Friday, March 29, 2013

The Birth of the CFCL (The Rebel's point of view)

It all started innocently enough.  Two best friends in high school walking home down Lake Street in Oak Park.  Suddenly our hero conspiratorially whispers “C’mon, I have to show you something” and ducks into Kroch’s and Brentanno’s (that used to be what was called a bookstore for our Generation readers).  He walks over to the Sports section and pulls out a green covered book by the title of “Rotisserie League Baseball – The Greatest Game For Baseball Fans Since Baseball”.  He hands me the book and says “What do you think?”

I read the first few pages, trying to grasp what this could be.  It had to be awesome (turns out it was) since it had to do with baseball.  But I found it a little confusing.  Here’s a snippet of the ensuing conversation.

Me:  “So you have a team of 23 players and play games against other teams?”

David:  “Sort of.  You have a team of 23 players and use their cumulative stats against the stats of the other teams.”

Me:  “So what do you do, pick nine players each day you want to use?”

David:  “No, you use all the stats from all the players on your team each day.”

Me:  (Clearly not wanting to give up on the premise that baseball is played with nine players at a time):  “But I don’t get it.  How can you play with 23 players?  There are only nine positions.”

As should have been painfully obvious at that moment David had the chops to play the game (and would win the championship eleven times in twenty-seven years while I have reached the pinnacle twice in 29).

And thus the Cubs Fan Club League (CFCL) was born.  I don’t think either of us knew at the time that that afternoon would create one of the best, most prestigious Rotisserie Baseball Leagues in the country or that it would be in existence thirty years later.  But, by the same token, if asked the question at the time, I don’t think either of us would think that the league would ever not exist.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with fantasy baseball, the concept is pretty easy.  You draft a team of 23 National (or American) League players and use their offensive and pitching stats that the players actually generate in a competition against other fantasy teams in your league.  That’s a real watered down version, but the point here is to introduce you to the origin of the CFCL, not teach the rules of fantasy baseball.  In the coming days and weeks you will see links to our various websites that will provide you with all the educational information you desire.  Wait until you see the link to our Constitution!  Thomas Jefferson would be proud.

So I read the book and I was in.  Here’s the thing about David and myself.  Back then (as even now) we are self-admitted geeks.  I read this book and thought the concept was awesome.  No, let me rephrase.  I thought the concept WAS AWESOME!  My first thought was “I hope David asks me to be in his league.”  What I didn’t know at the time was David handed me the book and was thinking “I hope Rich wants to do this.”  Any surprise we were shy around girls?  We couldn’t even ask each other out on this cosmic baseball date.

Eventually we stumbled our way through to knowing we both wanted to do this (Hey, it’s not unbelievable, the kids on Blue Lagoon figured out how to create a child with less brains).  So we had two challenges ahead of us.  First we had to find other owners.  Second we had to name our non-existent league.  As a working title we came up with the CFCL.  David and I are both Cub fans so Cub Fan Club League seemed to make sense.  I wasn’t thrilled with it - how do you pronounce “CFCL” other than C-F-C-L?  Not like Kafikel (phonetic) makes any sense.  I was hoping we could come up with a cool acronym.  Something like B.A.S.E. or C.U.B.S. or B.A.S.E.B.A.L.L.E.I.S.A.W.E.S.O.M.E.A.N.D.W.E.A.R.E.A.C.O.U.P.L.E.O.F.G.E.E.K.S. well, you can see why it never got any further than CFCL.  And now, 30 years later, C-F-C-L rolls right off the tongue and looks as familiar to me as my own last name.

The League is named, so now we need teams.  The book talked about ten teams in the original Rotisserie League that competed in 1983.  Ok, David is one.  I’m two.  Great, only eight to go.  Did I mention we weren’t part of the “in” crowd?  We weren’t exactly on the shortlist for any of the cliques in high school.  David and I haven’t been back to any of high school reunions because basically whenever we talk or see each other we are having a reunion with the lion’s share of students we hung out with back at OPRF.

Fortunately David had a dad and brother who were passionate about baseball and they agreed to join us.  I had a friend from church and David’s dad had a friend at work.  So we had six.  We asked our College Algebra teacher if he would like to join us, but he declined.  Hopefully he figured that “socializing” with students wouldn’t be a good idea, rather than hanging with us would lower his street cred.

But we figured six would be enough to start.  You see, we read the book in early 1984 and the baseball season started in a few months.  We would have to get rolling.

And so the league was formed and we had our inaugural draft  in the kitchen of David's family's home.  The six of us sat around and selected our teams.  The prep work (from my recollection) was hilarious compared to today’s standards.  That’s another entry a few days from now.  But we started the league with six owners, embarking on a journey that, while not yet complete, has been amazing, binding and surreal at times.

All of that in good time.  Thank you for joining us.

1 comment:

  1. I first saw "The Book" in 1986 (1986 edition) and had the same reaction. My problem being, other than my 11 year old sister no one I knew even liked baseball to the extent they'd entertain such tomfoolery. Further, I'd previously worn out any welcome I might have gotten for anything "fantasy" during my Dungeons and Dragons period.

    It wasn't until the Internet provided a broader sea on which I could cast my net that I was able to scratch this peculiar itch. I, for one, am very glad you and David were better connected.