When David Stern ruled the NBA as commissioner, he became famous for his draft-day tendency of hugging the first-round selections after they made their way to the podium as newly minted millionaires.
It was an odd sight, the diminutive Stern trying to wrap his arms around such behemoths as Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 pick of the Cavaliers last year, who weighed in at a hefty 260 pounds that day.
Others such as Greg Oden, one of the many 7-footers taken during Stern’s 30-year tenure, could rest their elbows on his head.
The NFL, which has a draft day that dwarfs the other pro sports in popularity, has been conducted by Roger Goodell since 2006. His milktoast personality could have turned the event into a boring affair. Thank goodness for the rowdy fans who heckle and boo and chant things you wouldn’t want your children to hear between picks and mostly out of the range of the cameras and microphones.
Baseball? Does it still have a draft? Well, yes, but you certainly have to be paying attention or you might miss the event that is held each June. It has none of the nuances of the NBA or NFL because most of the players selected are relatively unknown to all but the most fervent baseball fans.
The NHL sets itself apart by calling its event the Entry Draft but the names announced each June are just as unfamiliar and a bit more difficult to pronounce.
In a packed auditorium in Nashville, Tenn., Monday night, the National Pro Fastpitch league held its draft, a five-round, 90-minute event that provided about one-fourth of the roster for the four participating teams. That is, if the players can be signed.
One of those teams, the Pennsylvania Rebellion, was participating in its first draft. The Rebellion is the newest addition to the pro sports cadre in Washington, owned and operated by Stu Williams, who made his name as an attorney but is better known in this area for owning the Washington Wild Things.
While it would be foolish to suggest the NFP Draft is on par with the before mentioned affairs, it did have some interesting moments.
Not only was the crowd energetic, but it made a lot of noise after every pick. When the Rebellion made Dallas Escobedo the No. 1 pick in the draft, a large yell and even some shrieks rose from the crowd. Not sure how many knew Escobedo was a right-handed power pitcher from Arizona State, but the reaction was pretty impressive.
And consistent. It wasn’t just the first pick, but the 20th selection of the draft was just as warmly embraced. That was one happy crowd.
There were glitches to the webcast, something rarely seen by the NBA or NFL. On at least three occasions, people walked in front of the camera while either an interview was going on or the hosts were talking. But Barbara Jordan and Bernie Guenther were never flustered and impressed with the way they never let the pace slow.
The Rebellion appeared to have a great draft, but it might not have been that difficult a task since there were only four teams and just five rounds. Every team has an all-star lineup.
The real test for the Rebellion comes June 5 with the home opener against the USSSA Pride at Consol Energy Park. Success will be determined not just by the score, but the number of seats that are filled. Those type of numbers will determine just how many more drafts will be in the future for the Rebellion staff.
Assistant sports editor Joe Tuscano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.