Breaking down all the winners and losers in Knocked Up's 2007 fantasy baseball draft
Until Hollywood greenlights a feature film based on the ongoing group-text thread between you and your high school buddies, the most prominent fantasy baseball scene in the history of cinema will remain Judd Apatow's magnum opus in the second act of "Knocked Up."
Apatow and Paul Rudd were still in the midst of their ascent to the top of the Hollywood food chain back when they filmed the scene, in which Rudd's wife (played by Leslie Mann) thinks he's having an affair and tries to catch him in the act, but winds up just crashing his fantasy draft instead:
Nine years later, we put the scene under a microscope to evaluate just how realistic the fictional fantasy draft was, and to see how the squads were shaping up. Big shoutout to treasure trove of knowledge that is the MLB.com 2007 Fantasy Baseball Preview for helping shed light on everything you need to know about the "Knocked Up" draft:
There are at least 13 people in the draft room, but the space on the white board is clearly allocated to fit only eight rosters, so we're operating under the assumption that this is an eight-team league with multiple owners per team.
Most fantasy baseball drafts are of the auction or snake variety. We know the Knocked Up League is not using an auction draft because Rudd's character selects Hideki Matsui without bidding on him. While almost every reasonable league that isn't auction uses a snake format (the team with the first pick in Round 1 gets the last pick in Round 2), we can probably rule that out as well, because the board shows that Teams 1-3 have already made selections in Round 8. A snake draft would have them making the last three picks of Round 8, not the first three.
According to MLB.com, the top five fantasy prospects for the '07 season were Delmon Young, Alex Gordon, Chris Young (OF), Homer Bailey and some guy named Troy Tulowitzki. None of them were selected in the first eight rounds, which indicates that this probably isn't a keeper league.
Assuming that the guy writing the picks on the board is keeping up with the pace of the draft (if you've ever actually participated in a live draft, you know that this is by no means a certainty), we can infer that Paul Rudd's character is the owner of Team 4. Not every team name is legible, but we can discern that Rudd's team is named "Tastes Like Chicken." There's also an owner who is using the Prince symbol or something like it (good luck figuring out how to type that into your URL bar). The best team name you can make out in this scene is definitely "Cuckoo for Coco Crisp."
Also, Rudd is the owner of Team 4 and Paul Feig is the owner of Team 7 (we'll get to that later on), but they're seated next to each other. It seems strange that they wouldn't be sitting in actual selection order.
(Click to enlarge)
We used the fanciest technology at our disposal (i.e. a big television) to focus on the draft board in the background and were able to determine the above data.
If you're asking yourself whether or not we went frame-by-frame and watched this enough times to be positive, rest assured that we'll have still have images from this scene burned into our memories when "Mad Max: Fury Road" is considered historical non-fiction.
Other than the fact that the owners probably got the shaft because of the ridiculous non-auction, non-snake draft, all we know about Team 8 is that it selected Mark Teixeira in the first round. None of the other roster slots are visible.
But we can infer who Team 8 might have selected thanks to the handy 2007 MLB.com Fantasy Baseball Preview and the power of deductive reasoning. Jose Reyes hit .300 with 19 homers and 64 steals in 2006. Ryan Howard smashed 58 homers and took home the NL MVP. Both were consensus first-round picks, yet neither appear on the draft board -- meaning they were likely selected by the mysterious Team 8.
When Leslie Mann enters the room, Rudd is frantically trying to make a selection before he runs out of time in Round 8. He tries to pick Delgado, but Paul Feig quips, "Excellent choice ... too bad I picked him three rounds ago."
Well, according to the draft board, Feig actually snagged the Mets first baseman four rounds ago at the end of Round 4. And Delgado showed his age in '07, recording his lowest average, homer total and RBI count since 1995. So maybe cool it with the trash talk, eh Feig?
Feig is listed as "Fantasy Baseball Guy" on the "Knocked Up" IMDB page. His acting resume also includes credits like "Dad at Carwash" in "Bad Teacher" and "Magician" in "Arrested Development." That's because Feig is actually known more as a behind-the-scenes guy in Hollywood. He's been nominated for four Primetime Emmys for his work producing/directing "The Office," and for writing "Freaks and Geeks," a now-cult classic show that Feig created, and Apatow executive produced. Also, he directed the forthcoming "Ghostbusters" reboot that broke the Internet last week when its trailer dropped.
Either Team 5's Morgan Ensberg selection in the seventh round was a total reach, or this league uses on-base percentage instead of batting average. Ensberg was a respectable ballplayer -- he hit .283 with 36 homers and finished fourth in NL MVP voting in 2005 -- but there's just no way he'd have been taken in Round 7 of a 2007 draft that wasn't weighted by OBP. MLB.com had him listed as the 24th-best option at the hot corner, probably because he was coming off a season in which he hit .235 with only 58 RBIs. But (BUT!), he posted the third-best on-base percentage of any third baseman in the bigs that season.
There are a bunch of different possibilities as to who Team 1 could have actually selected when the owner(s) picked "R.Hernandez." It probably wasn't relief pitcher Roberto Hernandez because he was in the twilight of his career and wasn't a relevant fantasy player. It probably wasn't starting pitcher Roberto Hernandez, because back then that Roberto Hernandez was known as Fausto Carmona (though it should have been, considering that Carmona went 19-8 for the Indians that year). Most likely, this pick is MLB.com's sixth-ranked catcher, Ramon Hernandez.
The only "Lopez" that really makes sense is infielder Felipe Lopez. Back then he was the 11th-ranked shortstop, but was also expected to qualify at second base because the Nationals were starting Cristian Guzman at short.
The first two overall picks were Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez, respectively. While the NL MVP Award went to Jimmy Rollins that year, Pujols had a season you could see from space, hitting .327 to Rollins' .296 and outpacing J-Roll in homers and RBIs. He was the consensus No. 1 overall pick. Ditto for A-Rod at No. 2, who went on to win the AL MVP Award. In fact, the only real deviation from normalcy in the first round of the "Knocked Up" draft is Vladimir Guerrero at No. 3. MLB.com ranked him 12th overall.
Team 1 has a great top two with Pujols and Ichiro, both of whom received MVP votes that season. Ichiro hit .351 with 111 runs and 37 steals. And even though B.J. Ryan only earned three saves in five appearances during 2007, Hoffman picked up the slack by saving 42 games. That's a solid foundation.
Team 2 looked great through Round 8, snagging eventual AL MVP Alex Rodriguez in Round 1, and eventual NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy in Round 5. The only thing stopping Team 2 from running away with this thing is the fact that staff ace Chris Carpenter went down for the year after just six innings of work on Opening Day. Still, Team 2 would have been tough to beat considering they also had Miguel Cabrera and Bobby Abreu, who both received MVP votes that season. This is probably the best looking team through Round 8.
Team 5 would have had a tough go of it. First-round pick Alfonso Soriano dropped from 46 home runs and 41 steals in '06 to 33 and 19 respectively (he only played in 135 games). Ensberg was a big reach that didn't pay off, and while the rest of the roster is serviceable, there's not enough top-end talent here to compete in an eight-team league.
Team 7 ... woof. Manny Ramirez failed to total 30 home runs and 100 RBIs for the first time in a decade (he posted 20 and 88, respectively). Miguel Tejada played only 133 games (after playing at least 159 in each of the previous eight seasons) and saw his stats fall in all five standard fantasy categories, plus OBP. And we already addressed the fact that Carlos Delgado showed his age.