Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Meet Dem Rebels

We come to the end of the journey with our current and former owner Q&As.  We finish with the longest tenured CFCL owner, Rich Bentel.  For thirty years Dem Rebels have been chasing the Holy Grail, only grasping it twice, most "recently" in 1996.  Despite 13 consecutive  years of futility, the fire and passion still burns for the CFCL and Dem Rebels.  Rich put together a Team Profile a few years back and has taken continuous shots from the likes of the Ruffins for their down-home, country origins.

Rather than have Rich provide the Q's to his A's, we enlisted fellow CFCL co-founder David Mahlan to play James Lipton, complete with virtual blue notecards.  It is time to meet Dem Rebels.

This blog has been a ton of fun for me to both contribute to and to read, so I appreciate that you came up with the idea and allowed me to take part. That said, how much of the Rebels' 2013 performance can be put down to the rigors of the blog's daily posting schedule?

Oh it would be nice to blame the CFCL Turns 30 Blog on the fact that the Rebels suck this year.  That simply isn’t the case.  The Rebels suck due to a healthy combination of players having career years in 2012 (Hill, LaRoche) and expected to do the same this year.  Injuries (Stanton, Headley) and dramatic underperformances (Castro, Pennington, Ethier, Ruggiano).  Mix that all together and you get a 9th (currently) or 10th (most of the season) place team.

What has suffered has been my “cough cough” weekly posts to the Monroe Doctrine.  The self-induced pressure of providing daily entries here to our vast readership has caused a severe decline in Monroe Doctrine posts.  There’s only so much time available to be creative.

When we started we had no idea that we'd still be doing it a quarter of a century later (at least I didn't). At what point did you realize the CFCL had a chance to be a "thing"?

Well certainly not the first year since we didn’t even take a picture.  Honestly I was having so much fun being a geek and running my team, I don’t think I ever thought about the CFCL being a “thing”.  At least not until maybe our 10 year anniversary.  By then we had you and me, the Six Packs, Lambchops, Ruffins, DoorMatts and Meisters.  Seven really, really solid, committed owners.  Before that it felt like every year we were scrambling to make sure we would have enough owners to continue into the following year.  But with that core 7, I didn’t worry about the existence of the league next year and perhaps my mind started wandering to “gee, how long can this really run?”

I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t know that I thought we would be here 30 years later, but at the same time I don’t think I ever thought there would be a time that the CFCL wouldn’t be around.

My mantra for the last few years is “We’re not even half way there!”  If that happens to be true, and I’m still involved, I’ll be preparing for the draft in my 90’s.  Can’t wait.

I know of guys on Fantasy Baseball message boards who play in 4-5 leagues at a time, in fact there have been CFCL owners who participate in other leagues at the same time. Have you ever considered joining a second league? What about another fantasy sport?

No, no, no.  My mind spins at the thought of being in more than one fantasy baseball league at a time.  I’m already conflicted when Giancarlo Stanton is at bat against the Cubs with the bases loaded.  I couldn’t imagine if I had a pitcher from my second league facing a batter from Dem Rebels especially when you add the component that the pitcher is also on a CFCL team I’m trying to pass in the standings.  I couldn’t do it.

I have one wife and one fantasy baseball team.  I couldn’t imagine having more than one of either (unless I was shilling for a reality show on TLC).

As for other sports, doubtful.  The CFCL is kind of a year round thing.  Even though things slow down considerably beginning in October, we still have to prepare for Winter Waivers in January and Draft Cuts in March.  The prep work for football is right when you should be doing everything to make a run at the baseball title. There is too much overlap  for me to be able to commit fully.

That being said, my wife just joined her first fantasy football league.  So it will be a blast to watch her run her team without having to really know what’s going on.  I can just sit back and enjoy the view (and I may look at her football team too).

You're a financial advisor in 'real' life. Have the skills you've developed in your career (money management, budgeting, etc) transferred over to the CFCL? How about the other way around -- how often do you find yourself explaining financial concepts to clients using anecdotes from the CFCL?

That is an EXCELLENT question!  There is absolutely a “parallel” to running a fantasy baseball team and investing.  As a matter of fact, someone (don’t remember who) wrote a really good article about it.

I have learned (very slowly) that if you try to “time the market” in fantasy baseball you will get burned.  By that I mean if you have a player in a slump and decide to bench him for the week [see Dem Rebels and Derrek Lee circa 2008] (or look too closely at matchups and say “Oh, my guy is facing Kershaw this week, I’ll bench him”) inevitably that’s when your guy will go on a tear.

Same thing happens when investing.  Trying to assume when the market is going to go up or down will only cause you to lose money.  Interesting (for me since I’m in the industry) study.  There was a 10 year period in the 1990’s when a specific, very large mutual fund returned, on average, 10.6% per year.  So at the beginning of that time period, if you put your money in the fund AND LEFT IT ALONE you would have earned 10.6% each year.  The key is you would have to leave the money alone.  The study found out that investors actually received a return of 2.4%.  How is that possible when the fund average 10.6?  Well when the fund went down, people bailed out.  Then they jumped back in AFTER the fund went back up.

Joey Votto is going to hit .320 every year, barring injury.  But he doesn’t bat .320 every game or every month.  He’ll suck some months just like every player.  But try and guess which games or month he will suck.  That’s when you will get burned.

You had a "special" relationship with Bald Eagle owner Bob Monroe. How did that come about?

Yeah, that “special” relationship was similar to the “special” relationship a hammer has with a nail.  Bob probably just looked for the easiest and weakest target.  The Professor was too intelligent to be bullied by Bob.  He wasn’t going to go after Mr. Mahlan (owner of Fred’s Friars and David and Paul’s dad).  He worked with David’s mom so he probably figured there was only so far he could push on Paul and David and I was all that was left.

I’m sure I made myself an easy mark at times any way so Bob seemed to embrace coming after me.

How soon until Cooper joins the league? Will you break him in as an assistant, or throw him right in on his own as your cousin did with his sons?

Dude just turned six so he’s a ways out still.  Right now his interest is running around the house at full speed not really trying to avoid any stubborn walls that appear out of nowhere.  He also is trying to undo my teachings by constantly approaching me to remind me that “The Cubs are not awesome.”

As long as he holds that attitude, I don’t think he’s ready for the CFCL.  But when he comes to his senses we’ll run right out and get a Junior Draft Starter Kit, mini-laptop and start coming up with team names.

OK, turnabout is fair play... I provided a list of my Top 10 CFCL Memories in my Q&A. What's your Top 10 List?

Wow, this was harder than I thought it would be.  There are some specific memories that come to mind and some general ones that all fall into the same category.  This isn’t in any particular order except for the last one.

10)  Having the 1988 Awards Banquet (at least I think we got together for the Awards Banquet) at Bob Monroe’s house.  We watched the first game of the World Series there that night.  I think I was the only one cheering for the A’s.  I was so happy as the game entered the 9th with Eckersley taking the hill.

Gibson went deep everyone took great pride in teasing me, ESPECIALLY Monroe.  I think this was also the night that Bob tried to poison me with “rusty pipe water”.

9)  It was 1989 or 1990 when we were drafting at Mount Olympus (the apartment that David and I shared for two years in Forest Park).  We had the radio on in the background listening to the Cubs game while we were drafting.  I think the player in question was Andre Dawson, but I could be wrong.  I had just acquired Dawson in the draft and the last thing I remember hearing on the radio was that Dawson was at bat.  All of a sudden Harry Carey goes into his homerun call.  I, thinking it’s Dawson, jump up, arms in the air and do a White Man’s version of “Oh yeah, a homer.  Oh yeah, a homer.”  Then we all realize it was a different Cub player that homered.  Dawson had made an out.  More laughing at Dem Rebels.

8)  Here’s a general one.  Once we started drafting at the various conference rooms of my company, Matt (owner of the DoorMatts) and I would drive in together and arrive an hour or so ahead of everyone to set up the room to accommodate all the owners.  Moving tables and excitedly talking about the upcoming draft was just awesome.

7)  Every year I’ve finished ahead of Nick, which has been . . .oh yeah – all of them!  But seriously, I just wanted to see the blood come out of Nick’s eyes.  He actually has been able to finish ahead of me three times (2001, 2004 and 2006).  But 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2012 were great years.

6)  1993 and Dave Holian opened his home to us when we drafted at night.  It was when a new owner turned into vile, despicable scum by not showing up and not having the courtesy to let us know.  I still remember his name, but since this is going on the Internet I’ll refrain from using it (initials S.L.).  We waited an hour or so for him to arrive and then finally got started.  At one point we took a break around 1 or 2am and walked outside in Dave’s backyard.  I can only imagine what all the neighbors were thinking.

5)  The Darryl Strawberry Incident.  Really that whole draft (1992) was awesome.  Absolutely hilarious and Incidents galore.  Watching the video from that draft specifically has reminded me why the CFCL is so incredibly awesome.

4)  The bidding showdowns for Jeff Stone, Will Clark and Steve Carlton.  I won two of those showdowns and lost the other.  Interestingly the one I lost, I acquired the player (Stone).  The two I won, I didn’t get the player.

3)  Going to Montreal with David in 1985 to watch the Cubs play the Expos.  During the game we were scoreboard watching so we could see how our other players were doing.  I owned Ron Darling at the time.  That night the papers had him as the starting pitcher.  David and I go to Olympic Stadium to watch the Cubs vs. Expos.  On their big scoreboard we’re watching the scores of other games get posted.  All of a sudden some crooked numbers start going up for the Phillies in the 1st inning.  By the end of the 1st inning the Phillies put up NINE runs!!  Dem Rebels pitcher Ron Darling was getting slaughtered.  To make matters worse the scoreboard announces that Copperfield Von Hayes homered twice, a solo shot and a grand slam.  I look over at David who has this big stupid grin on his face.  I’m in agony.  The Phillies end up winning 26-7 and all I am hoping is that Davey Johnson took out Darling after the first run scored, not the 26th.  More misery for Dem Rebels!  Why are my top 10 moments in CFCL history ladled with the Rebels being abused?

That’s pretty much all we talked about the rest of the trip in Montreal.  We talked about it constantly the rest of the year and the ensuing 28 years of the CFCL.  BUT WAIT!  When I was researching this to provide accuracy I come to find out RON DARLING DID NOT PITCH THAT NIGHT!!  Take that you Copperfields!  Turns out Tom Gorman started the game and was relieved after a third of an inning by Calvin Schiraldi.  [Side note - Big surprise Schiraldi got bombed.  THE EVIDENCE WAS THERE IN 1985!!  So what do the Cubs do three years later?  TRADE FOR HIM!  Stupid, stupid, stupid.  Thank god all they gave up was future All-Time Saves Leader, Lee Smith.  What idiots.  Who did that?  Jim Frey?  Ed Lynch?  Seems like something Lynch would do.]  Dem Rebels are vindicated!  And proceeded to charge to 4th place in 1985.

You may ask yourself, how could I (and David for that matter) believe that Darling gave up all those runs for almost 30 years?  Well, first of all we were on foreign soil.  The Chicago Tribune wasn’t being delivered to our door the next day.  Also, ESPN wasn’t as prominent then as it is now.  Third, we were walking around taking in the sights trying to convince the locals we weren’t trying to avoid some impending draft.  In fact we were anxiously anticipating the participation in the 1986 draft.

There may have been a USA Today floating around, but believe me, I didn’t need to see in black and white what my mind already knew.

2)  Last year.  I was 20 points out of first at the end of August and was able to make a run that left me one point short of winning the championship.  People may not remember who finishes 2nd, but it was one of the most enjoyable seasons I have had in quite a while.

1)Walking into Kroch’s and Brentano’s with David so he could show me this book he found about fantasy baseball.  If that never happened, we would never be here doing this.

I noticed that nowhere in the Top 10 was 1989 and 1996 (two Rebel championships).  The journey truly is greater than the destination.  That being said, the only thing I want in life (possession wise) is a Copperfield Trophy with Dem Rebels engraved on it.  It’s a sweet, sweet trophy.  The hell with the prize money.  The trophy is the thing.

I have to say, I always felt the CFCL was great.  But doing this exercise of a daily blog has deepened my appreciation for what the CFCL is, the people we’ve met, and the people we currently compete against.  I am really impressed by all the former owners who have stepped up to play along with this Q&A years after they left the league.  For them this may very well be a distant memory, but they embraced it in much the same manner they did in running their teams.

As the Q&As have shown us, we have been very fortunate to have met some incredibly interesting and talented guys.

It is impossible to say what the future will bring and where the CFCL is going.  But I feel at the base of my heart that I’ve been right these last few years.  We’re not even halfway there.

1 comment:

  1. Bravo, Sir, bravo. My bleeding eyes salute you. Here's to hoping I can bring the ratio just a little closer to even with the end of 2013.