The reason for the late draft date was, of course, the players’ strike that had prematurely ended the 1994 season. The work stoppage continued through the offseason and as 1995 began there was no end in sight. With the usual date for the beginning of spring training approaching, the MLB owners decided to go ahead with spring training and a plan to play the season with “replacement” players.
This all presented something of a problem for the CFCL – all fantasy baseball leagues, in fact. Here’s the way I summed it up in February:
It’s looking more and more like we’ll be watching replacement players in 1995, at least for the start of the season. This, of course, throws a huge wrench into any CFCL plans. Do we go ahead with our draft as usual? Do we keep the players we currently have? Does everybody become a free agent, eligible to be drafted? Do we draft only replacements? What happens when the real players come back?Rich and I gave it some thought, and decided to propose an optional replacement season. The current CFCL rosters, salaries, and contracts would be frozen, and then we’d hold a draft and run a season consisting only of players participating in the MLB replacement season. The CFCL replacement season would have run until the strike was over, when a Replacement Season Champion would be named, and we’d return to our regular CFCL rosters, hold a “real” draft and move on.
We developed a fairly detailed plan and set of rules for this potential replacement season and the transition from “replacement” to “real” season for when the strike ended. We included a few twists in the replacement season rules, trying out some things we had discussed for the CFCL but never instituted, including a Topper system and expanding from 8 to 10 categories, adding Runs Scored for batters and Strikeouts for pitchers (this was early in the category change discussions that Rich covered in recent posts).
In addition to experimenting with some rule tweaks, the thought of drafting replacement players promised a return of sorts to the early days of Rotisserie. As I wrote in the bulletin proposing the replacement season:
Actually, it could be a lot of fun. It will be kind of like going back in time eight or ten years – back when we didn’t have any idea who the starting shortstop for the Giants was, let alone who was backing him up. Sure, it will be hard and it will be challenging, but isn’t that what made this game so much fun to begin with? We’ll really have to make an effort to learn the players; it won’t be enough to just pick up certain pre-season magazines. Everyone will be starting on an even level, with only their skills as a scout and GM to set them apart.In the end, we never had to put the replacement season plan into action. The MLB players’ strike ended on April 2, just a day before the MLB replacement season was to begin. An abbreviated MLB spring training was planned, with Opening Day set for the end of April.
The CFCL, in turn, scheduled the 1995 Draft for the morning of May 7 ... a bit further into the season than we had preferred, but between finding a date that fit everyone's schedules and scrambling to catch up on off-season MLB transactions that had been under-reported because of the focus on the strike, it was the earliest we could manage.
For the curiosity seekers, the rules for our proposed replacement season are at the link below. There are three pages included – the first two cover the original proposal, and the third identifies revisions to that proposal following discussion with the league.
Here’s hoping we’ll never have to propose the likes of this again: