Thursday, May 30, 2013

Meet Clark Kents

Tom Clark was a classmate of the Ruffins, Rebels and Copperfields at OPRF as well as a teammate on many recreational softball teams.  Tom didn't join the CFCL until well after high school, however, coming on board in 1992 and staying with the league for four years.  His high-water mark was 3rd place in 1994, his only money place finish.  In additional to participating in fantasy baseball and playing recreational softball, Tom umpired a lot of games for the local leagues.  He also is one of the chief architects of one of the most memorable Incidents in CFCL history.

It's time now to meet Clark Kents.

Q1. How did you come to join the CFCL?

I cannot recall the specifics, but I believe Dave Holian invited me to fill an opening in your league. Dave and I had been members of fantasy baseball league that folded after only one season, and he must have seen me as an owner who would not threaten his chances to win.

Q2. Did you have previous fantasy baseball experience? Have you since?

After leaving the CFCL, I was a co-owner of a fantasy team for one season in the mid 90s, but no longer consider myself a baseball fan. I'm not sure if it was the addition of the wildcard and inter-league play, the season-ending strike in 1994, the McGuire-Sosa theatrics, the resulting steroid-fueled Bonds home run chase, the all-star game becoming so insignificant that a tie-game became an acceptable result, or the requirement to watch four-hour baseball games from late March into early November, but somewhere along the way I stopped caring. I have not watched a pitch of Cubs baseball all season.

Q3. It’s been 18 years since you resigned from the league. Do you have any specific memories?

My lasting memory of the league is that Dave Mahlan brought not one, but two three-ring binders to the draft; a sign that I was out of my league.

Q4. Your team name certainly had a “super” feel to it. Were you a Superman fan or did you think that Clark Addisons was too obvious of a team name?

From your question, I assume my team name was the Clark Kents. I remember debating whether my team name should be the Clark Kents or the Clark Bars. While I am not a fan of the Superman franchise, I think I was hoping my players would perform like "supermen."

Q5. At the draft you would often sit next to the Ruffins and look over their shoulder at their draft information. Was this a strategy to get in the head of the Ruffins or was it your form of draft prep?

I'm sure I sat next to the Ruffins so I could make sarcastic comments about the other owners without anyone of them hearing.

Q6. Are you aware that you were a part of the greatest video moment in CFCL history? (hint: it was the Darryl Strawberry Incident) Do you remember it?

I have no recollection of the Darryl Strawberry incident, but I am happy to have left a legacy.

Q7. Since leaving the CFCL you have established a successful law practice in Oak Park. How long have you been practicing and what is your specialty?

In my practice, which I started in 2009, I concentrate on wills, trusts, and special needs planning. My focus on special needs planning, which involves helping parents meet the current and future needs of their disabled children, is the product of my son being diagnosed with Autism.

Wishing the league another 30 years!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Owners of the CFCL - 2012

This is a new weekly feature as we walk backwards to the beginning.  You've seen the Big Uglies from 2013.  Each week we'll step back one year and meet the ownership.  The cool thing here is that when the picture was taken we didn't know what we were facing for the year.  But now we can look at the picture knowing who won, what happened during the year, etc. 

Here are the owners for 2012 drafting in Lisle, IL.

Pictured left to right:  Rich Bentel (Dem Rebels, in A's hat), Dave Holian (David's Ruffins), Matt Bentel (DoorMatts), Mike Bentel (Twin Killers), Matt Grage (Graging Bulls), Kenn Ruby (Kenndoza Line), Scott Strang (Stranger Danger), Nick Hansen (Eukennott Beatniks), Mike Coulter (Candy Colored Clowns and eventual 2012 Champion), Tim Morkert (Morkertzuma's Revenge).

Two interesting things heading in to 2012.  First we were welcoming back an old friend.  Nick Hansen rejoined the league after a much too long three year hiatus.  Secondly Dem Rebels and the Clowns engaged in one of the craziest pennant chases in CFCL history.  Both made significant trades right at the trade deadline and then watched as the Rebels, down 21 points in late August made a charge that left them one point short of catching the Clowns.  Going into the final day, it was possible for Dem Rebels to gain one point, thus tying the Clowns.  But the Clowns held the tie-breaker edge so they were in strong position going in to the final day, due in large part to their management of their team throughout the year.

Notice also that the DoorMatts seem to be staring someone down.  My guess is it's everyone but Nick since everyone in the direction Matt is looking at finished ahead of him in the standings.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The First American Leaguer

On May 28 in 2003, Julio Lugo of the Six Packs became the first player in history to accrue stats for a CFCL team while on the roster of an American League team. This was a major milestone, and one that shook one of the long-standing and fundamental founding principles of the CFCL.

1984 - 1991
As a National League-only Rotisserie League, we had historically shunned American League players (following in the Constitutional footsteps of the original Rotisserie League). We were not allowed to bid on American League players in the auction on Draft Day, nor select them in the Reserve List draft. For nearly the first decade of our existence, if a player on a CFCL roster was traded to the American League, or signed with an American League team as a free agent, that player was automatically and immediately dropped from the CFCL roster. There was no intermingling of American League blood (or stats) on CFCL rosters.

1992 - 2002
In 1992, the Rotisserie League updated their Constitution to provide some degree of compensation to owners whose players were traded to the American League during the season. The players were still automatically and immediately dropped, however an amount equal to the lost player’s salary was added to the team’s Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB), which was used to acquire free agents in sealed bid auctions during the season. The CFCL decided to adopt this rule, though we clarified it to specify that only players on a CFCL team’s active roster when they were lost to the American League. Theoretically, this allowed teams the opportunity to replace the players they lost. Still, however, CFCL rosters remained unsullied by American League personnel.

2003 … From time to time after the reimbursement rule was adopted there were grumblings about some inequities with the rule. These grumblings intensified during the 2002 season, and again during the off-season. The main complaints with the rule were that team tended to either be under-compensated (in the case of a star with a low salary) or over-compensated (in the case of an over-priced player). And even if a player was appropriately priced, chances were low that a player of equivalent talent would be available in the Free Agent Pool to replace the American League player.

At one point during that off-season, the CFCL actually eliminated the entire reimbursement rule in favor of a return to the SOL principles of the early years. The fallout from that decision kicked of one of the more intense debates in CFCL Message Board History. Thanks to the glories of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, you can revisit parts of that discussion here:

It was during that debate that the idea of allowing CFCL teams to keep players who were traded to the American League (and accrue their American League stats) was first seriously debated (the idea had been suggested earlier, but quickly dismissed).

The thought of allowing American League players on active CFCL rosters represented a significant psychological hurdle, but eventually it was cleared and the league voted (not unanimously) to allow CFCL teams to keep players who had been traded to the American League AND accrue that stats they produced there. 

When, on May 9, 2003, Julio Lugo, a player on the Six Packs’ Reserve List, was released by the Houston Astros and signed by the Toronto Blue Jays on May 15, he became the first American League player to appear on a CFCL roster. And when the Six Packs activated Lugo a couple weeks later, he became the first American Leaguer to accrue stats for a CFCL team. Lugo went 3-for-4 with an RBI that night, and produced solid stats in the American League for the Six Packs: .285 BA, 14 HR, 51 RBI, 10 SB. 

Interestingly, it was Six Packs’ owner Kelly Barone who had argued most vehemently against allowing American League stats to count in the CFCL.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Mitch Williams Incident

In 1989 we experienced one of the most bizarre Incidents ever at a draft.  First a little background.  We had two teams leave after the 1988 season (Aces to Win and Davies’ Crocketts).  Two new teams replaced them, The Lambchops (beginning a 19 year run with the CFCL) and Scotland Wiseguys.  The Wiseguys were going to be run by a guy that worked at one of the branches of the bank that I worked at.  Scott liked baseball and knew who Mario Mendoza was which was the bar we set back in the day to determine if an owner was worthy of joining the CFCL.

The draft was set for late morning at Mount Olympus (the apartment David and I shared in Forest Park) on a beautiful Spring Sunday.  As I tried to confirm directions and attendance for Scott, something seemed awry.  We couldn’t get a hold of him and then hours before the draft found out he wouldn’t be attending because he had a tryout with a local semi-pro team.  Here is where the wheels began to come off the track.

I suppose we were hoping that Scott would either make the team or not and still have time to run his fantasy team.  As it turns out we never heard from him again.  So before the draft began we decided, instead of disbanding his team into the Free Agent Pool, we would keep his team intact and draft as a collective unit on its behalf.

The theory was that when an owner dropped out of the bidding on a particular player, he would assume control of the Wiseguys.  With seven owners at the draft, that meant throughout the day up to seven different people could make bids on behalf of the Wiseguys – even though each of those seven owners were competing directly against the Wiseguys that season!

Apparently we thought that was a good idea.  Here’s what I don’t understand.  The other owners were pretty smart.  David Mahlan (5 years in the CFCL at the time), Dave Holian (3 years), Bob Monroe (3 years), myself (5 years), Kelly Barone (1 year) and Eric Lamb (first year in the league) all had a good head on their shoulders.  Specifically Mahlan and Holian being two of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met to that point (and that statement holds more strength today).  And nobody thought this was going to be a mess.

So the draft started and honestly I don’t remember much about drafting for the Wiseguys (who ultimately would be renamed the Headless Horsemen when we never heard back from Scott) other than there did seem to be a committee in charge of the Wiseguys.  So for example, Kelly would drop out on the bidding of a player and take over the Wiseguys.  When the bidding got to a point that it was questionable whether the Wiseguys should keep bidding, Kelly would ask around to other owners who had dropped out and say “What do you think?  Keep going?”  Again, no one thought this was ridiculous.

So we get to Mitch Williams.  Another piece of background.  At the time one of the categories in our scoring system was Saves (not Save + Holds like we use today) so closers were very valuable.  Williams was involved in a trade between the Cubs and Rangers during the off-season.  Coming into the draft I was excited at the prospect of drafting Williams since he was a closer and he was on the Cubs.  I was concerned that everyone else would want him as well.

In the best effort of trying to play poker before the draft started, someone mentioned Williams’ name to gauge interest.  To a man, EVERYONE else said “Yeah he’ll get saves, but he’s wild as hell and his ERA and WHIP will kill you”.  Good news for the Rebels since no one else was going to want him.

One more reminder.  The rules of the CFCL Draft are “You’re either in or you’re out” (thank you George Clooney – that was our motto waaay before Oceans 11).  When the bidding comes around to you, you either increase the bid or your drop out and you cannot come back in to the bidding on that player once you drop out.

So back to Williams.  He gets nominated and there’s some initial interest around the table.  The way my memory has it, Kelly dropped out at one point and took over for the Wiseguys.  The bidding continued until it was just me (Rebels) and the Wiseguys.  I made a bid of .13 (I think) and Kelly eventually dropped.  So everyone starts confirming “Mitch Williams for .13 to Dem Rebels” UNTIL Monroe chimes in “Wait, I don’t think the Wiseguys would have dropped out so soon.”  And somehow he convinced everyone that the bidding should be re-opened and continue on.

Let me point out two huge factors.  1)  The rules in the Constitution state “once you pass on a player you are out of the bidding”.  The Wiseguys passed.  2)  Six other owners also dropped out on Williams at an earlier spot in the bidding.  So six other owners felt that .13 was too high for The Wild Thing.  Why, oh why, would a non-existent owner suddenly decide that .13 wasn’t too high for him when six real life owners did?

Can’t answer the question because I didn’t think to ask.  I protested, but I think it was viewed as a bit biased since I would have to pay more for Williams than for what I had rightfully attained him.

So Bob convinced everyone the bidding should continue.  The Rebels and Wiseguys went back and forth until finally I blinked and let Williams go for .20.  Below are the Roster Sheets for the Rebels and Wiseguys after the 1989 draft.

By the end of the year, Williams had led the Cubs to the Division title.  With Williams the Horsemen finished 8th (last).  Without Williams Dem Rebels won their first title.  And for Bob, it wasn’t the first or last time he got the best of an owner.  But Steve Carlton was waiting around the corner.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Midnight Ride of Rich and Dave

Before the world of e-mail or even faxing, for that matter, took over the CFCL, we used regular mail (snail mail as it's called nowadays) and occasionally the River Forest/Oak Park/Brookfield version of the Pony Express.  Bob Monroe had done something on his computer (probably printed up the stats or it might have been the official list for the draft) that we needed.  We talked about schedules and when we could pick up the documents he had for us.

We finally decided that Bob would leave an envelope by his front door and David and/or I would come by and pick it up.  Since we started the CFCL in 1984 and had our driver's licenses at that point, I suppose using a car was an option.  But we went old school.  I biked over to David's house in Oak Park and from there he and I biked to Bob's house in Brookfield.  Either because we wanted to make it an adventure or because we were busy earlier in the evening, we ended up making the trek there and back around 2am.  Hand to God.  Why?  Because we were in our early 20's and we didn't have women in our lives.  Daylight is for sissies.  In fact, that may have been the chant we used to keep pace as we worked the sidestreets in the early morning hours.

The next day at work, things were slow and I was staring at the electric typewriter at my desk thinking that this bike ride needed to be documented.  And so I crafted the following.  You can tell how scared I was about doing something non-work related during business hours - I typed it all up on company letterhead.  A little side note that I just noticed.  Look at the phone number in the letterhead.  Do you notice anything interesting?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

This Week In CFCL History

Here’s a look at this week in CFCL history, covering the dates May 19 to May 25.
May 19, 1987 BALD EAGLES trade Bill Gullickson and Chico Walker to ACES TO WIN for Randy St. Claire and Candy Maldonado.
A swap of Eagle pitching for Aces hitting. Gullickson and Maldonado were the principles in this deal, with St. Claire and Walker added in to even out the positions.

This was in the pre-Ultra days of the CFCL, before teams had extensive Reserve Lists from which they could activate players to fill in holes on the active rosters. So unless you were swapping players who played the same position, each team usually had to toss in a scrub or two so each team had a valid 23-man roster at the deal’s completion.

It’s one of the reasons trading was more difficult in those days, but also why 8 or 10 player deals were a lot more common then.

May 19, 1987 COPPERFIELDS trade Scott Sanderson to DEM REBELS for Bob Ojeda.
The Copperfields get busy, completing three deals on this date in 1987. They were in 2nd place when the deals were made, 13 points behind the leading Penguins.

This first deal was a swap of two starting pitchers. Neither one was setting the world on fire at the time of the trade – Sanderson had just 3 Wins with a 4.34 ERA for the Copperfields, while Ojeda had posted a 4.31 ERA and 2 Wins for the Rebels.

To top it off, Ojeda had undergone elbow surgery just prior to the deal and was on the DL when the Copperfields acquired him. They didn’t replace him immediately, however. To be continued below…

Sanderson put up some pretty crappy numbers (0 Wins, 5.51 ERA for the Rebels) before getting hurt and moved to the Reserve List late in June. He returned to Major League action a few weeks later, but it was in a middle relief role and he was never re-activated by the Rebels.

May 19, 1987 COPPERFIELDS trade Roger McDowell, Bruce Ruffin, and Mitch Webster to ACES TO WIN for Dwight Gooden, Shane Rawley, and Carmelo Martinez.
The Copperfields’ biggest deal of the day.

McDowell was due to come off the DL, but the Copperfields preferred to keep the player they called up to replace him, John Smiley. Gooden was on the DL at the time, but due to come off in a while. When he eventually returned (first week of June), the Copperfields activated him and reserved Bob Ojeda, whom they had left active despite being on the DL at the time they acquired him in the trade above.

Gooden was stellar upon his return, winning 15 games with a 3.21 ERA. Rawley added another 13 Wins, which helped the Copperfields cruise to first place in the category.

Carmelo Martinez was a washout for the Coppers, hitting just .167 before they waived him in June to make room for minor league call-up Shane Mack.

The deal turned out well for the Aces as well. Webster hit a solid .285 with 13 homers and 23 SB after the trade, McDowell contributed 25 Saves, and Ruffin had a 3.96 ERA and 9 Wins.

May 19, 1987 COPPERFIELDS trade Luis Aguayo to PENGUINS for Tom Foley.
Pretty inconsequential. Foley was on the DL at the time, but hadn’t been reserved by the Penguins. The Copperfields acquired him and used the roster spot to call up old favorite Jeff Stone from the Free Agent Pool.

Stone stole a couple bases for the Coppers before getting injured. Aguayo provided the Penguins with decent power for a part time middle infielder, but his .203 batting average was a killer.

May 20, 1986 PENGUINS trade Scott Garrelts and Joe Orsulak to FRIARS for Tom Niedenfuer and Vince Coleman.
Hmmm. Maybe a little father-son favoritism here, as Friar’s owner Fred trades super-speedster Vince Coleman to the Penguins, owned by his son Paul? Here are the post trade stats:

Friars get
Orsulak: .250 BA – 1 HR – 9 RBI – 18 SB
Garrelts: 3.15 ERA – 1.25 RAT – 9 W – 10 SV

Penguins get

Coleman: .228 BA – 0 HR – 20 RBI – 95 SB
Niedenfuer: 4.02 ERA – 1.41 RAT – 4 W – 8 SV

Ignore the SB, and this deal is a lot closer than it might have seemed. And about those steals? Despite giving up Coleman, the Friars did not drop a single point in the category (maintaining their second place ranking in SB throughout the rest of the year). Meanwhile, Coleman’s 95 steals gained the Penguins only a point and a half.

May 20, 2004 PICTS trade Brad Ausmus to DEM REBELS for Jeff Suppan.
A fairly middling trade between two middle-of-the-pack teams – the Rebels were in 6th, the Picts in 7th at the time of the trade.

The Rebels were limping along with Tyler Greene and Corky Miller behind the plate, so saw Ausmus as an upgrade there, while the Picts were pulling in only 22 points in the pitching categories so needed help there.

Post-trade stats:
Ausmus: .297 OBP – 85 TB – 24 RS – 20 RBI – 1 SB

Suppan: 4.31 ERA – 1.41 RAT – 1.62 K:BB – 11 QS – 0 HoSv
May 21, 2001 RUFFINS trade Rueben Rivera to HARD HATS for Eric Gagne.
The Ruffins would trade Gagne to the Lambchops just a week or so later. Rivera went on to put up fair stats for the Hats after this deal: 7 HR, 22 RBI, and 4 SB.
May 21-27, 2002 Shawn Green of DEM REBELS has perhaps the greatest single week in CFCL history.

On May 20, was hitting .231 with 3 HR and 21 RBI for the Rebels, but then began a week-long tear that is likely among the best the Roto game has ever seen. Here’s the way I noted it in the weekly Roster Change report:

By the time the week was over, Green was up to .282 with 13 HR and 39 RBI, which was a little closer to what the Rebels were expecting for the .39 they were paying him.
May 23, 1988 COPPERFIELDS trade Mike Aldrete, Floyd Youmans, and Buddy Bell (RL) to RUFFINS for Mike Marshall and Mark Grant.
Mike Marshall was the main component here. The Copperfields had acquired Youmans just a week earlier, but package him with Aldrete and an injured Bell to pick up Marshall. Grant was a throw-in whom the Coppers immediately waived in order to activate Steve Bedrosian.

Marshall hit .274 with 14 HR and 56 RBI for the Copperfields the rest of the way.

Aldrete fizzled for the Ruffins (.269, 3 HR) and Bell came off the DL, but contributed just 7 HR and 37 RBI. Youmans made only seven starts for the Ruffins before missing the rest of the season with an injury, but was outstanding in those seven games (3 W, 1.85 ERA).

Something I noticed when looking back at this one … both Marshall and Aldrete were on D contracts, which meant they had both been acquired in the 1988 Draft. Marshall was an established slugger at the time, though he was coming off a slightly down year (16 HR and 72 RBI in 1987) and the Ruffins were able to get him for just .05 in the auction. Aldrete, however, had just one full season under his belt in which he hit 9 homers and drove in 51 runs … though he did sport a .325 BA. Whether it was the promise of that batting average or something else, Aldrete went for .14 in the auction – almost three times as much as Marshall. And of course, if the Copperfields bid .14, someone else must have bid .13.

I wondered if this could have been the case of Bill Mazeroski striking again, so checked my copy of his 1988 magazine and sure enough:

As I suspected, very likely another case of Hyper-Inflation resulting from Pre-Draft Obsession, although a minor one.

May 23, 2002 PICTS trade Ken Griffey Jr. and their 7th round Rotation Draft pick in 2003 to HARD HATS for Kaz Ishii, Kyle Ainsworth, and their 1st round Rotation Draft pick in 2003.
The Picts were absolutely floundering at the time of this deal – in last place and a whopping 20.5 points behind the 11th place Six Packs – so it made sense to begin rebuilding by acquiring a couple promising rookies.

Aisnworth didn’t contribute much for the Picts in 2002, but Ishii recorded 10 Wins although he had an ERA over 5.00 after the trade. When roster freeze time came in 2003, the Picts kept Ainsworth and cut Ishii.

Griffey, meanwhile, didn’t exactly set the world ablaze for the Hard Hats, hitting just .263 with 7 HR and 20 RBIs after the trade.

Here’s how the draft picks turned out:

The Picts selected Scott Sullivan with the Hats’ first rounder, who put up decent stats in middle relief. In the 7th round, the Hats used the Picts’ pick to select minor leaguer Brendan Harris.
May 24, 2005 SPLINTERS trade Pedro Martinez, Ray Durham, and Brad Ausmus to RESERVOIR DOGS for Chad Cordero, Johnny Estrada, and their 3rd round Rotation Draft pick in 2006.
A deal between a last place team (Splinters) and a first place team (Dogs), and this is one that truly paid off for both teams involved.

The salaries carried by Martinez (.44) and Durham (.23) made them eminently dumpable for the Splinters, and the Dogs spent the rest of the season trying to juggle the two of them and a number of other high-priced acquisitions in and out of their lineup in order to stay under the in-season salary cap. Ausmus was included largely because his .04 salary allowed the Dogs some cap flexibility while providing fairly reliable offense.

Martinez and Durham, meanwhile, certainly paid off:

Durham: .348 OBP - 168 TB – 50 RS – 52 RBI – 5 SB
Martinez: 2.69 ERA – 1.04 RAT – 3.86 K:BB – 17 QS – 0 HoSv

It wasn’t enough for the Dogs, though, as they eventually finished second to the Copperfields.

In Cordero, the Splinters got a cheap (.06) closer, who not only produced immediately after the trade (2.11 ERA, 37 Saves), but also afterward. The Splinters signed him to a 2-year contract prior to 2006, and Cordero delivered 66 Saves over the life of the contract.

Estrada had a great 2006 as well, delivering a .328 OBP, 184 TB, 43 RS, and 71 RBI as a four-cent catcher.

The Splinters selected utility infielder Eric Bruntlett with the Dogs’ 3rd rounder in 2006.

The Splinters continued their rebuilding in another deal a couple days later. See below…

May 25, 1993 LAMBCHOPS trade Todd Zeile, Pedro Astacio, and Greg Swindell to DA PAUL MEISTERS for Kevin Mitchell, Rheal Cormier, and Mike Kelly (RL).
A huge misstep for the Lambchops. At the time of the trade, they were in 4th place while the Meisters languished in 7th. By the end of the season, they had exchanged places in the standings, and this trade was likely a big reason.
Here’s what happened after the deal:

Meisters get

Zeile: .291 BA – 16 HR – 84 RBI – 2 SB
Astacio: 3.25 ERA – 1.17 RAT – 14 W – 0 SV
Swindell: 3.59 ERA – 1.34 RAT – 7 W – 0 SV

Lambchops get

Mitchell: .327 – 13 HR – 37 RBI – 1 SB
Cormier: 4.71 ERA – 1.41 RAT – 5 W – 0 SV
Kelly: did not play

Kelly was a hotshot power/speed prospect, but never panned out in the majors.
May 25, 2005 SPLINTERS trade Cliff Floyd, Shawn Green, and Mike Koplove to HOT SLUDGE SUNDAE for Jose Reyes, Armando Benitez, and their 4th round Rotation Draft pick in 2006.
The second rebuilding trade of the week for the Splinters. Once agan, they pick up a cheap closer (Benitez, .12 – injured at the time of the trade) and an inexpensive hitter at a low-offense position (Reyes, .10).

The Sundae were in 10th place at the time of the trade, but within hailing distance of a money spot. Although Koplove turned out to be a non-factor, the Sundae got good production from Floyd & Green, but it wasn’t enough to pull them up. Having only risen to 9th place by early July, the Sundae pulled the plug and dealt Green to the 7th place Rebels and traded Floyd to the second place Copperfields a couple weeks later.

Things turned out much better for the Splinters. Reyes scored 74 Runs and drove in 41, in addition to stealing 51 bases after the deal. When Benitez returned from his injury, he contributed 15 Saves.

In fact, by the time the season was over, the Splinters had not only acquired a solid foundation for 2006, but had gone from last place to 7th, picking up 18 points in the standings.

Benitez and Reyes both produced for the Splinters the following year as well:

2006 Stats:
Reyes - .354 OBP – 315 TB – 122 RS – 81 RBI – 64 SB
Benitez – 3.52 ERA – 1.57 RAT – 1.48 K:BB – 0 QS – 17 HoSv

The Splinters used the Sundae’s 4th round pick in 2006 to select reserve catcher JD Closser.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Deeper Dive: DunKenn

Earlier this week, Rich posted about Draft Day rituals, including mascots at the Draft.

The most consistenly-present Draft Day mascot has been the "corn cob figurine" that has accompanied Kenndoza Line at the annual auction.

In a comment to Rich's original post, Kenndoa owner Kenn Ruby provided some additional detail on his Draft Day Buddy:

DunKenn is actually a basketball-playing ear of corn I got in a Happy Meal in 1993. I have no idea why. Last year he was missing on draft day, which was just devastating for me. He was miraculous "found" months later, but by then the damage had been done.
Here's a close-up of DunKenn from the 2013 Draft Day photo Rich posted:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Evolution of the Monroe Doctrine

David mentioned that in the early years he would mail out the standings via actual mail to the owners on a weekly basis.  He would include notes and reminders so we were all on the same page.  Well since he was doing the manual calculations and typing up the standings, my idle fingers needed some work.  So I started typing up things (trivia, observations, etc) and then mailing/biking/walking them to his house to be included in the mailings.  As with any evolution, the notes and trivia became bigger and more involved until it was a page of its own.  Eventually (as David shared with you) we had to name it and the Monroe Doctrine was born.

Once the CFCL became technologically savvy, there was no need for actual snail-mailings.  In order for the Monroe Doctrine to continue, all that was necessary was for the Editor to be technological and Internet savvy as well.  Sixteen years later the Monroe Doctrine arrived on the Internet with a blog page all of its own and we have been blazing trails ever since.

Way back in its pre-Internet infancy, the Monroe Doctrine was designed as a vehicle to make CFCL observations while taking good natured pot-shots at Bob Monroe, owner of the Bald Eagles.  Once we crashed into the Internet it was still intended to be CFCL based, but include a more broad baseball theme.  I wanted to stay local and focus on the CFCL and how the National League connected to CFCL issues.  Then a weird thing happened.  WE WENT INTERNATIONAL!

Yes, I said INTERNATIONAL!  Hits from Japan, Canada, the Ukraine and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Here’s a link to the Monroe Doctrine and specifically to the post that announced our world domination.

Our goal remains the same, weekly posts during the baseball season ** that appeal to our owners first and foremost but also are interesting enough to keep our international brethren tuned in.  Oh by the way, CFCL Turns 30 has registered hits from the United Kingdom, Peru, Indonesia, Russia, Portugal and Germany.  Baby.

**  The weekly posts have not been consistent.  This year especially so as the focus has been on daily posts to the CFCL Turns 30.  Plus I wanted my first submission of 2013 “Pat Hughes Must Go” to really sink in.

Hopefully the Monroe Doctrine has been a source of information and amusement for the league over the years.  It’s a labor of love and one more level of the type of league the CFCL has become that is not always available in other fantasy baseball leagues.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

First Free Agent Sealed Bid

On this date in 1990, Lee Smith became the first player in CFCL history to be acquired during the season via free agent bid, going to the Copperfields for 32 cents.

From the league’s founding in 1984 through 1989, there was only one way to acquire a free agent during the season … by calling him up from the free agent pool to replace a player who had been put on the disabled list, sent to the minors, released, or traded to the American League by his National League team. Free agents called up in this manner were awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so if two teams wanted the same free agent, the player would go to whomever was the first to call and leave a message with the League Secretary (this was long before the days of e-mail and time-stamping). All free agents acquired in this way were awarded a .10 salary.

In the 1990 edition of the “Rotisserie League Baseball” book, the Roto founding fathers introduced the concept of a Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) for acquiring unowned players via sealed bid auction during the season. This rule was actually a new component of the Rotisserie Ultra rules that had been introduced in the 1989 book and that involved 40-man rosters and a number of other rules to take the game to a new level.

Given the make-up of the CFCL at the time, and the fact that we were still calculating stats and standings manually, the CFCL didn’t feel ready to adopt the Ultra rules, but we did see the free agent sealed bid auction as a potential solution to the growing dissatisfaction with the free-agents-as-injury-replacements-only system.

One of the consequences of that system was that injured players ended up being much more valuable than they should. Some owners … oh, let’s say Bob Monroe for example … made an art form of their eyes open for players who had gone undrafted on Draft Day and were turning in a strong season, and then trading for an injured player on the roster of a less observant owner in order to reserve the injured player and call up the targeted free agent.

When a star player was traded over from the American League mid-season, things began to take on a circus atmosphere as CFCL owners prayed for an injury to one of their players, fended off the inevitable trade proposals from Bob for their injured player, and submitted a claim for the free agent.

Things were particularly absurd when Mark Langston was traded to the Expos on May 25, 1989. No team had an injured pitcher they could reserve in order to acquire him, so the Mark Langston Watch began. Rich was able to comment on the situation in multiple weekly newsletters, and every CFCL owner knew that if Bob Monroe called with a trade offer for one of your pitchers, it meant the pitcher had just gone on the DL. It was June 13 before the Six Packs were finally able to reserve an injured pitcher (Bob Walk) and claim Langston.

When the concept of a sealed bid free agent auction was introduced for the Ultra version of the game in the 1990 Rotisserie League book, we decided to employ a modified version of it in the CFCL … using it only for players who had been traded from the American League during the season. As I wrote in a pre-season bulletin:

This Inter-League Trade Auction was run via actual sealed bid … teams had to mail (or hand deliver) their bids for the free agent in an actual sealed envelope. The full sealed bid auction can be found here:

On May 4, 1990, Lee Smith was traded from the Boston Red Sox to the St. Louis Cardinals and became the first player to be eligible for sealed bid free agent auction. It was a great test case for our new system … Smith was a premiere closer, and the Saves category was particularly tight early in 1990. At the time Smith was traded over, only 6 Saves separated the first team in the category from the last, so Smith could be a real difference maker.

Every team in the CFCL submitted a sealed bid for Smith over the next couple weeks except one (the generally uninvolved Mr. Paul’s Swordfish), with the Copperfields winning Smith’s services with a .32 bid. Here’s the Roster Change Report for the week, listing the full bidding results (click to embiggen):

Smith proved worth every penny, putting up a 2.14 ERA and saving 25 games for the Copperfields, who finished 3rd in the Saves category and won the league by a single point. The Copperfields kept Smith for the 1991 season, avoiding the buyout penalty, and ended up trading Smith to the Lambchops later that season.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Meet The Tenacious B

In 2000 the CFCL expanded to twelve teams for the first time in its history and stayed that way for nine seasons.  One of the teams that joined the league that year was "Witzke A Go-Go".  It was a co-owned team of Harry Witzke and Bruce Ellman.  Hopefully we will meet Harry later on, but today we meet Bruce.

Bruce co-owned the Go-Gos with Harry for two years and then when Harry resigned, Bruce spun out on his own by running the Tenacious B for two more years.  As you will see below, Bruce is one of those special owners who has amazing creativity and phenomenal wit.  Even though he was only a part of the CFCL for barely more than 10% of the league's existence, the CFCL is poorer for his absence.

I have mentioned this before and will mention it again, our owners (current and former) have a lot more to them than simply being baseball fans.  This is clearly evident throughout all the answers Bruce provides, but specifically when he references his travels.

He's one of the good guys and it's time to meet The Tenacious B.

In 2000 you joined the CFCL with Harry Witzke to form “Bruce’s Witzke A Go-Go”.  Do you recall any material differences between working with Harry and then ultimately running your own team?

Ø  Harry and I were co-workers and he has/had been involved with fantasy leagues since the late 50s. I started small—Fantasy basketball (here’s an aside: Q: What’s the best thing about the start of the NHL season? A: Basketball is right around the corner! (Further aside: remember, this was the late 90s))—added fantasy football and then found a void in my life that only a new father, with a lot of new stay-at-home time, understands.
Since I was new to baseball and it seemed much more time-consuming, I gladly accepted Harry’s offer to co-own a team…now where to find a league………..?
We were a pretty good team though he is a Cubs fan and I am a baseball fan who just happens to like the Sox—terrible about facts and their Soxy bias—and I was glad to steal his strategies and then add my own (buy Todd Helton and cheap RP at all costs). It also freed me to engage in out-of-the-box strategic thinking and research (did you know that I was the first to utilize GWAR in our league? They ROCK!) and come up with diamonds in the rough like Deon Sanders and So Taguchi.
As a solo owner, I enjoyed further honing my own strategies and not having to be so formal about my own FA submissions—the Harry approval process often involved crushed ice, tropical drinks (“NO SALT, DAMMIT!”) and, well…I’d really rather not say more. I also changed the name of the team to Tenacious B and only found out later that Jack White had made a movie of the same name; I threatened a lawsuit but dropped it after he changed the name of his band to the Black-Eyed Keys.
How did you and Harry find your way into the league?
Ø  Fleet week, a young dancer named Kelly Barone; straight off a destroyer with nothing but his dancer’s belt and a tube of chapstick led us to the CFCL.
You are the only CFCL owner to have visited Macchu Picchu.  Have you done any other international travelling since leaving the CFCL?
Ø  Wow…excellent memory. I recommend hiking the Inca Trail (no allegory) to anyone…but be careful not to ask if you can “hike the Inca Trail” in certain parts of South America or Indiana. I have also been to Chile and Patagonia since then. Now, that is also a thing!
You had perhaps the most creative team introduction when you announced your team name as you separated your partnership with the Witzke a go-gos.  How did you come up with it? (The Team Name and the Introduction).
Ø  Have forgotten the introduction: probably stole it or came up with it after a night of drinking Peruvian tea made from coca leaves. The name comes from combining “Whiskey A Go-Go” (famous beatnik place where I think Harry was conceived; my own conception took place at Woodstock—further cementing our partnership) and The Go-Go Sox. Also, “Moose Knuckles,” “Master Batters,” and “Multiple Scorgasms” were already taken in one of Harry’s other leagues and were, frankly, weird names for a co-owned team.
You’ve participated in both fantasy baseball and fantasy football leagues.  Which one do you prefer and why?
Ø  Fantasy basketball is my original love and the one I have had the most successful results. FFB is enraging because it so often relies on luck, pure chance, and very little skill (yes, I have barely ever finished in the money but that is not bitterness talking, it is truth-to-power). Fantasy baseball was a lot of fun although very time consuming. Since it is so time consuming you really have to have a passion for it and for the league itself. I have been in other fantasy baseball leagues since (though no longer) but I found the most enjoyment and frustration during my time in the CFCL. And can you ask for anything more? (Okay, besides winning? And not the frustration? And more winning/less frustration?).
Bruce didn't remember the press release he submitted when the Tenacious B emerged from the Go-Go resignation.  It was a press release for the ages as Bruce shared with us every possible name he could think of before landing on Tenacious B.  Below is the press release he provided in 2002.
Unincorporated Grundee County, IL—Item: From the new winter headquarters of the team formerly known as Bruce’s Witzke A Go-Go comes the following announcement from team spokesperson and Head of Marketing, Lee Elia: "The team formerly known as Bruce’s Witzke A Go-Go is changing its name to reflect the new, streamlined direction of ownership. Frankly, we need to shed some of the weighted expectations of the past while continuing to honor the grand 2-year history of the franchise. Plus, we reached an out-of-court settlement with the former co-owner regarding licensing and copyright fees: we cannot disclose the terms except that we will no longer be allowed to sport mustaches. We considered, and rejected, many names—honorable, fine names—to ensure that the one we chose would best represent the quality of the team and the overall reputation of the CFCL. Among the names we seriously considered but ultimately rejected were:

  • Simple Goat Herders of Men
  • Masters of the Pan Flute
  • Set Phasers to Kick Ass
  • Raging Chanticleers
  • Happy, Magical, Cool Guys
  • Fred MacMurray’s Corpse
  • Bass-O-Matics
  • Bud Selig’s Lies!
  • Ashcrofts: Medi-Eval Attorneys General
  • Evil Petting Zoo
  • Beat Copperfields
  • I Am Curious Yellow
  • Bruce’s Dick Armey (R-TX)
  • Fielding Melishes
  • Sixto Lezcanos
  • Baseball Furies
  • Bruce’s Bruce Jenner’s Plastic Surgery Disaster
  • Super Incredible Comb-Overs
  • Thunderbirds Are GO!
  • Sixx Packz
  • Tha Funky Homo Sapiens
  • Erectile Dysfunctions
  • Plan 10 From Outer Space
  • Slide Show of Death!
  • Kite Flying Society
  • Frankenshriners
  • Bizarre, Alien Probings
  • Fighting Mohels
  • X-Dudes
  • Vomiteers

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mr. Holian Goes To Washington

In an earlier post I had listed some things that are unique about the CFCL.  I heard back from some owners listing things I missed (i.e. the categories we use to keep score, etc).  Well another big thing I missed is the maniacal attitude our owners have about their teams.  There are many examples, but one from last year stands out.

August 1st was our trade deadline last season.  In the five days leading up to the deadline, seven trades were completed, including the final one four minutes before the deadline.  Maniacal you say?  Sure if you’re a mere mortal fantasy league.  It’s the last trade of 2012 that sets the CFCL apart from the rest.

The Candy Colored Clowns and Ruffins were working on a deal.  I don’t recall how long the discussions had been going on, but it was crunch time and a deal needed to be completed before noon Central time.  In a flurry of texts or e-mails via IPhone, the Ruffins traded Emelio Bonafacio and Ryan Hannigan to the Clowns for Yasmani Grandal and Jean Segura.  Big deal?  This helped fuel the Clowns run to the title and set up the Ruffins with some production in the oncoming years.  But the kicker is still to come.

The Ruffins sent a quick, almost terse e-mail reporting the deal that in part said “can’t go into detail.  I’ll explain later.”

Later came the e-mail stating that his wife is certain the Dave is bats**t crazy because at 11:56 Central time he was completing a deal on his IPhone.  Ok, wives can be less than understanding about the needs of a CFCL owner.  But Heather had good reason to make that claim.  This picture accompanied the Ruffins e-mail.

Dave was consummating the deal with the Clowns while sitting just a few feet from First Lady Michelle Obama!  Mrs. Obama was at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro to address an audience and our own Professor was on the stage in the seats of the Hoity Toity.  Rather than soak in the atmosphere leading up to her speech, our beloved Professor was furious typing away on his phone.

Some comments from the league in response to his e-mail.

Matt Grage:  I have this image of Dave sitting there with his thumbs punching furiously at his phone and his tongue sticking out the side of his mouth like Linus from the Peanuts.

The rest of the league chimed in with various comments about how many Secret Service Agents were closing in on the stage with their weapons drawn to take out the guy who was clearly texting his associates on the movements of the First Lady.

That is what being an owner in the CFCL is all about.