I checked another dream off my bucket list after last week's pilgrimage to Arizona for spring training and my league's annual fantasy baseball draft.
After two years of emotional choices, I vowed to give my head the wheel and my heart the day off, and I think it worked.
Without further adieu, here's a round-by-round glance at my 2013 band of misfits:
Once Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander were gone with the first two picks (one must understand Uncle Randy's history with pitchers to see the logic behind taking Verlander a good five to 10 picks early), I snagged Ryan Braun and his 30-home run, 120-RBI, 30-steal, .340-average potential with the third overall pick.
Now, I just have to pray that the PED Bunny hops down a different trail. While I live in fear that a 50-game suspension could be handed down at any moment (see Melky Cabrera 2012), my gut feeling is that Major League Baseball would already have benched Braun if it had anything concrete on him. For now, my fingers remain crossed.
I caught a break in Round 2 when Buster Posey somehow made it past four foaming-at-the-mouth Giants fans to me with the 20th overall pick. The reigning NL MVP will bat north of .300 and could produce 25 to 30 home runs and 100 to 120 RBIs, so this was much more than a classic "homer" pick. Throw in his multiple position eligibility and this was the easiest, and quickest, call this Giants fan has ever made.
On our first night in Arizona, we took in a Mariners-Padres game in Peoria featuring Felix Hernandez on the mound for Seattle. The 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner was so dominant, I made up my mind to take him in Round 2 if Posey was gone. I feared that taking Posey would likely cost me any shot at Hernandez, but luckily King Felix was still available on the turn and was mine with the 25th overall pick.
With pitchers flying off the board in the fourth round Cliff Lee, Jered Weaver, Gio Gonzalez and C.C. Sabathia among them I picked Giants southpaw Madison Bumgarner, effectively removing myself from my father's will and all future family reunions. In a perfect world, Bumgarner will win 20 games and strike out 200-plus call me an optimist.
Having gone sans closers last season, I made it a point to grab as many good ones as I could this go-round, starting with the cream of the crop in Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel in Round 5. Kimbrel could threaten 50 saves while delivering amoeba-like ratios and triple-digit strikeout totals. Check please.
I paid dearly for ignoring speed and going with a team of Bengie Molinas a season ago, which is why Michael Bourn, arguably the game's top base swiper, was a pre-draft target. While it might have been a round early to get him, I happily secured the Indians speedster in the sixth round.
A round later, I added a second elite closer in the Phillies' Jonathan Papelbon, a proven quality who should push 40 saves while fortifying my ratios.
My first reach came in the form of Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda in the eighth round. While most experts ticketed the right-hander to go in the middle rounds, another run on pitchers forced me to grab the best arm available.
Kuroda wasn't the most glamorous name left on the board, but if he can approach last season's numbers (16-11, 167 strikeouts, 3.32 ERA and 1.17 WHIP), I'll be perfectly happy.
I reached again in Round 9 with the selection of Mariners outfielder Michael Morse, who led the planet in home runs this spring with nine. The veteran slugger missed 60 games yet still managed to generate 18 HRs, 62 RBIs and a .290 average for the Nationals in 2012. But it was his 2011 numbers 31 HRs, 95 RBIs, .303 average that convinced me to roll the dice.
With D'backs second baseman Aaron Hill and Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario safely tucked away as 10th- and 11th-round keepers, nearly an hour passed before my next pick, which I was hoping would be Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong but wound up being A's pitcher Jarrod Parker.
Because denial is a powerful weapon, I chose to look the other way on Parker's rough spring and instead focused on his solid rookie campaign and the possibility of 12 to 15 wins, 170 strikeouts and solid ratios across the board.
Some late-round highlights: Taking former World Series MVP David Freese in the 13th round; Dan Haren in the 14th round; and Nats closer Rafael Soriano in Round 15.
On paper, it's a solid team, but we all know that one injury, suspension or lost fastball can have devastating consequences, so we'll just have to let the numbers play out.
In the meantime, good luck to all!
Bee fantasy sports columnist Stu Rosenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2300.