Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Forming A More Perfect Union

James Madison, Dan Okrent, Glen Waggoner . .  . David Mahlan.  What do these brilliant minds have in common?  They are all authors of a Constitution.  Not THE Constitution, I think we can give Madison credit for that, but depending on how impacted you are by fantasy baseball you may just feel compelled to acknowledge they all authored THE Constitution.

Okrent and Waggoner drew up the rules for Rotisserie Baseball back in 1980.  David used that as a template to form the Constitution for the CFCL in 1984.  But from there David has crafted a masterpiece.  Saying our Constitution is the same as the Original Rotisserie’s and that David just cut and pasted where necessary is like saying the map of the Original 13 colonies and the current map of the United States is the same thing.  The origins come from the same place but the two are most definitely not the same.

The CFCL expanded to Ultra and so the basic game we were playing needed revised, very detailed rules.  We changed scoring categories.  We moved to an Internet based stat service which affected how we made transactions during the season.  We added Winter Waivers.  We had owners (i.e. Bald Eagles) who LOVED to jump through loopholes.  We had to acknowledge the Ruffins their Privilege.  We added X contracts.  We’ve done a lot to make running a CFCL baseball team as realistic as possible to running a National League team.  All of that needed to be documented with the abiding rules.

It’s easy enough to take the Original Constitution, keep all their rules and then simply insert “CFCL” where ever you see “Rotisserie”.  But David has done so much more than that.  He has kept the original voice while adding all the specific needs and rules of the CFCL.  Obviously his career as Technical Writer has served him well for the really important things in life.

On a side note, David and I as co-founders, and going forward the Executive Committee (voted on each year) has understood, much like our forefathers felt with our country, that the league is constantly growing and changing and thus the Constitution has to be fluid.  In order to make changes, the Executive Committee will discuss a point and then bring it to the league for a vote.  If the league has a majority vote to change a rule, then and only then does the Constitution get changed and David once again puts his writing skills to the test.  David may have resigned from the CFCL as an owner in 2010, but we won't let him leave.

Some of our non-owner readers may have been confused by some of my rule references in previous posts.  Well that problem is about to be corrected.  Here is the link to the CFCL Constitution.  The rules that govern the operation of the CFCL and the teams therein.  Nineteen pages of pure baseball goodness!!  Enjoy.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Meet Paul Mahlan

Paul Mahlan, brother of David Mahlan, was one of the Original 6 owners.  He competed in the league for the first four years before retiring and moving on with his young life.  Even though he left as an owner, Paul came back in various capacities to help out the CFCL.  First he came back as General Manager for Eric Lamb and the Lambchops helping the Lambchops to consecutive titles.  When the Lambchops retired in 2007, Paul was eventually called upon to fill another role with the CFCL.

For a few years our in-season free agent bidding wasn't done through our stat service.  So in order to maintain as much integrity as possible, I asked Paul to stay in control of the e-mail account that we would send our bids to.  Each week Paul would change the e-mail account password and after the bidding deadline passed, would call me with the password.  Big deal you say?  Well that's understandable.  But Paul selflessly spent part of his Sunday afternoon each week for a few years changing passwords and leaving me voicemails.  But the best part was each Sunday I would get a call from Paul telling me the password for the week was "Ernie Banks", or "Ryne Sandberg", or "Jerry Morales".  I couldn't wait to check my voicemail at 3:01pm each Sunday to see what Cub from the past was coming up.

Paul also has an amazing sense of humor, easily ranking in the top 5 of all-time owners.  It's time now to meet Paul Mahlan:

Paul, you are one of the original six owners. What do you remember about the beginning of the CFCL?
I recall being unprepared for that first draft and ended up with a pretty lousy team. This was pre-internet and so I remember pouring over issues of The Sporting News and Baseball America. They apparently didn't help.
You changed your team name a few times. You started out as Paul’s Penguins, then changed to Paul’s Bunyans the next year and then back to the Penguins the third year. Any reason for the name changes?
If I spent more time devising trades than considering name changes I may have had more success.
Lets see, I first went with alliteration, and then, for some reason, thought a mythical lumberjack/swollen bursal sac of the mesophalangeal joint double-entendre was clever.
You were in the CFCL for the first four years. Do you recall why you left?
I was in high school at that time, in the mid-80's, so I'm sure it had something to do with girls, beer, MTV, glasnost, the meteoric-rise of Adrian Zmed, or when ABC pulled the plug on Too Close for Comfort, I remember needing some time to sort things out, think about 'what it all means', you know? So many unanswered questions. Fantasy baseball seemed trivial.
Did you have a favorite CFCL player?
The only players I even remember having on my roster were Carmelo Martinez and Glenn Wilson.
Do you remember having your eye on a specific player, saying “I have to get him at any cost?”
Not really. I hope it wasn't Carmelo Martinez and Glenn Wilson.
Did you feel there was a unique element to your experience competing against your older brother and your dad?
The word 'competing' didn't play much of a factor in my years as the GM of the Penguins/Bunyans.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The CFCL Newsletter

On this date in 1987, the first CFCL Newsletter was published.

Compiled by the co-Founders and typewritten on two different typewriters, it was photocopied and hand-delivered to league members. For the previous couple years, bits of league news had been published in the weekly Roster Change report, but Rich felt there was room for something more and suggested this additional weekly publication.

The inaugural issue included a team profile for one of the Original Six teams, Paul’s Penguins, which combined some basic information submitted by the Penguins’ owner and supplemented with some creative writing from Rich and me to fill it out (stay tuned for an update from the Penguins' owner later this week). There’s also a page league notes (check out the rather un-PC open trade proposal from the Ruffins!), and an “anonymous” letter that had been submitted by Bob Monroe, the owner of the Bald Eagles, along with a reply from the Co-Commissioners.

Click the link below to see the full issue:

One other item mentioned in that first newsletter was the "Head to Head League".  This was an extra in-season competion that we ran for a few years, matching up CFCL teams in a daily head to head competion.  We'll cover that feature in a future post.

Before too long (I believe, starting with the next issue), Rich took over full operation of the newsletter, with only periodic contributions from me and the other owners in the league. But one on-going presence in the newsletter was that of Bob Monroe. Not as a contributor, but as the main recipient of Rich’s barbed humor.

Within a few issues, the newsletter grew to include images - photos Rich clipped from the newspaper and taped onto the page along with entertaining, CFCL-specific captions.  Gary Larson, served as the official cartoonist of the CFCL Newsletter, making an appearance whenever he published a Far Side cartoon that featured someone named Bob (which happened more often than you'd expect).

Rich continued publishing the CFCL Newsletter on pretty much a weekly basis for the next several seasons, and continued pummeling Bob on an equally regular basis - even after Bob's departure from the CFCL. Early in 1993, Rich gave the newsletter an official title – The Monroe Doctrine – in recognition of his favorite whipping boy.

Publication of the newsletter trailed off in 1994 and finally ceased in 1995. The Monroe Doctrine came roaring back at the end of 2006, making its cyberspace debut in a blog that Rich continues to publish to this day.

We’ll reprint additional excerpts from the newsletter’s early paper-based years in future posts.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

This Week in CFCL History

Here’s a look at this week in CFCL history, covering the dates April 21 to April 27.

April 21, 1987 COPPERFIELDS trade Bruce Bochy to APOLLOS for Alan Ashby.
Ooooh – a catcher-for-catcher challenge trade…and the Copperfields come out ahead big time with this one (well, as much as possible in a swap of two elderly part-time backstops).

1987 Stats:
Ashby - .288 BA - 14 HR - 63 RBI - 1 SB
Bochy - .160 BA – 2 HR – 11 RBI – 0 SB

April 21, 1992 DA PAUL MEISTERS trade Roger McDowell and Darryl Boston (RL) to LAMBCHOPS for Marvin Freeman and Kevin Gross (RL).
April 21, 1995
COPPERFIELDS trade Brad Ausmus and their 13th and 14th Round Rotation Draft Picks to RUFFINS for their 4th and 5th Round Rotation Draft Picks.
The first trade in CFCL history to be made via the Internet. You can relive this one in excruciating detail in our April 21 post: The First Internet Trade in CFCL History
April 25, 1986
BALD EAGLES trade Nolan Ryan to Z-28s for Ed Lynch.
The first in-season trade made by Eagles’ owner Bob Monroe (he made plenty of deals in the 1986 pre-season), and he deals a future Hall of Famer in exchange for a future Futile General Manager . This one is not all that it appears to be, though.

A rule from the early days of Roto puts this one in perspective: there was not a Free Agent Acquisition Budget at the time and the only way teams could acquire a free agent was by reserving a player who had been put on the disabled list by their National League team.

Bob actually had no interest in Lynch at all. He DID have his eye on free agent pitcher Roger Mason, though. What made Lynch attractive to the Eagles was that he was injured but hadn’t been reserved by the Z-28s yet. As soon as the trade was completed, Bob reserved Lynch and called Mason from the Free Agent Pool. This was actually a quite common Bald Eagle tactic – as soon as news hit about a player injury, the rest of the league joked that the players’ owner was probably busy fielding a call from the Eagles.

At the time the Eagles acquired him, Mason had won two of his three starts and had put up a 2.05 ERA and allowing fewer base runners than innings pitched. That was the high point of his season, though. After the trade, Mason posted only two wins in eight starts with a damaging 6.39 ERA.

The Z-28s came way out ahead on this one. Ryan won 10 games with a 3.04 ERA after the deal.

What about Lynch? He never threw a pitch for the Eagles. He sat on their Reserve List until early July and the Eagles waived him when he came off the DL.

A couple side notes on Lynch’s tour of duty as Cubs’ GM … he presided over much of Sammy Sosa’s tenure with the team, and in fact Sosa’s breakout season coincided with Lynch’s arrival on the scene (coincidence, I’m sure). Still, what does Lynch’s Wikipedia page choose to highlight in the section on his time as an Executive? The fact that when he studied Law at the University of Miami after retiring as a player he “was a popular person at UM, and was known to let other students try on his 1986 World Series ring.” Attaboy, Ed!
April 26, 2010
DEM REBELS trade Melky Cabrera to MO’s RED HOTS for Ronny Cedeno.
This was prior to Mekly’s huge season with Kansas City (2011) and his All Star follow-up with San Francisco (2012), but the Rebels must have been desperate for middle infield help for them to make this deal.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Jacque Jones

In 2006 the Cubs signed a new outfielder, formerly of the Twins, Jacque Jones. For whatever reason, there was a fun and spirited rivalry between the tartan-clad Picts and the flannel-wearing Rebels during Nick's first tenure in the league. (Even today, with Nick running the Beatniks, there is still the rivalry between the mockturtlenecked-square sunglasses-beret wearing Beatniks and the [still] flannel-wearing Rebels).

At the draft the showdown took place as the Picts and Rebels had interest in Jones. During the bidding, Nick tried some intimidation to wrest away Jones from the Rebel outfield. "What" you say? You don't believe it? Well we have video. It's quick, but you will notice Nick doing a dramatic handswish that the Rebels took as a threat. A threat they would not back down from. Let's go to the tape.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

That Which We Call a Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

“What’s in a name?”  Yesterday’s birthday boy William Shakespeare asked the question about 416 years ago.  Well in the CFCL six of the thirty-eight owners decided a name wasn’t much and felt the need to change theirs.
Two of the name changes made sense in that we had two owners who were in the league, resigned for a few years and then rejoined.  With the rejoining there was a bit of a rebirth, a starting-a-new if you will, and therefore a new name was used.
Pat McGuire ran McGuire’s Picks from 1988-1990.  He quit for a year and then came back from 1992-1993.  When he returned he named his team the Twin Picks.  Actually this was somewhat genius (insanely genius if you knew Pat).  Originally his team was the Picks, he comes back a second time and named his team Twin Picks (Twin implying a second coming of sorts, really not bad).  In 1990 and 1991 a popular TV show was Twin Peaks and Pat was playing off that as well.  So all in all, pretty good creativity.
The other team that left and returned was run by current owner Nick Hansen.  Originally he ran Nick’s Picts (not to be confused with McGuire’s Picks).  Last year Nick rejoined the league and nailed the All-Time Greatest CFCL Name with the Eukenott Beatniks.
Ironically we had a third owner leave and return.  Dave Goetz was an Original 6 owner of the ForGoetzMeNots (1984-1985).  In 1994 he turned for seven years, but the ten year absence didn’t warrant a name change.  Dave came back to run the ForGoetzMeNots on a second tour.
Four owners changed team names without leaving the league.  Rich Bentel was an Original 6 owner, in charge of the Electric Eels.  A year later through the current year Bentel has run Dem Rebels.  Feel free to go back to the April 1st post (1984 – The First CFCL Draft) to see why the name was changed.
Another Original 6 owner, Paul Mahlan couldn’t seem to make up his mind during his four years in the league.  He started out as Paul’s Penguins.  The next year he changed to Paul’s Bunyans.  The following year he went back to Paul’s Penguins.
We also have two current owners who changed their names.  Kenn Ruby joined the CFCL in 2004 with By Kennen.  If the name doesn’t jump out at you, you have to be a Seinfeld fan.  Think (and sing in your head) Cos-stan-za.  After one year Kenn improved things by changing names to the Kenndoza Line.  Awesome, bringing in a baseball reference.
The most frenetic name changing owner is Matt Grage.  In 2000 Matt came in with a team name of Hard Hats (I don’t know).  In 2004 he changed names to Hot Sludge Sundae (you really don’t want to know – trust me).  Finally he came to his senses and in 2006 his franchise became known as the Graging Bulls.  No, it’s not a baseball reference but at least it has a sports connection and it is miles ahead of Hot Sludge Sundae – believe me.
Changing team names doesn’t seem to really accomplish much.  Definitely there was improvement with Beatniks, Kenndoza Line, Graging Bulls and Dem Rebels.  That being said, it doesn’t lend itself to Championship success.  The six owners who changed their team names have completed 70 total seasons and have only won the title 4 times (Two by Dem Rebels and two by Kenndoza Line).
So the lesson here is changing a team name really gets you no closer to winning a title.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Meet the Lambchops

Today we are meeting one of the absolute stalwarts of the CFCL.  Eric Lamb joined the league in 1989 and was a solid presence for the next 19 years.  Eric and I worked at the same bank way back when and in '89 I asked him to join the CFCL.  Thankfully he said yes and from there a wonderful friendship began between him, me and David.

In 2008 Eric moved to Memphis, TN and had to resign from the league.  He's been out of the league for six years now and yet he's still the fifth most tenured owner in history.  And when he left he had the distinction of being one of only three owners to win the CFCL Championship in back to back years.

Did I mention many of our current and former owners have talent and interest beyond running a baseball team?  Yes I did and Eric is no exception.  Here now is Eric Lamb, former owner of the Lambchops.  And here is the link to his Team Profile: 


When you think of the CFCL, what comes to mind?

·         When I think of the CFCL, I think of some of the best years of my life--especially as it relates to my life as a baseball fan! I increased my knowledge level of the game, engaged in meaningful and fun competition, and developed a comraderie with the other owners in the league that I will always cherish! It is great to be around guys who love the sport of baseball as much as I do!

You are one of six owners with multiple CFCL titles and only one of three that won titles in back-to-back years.  What do you attribute to your success?
It is an honor to be one of 6 owners with multiple titles, and back to back titles. The league, during my time in it was EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE, and I did get to a point where having co-owners like John Lemmon and Paul Mahlan, really helped! I still have the trophys up at home, and will probably be buried with them! J:)
What was your favorite part of being in the CFCL?
·         My favorite parts of being in the CFCL were the competition, and the friendships, as well the challenge of trying to constantly prove to myself that I belonged with what I considered to be a group of EXPERT Fantasy Baseball owners. IMO, this league was as tough as ANY EXPERTS league out there!
Least favorite?
·         Least favorite part was when there were owner differences that caused some guys to leave the league. Over time, due to personal circumstances, the amount of time needed to stay competitive in the league became very hard to handle, and eventually became something that ran me down.
Since leaving the CFCL you’ve made quite an impact on the internet with your sports knowledge.  Tell us about it.
·         I have spent my last few years hosting a baseball themed, internet based radio show called "Baseball Week In Review Chicago Style". If anyone would like to listen to the show, they can catch it at www.blogtalkradio.com/stcp or they can subscribe to the show at itunes. It is a free podcast, you just type in the show name in the search engine there, and you can subscribe and listen to the show on your computer, iphone, ipod, or ipad at your convenience! I love doing the show and have been able to interview former major leaguers and players and scouts close to the game! Past guests include Tommy John, Derrick May (former Cub!), John D' Acquisto, Dick Drago, Don DeMola, Frank Cattalonnatto, Casey Stern and Mike Ferrin (of MLB Radio), and more. We plan on having former Cub pitcher Mike Bielecki, former Cub outfielder Jerome Walton, and former Dodger GM Fred Claire in the near future! It is a labor of love and I can't see a time when I won't be doing it! Maybe one day it will make a little money! :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The First Internet Trade in CFCL History

On this date 18 years ago, the CFCL took a huge leap forward. A leap not only in to the future, but into cyberspace. On April 21, 1995 the CFCL’s first trade discussed and agreed upon via e-mail was completed.

It’s hard to believe now, but for the first 10+ years of CFCL competition, every trade negotiation was conducted either face-to-face or by telephone (and I’m talking land line). By 1995, the owners of David’s Copperfields and David’s Ruffins had both gotten online, and it didn’t take long for them to put that electronic connection to use for CFCL business.

And what momentous, game-changing deal was the first to be consummated electronically? Hold onto yer hat:
COPPERFIELDS trade Brad Ausmus and their 13th and 14th round Rotation Draft picks in 1995 to RUFFINS for their 4th and 5th round Rotation Draft picks in 1995.
You’d never believe it, but that little transaction took 11 e-mails over the course of three days to finalize. Luckily, I have the full transcript of the negotiations to prove it. Gluttons for punishment can follow the link at the end of this post to read all the details (and the marvelous asides and witticisms of the Ruffin and Copperfield ownership), but here are the highlights.

First a little context … despite being late April, this trade happened during the 1995 pre-season. A lockout by the MLB owners had delayed spring training and the start of the season by several weeks so by the time April 19 rolled around, CFCL teams were still tinkering with their rosters prior to making their pre-season roster cuts.

In addition to being the owner of David’s Copperfields, I was League Secretary and it was in that role that I started exchanging e-mails with the owner of David’s Ruffins. The Ruffins’ owner had moved out of state and I was trying a few test e-mails to see if I could send him the stat & standings reports electronically rather than via snail mail.
The Ruffins’s owner relayed the result of the latest test in an e-mail he titled “A Failed Test”, but the PS in his note proved to be the opening salvo in the CFCL Trade Heard ‘Round The Internet:
A Failed Test

P.S. Well, we might as well use this thing for some real business. Any interest on your part in the Padres’ new starting left fielder Mel Nieves? Let me know, I’m in the market for a cheap catcher or draft pick. Say “hey” to Goober for me.
The Copperfields replied that their outfield was full and they’d have no use for Nieves, but would be willing to part with Brad Ausmus (.04) to fulfill the Ruffins’ request for a cheap catcher, suggesting they receive a draft pick or two in return. That provided the general structure for the deal that was finally made, but getting to that final agreement took considerable negotiation.

Various combinations of draft picks were tossed around in the following nine e-mails, with some interesting accompanying commentary, but reading the transcripts 18 years later, the thing that I find most interesting is the colorful subject lines we chose for our messages. Some of the highlights:
RUFFINS to COPPERFIELDS: Brad “the animal” Ausmus
COPPERFIELDS to RUFFINS: OK, he’s not Johnny Bench, but…
RUFFINS to COPPERFIELDS: He ain’t Tim Hosey either…
RUFFINS to COPPERFIELDS: Smelling Brad Ausmus
COPPERFIELDS to RUFFINS: I smell the blood of a San Diego catcher…
RUFFINS to COPPERFIELDS: 4 cent catcher, thy name is…
COPPERFIELDS to RUFFINS: Rupert Jones, My Hero
RUFFINS to COPPERFIELDS: The four M’s of the apocalypse redux
With teasers like those, how could you not want more? Never fear, simply click the link below to read the full transcript of the First Internet Trade in CFCL History:

This Week(ish) in CFCL History

This is the first entry in what will hopefully be a weekly series, where we'll take a look at some historic events from the CFCL's first 30 years that occurred during each week.  Since we're a little late getting this feature started, today we'll cover events occurring through the years on dates from April 1 to April 20.

April 1, 1997 FLATFEET trade Delino Deshileds to LAMBCHOPS for Rod Beck.
An early season trade, but a classic Steals for Saves deal.
April 7, 1997 The CFCL standings are published on the Internet for the first time.
In the 1997 season, the CFCL finally broke down and hired a stat service to compile the stats, Total Quality Stats (now OnRoto).
April 11, 1992 DEM REBELS trade Anthony Young, Wilfredo Cordero (RL) and their 1993 1st round Rotation Draft pick to RUFFINS for Dave Righetti and Pedro Martinez (RL).
This deal was agreed upon during the Draft and announced after it. We'll cover the details on this one in a future post.
April 14, 1991 RUFFINS trade Ray Lankford and Greg W. Harris to BALD EAGLES for Larry Walker and Andy Benes.
April 16, 1995 The first (and to this date, only) 4-team trade in CFCL history:
  • DA PAUL MEISTERS give Pedro Martinez, their 1995 2nd round Rotation Draft pick, get Royce Clayton, Darryl Kile
  • DEM REBELS give Royce Clayton, Sammy Sosa; get Pedro Martinez, Todd Worrell, Meister's 1995 2nd round Rotation Draft pick
  • COPPERFIELDS give Todd Worrell, Phil Plantier; get Sammy Sosa
  • SIX PACKS give Darryl Kile; get Phil Plantier
This massive trade was actually a pre-season deal, as the beginning of the Major League season and our Draft was postponed until early May by the MLB owners’ lockout.
April 18, 1995 COPPERFIELDS trade Todd Zeile, John Smiley, and Eddie Williams to DOORMATTS for Gary Sheffield.
Another pre-season deal brought to you by the 1995 lockout.
April 18, 2002 PICTS trade Chipper Jones, Brian Tollberg, and their 2003 8th round Rotation Draft pick to DEM REBELS for Pedro Feliz, Chin-Feng Chen, Carlos Zambrano (ML), and their 2003 2nd round Rotation Draft pick.
The earliest dump trade in CFCL history. The Picts had lost Ken Griffey Jr to injury within the first few weeks of the season and didn’t think they’d be able to compete without Junior and decided to throw in the towel.  The trade of Chipper Jones for unproven talent so early in the season caused some concern in the league, but Zambrano came up to the majors to stay later in the season and ended up anchoring the Pict staff at a very reasonable price for a number of years. 
April 20, 1993 DEM REBELS trade David Justice to TWIN PICKS for Mitch Williams.
Straight up power for saves.  The Rebels finally get their mitts on Mitch Williams, four years after the Mitch Williams Incident from the 1989 Draft (details to come).
April 20, 1993 RUFFINS trade Jeff Brantley (RL) to COPPERFIELDS for Gene Harris (RL).
April 20, 2009 CANDY COLORED CLOWNS trade David Weathers to DEM REBELS for Eric Byrnes.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ballad of the Bald Eagle

In American culture we are often exposed to things for a relatively short period of time, but the influence endures for generations.  Gilligan’s Island graced the airwaves for a mere three years but the terms “Little Buddy” “The Movie Star” not to mention the theme song are known by millions.

Star Trek was on T.V. for four years and yet there aren’t many people who can’t quote “live long and prosper” or do a passable Captain Kirk impression.  The impact these shows had was immense.  And it is with the CFCL, a microcosm of American society.

In 1986 the CFCL added four teams: 2 vile, despicable scum, one current owner and Bob Monroe.  Bob came to us via Co-Commissioner David Mahlan.  Bob was store manager of Minnesota Fabric in North Riverside while David worked there part-time.

Heading into the 1986 season our owners were comprised of one high school student, three college students, two twenty-somethings, David’s dad and Bob.  Bob, of the group, in my eyes was old.  David’s dad wasn’t – he was a dad.  But Bob was old, had to be late 30’s.  Old to the point that the first few times we got together (expansion draft, real draft) we addressed him as Mr. Monroe.

In looking back over CFCL history I am amazed to realize that the Bald Eagles were part of the league for only six years.  The impact Bob had on the league was similar to Gilligan’s Island and Star Trek.  To this day Bob is still with us.  The in-season weekly blog that I’ve kept for the last three or four years is named the Monroe Doctrine in honor of Bob.  The Constitution has two references to Bob (The Bald Eagle IP requirement and the Bald Eagle AB requirement) because of the way Bob would try to, I’ll say interpret the rules but in reality he would try to skirt the rules.  Many of the loopholes that were closed in the past are due directly to Bob and his manipulations.

When Bob came into the league he sent out this announcement.

More than anything, this announcement said to us “Dude has a computer!”  Remember this was 1986.  Not a lot of households had a personal computer – certainly not the Mahlan or Bentel households.  Bob brought the CFCL into the computer age.  Now David or I would go to Bob’s house each week to enter stats and have the computer calculate the standings, rather than have David do it by hand.

Over the course of the year we will post stories of Bob’s antics and intimidation.  He single handedly broke multiple drafting rules at the 1989 draft.  He perhaps was one of the first owners to practice price enforcement at the draft.   He was the architect of what, on the surface, could be viewed as the worst trade since Brock for Broglio (he receiving Brock).  These stories will come, but for now let me leave you with this.  One year Bob hosted the CFCL Banquet at his home in Brookfield.  He took David into the kitchen and said “Let’s give Rich a glass of water loaded with Tabasco Sauce.”  And so, Bob came out of the kitchen with a glass of water loaded with a red hue and said “Here’s your water Rich.  Sorry my pipes are a little rusty.”  That was Bob.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

1986 - The Owner Draft of a Lifetime

Back in 1983 the Chicago Bears had a draft of a lifetime.  They drafted Jimbo Covert (1st round), Willie Gault (1), Dave Duerson (3), Tom Thayer (4), Richard Dent (8) and Mark Bortz (8).  All of them (and Mike Richardson as well) were integral to the Bears winning the Super Bowl in 1985.  But 1983 was a phenomenal year for the Bears.

I often look at 1986 in the same way for the CFCL.  At the end of 1985 we had just completed our second year, we had seven owners and things were going well.  Then during the off-season we were informed that three (count ‘em THREE) teams would be leaving including defending champion and Original 6 member, Mudville Sluggers (one of the other Original 6, ForGoetzMeNots would also leave).

So here we were, a two year old league, league founders going to be finishing up their sophomore years in college and we suddenly have a league of four owners.  As has been mentioned before, David and I didn’t have a wide circle of people to tap into and we felt we had exhausted our resources just getting the league to seven.

But we scrambled and, in my opinion, had the results for our league similar to the Bears draft in 1983.  I had an acquaintance at work who, while a White Sox fan, knew about baseball and he had a friend who was also interested.  That brought us up to six.

**Side note – it turns out those owners (Z-28’s and Spherechuckers) proved themselves to be vile, despicable scum by essentially quitting the league mid-season and threatening physical harm to the Co-Commissioners if they tried to collect the owed team fees.

So part of our “draft for owners” ended up being a bust.  But we also found two other owners who wanted to join.  Walking into the 1986 season we went from seven owners in 1985 to eight in 1986 and during the off-season doubled our membership from four to eight.  It’s the other two owners that made this year’s expansion a homerun.

The first addition was a friend of mine from high school, Dave Holian.  He was my Sports Editor on the school newspaper, the shortstop on our recreation softball league and, it turns out, a terrific friend for the last 30 years.  When he heard that David and I had started a fantasy league, he started one of his own with some other friends in high school.  When we had the opening, he jumped at the opportunity and for the next 28 years has not let me live down the fact that he wasn’t invited to be an original member.  Truth be told, I didn’t think David and I were cool enough to ask Dave to join the league.  Not that Mr. Holian projected that air, he just seemed connected in every way at the high school and was more “diversified” in his life than David’s and my tunnel vision focus on everything baseball.

The Ruffins joined the league and have been a mainstay ever since.  The other owner that joined was Bob Monroe.  Bob was David’s boss at Minnesota Fabrics.  We had already lowered our standards by letting a White Sox fan enter the league, so we figured what harm could there be in letting a Cardinal fan in?  Harm not so much, but we had no idea what we had just done.

Bob kept his avian connection strong by cheering for the Cardinals and naming his team the Bald Eagles.  Couldn’t have been a more appropriate name given that Bob was, well, bald with the fringe on top.

Tomorrow we will meet, in detail, Bob Monroe of the Bald Eagles.  But safe to say, 1986 for the CFCL was a very good year.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

An Inauspicious Beginning

The very first standings report in CFCL history was published this week in 1984: A single page, typewritten on a manual typewriter, reflecting the status of the leagues’ rankings from nearly two weeks earlier.  Click the image below to view the full version.
As the report indicates, these are the standings as of April 7 – that’s about a week after the season opened – but CFCL owners had to wait until about April 18 to find out where they stood back on April 7. Unlike the instant box score world of 2013, in 1984 we were lucky to get a full set of box scores in the morning paper the day after games were played. It took even longer for player stats to be compiled and published in a publicly available source.
There’s a lot that doesn’t add up in this standings report, starting with where the stats came from.
In 1984, the official source of stats for the Rotisserie League – and therefore all fantasy leagues based on the RL – was the print edition of The Sporting News (TSN).
This raises a couple questions, though:

1.  The Sporting News didn’t start publishing full player stats until early May, or as the Rotisserie Founding Fathers put it, until the Stanley Cup skate-offs were finished. This meant a full month of
the season was gone before they published any player stats. So how is it that this standings report shows results as of April 7 - less than a week after Opening Day?

2.  The weekly stats included in The Sporting News were up to date through the preceding Thursday, but April 7, 1984 was a Saturday – so what gives?
The mists of the past 29 years have fogged any recollection compiling these stats, but it’s apparent I must have used some process other than the officially sanctioned Rotisserie League approach.
Now, this report does associate these standings with The Sporting News edition of April 16, which would indicate that I did use TSN for the standings. Although TSN didn’t publish player stats until May, they did publish the box score of every major league game each week. And as I recall, each issue included the box scores through the previous Saturday.
Since the date on the standings report – April 7 – was a Saturday, it’s my guess that I compiled these initial standings by pulling player stats from individual box scores for the first week of the season. That sounds like something I’d have been crazy enough to do, and given the state of my social life, I certainly would have had the time.
Whatever the source of the individual player stats, there’s something even more glaring thing that doesn’t add up about this standings report, and that is the point totals themselves.
Adding the individual category point totals I note that the ForGoetz Me Nots should have 65.5 points, not 66, and the Friars were robbed of 3 whole points – they should be at 60.5. Alright, so this was apparently before any quality control measures were put in place in the CFCL Front Office. An inauspicious beginning, to be sure, but it just goes to show how tenuous the whole process was back then.
Of course, my first thought when I noticed these errors was to wonder about the accuracy of the final standings report for 1984 (you’d better believe it … I finished a point out of first place in our inaugural season). Sad to say, I’ve verified the arithmetic and everything checks out for that final report, so the ForGoetz Me Nots get to keep their Championship title.
Looking ahead a few weeks into the 1984 season, I see that beginning the second week in May, with the standings published around May 11, we had synchronized reporting with the publication schedule of The Sporting News, so whatever process I was using in April had been discarded in favor of the standard, Rotisserie League-endorsed TSN process.
We’ll take a closer look at the 1984 scorekeeping process in a later post.

Monday, April 15, 2013

What Is Unique About The CFCL

We draft around the table.  Many leagues will draft in what is called an “Auction Format”.  A player is nominated and everyone shouts out their bid.  An owner not interested in that player becomes the de-facto auctioneer.  The CFCL goes around the table.  When the bid comes to you, you have two options.  Increase the bid by at least .01 or drop out.  Once you drop out, you no longer can bid on the player.

We know each other.  Virtually every owner that has joined the league came from a personal reference from another owner.  There have been a rare few that came in response to an on-line message board ad.  More than 75% of all owners were invited by a current owner.

Our budget or salary cap is $2.60, not $260.00.  This was because we started while we were in high school and didn’t have hundreds of dollars to spend.  To this day we open the bidding with “A penny for Matt Kemp.”

We draft in person.  There are many, many fantasy baseball leagues that are done on-line.  We draft in person.  Some years there have been scheduling conflicts and an owner has drafted via a conference call or cell phone connection to their proxy.  While our stats are compiled by an on-line stat service, we are not an on-line league.

No alcohol.  Some leagues, mostly football, will hold their drafts in a bar and multi-task by drafting their teams as well as their beer.

We’re a keeper league.  Some others are as well, however we have numerous and very detailed rules about our keepers.  We can keep as many as 15 going in to a new season.  In addition to those 15 we can keep up to four minor leaguers.  We can keep players even longer by signing them to Long Term Contracts.

The league is bigger than the owners.  This concept started with our first Commissioner, David Mahlan.  He was also owner of David’s Copperfields.  Immediately, being an owner and Commissioner implies there is a conflict of interest.  With David there never was.  He always put the needs and best interests of the league ahead of any benefit for any team, including his own.  That integrity carries on today with our current Commissioner and the Executive Committee.  I have heard many times over from owners in other leagues that their Commissioner will interpret or create rules that decidedly favor their own team.  That concept is so totally foreign to the CFCL, I literally could not understand what I was hearing from these other owners.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Meet the Red Hots

The cool thing (one of many) about the CFCL is the people we get to meet and know as they join and (then unfortunately sometimes) leave the league.  One of those special former owners is Bob Boryca.  Bob joined the CFCL in 2006 and retired six years later in 2011.

A solid guy, Bob had a great run in 2008, finishing in 2nd.  When he joined the league he was charged with naming his team.  He chose "Mo's Red Hots".  I have to admit it was a headscratcher.  No obvious baseball reference, no inclusion of his name.  But when you learn the backstory it is a solid name.  Bob had lost his grandfather a few months before joining the CFCL.  His grandparents owned a place called Mo's Red Hots, so as a tribute Bob named his team after his grandfather's restaurant.

As I mentioned when we met the Friars, many of our current and former owners have talents that range beyond interest in fantasy baseball.  Bob is no exception.  By vocation he's a high school teacher, but his interests are many. 

The more technologically advanced the CFCL became, we asked all of our owners to create a Team Profile.  Here is the link to the Red Hots profile. 


Now it's time to Meet The Red Hots:

How did you come about joining the CFCL?
When I lived in Texas I was able to get into a NL only re-draft league with an owner of Rotojunkie.com and many very knowledgeable members of the site. It was my first live auction draft experience and was a VERY competitive league. I had also been the commissioner of an NL only online auction keeper league that was very competitive but once I was in the live auction league I was hooked. Once it became official that I was moving my family back to Chicagoland I began searching for a live local league with openings. I came upon a post for an opening in the CFCL which seemed like it would be a great fit. I contacted David and went through the process of trying to obtain a franchise and was denied in that first year. After going through the process and getting a taste of the history and competitiveness of the CFCL I let David know that I would still be interested in the future if a spot ever opened up again. (I didn't anticipate that happening anytime soon but hoped) I then kept in touch every now and then to show how interested I really was of becoming a CFCL owner at some point and it worked out that the next year there was another opening and I was able to secure a CFCL franchise.
How would you compare the CFCL to other fantasy leagues you’ve been a part of?
The re-draft league that I was part of in Texas was comparable in terms of competitiveness but it was a different kind of competitiveness due to it being a re-draft league. That league benefited the person skilled at the auction and in season trading. With the CFCL the benefit goes to building and maintaining a franchise planning years ahead with moving parts all over your roster while still attempting to win or be competitive now. There is also a difference in the "open auction" bidding that I had been part of in the other leagues and the "formal organized" style of the CFCL. There is no comparison leagues I have been part of and the history of the CFCL with owners still active in the league that were there in the humble paper and pencil/USA Today stats beginnings.
Not only are you an accomplished fantasy baseball owner, you are a world class poker player. Are there any similarities to going through the CFCL auction draft and playing poker?
LOL....I wouldn't exactly say world class......but I would say that I can definitely hold my own at the poker table. There are definitely similarities to a CFCL auction draft and playing poker. In poker, the cards even out for everyone over a lifetime. The skill then becomes a huge part of (as the song says) knowing when to hold em and when to fold em. Learning and knowing your opponent and your opponents tendencies is the biggest similarity. Knowing that this opponent never bets on the come (his draws) or only is aggressive with two way draws is important information. Just as knowing that the some owners are going to hold higher value to minor league talent than others or that some teams will not spend money on pitching or closers (you can insert franchise owners/teams names for yourselves as I do not give away information learned at the poker table or in the CFCL.....not that you guys don't know it already :o) is valuable information. Knowing when to put the pressure on an opponent with a big bet at the poker table is as valuable as jumping the bid at the CFCL table to put the pressure on an owner that you know likes and wants that player (whether you really want them or not). Also, knowing when a small bet (bid) will get the job done and get you the pot (the player you want for cheap).
You are the only owner (active or retired) to have gone head to head with Doyle Brunson at the poker table. What do you recall about that hand?
It was amazing to have the opportunity to sit at the poker table and play with the legendary Doyle Brunson. I recall that Doyle was getting shorter stacked (not as short as typical amateur players let themselves get but short to the point where you should move all in and still be able to do damage to someone calling you) and Doyle moved all in. I knew he had a wider range and watched the action move around the table. There was a caller in between us who had a decent size stack (mostly weaker players do this or good player setting a trap of which my time at the table thus far had told me he was the former and not the latter) and I looked down at AK. I moved in knowing that the weak caller would fold 80% of the time and would be heads up with Doyle with dead money in the pot and giving him a chance to triple up. I had him dominated as he had another big Ace (can't recall exactly right now.....think it might have been A 10). As legends typically do, he hit his three outer and tripled up. Getting the money in good (or fantastic in this case) is all you can do. Sometimes they hit one of their outs and sometimes they don't. It would have been nice to have been the one to knock him out.....but would have been even nicer to win the table and the Main Event seat!
Aside from that what is your biggest and/or favorite poker memory?
Aside from playing with Doyle, my two favorite poker memories are:
1) The first time I ever walked into the room hosting the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. You cannot imagine how big that room is with all of those tables with thousands of people playing and the sound of chips being constantly shuffled over and over. It is a sight and sound I will never forget and words do not do it justice....you have to witness/experience it.
2) The first time I bought in and played in the 2K buy-in World Series of Poker event in Las Vegas. I thought I was going to be nervous but once I sat down and they announced "shuffle up and deal" I settled into my game and had a blast playing!
Back on January 17, 2010 you made a trade with the Rebels. You received Jonathon Broxton in exchange for JA Happ, Leo Nunez and six poker lessons. The players changed teams, but the poker lessons were never cashed in. Is there an expiration date?
The poker lessons do not have an expiration date and dates/times for those lessons can be negotiated at any time. Is there a local home game tournament/cash game you would like to take advantage of? Are you looking to play in the Chicago Poker Classic at the Horseshoe in Hammond the beginning of March? Maybe looking to take Vegas by storm this summer? Let me know and we can definitely work something out. Even if you decide to host a game I would come early and we can talk strategy.
Lastly, I just want to say that although life events have taken me away from the CFCL (and to some degree the poker table) I will always respect it's history and competitiveness. If I ever looked to get back into the fantasy baseball world I would wait for a CFCL spot to open or be created. I am fortunate that I made the choice to stop fantasy in order to focus time and energy on my family (same for poker) rather than have it dictated to me by events or misfortune. I have not regretted my decision for even one second. I have missed it.....a lot at times....but never regretted it. Thirty years! WOW! Here's to another THIRTY!


Saturday, April 13, 2013

The De Aza-o-Meter

One of the few bright spots for the White Sox in this afternoon’s 9-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians was a homerun by outfielder Alejandro de Aza. Whenever I hear his name, I’m transported back to 2007 when he was a spring training sensation for the Florida Marlins.

The 22-year-old prospect hit .364 and stole 4 bases in the pre-season and began the season as the Marlin’s starting centerfielder. After stealing 27 bases the year before in AA, he was the target of much speculation among CFCL owners. When his name came up for bid in the 2007 CFCL Draft, it  provided one of the more memorable and enduring CFCL Incidents.

At some point in the bidding, I asked Ruffins owner Dave Holian if he had read the blurb on de Aza in the 2007 Baseball Prospectus book. Dave grabbed his copy of the book, flipped to the Marlins section, and burst into laughter. Unperturbed, the owner of Teddy’s Splendid Splinters continued pursuing de Aza, finally acquiring him for .12.

With the bidding done, Dave and I shared what the Prospectus authors had written:

"At the plate, Alejandro de Aza is like the CGI Yoda in a lightsaber duel -- swift, nimble, hyperkinetic, and never lays a good stroke on anything."

We all shared a good laugh (Teddy not joining in so much) but the whole thing might have been forgotten had it not been revisited in Rich's "Draft Day Rebroadcast" in The Monroe Doctrine the next day.  Rich referenced the incident there with this entry in his timeline:
9:27 Teddy bids .12 (and acquires much to his dismay) the “Light Sabre Dude”
And at the end of the article, Rich actually hinted at it joining other Draft Day "incidents" in CFCL lore:
Only time will tell if Teddy stole the show with De Aza or if he created the sequel to the “Ramon Martinez Incident”.  De Aza is officially the new currency of the CFCL, as in “I had to pay three De Aza’s at the toll booth; this promises to be much more enjoyable than what Orestes Destrada did to the CFCL minted greens.
That reference to the "De Aza" as the new currency of the CFCL was all the encouragement I needed.  Starting with in the very next week's roster change report, Rich and I teamed to establish the "De Aza-o-Meter", a weekly update on Alejandro's statistical performance, combined with a blurb from Rich describing some numeric value in terms of "De Azas".  From the April 16 report:

Now, those aren't terrbile stats for the first couple weeks of the season, and Alejandro might have come close to earning his salary if he had kept up that pace.  Unfortunately, he injured himself just a week later, so for the next four months the stats in the De Aza-o-Meter remained unchanged, but we were treated to a weekly bon mot from Rich, such as the following note from the July 16 report:

Finally, in mid-August, De Aza returned - an event commemorated with this o-Meter update from August 13:

De Aza never did get things going after his return, and the season-ending report painted a pretty bleak picture and led Rich to speculate that De Aza's lack of performance might net him the Esasky recognition for worst return on investment in the 2007 Draft:

In the end, De Aza was not honored with the Nick Esasky Award, though he did receive votes - no doubt helped by the season long reminder of his futility.

Every CFCL Draft has at least a couple moments when an owner experiences instant regret and in some cases those moments and the owners' reactions become part of the historic fabric of the league and are revisted time and again, usually with much self-depricating humor from the owners involved.  We'll no doubt be reliving many of those incidents in this blog over the course of the next year.

The De Aza incident was relived on a weekly basis over the course of a season, though.  While the well-intentioned ribbing may have been all in fun, it appeared Teddy - De Aza's owner - didn't quite see the humor.  The Splinters did not make a roster move after mid-May and withdrew from the CFCL at the end of the season.  I'd like to think that the De Aza-o-Meter wasn't the cause, but for whatever reason Teddy pretty much disappeared.

De Aza disappeared as well ... at least for a couple years, before resurfacing with the White Sox, where he's had a couple decent seasons including at least one in which he would have earned well above his 2007 salary of .12.