A journey to Sparkle City

The 2008 Manly Football League Draft is in the books, and as always, it was a heck of a good time.

If you play fantasy football, I highly recommend finding a league where you can gather in person for the draft. There really is nothing better than sitting around a table and ripping your buddies for their dumb picks.

Anyway, here are my top 10 favorite things about this year’s draft:

10. Mutts– I ordered the chicken and barbeque plate. It was huge. And the sauces were good, too. Check it out if you’re ever in Spartanburg.

9. Phone drafting– We had one owner who was watching his son play baseball and drafting over the phone. Every round, we heard this: “Taken. Taken. He’s there. Taken.” And he has one of the strangest drafts ever, taking Vince Young, Jerricho Cotchery, Kevin Boss and Ray Rice with his first four picks. Bless his heart…

8. Political intrigue– True story. We’ve got a guy in the league running for the S.C. State House of Representatives. He’s a former Spartanburg Herald-Journal employee, and as such, good friends of a couple of SHJ staffers. Those staffers are forbidden to be seen in public with the candidate, which is why we had the draft at the SHJ. And the poor guy couldn’t come with us to lunch or to the poker game later that night. Rules suck.

7. The draft board– CBS Sportsline sends this huge draft board, complete with player stickers, that we plaster on a wall and fill up as we go. Good times.

6. The dead tree media – It’s amazing what happens when current and former journalists get together. This year, we had a think-tank worthy discussion on what traditional newspapers must do to stay viable in today’s Internet-based world. I just smiled and directed them to www.910rec.com.

5. The unnamed cup– We have a trophy that we now pass from winner to winner. It looks like it was buried in somebody’s attic for about 15 years, which may in fact be the case. I sure hope that we name it soon. And it would also be nice if Rex shined it up a bit before handing it to me next summer.

4. The quest for stupidity– A couple of us were sitting around bemoaning the fact that winning a title in the MFL is about as hard as getting a complex sentence out of Paris Hilton. Then, we figured it out. We need more idiots in the league. Every league has a couple of people that – year in and year out – you know you’ll beat down. We’re sort of lacking that in our league. It’s like the SEC. Every game is a battle.

3. What might have been– Few things in the MFL are more entertaining than talking about the trades that weren’t made. I heard both halves of a deal gone wrong Saturday afternoon. One owner was amused. The other looked like John McCain after a Madonna concert.

Both will probably win more games than I will.

2. The airline industry, Bishkek and drunk Turkish pilots – Rex, our current champ, is the funniest guy in the league. And it’s not even close. He’s a pilot, who we’ve nicknamed “Crash” and “Wrecks.” I wonder if anyone in the league would jump up out of a plane if they heard his voice on the loudspeaker. I’d fly with him, simply because he’s not Turkish.

Apparently, Turkish pilots like to sit in a bar in Bishkek and get hammered before flying. Bishkek, it seems, is where Rex stops after flying supplies to Iraq and Afganistan. I think he flew Obama around some, too. No one’s really sure exactly who Rex flies for. The dude’s probably a spy, which would explain how he took so much of my money at….

1. The poker game– If I ever get thrown out of the league, I’d still come just for the poker. Chris Horeth is the world’s greatest poker host. You want smooth, refreshing Smirnoff Ice? It’s there. How about a slow-cooked hot dog with some of the best chili this side of Texas? Got it. The man is a blur of activity, getting drinks, setting up the buffet line and, oh yeah, a fountain of poker knowledge.

This year’s game was fun, despite the fact that I lost my rear end. I played for the first two hours and won one hand. One lousy hand. Business picked up late, but the damage was already done. At least I can take solace in the fact that Rex, while in Bishkek, will at least have some walking around money.

And I slept over and got a farewell breakfast the next morning, complete with bagels and scrambled eggs.

It was a great time, and well worth the 500-plus mile round trip. Maybe next year, I can fly in.

As long as there aren’t any Turks in the cockpit…

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