Main Event Championship Profile - Dan Semsel & Ken Norred

Postby Tom Kessenich » Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:49 am

For nearly a decade, Dan Semsel had been chasing the dream. A long-time member of the NFBC, Semsel dove into the Main Event every year with the same dream as hundreds of other fantasy players – to win the coveted national title and all the prestige that goes along with it.

For nearly a decade, it had been the dream. The same dream everyone who competes in the Main Event annually shares. Then in 2013, Semsel and Ken Norred did what everyone aspires to do. They turned it into a reality.

The NFBC vets teamed up and put their skills to the ultimate test. When the season had come to an end, the dream had become a reality. They were on top of fantasy baseball’s most illustrious mountain.

They were Main Event champions.

“It felt amazing to win the title,” Semsel said. “It didn’t sink in at first but then the phone calls started coming in. We really do share this hobby with some incredible people.”

None more impressive last season than himself and Norred.

Not only did the duo lay claim to the top honor in the NFBC but they also had a second Main Event team finish seventh overall. Two Top 10 teams in the most coveted event in fantasy baseball is a season worth remembering and cherishing.

“This was a season for the ages,” Semsel said. “Being able to put two teams with very few common players into the Top 10 took a lot of finesse and huge, steamy piles of luck.”

Not to mention a whole lotta skill.

Semsel and Norred’s championship team was constructed during the NFBC’s first weekend of events in Las Vegas. But the planning for that championship squad began much earlier.

“Ken and I started comparing notes early in the preseason, probably around January,” Semsel said. “We charted a lot of player performance comparisons and based our plan around his projections. I had target numbers I wanted to be competitive in and we chased those numbers, making sure our FAAB effort fit the plan and fit the holes we needed to fill.

“On Draft Day, we had a few players that were must haves like Chase Utley and Chris Davis and everything else was dependent on who was on the board.”

Their draft began with strong offensive options Joey Votto, Evan Longoria and Matt Holiday in the first three rounds. They then turned their attention to the starting pitching by snaring Gio Gonzalez in the fourth round and Chris Sale in the fifth.

But as is often the case with championship teams, it wasn’t just about securing a strong start. The fruits of their labor turned out to be some strong value picks.

None was bigger than landing Chris Davis in the ninth round. Davis far exceeded expectations by belting 53 home runs for the Orioles last season with 138 RBIs and 103 runs scored.

While Davis was the most prominent of Semsel and Norred’s value picks he wasn’t the only one. The championship team was also bolstered by landing Jean Segura in the 15th round, Bronson Arroyo in the 24th and Josh Donaldson in the 28th.

“I’d like to say almost all of our Draft Day strategies worked,” Semsel said. “The only player I really regret was Juan Pierre (drafted in the 17th round) who was expendable as soon as Leonys Martin started to run. Domonic Brown went the very next pick. We never did get stability at catcher but the fill-ins were equally as effective as the role players we churned through.

“It really helped that we were able to stay healthy. We really didn’t have a devastating injury issue as we we overcame Clay Buchholz’s injury through FAAB.

“We also stayed on target with our numbers. We didn’t blow FAAB trying to chase the next big thing. That helped us go into the last month knowing we could block any move the competitors could make with our FAAB if we needed to.”

A little good fortune didn’t hurt either.

“We were able to get lucky,” Semsel said. “We managed to time almost every Bronson Arroyo hot streak perfectly. He led the team in wins and gave us an ERA under 3.000 and a WHIP under 1.00. He outperformed every other pitcher we had with the exception of strikeouts.”

Semsel and Norred carefully massaged their team and kept it competitive in the first half of the season. Then in mid-August the championship run began.

They moved into the top spot in the overall standings after Week 20 and never looked back. As the season drew to a close, the $100,000 grand prize became a stronger reality.

And so did the nerves associated with trying to hold on and secure fantasy greatness.

“The last few weeks were a dichotomy,” Semsel said. “Ken was relaxed, feeling confident in the math but didn’t say anything about it. I stressed every inning pitched until the last two days when I finally felt like we had it. Jeff Dobies (who finished second overall) is one helluva player and just wouldn’t fade away and I have a world of respect for him.

“All it takes is on night where the entire pitching staff messes up and you slip a point here and a point there. The decimals for our team were a weak spot and just a small drop could have serious points implications in the overall standings. Ken was much more confident than me and I’m pretty sure he was thinking we had it in the bag two to three weeks out.”

As it turned out, Norred was right. The championship was theirs and when the season finally came to an end they had become the ninth Main Event champions in the NFBC’s 10-year history.

Both Semsel and Norred are former CDM players who gravitated to the NFBC in 2004 along with a host of other CDM players who now call our events their home. In fact, meeting many of the CDM players in Las Vegas for the first time is one of the memories Semsel cherishes most about his time in the NFBC.

“My love for this game wouldn’t be possible without the trash talk, friendship, and sportsmanship of the CDM crew,” he said. “In 2005 I made the trip to Vegas for the NFBC to put faces to people I’d known for years on the CDM BBS. I’m glad I did. Props to Ken and Andy Robinson for the many entertaining and sometimes scathing email exchanges on players’ valuations all winter long.”

With the Main Event championship comes plenty of deserving accolades. The $100,000 is pretty sweet too. Semsel has already put his share of the winnings to good use.

“I paid off my wife’s new BMW, set up a family trip for Thanksgiving, paid bills, set aside money for next year’s NFBC and sliced a chunk for Uncle Sam,” said Semsel, a 25-year veteran in the Air Force who recently retired. “A portion will go toward getting another tattoo and I’ll likely do a couple extra ultra-marathons. There’s a 100-mile race in Northern Ohio next August that appeals to me.”
Tom Kessenich
Manager of High Stakes Fantasy Games, SportsHub Technologies
Twitter - @TomKessenich
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