Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Meet David's Ruffins

There are a few stable pillars of the CFCL.  One of those most decidedly is Dave Holian.  Dave joined the CFCL back in 1986 (still a point of contention for him as you will see below) and has provided a unique contribution to the league ever since.  Whether it is his insightful observations he would post on the CFCL forum during discussions about rules or changes in our game or his amazing wit - virtually every hilarious moment caught on video or archived in our memory has a direct line to Dave - or his recent almost Copperfield-esque success, Dave has been an absolute necessity for balance and reason in the CFCL.

In 28 years the Ruffins have fourteen money finishes with four CFCL Titles.  You can learn more about the origin and essence of the Ruffins here.  If you click there you can see the logo Dave created.  When he was finished he excitedly proclaimed to his wife "It looks like they're pointing at the bat!!"

I first "met" Dave in our high school's journalism classroom.  I was taking a journalism class of Mr. Curry.  Dave was already on the newspaper staff.  I was wearing a Cubs T-shirt and when Dave walked in the classroom to consult with Mr. Curry he saw me sitting there, got this big grin on his face, pointed at me and said "THEY ARE EVERYWHERE!"  I was agush that this high-falutin' newspaper guy would notice me and from there it was kismet that three years later Dave would join the CFCL.

Enough with the walk down memory lane.  It is now time to meet David's Ruffins.

You are the second longest tenured active owner (28 years) in the CFCL.  Just how deep seeded is the resentment you hold against the Rebels for not inviting you to join sooner?
Resentment.  Excellent wording choice.  With resentment, comes injury…humiliation…disrespect… affront… trauma…suffering…mortification.  Yes, I think that sums things up nicely.  If second longest ACTIVE tenured owner is supposed to make me feel better, it’s not working.  Because of the Copperfield’s departure, yes, I am second in something.  But when the opportunity was there for me to be first – first among equals – I got bypassed.  I am the unwanted, red-headed stepchild of the CFCL.  Don’t think I don’t know that the Ruffin Privilege was a weak attempt to buy my forgiveness.  I’m not sayin’ it didn’t work, just sayin’ I’m wasn’t fooled.
As you answer that question, you do understand that the delay in your joining the CFCL was directly a result of providing Tony Ghelfi as a draft day suggestion to Dem Rebels, right?
I take issue with your attempt at rewriting history.  If I had been invited into the league when I should have been: at its creation; if I had been the Thomas Jefferson to your John Adams and David’s George Washington; the Vaclav Klaus to your Jan Urban and David’s Vaclav Havel, I would have never suggested that you draft Tony Ghelfi.  _I_ would have drafted Tony Ghelfi.  And why in god’s name did you listen to me in the first place?  I wasn’t even good enough to participate in your precious league!  Yet you take my advice?  Not.  My.  Fault.   And another thing, the much maligned Tony Ghelfi made it to the Show as a 21 year old.  He started three games for the Phils, went 14.1 IP, struck out 14(!), had a 3.14 ERA, and fielded his position flawlessly (5 assists, 0 errors).  Moreover, his ERA+ was 118, which would make him the 2013 Ruffins #1 starter.  (Granted, that’s the very definition of damning with faint praise.)  I can only identify talented prospects.  I can’t force the Dallas Greens and Pat Corraleses of the world to develop ‘em and play ‘em.
You currently mold the political minds of students at The University of North Carolina – Greensboro (hence your moniker “The Professor”).  You have been drafting out of state, longer than you drafted as a resident of Illinois.  What are the challenges of being half a country away?
There are two challenges and neither has anything to do with trying to win the league.  Once Al Gore gave us the Internet – totally bogus, by the way, the guy never claimed to have invented the thing – staying in touch and making trades is pretty easy.  The first challenge is social.  I blow in – when I can – one day a year for the draft and then never see anyone again.  No trips to see the Cougars.  No trips to Wrigley.  No end-of-season banquet at Alinea, or wherever you guys go.
The second challenge, which is closely related to the first, is that the few times I’ve won since moving here, I’ve done so in a vacuum.  No Yoo-Hoo shower.  No basking in the jealousy and outrage of my fellow owners.  No lording my trophy over all the little people who helped me along the way.  Sure, upon clinching a title I roll over my neighbor’s car and set it on fire, but that’s gotten old.  She’s an octogenarian and can’t possibly stop me – although god knows the poor old girl has tried.  Plus, after I set her third Buick Regal ablaze, she downgraded to a Ford Focus, which will hardly be a challenge when/if I win again.  Finally, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, stops a conversation among a university chancellor, a provost, a couple deans, and a few department heads, as quickly as, “Hey folks, guess what?  I just won my Rotisserie League!”
Since you have been around so long (and yes, that’s a veiled reference to you being old), how would you compare and contrast the CFCL in the 1980’s with the current state of the CFCL?
Here’s a not-so-veiled reference: you’re older than me.  As to your question, the league has evolved in much the same way that MLB has.  Billy Beane exploited market inefficiencies and turned the A’s into a perennial contender on the cheap.  Our Billy Beane, David Mahlan, exploited owner deficiencies (i.e., our slow wittedness) and turned the Coppers into perennial champions.  The biggest difference in the CFCL over time is the sophistication of the owners.  Those of us who have been in the league since early days finally started to clue into some things that David figured out decades ago.  Moreover, the owners who’ve come on board more recently, the Dozers, Clowns, Bulls, Revenge, etc., have been really savvy.  So the biggest difference is the competition, which has been consistently stronger now than ever before.
If the Coppers were still in the league I don’t think they’d dominate like they did in the 1980s and 1990s…maybe.
Looking for a needle in a haystack here, but in your 28 years, is there a single-most memory that stands out above all others?
Making you cry when I picked Andruw Jones in the 1996 rotation draft…and with good reason.  By October, the dude was still 19 and raking in the World Series.  By the way, other Ruffin draft picks that year: Scott Rolen and Billy Wagner.  (And I barely missed on Vlad Guerrero thanks to the Coppers.)  No accident that the first Ruffin championship (finally) came in 1998.  Had I not won any since then, I would be the very definition of the blind squirrel that finds a nut every once in a while.
So, to summarize, over 28 years, my fondest memory is making you cry.
In 28 years you have won four titles.  Your first came in 1998; your last three in 2006, 2010 and 2011.  To what do you attribute all this recent success?
First, booze and plenty of it.  Second, the too-slow-in-dawning realization that those aren’t human beings out there.  Those are nameless, faceless, teamless collections of statistics.  Keep emotion out of it.  Third, the only exception to number two is the following: avoid Cub closers at all costs.  Why?  Two words: Dave Smith.  Hey, someone tell Smitty that we throw batting practice before the game.  That SOB damn near killed me.  Let’s head back to Baseball-Reference, shall we?  33 IP, 39(!) H, 19(!!) BB, 16(!!!) SO.  Add that up and you get a 1.758 WHIP and a .84 K/BB…For a closer.  (Looking back, I take some comfort in the fact that we were still rocking the old-fashioned categories in 1991, no K/BB.)
We have read about the travel experiences of former CFCL owners.  For a few seasons you have spent summers in Italy and France.  How have you managed to run the Ruffins (and win championships) while abroad?
You give me too much credit – and about time, by the way.  I’ve never won in a year (2000, 2007, and 2012) when Heather and I have spent a month or more abroad.  When we headed to Florence in 2007, I had just spent three weeks in DC, and the Ruffins, coming off our 2006 championship, were flying high.  I think the 2006 team holds the CFCL record for highest percentage of points earned (111 out of a possible 120, or, let me do the math here…enter the decimal point…add the zero…subtract…carry the one…add another zero…shift the decimal point…NINETY TWO POINT FIVE PERCENT).  So the team was basically on autopilot when I landed in Florence.  From there the Ruffins were undone by the so-very-Italian lack of Internet access in our apartment.  We’d been promised it…we’d been assured of its existence…we’d pre-paid for it…upon arrival we’d identified something that looked vaguely like an Ethernet cable in one of the cabinets…and…niente.  Thus, I was left to manage the team via trips to an Internet Café a few blocks away.  This led to the following conversations: “Honey, before we head to ________ (fill in the blank with the Uffizi, Pisa, Rome, Arezzo, Orvieto, San Gimignano, San Marco, Montalcino, the Duomo, the Baptistry, Santa Croce, the Academia, the Pitti, the Boboli, that osteria where we’ve eaten the best pasta ever,  etc., etc.) I’d like to stop by the Internet Café for 30 minutes or so, so I can MANAGE MY FAKE BASEBALL TEAM.  Whad’ya say?  Honey?  Darling?”  Not so much.  The 2006-2007 Ruffins were to fake baseball what the 1985-1986 Bears were to football.  How did those teams not win multiple championships?  The answers are “Italy” and “Steve Fuller.”
In 2012, we were promised the Internet, and we got it!  I was able to manage the Ruffins from the comfort of our apartment.  Then, when our month in Italy ended and our month in Austria, Germany, Belgium, and France began (10th anniversary trip), I left the Ruffins in the capable hands of the Copperfields.  The flaw in this brilliant, championship-compatible plan?  The Ruffins sucked.  Not even the 42-time champion Coppers could save them.
We will spend another month next summer in Florence and a couple weeks beyond that here and there.  Give me a sturdy Wi-Fi connection and a healthy Oscar Taveras, and I hope to be in the hunt for the CFCL’s first international title.

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