Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Meet the Beatniks

In 2000 the CFCL expanded to twelve teams for the first time.  Two of the owners that joined us that year are still with us, although this owner took a brief three year hiatus from 2009-2011.  Nick Hansen has not only been one of the solid owners of the CFCL, he has also served the CFCL in other capacities - sitting on the Executive Committee as well as being the Unofficial Logo Maker of the CFCL.

Nick has lead two teams.  First the Picts from 2000 to 2008 (his team profile is here.)  And then rejoining the league in 2012 with the wonderful Eukennott Beatnik franchise.  Through it all, while the franchises have never reached higher than 6th place, Nick has been a pillar of the league, offering humor, a really deep vocabulary and, most important, a consistent voice of reason.  We do have to point out that currently the Beatniks are in 4th place, strategically positioned to make a run at the title.

Though he lives in Iowa (Gateway to Nebraska), he currently is in Cali and apparently has been captured by the natives, though he blames his niece.

This could also be the road uniform for the Beatniks, an official release from the Beatnik Front Office hasn't confirmed or denied speculation.

As you will see below, Nick's mind and team vision works in a way that simply is in a space all to his own.  And the CFCL is all the richer for it.  Personalities like this, in my personal opinion, is what makes the CFCL so great and makes sixteen years without a championship a little more tolerable.  It's time now to meet The Beatniks.

You are one of only three owners in CFCL history to leave and then return. What brought you back?
Bad things happen in threes?
Actually, it was a little kerfuffle in the town of Eukennott you may have heard about that brought me back into the CFCL. This was discussed here. (Scroll down to the comments section).  From this seething bed of public resentment arose the phoenix that is Beatniks baseball. Bob Uecker may have gotten the best of Western Iowa for now, but Eukennott will have the last laugh I tell you.
More accurately, though, it was the annual pleading emails sent by a certain CFCL official that preyed on my guilt. Rich may seem like a stand-up guy, but his skills at manipulating people to do things against their will should never be underestimated. Those skills he brings out in any trade conversation? They are trebled when he wants one to rejoin the league. Not unlike Miggs trying to stand against the omnipotent Doctor Lecter, my bending to his will was a foregone conclusion once Rich set his mind to it.
Most accurately, however, about three months into owning the Picts, I came up with the current franchise name and had rued missing the chance to spring it on the CFCL ever since. That and the last WoW expansion pretty much sucked. Something has to fill all of this copious free time, you know.
Do you remember how you came to join the CFCL originally in 2000?
Having cleaned house for two seasons in the free/public Yahoo leagues of the late 1990s I deemed myself ready for a real challenge. There was a fantasy baseball forum I was reading regularly back then and one of the sub-forums featured leagues searching for owners and owners looking for leagues. I believe David was the one who had posted that the CFCL had some open franchise slots. I quickly--well as quickly as one can with a 33.6Kb dial up connection--researched the CFCL online. It hit pretty much every single button in a league I was looking for.
NL only? check. Dynasty/Ultra format? check. Auction instead of draft? check. Storied history and appreciation of the original Rotisserie League book? check. Chicago location? check. These were the people I was supposed to be friends with in high school!
I applied and somehow faked my way through the whole interview process. I was one happy guy the day I learned I'd been given a franchise. Little did I know how far out of my depth I was. I think it was Paul Zeledon who summed that up best when he answered my triumphant first round rotation pick of Wiki Gonzalez with an incredulous "WHAT?" followed with a mumbled "Your funeral, man."
You’ve migrated around the Midwest while running a CFCL team. Any particular challenges to running a team out of state?
The perks and challenges pretty much even themselves out. There's no way I could participate at this level if it weren't for everyone's relative facility with interacting online. The most crushing part of it all is having never attended a single post-season awards banquet. I also miss out on the occasional group outing like this summer's Kanesville road trip.
There are significant advantages though. Primarily, I don't live anywhere near Matt. I might otherwise be tempted to sneak over and egg his house, apartment, condo, trailer, cardboard box, or whatever rock he crawls out from under every spring to steal all of the minor leaguers of note. I'm also assured of at least one road trip back to my favorite city every year. I loves me some Chicago and would move back in a heartbeat if I could swing it.
Do you have any philosophical difference in running the Beatniks compared to the Picts?
The Picts were definitely run with a more Rationalist/Deontological approach. The Beatniks are probably more a melding of Vienna School and Western Zen.
What exactly is a Pict?
A failed CFCL franchise?
I'd love to leave it at that witty rejoinder, but my Manswer Syndrome cannot let that go. So...
The Picts were a group of Late Iron Age and Early Medieval Celtic people living in ancient eastern and northern Scotland. They are the reason Hadrian felt compelled to build his wall across Britain. There is no record of how they referred to themselves but the name Pict (or Picti) is the Roman name bestowed upon them due to their tattooed and/or painted appearance.
As to why I felt like naming a fantasy baseball franchise after them, well, suffice it to say, it was an easy pun (Pict / Pick) with Scottish overtones which played into my then-wife and I's conceit of melding our last names and calling ourselves the McHansens.
When you were owner of the Picts you seemed to have a special aversion to flannel. Now that your team is adorned in mock turtlenecks and rectangular sunglasses, has anything changed?
No. Dem Rebels will always be the designated rival of any team coming out of Western Iowa.
It all started when the Picts, having yet again suffered another season of bouncing along on the bottom of the standings, realized something dramatic needed to happen. Attendance was lagging and fan support was at an all time low. The situation was not unlike the University of Colorado's football program in the 1980s. They turned their program around in a few short years with an exciting proposition: instead of the nebulous goal of winning games and maybe making a post-season bowl, each season would be judged solely on how they fared against their rival. Only, see, it was the Buffaloes. They had no rival. No one would take them seriously. So they arbitrarily picked a team, the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Nebraska fans laughed and sneered as each year the two teams would meet and the annual shellacking was given. But something did change. In the same way the lunar shot focused American Ingenuity and Progress, having an achievable stretch goal brought focus to the program. The Buffaloes started recruiting players with skill sets specifically geared toward stopping the option attack and speedy receivers that could outclass the plodding Cornhusker defense. And, lo, within ten years of announcing the program, the Buffaloes did beat the Cornhuskers. Along the way they also developed a winning football program. And they won a national championship.
So, too, the sneering, elitist, flannel-clad fandom of Dem Rebels never gave us a chance when we chose you, Dem Rebels. Yet we will beat you. Soundly. And along the way we, too, will win a championship. Just you wait, Rebel scum.
You are vying for the CFCL title in only your second year back. Was this part of a Grand Beatnik Two Year Plan?
I wouldn't say the Beatniks are vying for the title so much as we were just keeping the spot warm for the Bulls during June. I imagine we'll soon be completely distracted by the cheap wine brewing in the basement and that bebop the kids are listening to these days. Out of the ashes of this distraction a Great American Novel will be written. The movement spawned by this will lead to a lot of young hipsters growing eccentric facial hair, wearing loud floral prints, and several sitcom and Saturday morning cartoon spin-offs will find success amongst the youth.
It's not a Two Year Plan, man. It's a revolution. You dig?
Just how much of a man-crush do you have on Cliff Lee?
I'd say it is bigger than the one I had on Jacque Jones. I was pretty in the bag for Carlos Zambrano and Juan Pierre at various points in their careers too. Cliff is probably the most productive man crush I've had in the CFCL. To bring it home for you, though, Rich. Is it as big as the one you had for Derrek Lee? Not sure about that. It's probably pretty close though.

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