If you happen to be one of the few who follow my Wednesday Daily Fantasy Baseball picks I write then you are well aware I preach a lot about how this is about more than money. I preach about the Fantasy Sports Community as a whole and how we are all a part of it. Well, did you think I would miss the chance to drive a mere three and half hours to meet and hang out with some of the best Fantasy Sports minds in the business? Absolutely not. Below is a little summary and a few pictures that will chronologically document how great this trip was. I am sorry if you thought this would be draft stats and rankings. It has do with friendship and really nothing to do with the actual draft.
On August 29th and 3oth my wife and I loaded up a few things and headed to the Monmouth Race Track in Long Branch, New Jersey for the Fantasy Cup Draft sponsored by the Fantasy Sports Network. This was an Expert’s Football draft hosted by The RotoExperts Tony Cincotta and Nando Di Fino. The draft included several experts and a few celebrities and even an ex Pro Football player. I am not going to lie, I did not pay much attention to the draft I was more interested in the people. So let’s take the ride.
Day One: The Draft
I arrived at the Monmouth Race Track paid my $4 for parking and totally botched it as I parked a half mile away. It was hot, I am fat, and I was tired by the time I reached the air conditioned heaven where the event was being held. Upon entering the establishment I immediately met my friend Brian Ambos. You may have heard me refer to him as the guy who I stole the picture of my foot at a Baseball game from. Anyway, as usual it is always good to see him. At the same time I also met Scott Engel host of the Rotoexperts morning show on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio. He was nice enough to tell me that meeting me was the highlight of his day. I have to give Scott credit, he is funny in person and extremely personable. My wife Jennifer refers to him as the “funny guy”.
Shortly afterwards I met Tony Cincotta who I have played a head to head match with almost every slate since the Major League Baseball season started and Daily Roto’s Mike Leone who I have played in small private tournaments against all season along with Drew Dinkmeyer. You think the average Joe is tough to play? You play these guys you better do you homework.
Meeting Tony Cincotta for the first time in person was surprisingly not uncomfortable, maybe because we have talked on the phone, done a podcast together, and he has even helped me along some with this new found career I am starting at forty-one years old.
My Wife Jennifer decided that since I was busy meeting people she would bet some horses. We were after all at a racetrack. She asked me how to read the program and I have to be honest, the ponies are not my thing. I told her that I cannot bet something I do not know. I would have to research the different effects from different horseshoes versus different kinds of dirt. She laughed. What can I say…that is how this guy thinks. Luckily Tony Cincotta is not able to only give Fantasy Sports advice but he can give horse racing tips as well. He explained it all to Jen and she proceeded to win $8.25 on the $12.00 played. She’s ready for Fanduel now.
Meanwhile, while Jennifer was learning the finer points of betting the races I looked over and saw someone I very much wanted to meet and a guy I call my friend Lenny Melnick. Finally some Baseball talk. And you know what? He did not disappoint. You see, Lenny is probably one of the most passionate Fantasy Experts you will ever meet in the Fantasy Baseball world. This I will touch more on later. So Brian and myself made our introduction and then I just stood there thinking how awesome all this was as Brian and him engaged in conversation about the good old days. My friend Brian loves to talk Fantasy, I well imagine him and Lenny could go on and on well into an evening.
I seen that our own So Called Fantasy Expert David Gonos was in attendance. I was very excited to meet David. Every expert I talk to says nothing but great things about him, I heard more than once he is among the craftiest there is in auction drafts. Walking over to introduce myself I was taken back by the sheer size of this man. He is really tall, and really large. Not fat, just big. I wasn’t sure if I was meeting a wrestler or Fantasy Sports Expert. I introduced Jennifer and I and proceeded to have a nice conversation with David. His personality matches his tweets for sure if you follow him on twitter. If you get a chance to meet him I highly recommend it. After several takes this was the best smile I could muster, for some reason I have a hard time smiling in photos.
After meeting David I was able to meet up with Mike Cardano from the Fantasy Sports Network and the RotoExperts. Talk about nice…I just mentioned being hungry and he brought me two Football cupcakes that his wife had made and told me to hold off on buying food as we were having a private party after the draft with food. Amazing what a conversation starter a few cupcakes can make with a portly fellow such as myself. My wife Jennifer had a nice conversation with Cardano’s wife while I proceeded to head to the bar for another drink.
After I left the bar I found myself in a conversation with a nice fellow named Bob who drove several hours to watch the draft and try to learn something for his upcoming battles. He was new to Fantasy Football and you could tell that this experience was more than uplifting for him. The draft was about to begin.
During the draft you had Tony Cincotta and Nando Di Fino live on Sirius XM Fantasy doing their thing while keeping the listeners up to date with all the happenings. There was a giant digital draft board with each experts and celebrities picks on it hanging over the draft table. It was interesting to watch but not as much fun as hanging out and talking to the people in industry.
After the draft I mingled and chatted to around 10 P.M. A little later I found Corey Parson, Brian Ambos, My lovely wife, and myself standing outside chatting about various topics. The yawns started which signaled the end of the evening for me. I said my goodbyes to everyone and told them I would catch them tomorrow as I had another article to write in the A.M. What a great day I thought as we exited the race track to try and find my car, which was not as easy as one would think.
Day Two: Family Fun Day
The next morning I awakened at my usual time and headed to find myself a cup of coffee. The front desk clerk at the hotel informed me the hotel breakfast started at 7 A.M. and directed me to a Dunkin Donuts. I took the ride, got my coffee, and headed back to my room to start writing while my wife slept away.
Around seven I headed down to the breakfast spot. Who do you think I ran into? Lenny Melnick. So I grabbed some food and sat down and had breakfast with the Legend. We had a great conversation about the Industry and of course we talked Baseball. After I was done eating I said my goodbyes and headed back to work. I have to tell you and this is where I touch on the passion of this man. He sat in that cafeteria for the whole morning. Every time I would head back down for something he was still sitting down with a different person each time talking Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, and whatever else came up. Everyone can say how much they love this stuff but actions speak louder than words, typed or otherwise.
We arrived at the Family Fun Day event around noon. It was blazing hot again even though this event was pretty cool. Several different sites and companies had booths where they were giving away swag. I scored a bunch of it. Why not? We started walking around and my wife being the social butterfly she is had to get selfies.
We continued to walk around for awhile and mingle and then my wife asked me who the huge guy was standing at the Fantasy Sports Network Booth. I told her that it was Hall Of Famer Chris Doleman. The Football player. Can you guess what happened next?
And here my friends is what every husband in the world dreams about but will never admit it.
By this point the weekend was getting long, the heat was taking it’s toll and we decided to stroll around one more time and say our goodbyes. When I ran into Mike Cardano to say goodbyer he insisted I do a guest spot on the radio. So I did. Now I was hot, sweaty, nervous, and wearing big head phones, and I loved every minute of it.
I of course I could not leave without saying goodbye to Tony Cincotta. Jeff Mans and himself were the first two hosts I started to listening to when I started playing Daily Fantasy Sports. Ironic I now work for Jeff and I am friends with Tony. And that my friends is what this is all about…friendships.
The only negative thing about the whole weekend Is I expected a better turn out. I love this stuff, every minute of it and would do it again every weekend if I could and if you get the chance you should to. We fantasy players are among the smartest, funniest, and most talented people on the planet. Let’s learn from each other. See you on the DFS Battlefield.
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