, where he’ll end up on the G.O.A.T. list, what’s to come of Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, the Thunder’s future and whether or not Kevin Garnett will hang up the sneakers.
It’s a fantastic and frenetically fast-paced hoops converastion with a true legend. Don’t miss it. And as always, thanks for listening, check me out on Twitter (@chris_brockman) and spread the word!