The Live Draft
Unless you've got several hundred million dollars to spare, the ESPN FLB 2006 Live Draft is the best way to experience the thrill of a gut-wrenching, real-time, player-by-player live draft process, in which owners pit their knowledge and skill against a select group of competitors, building a unique squad to coach through the rigors of a fantasy baseball season. As opposed to the other draft methods, the live draft gives owners the final say on every player who lands on their roster. It's the same exhilarating rite of passage once available only to the very good (MLB GMs) and very rich (MLB owners). And like any prospective MLB team owner, it's smart to be prepared. To help make the live draft go as smoothly as possible, the following information has been prepared on the ins-and-outs of Fantasy Baseball's two live drafting methods: HTML and Java. Included are real screen shots from a draft, so you'll know exactly what to expect when your drafting skills are put to the test.

Signing up
To sign up for a live draft, visit the League Directory found via the preseason clubhouse page. From there, create a new live-draft league or join an existing one.

Live-draft leagues must be full before they are turned into a regular-season league. If a live-draft preseason league is not full, you will need to create or join another preseason league and reschedule for a later date.

Participating in a Live Draft
The live draft can be entered 30 minutes before the listed start time. The first pick of the draft will be 'on the clock' within three minutes of the scheduled draft time, so all teams should make sure that they are ready to go. When the live draft begins, each owner takes a turn to make his/her draft selection. After the first pick of the first owner, each of the owners will have 90 seconds to make each round's selection. The order of the draft will follow a ladder style (the order in a 10-team league for Round 1 would be: 1,2,3, ...10; Round 2 would be: 10, 9, 8, ...1; Round 3 would be 1, 2, 3, ...10; etc.). The draft will last for 25 rounds and will take from three to four hours to finish.

If an owner fails to make their selection within the 90-second period, and has no pending claims (see below), the owner's draft list is used to automatically select the highest-ranked player remaining on the board. The team's auto-pilot status (see below) will be set to "On". If you are unable to attend any part of the live draft for any reason, then the live-draft engine uses your draft-list rankings to make the picks while you are away.

Pending Draft Claims
In a process similar to fantasy free agency, live drafters may submit draft claims for upcoming rounds of the live draft. This is done by choosing a position (1B, SS, SP, etc), selecting the player you want, and then clicking the "Draft Player" button. You can repeat these steps as many times as you like, and each player that you select will be queued up as a pending draft claim. The pending-draft-claim capability makes it less necessary for each owner to be online for each and every round of what can be a lengthy live draft.

When it's your turn to select a player and a draft claim has been submitted, your first claim (assuming the player is still available) is processed when your selection time has expired. In other words, pending draft claims are only executed once your selection time has expired, and you are set to auto-pilot.

Auto-pilot Status
When your auto-pilot status is set to "On", the live-draft engine makes your team's picks using your draft list as its guide. Specifically, the live-draft engine picks the top-ranked player on your draft list who is still available at the time of your pick, while making sure that you meet the roster position requirements by the end of the draft.

All picks for that team are made immediately until the team owner sets their auto-pilot status to "Off", at which point they will again have the standard 90 seconds to make their selections. If your team has its auto-pilot status set to "On" and you have draft claims pending, the live draft engine processes draft claims first. The draft list is used as a last resort.

Java and HTML differences
As a participant in the live draft, you have two interface options: Java or HTML. Both have certain advantages. Owners who are able to download and access the Java live draft will likely prefer that format, as it places all necessary draft tools within a single page and automatically updates team owners of their own and other owners' draft status. If you are on an older browser and cannot run java applications, the HTML version offers the same utility as the Java applet, although HTML participants must reload the live draft war room page throughout the draft to keep up-to-date. See the Live Draft System Requirements for more information.

Like selecting free agents in the middle of the season, drafting players through HTML is easy. Through the HTML interface, you can do everything that can be done in the Java applet. When you enter the League Draft Tracker, you will initially start in HTML. You may choose to use the Java applet at any time. If you find you are having technical difficulties with the Java version, the HTML interface is always a viable backup.

Roster requirements by position for the Live Draft (HTML or Java)
A live draft allows an owner to exercise greater roster flexibility, in that an owner may select the best possible player at any position throughout the draft. Still, owners participating in a live draft must still adhere to Fantasy Baseball's roster and positional minimums and maximums. These roster restrictions are necessary to ensure each team can field a valid roster. These requirements are delineated below for each position:

Minimum 1 1 1 1 1 5 9
Maximum 4 5 5 5 5 9 12

The live draft supplies each team with 25 players (for a total of 200 players in 8-team leagues, 250 players in 10-team leagues, and 300 players in 12-team leagues). These players are placed in an active or bench slot on the roster. After the draft, teams may submit requests for any remaining players, who are placed on waivers for 48 hours. After the 48-hour waiver period is complete, all remaining unclaimed players become free agents and can be picked up on a first-come, first-serve basis. Note that if a team's roster is full, they will need to drop a player in order to make room for additional players.