Saturday, March 29, 2014

Trading The Gator - Draft Day

Today, for the 31st time in history, the owners of the CFCL gather for what they collectively acknowledge is the Greatest Day of The Year:  Draft Day.

I'm sure Rich will be recapping the events of the day, as well as the celebrations that took place to recognized the CFCL's 30th Anniversary.

For now, though, let's take a look back for an in-depth examination of Draft Day and what it means, courtesy of Trading the Gator.  This clip from the film documents the draft of 2002.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Five Most Significant Changes in the CFCL - #1

We have reached the top of the list.  The most (in my opinion) significant change to the CFCL.  Arguments could be made that the assignment of ratings for being computerized and changing categories were inaccurate, but for our #1 selection, there can be no argument.  It is, without question, the most significant change to the CFCL.

October 11, 2010.  It was on that date that David's Copperfields retired from the CFCL.  The man that started the league by bringing his best friend in high school to Kroch's & Brentano's and showed him this shiny green book, decided to walk out with class, walk out with a heavy heart and to walk out on top.

David Mahlan, following his passion for books and his passion for baseball, sought out "The Greatest Game For Baseball Fans Since Baseball" and changed the face of baseball in Chicago forever, at least for nearly 44 devoted baseball fans.

For 27 years David gave his heart and soul to the league becoming its League Secretary, League Archivist, Co-Commissioner and, not least of all, most successful team in league history.  On top of developing the most honest and classy fantasy sports organization around, David won eleven championships in twenty-seven years (good for a 41% winning percentage, not just finishing in the money percentage).

David had the unique ability, as Commissioner, to deal with many owner personalities - some honest, some conniving, some selfish, some Vile-Despicable-Scum - and was able to make each feel as they were being dealt with honestly and fairly.

As owner of David's Copperfields David came in to each draft prepared to the gills.  That's not a subjective analysis.  For many years before laptops became all the rage, David would quietly place three, count 'em, three three-ring binders each more than two inches thick on the table in front of him.  They were full of player analyses, inflation ratings and general intimidation.  Many an owner would quietly say (hoping they were right)  "There's probably nothing on most of those pages.  He's just trying to scare us."  All comments in that vein were incorrect.

Enough words cannot be written about the absolute class David used in establishing and then enforcing the rules of the CFCL.

David tried to walk away a couple of years earlier, but I temporarily was able to talk him out of it by offering to take on as much administrative responsibility as possible so he could simply run his team.  After two years, David realized that even just running his team would require more time than he was willing to give at this point of his life.

While David retired from active team ownership and Commissioner duties, we have been able to cajole him into stopping by for the beginning of each draft, enjoying our company at the CFCL Awards and Banquest Extravaganza and staying involved with endeavors like this blog.  We are all holding out hope that once his boys are grown and on their own there will come a time when the Copperfields need to take the field once again.  Always being as honest as possible, David has reponded to all such inquiries as "Probably not."  But we can always hope.

It's not the same.  David understood better than anyone that the league is bigger than any one owner, but the league has not been the same without him at the helm.  Teams will compete, fun will be had and championships will be won.  The CFCL will go on ("We're Not Even Halfway There!") but it won't be the same.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Five Most Significant Changes in the CFCL - #2

Finishing second of the most significant change in the CFCL (and honestly there's a strong argument to be made that it could have been #1) is the advent of computers and the computerization of the CFCL.

Back in 1984, when this amazing ride began, pteradactyls dropped the Sporting News from the sky . . . well, no not exactly, but the only computers being used were by major companies to process paperwork and NASA to shoot for the stars.  There was no such thing as a home computer.  David and I were in high school learning to code computer programs with "if then" and the dreaded output of "endless loop".

As far as the CFCL, it was all paper and pen.  When we prepared for the draft we would handwrite our notes (or highlight passages from a magazine or baseball book).  There were no sortable spreadsheets.

When it was time to do the stats each week, it was paper and pencil and a calculator.  I still remember that Friday night in May, 1984 when I set up a card table in my parents' living room, turned on a Cubs game, pulled out the USA Today with the first printed stats for the season and started, manually, entering numbers on to each team's stat sheet.

About three hours later I had (I thought) the first standings in CFCL history!  I called David because I knew he was doing the stats too.  In my mind I thought we would both do the stats, compare our results as a sort of check and balance and then send the standings off to the rest of the league (which for David meant walking down the hallway and handing his dad and brother a copy of the standings).

I called David and said "Well, it looks like (X Team) is leading so far."  To which he replied that he got a different result.  Upon further review it turned out I added or divided or copied wrong and David's stats were right.  Thus ended the great Bentel as Standings Calculator Experiment.  Logically we decided that I should be in charge of the league money and keep track of fees.

And so it went for a few years, David crunching the numbers as soon as he got the weekly USA Today stats and then mailing everything out.

Fast forward to sometime in the late '80's/early 90's.  Bob Monroe (owner of the Bald Eagles) was in the league and had gotten one of those home computer things.  He walked into the draft one year with a bunch of computer printout sheets (no doubt trying to intimidate us since he couldn't outdraft us).

Shortly there after he and David started talking and Bob said he could probably design a form (think early version of Excel Spreadsheet) that would allow us to manually enter in the numbers into the form and then the computer could quickly and accurately calculate the standings.  So every Thursday night during the season usually David, but sometimes I, would trek over to Bob's house in Brookfield and one of us would type in the numbers while the other would read the numbers out of the USA Today.

David's computer genius allowed him (as you can see by all the websites he's created for the league) to fine tune things and streamline the process.  But he still had to manually enter the numbers.  He did this during the day, under the veil of "working" at work.  Eventually work and family (rightfully so) demanded the priority of his time so we voted as a league to finally cave and pay for a stat service to handle our statistics and standings.  **

**  I would like to make an important comment about the league.  If you had the chance to read the the article in the Daily Herald about the CFCL, you see that I am quoted saying "First and foremost this is a gentleman's league."  While the quote was referring to our Constitution and how we settle any disputes, another example of being a gentleman's league took place when we decided to farm out our stats to a service.  We debated the issue long and hard.  Would the service get it right? (We knew David was getting it right).  What would the cost be?  How easy to access the information?

What it all boiled down to and was actually verbalized by both the Ruffins and the DoorMatts was "if it makes David's life easier, then we have to do it."  Our owners knew how hard and long David worked to turn around the stats to the league and could only imagine (because David never really said anything) the toll it must be taking on him to try and sneak it through at work or stay up until the wee hours of the morning when he could be oh, sleeping, or something.

Now with the use of computers and technology we have the ability to not only have our standings updated daily, we have them updated by the pitch!  Live Scoring on OnRoto allows us to track our players at bat by at bat and pitch by pitch.

That doesn't even include the ability owners have to run their drafts with spreadsheets and the ability those behind the scenes have with creating Master Draft Lists, updated Rosters and Draft Sheets.

Computers have changed the face of the CFCL.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Five Most Significant Changes in the CFCL - #3

As we have mentioned over the past year, the CFCL has evolved in many ways.  The Number #4 Most Significant Change was identified as the change in categories.  We did that so that we could have more true value of ALL National League players as well as allow us to be more well rounded drafters and team builders.

Another change we made to allow us to run our CFCL team in as a realistic "real baseball" fashion as possible was shifting to what fantasy baseball calls "Ultra".  Ultra essentially means we finally got reserve rosters.

Prior to Ultra, each CFCL owner would draft a team of 23 players.  If you had an injury to a player, you could reserve that player and pick up an available player from the Free Agent Pool.  BUT the rules stated that when your injured player became healthy you either had to waive that player or you had to waive the player you picked up for your injured player.

Draft a player that ABSOLUTELY SUCKED?  (See 1984 Electric Eels roster for many, many examples)  Too bad.  You lived with the suckiness.  Imagine a major league team having to keep a player in the starting lineup even if they were 0 for August.

Ultra gave us an opportunity to have a more realistic baseball team.  Now if we had horrible players on our active roster (see many, many lineups for Dem Rebels over the last 20 years), you could either take someone from the Free Agent Pool, or you could look at your Reserve List.

But the main point is owners now have options.  You can fill your reserve list with seventeen minor league and high school prospects (if your team name is the Graging Bulls) or you can snatch up the 4th and 5th OF of various NL teams, an extra starter or relief pitcher and have some flexibility with your team.

This allows us to "manage" our team during the season.  We still can't control Dusty Baker driving a pitcher into the ground, but at least we can reserve that pitcher so when his arm blows out or he gives up eight runs in the eighth inning of an important game, we don't have to absorb those stats.

With Ultra meant adding rules to the Constitution, it meant adding another hour or two to our draft each year, it meant adding hours and days and weeks of prep time to our January through March draft prep schedule.  And it meant running a baseball team in the most realistic manner possible while having a family life, an actual career and all for the low, low cost of just $2.60.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

CFCL In The Limelight Again

First it was a film documentary.  Now it's a local paper.  The media just can't seem to get enough of the CFCL.  Burt Constable, intrepid beat reporter for the Daily Herald made a visit to the CFCL's Draft Headquarters and then made some phone calls to find out what exactly has been happening for the last 30 years.

The result is an article explaining a bunch of guys and their passion and dedication.

For our owners, I would make this suggestion when you come in for the draft a week from Saturday:  Sharpies and sunglasses.  The autograph requests will no doubt be numerous and the paparazzi intrusive.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Drew Stubbs Incident - From Their Perspective

A few days ago we were introduced to the The Drew Stubbs Incident.  Now we have the opportunity to hear directly from the participants involved.  The showdown occurred between Mike Coulter, owner of the Candy Colored Clowns, and Kenn Ruby, owner of the Kenndoza Line.  Here is the fateful sequence of events - in their words.

Mike: I went into the 2012 season having built up a solid roster of keepers. But as usual, my Achilles heal was my outfield. With five outfielders per team, I always seem to be reaching on auction day for someone.
 
But this auction year, I felt I was in luck. Dexter Fowler was available. So was Andre Ethier. Shane Victorino was also out there. And then there was Drew Stubbs.
Coming off a partial year with 15 homers and 30 stolen bases (despite a terrifying 205 strikeouts), all of the preseason readings had Stubbs pegged for lofty status. Some had him as a 30 homer 40 steal guy. And while outfield is usually my weakest position-wise, I always seem to be chasing stolen bases as well. So why not kill two birds with one stone?
 
And to top it off, he was a Cincinnati RED!
 
I did my due diligence and research. And promised myself I would come away from auction day with one of three outfielders: Fowler, Ethier or Stubbs.
 
Fowler went off the board first. I hung around in the bidding until the very end, finally folding my card knowing there were two others.
 
As fate would have it, Ethier would go off the board next. Stayed in the bidding until the end on him as well, before determining that I would rather spend the coins on Stubbs.
Kenn: I seem to recall that there weren't many good outfielders left and during one of the breaks Coulter and I kind of knowingly communicated to each other that there was one more that we had our eye on. I knew it was Stubbs for some reason (probably because he was a Red), but I absolutely did not want anything to do with him. I knew Coulter would, however, so I let him believe that. I really *did* need a good outfielder then, but I didn't want it to be Stubbs. Even my son, who was like five at the time and probably did not know who Johnny Bench or Joe Morgan were, knew Stubbs was the Worst Red Ever ("who is that guy who always strikes out Daddy?").
 
Mike: What I had not factored in: Dem Rebels and Kenndoza Line had their covetous eyes set on Stubbs as well. The bidding rolled along. Once we reached the mid-20s or so, it was just Kenn and I left standing.
Kenn: When Stubbs came up, not long after the break, I knew Coulter was going to pay whatever it took to get him. Going into the draft I figured he was the guy to beat, and I wanted to stick Coulter with as many bad players as I could. This one would be the motherlode though, because Coulter and I both realistically needed him and had more than 40 cents to realistically spend on him. So I kept bidding and bidding and bidding, living dangerously, but confident that Coulter would never blink.
Mike: In what I consider a bit of revisionist history, Kenn swears that he was driving up the price on Stubbs in an effort to cripple my budget and franchise. But the glint in his eye on auction day told me he wanted him. And since he had already out Votto'd me in another epic bid war, I wasn't going to blink. I was going to win the war and the title with Drew Stubbs smacking 30 homers and stealing 40 bases.
 
Once the bids entered the 40s, the snickering from the peanut gallery began. I turned a deaf ear. What did they know? I had the bank and the willpower to ink this guy...and I wasn't going to bend. The remaining alternatives were a gaggle of fifth outfielder types that would spend just as much time shuttling between the majors and minors as they would dragging down my hitting ratios when they were in my lineup.
Kenn: Every time I would bid, I'd worry that this would be the time I would be wrong. It would absolutely RUIN my team to get him, but it would ruin Coulter's team to NOT get him. I had to keep doing it. Finally when he got to 48, I could go no further.
Mike: The back and forth bidding spewed in snarls. 41! 42! Oh yeah, 43! And onward it scaled northward.
I believe the winning bid was a ridiculous 48. I exhaled and penciled in STUBBS into my outfield. The Reds outfielder "thanked" my generosity of bank and vote of confidence by posting a putrid .213 batting average and .277 on-base. In almost 120 more at-bats than the season before, he actually hit one FEWER home run and stole 10 FEWER bases.
Kenn: Coulter won him, and in an email to the rest of the league that night, he signed his name,
"M.Coulter
GM-CCC
League Online Coordinator
and proud over-bidder for the services of one Drew Stubbs."
Mike: His exorbitant salary cost me a shot at some quality starting pitchers. So on that front, Kenn did some damage, as I was forced to trade from my well of minor league phenoms (most notably super cheap mx contracts for Carlos Martinez and Zach Wheeler) to land some pitchers to make sure I reached the Bald Eagle requirement, much less climb in quality starts.
Kenn: He got the last laugh of course, as he won the league despite spending 42 on an outfielder who hit .213.
Mike: But in the end, the Candy Colored Clowns emerged victorious. Barely, but we did win the team's first (and to date only) Copperfield Trophy.
Kenn: I also found this exchange in an email between us not long after the draft, which you may find interesting:
[Mike] Knew I was going to get bent over for Stubbs. I had Stubbs in a tier with Fowler and Ethier as must get one of these guys. When Stubbs was the last of the three named, I knew I had to blow the budget out for him.
 
[Kenn] The funny thing about it is I never even wanted Stubbs. Wasn't even thinking about him before Sunday. Suddenly it looked like I was going to lose out on Ethier, Victorino, Fowler, all guys I wanted, and then it was clear that you and me were going mano a mano on Stubbs because you really wanted to and I really HAD to. At one point I thought of just going up to 48 and ending it, but again, I couldn't pull the trigger (or break your heart). The Stubbs money got me Bryan LaHair (bleah), Sergio Romo (one of the top five relievers in this format, in my opinion), Jason Bartlett (ecch), and Frank Francisco (why?).
Mike: And in a fitting epilogue to this incident: When I received my glorious Copperfield Trophy, who should be staring at me from the ball card slot? That's right.
 
Drew Stubbs.
 
Thankfully the following offseason he was exiled to Cleveland in the Shin-Choo-Soo trade. But bad pennies always have a way of reappearing. The second the Colorado Rockies acquired his rights this winter, my yahoo inbox lit up with a missive from Kenn, promising a Stubbs bidding war sequel.
I've spent my offseason making sure I do not have 48 cents to waste this time.

Trading the Gator - From the Cutting Room Floor - The Ralph Macchio Incident

The 2014 CFCL Draft is just two weeks away.  To whet our collective appetites, here's a little glimpse inside the Draft Day segment of Trading the Gator, the fantasy baseball documentary featuring the CFCL.
Note: See this post for the background on the CFCL’s involvement in Trading the Gator
The documentarians following the CFCL during the 2002 season shot hours and hours of video - the vast majority of which never made it into the final cut.  Included in those hours and hours recorded, was the full 8 or 9 hours of Draft Day, shot with multiple cameras, and including side interviews during breaks in between rounds.

The producers whittled the Draft Day segment down to about 7 or 8 minutes in the final cut of the film (we'll be sharing that sometime in the next couple weeks, to celebrate The Greatest Day of 2014).  Most of the Draft Day footage left cast aside in the editing suite consisted of those mostly silent, brooding moments as eleven owners sit waiting as the 12th endures the internal debate about whether to raise the current bid a penny.

There were a few really entertaining moments, though, that just couldn't make it into the finished product.  Case in point, The Ralph Macchio Incident...

The producers were kind enough to share some of the unused footage from Draft Day, so we were able to save this moment for posterity.

To set the scene, Six Packs' owner Kelly Barone was locked in a bidding war for Hideo Nomo with Bruce Ellman of Tenacious B.  It was the point in the auction when you're getting down to the last few players who are really worth spending for, and Kelly found himself with the choice of spending more for Nomo than he had budgeted or passing him by and possibly being stuck with a much lesser pitcher.

Kelly begins the clip apologizing for taking so long to make up his mind, and declares that he's at a crossroads in how he'll proceed with the rest of the Draft.  Bruce wonders whether he's referring to the Ralph Macchio film, "Crossroads", or the Brittney Spears offering of the same name.

Cue the film ...

 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Five Most Significant Changes in the CFCL - #4

Back in 1984 when we started this wild ride, David and I religiously followed the rules of the original Rotisserie book which talked about keeping stats over an entire season to determine a champion.

The categories that were used originally were split evenly between offense and pitching.  On the offensive side we tracked: Home Runs, Runs Batted In, Batting Average and Stolen Bases.  On the pitching side of things we used: Wins, Saves, Earned Run Average and WHiP (which is a calculation of Walks + Hits divided by Innings Pitched).

Those categories served us well for many years, until Matt Bentel, The Idea Man, pushed us to think outside the box and consider new categories.  It's possible that the idea of changing categories had been broached prior to 2001 but Matt provided the consistent voice on why new categories were necessary.

Initially there was decent resistance, which makes sense since we had been using the same original categories for seventeen years.  But when you look at the original categories, there are some major flaws.

Home Runs - Puts a lot of emphasis on the big bopper, but has absolutely no reward for a guy who hits a lot of doubles and triples.  Also can favor a marginal hitter who plays in a homer friendly ballpark.

Batting Average - Great if you have Tony Gwynn, but sucks if you have Adam Dunn.  Dunn will get on base 38% of the time (or at least did in his prime), but the majority of that is from walks.  His .214 batting average can kill a team.

Wins - There were a lot of good pitchers that we avoided like the plague in our early years.  If a good pitcher played for a terrible team, there was a good chance the pitcher could have a decent ERA and WHiP, but have hardly any wins.  If the pitcher gave up one run in eight innings but received no run support, you would walk way without a win even though your guy pitched great.  Plus, the category was, at best, a zero sum gain.  Two pitchers couldn't receive a win in one game, even if they both pitched a complete game giving up one and  no runs respectively.  So the drafting strategy was to try and pick a guy who could work himself into a win based on how the team behind him was playing.

Saves - Fine, we fell in love with relievers.  But the guys doing the heavy lifting in the seventh and eighth innings were meaningless to us unless they picked up cheap wins or filled in for the closer due to injury or ineffectiveness.

Matt's prodding and our ensuing discussions made us realize there were better options.  But what do we pick?  We wanted something that would challenge us as team owners to put together the best team possible based on each player's talent and statistics.  We didn't want to avoid Pittsburgh pitchers simply because the team was going to win only 60 times all year.  We also strived to find categories that tapped in to the value of virtually every talented ballplayer.  We didn't want only home run hitters or ace starting pitchers.

In addition to those considerations we needed to use categories that were somewhat easy to understand and research.  There was still the element of excitement of being able to look at a box score and have an idea how your team did that was important to us.  Sure we could Bill James the hell out of our categories, but then we wouldn't know how we were doing until a computer capabale of keeping NASA happy could crunch our numbers and tell us how good our team was.

So where do we start?  Well, we did a lot of league discussions on our forum page.  We used common sense (or as close to common sense as our owners could muster).  We looked at what other leagues were doing.  We researched, we argued and, ultimately, we voted.

What we came up with has served the CFCL for the last thirteen years.  We still broke things evenly between pitching and offense.  We went from eight categories to ten.  Here's what we chose, or stayed with, and why.

Offense:
On Base Percentage - A better reflection of the success of what a batter is ultimately supposed to do - get on base.
Total Bases - Allows us to understand and benefit from the value of, not only the homerun hitter, but the guy who hits the gaps consistently.
Runs Batted In - Sabermetrics will poo-poo the value of RBIs since it largely is determined by where a player bats in the lineup and who bats ahead of him.  That being said, this is one of those instances where we didn't want to get rid of a category we had all grown up with.
Runs - Previously this category wasn't used.  Now we could include players at the top of the lineup who didn't bat in a lot of runs, but got on base and, importantly, scored the runs to help their team win. 
Stolen Bases - We didn't change this category.  Some leagues will use the net of stolen bases minus caught stealing which is pretty slick.  It puts extra value on the player who will steal effectively and not run into a lot of outs.  I think on this one we started to get concerned about having to do too much math to determine our standings which could diminish a big component of being in the league in the first place - FUN.

Pitching:
ERA - No need to change this, although it is influenced a bit by the defense behind a pitcher and the park they are pitching in.
WHiP - Again, no need to change this.
Quality Starts - Now we get to value a pitcher for what they have done, rather than what their team did behind them (run support) in a given game.
K/BB - This is strikeout divided by walks.  We used this rather than simply strikeouts because if you have a pitcher with ten strikeouts, that's pretty good.  But if he also gave up eight walks in the same game - first of all he must be freakin' tired.  But he also didn't put his team in the best position to win.  And his ten strikeouts would then be more valuable than a guy who struckout four but only walked one.
Holds+Saves - Now we can value every worthwhile pitcher in the bullpen, not just the 9th inning guy.

Category changes could easily be higher on the list of significant changes . . . until you see the top three.  Category changes are the fourth most significant change in CFCL history.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

5 Most Significant Changes in the CFCL - #5

Think back over the last 30 years of your life.  All the things that are different now compared to then.  Style of cars, style of clothes, where you live, who you are with.  Lots of things have evolved.

The CFCL is no different.  Yes, the baseline is still the same.  A bunch of nerdy dudes sitting around trying to build a championship baseball team.  But it's the other things, some big, some not so big, that have changed.

So in Letterman style, we will count down, not the Top 10, but the Top 5 Most Significant Changes to the CFCL.

We start today with #5.

Draft location.  What?  Really?  Significant?  You bet.  For years we drafted in owners apartments and homes, throwing together a long line of cardboard tables and folding chairs while coordinating with the host's significant other and family to make sure they wouldn't be disturbed by our presence and  - more importantly - we wouldn't be disturbed by theirs.

We have drafted in the shared home of Dem Rebels and Copperfields, the Copperfields and Rebels individual homes as well as the homes of the Bald Eagles, ForGoetzMeNots and Ruffins.  All of those owners and their families were gracious hosts, but in 1998 the opportunity to draft in corporate meeting rooms presented itself and our drafting lives changed.

We no longer needed folding tables, we had corporate training facilities with individual tables for each owner.  The chairs were padded.  The elbow room was greater.  No spouses or children wondering when they would get their home back.

We had dry erase boards!  We had projection screens!  We had multi-fixture bathrooms!!!

The change from an owner's home to a coporate board room may not seem that significant, but when you're sitting in a room for seven or eight hours, you cannot fully describe how impactful some elbow room and non-metallic hard foldings chairs is.

Currently we take advantage of a meeting room with floor to celing windows on one wall, a twelve foot polished meeting table and 10 cushioned, height adjustable, reclinable meeting chairs on four swivel casters!

Draft location is the 5th most significant change to the CFCL.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Drew Stubbs Incident - The Prelude

The CFCL's history is rife with excellent stories, great memories and historical "incidents". Usually the moment an incident occurs, it's obvious. The minute Kelly had a meltdown on drafting Ramon Martinez, we knew we had the "The Ramon Martinez Incident". When the Ruffins and Kents stood up simultaneously to look in the kitchen we knew we had "The Darryl Strawberry Incident". When Monroe grabbed the card and then the crayon we knew there was the "Snookie Incident" (details to follow in an upcoming blog).
Two years ago we had a bonafied Incident, but it wasn't obvious until well after the fact. "The Drew Stubbs Incident" on its surface happens every year, multiple times. So what makes it an incident? The parties involved and the back story.
This is a story about price enforcement. Usually price enforcement occurs without much acclaim. Just a matter of one owner wanting to keep another owner from getting a phenomenal deal. But in the cases of the "The Steve Carlton Incident" and now the "Drew Stubbs Incident" other factors come in to play.
Let's set the stage. It's 2012. There are a handful of enticing outfielders available in the draft. The Kenndoza Line, Candy Colored Clowns and Dem Rebels all had their list of who they wanted and how much they would be willing to pay. Soon, the main players - Andre Ethier, Dexter Fowler, Shane Victorino - were all snatched up and the only remaining significant outfielder in the pool was Drew Stubbs.
The dimwitted Rebels were interested because of Stubbs' amazing speed potential. Apparently overpaying for a guy who may not be able to find first base with a map wasn't an issue. I remember as Stubbs was brought up that I had a maximum bid remaining of upper 20's or low 30's and shamefully I was excited because I thought that would be enough to get Stubbs. As the bidding continued it came down to me, the Clowns and Line. A quick look at the money sheet showed me Kenn and Mike could both go into the 40's for Stubbs. They wouldn't do that would they? If memory serves neither was desperate for SBs (at least not as desperate as I was). Well, I didn't understand there were other forces at work.
I think at this point of the league's evolution, I was still naïve to the fact that Mike being a Reds fan, I mean a REDS FAN, would be willing to pay ungodly amounts of money for anyone playing in the Queen City. I also knew about the "friendship" between Kenn and Mike but was oblivious to the undercurrent of "fun" that could lead to.
As it was I had to drop out sooner than I wanted and had to watch these two rivals go back and forth like McEnroe and Borg. Who won? Tune in later this week for . . . ."The Drew Stubbs Incident" in their own words.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My Savior - Gary Scott

The previous post is the part of Trading the Gator that  shows how owners prepare for the draft.  The plan for this blog was to have daily entrees from Draft Day 2013 through Draft Day 2014.  While we are in excess of 200 posts, we certainly have fallen short of our daily goal.

The clip from TTG, in part, explains why this time of the year is so hectic.  With spring training moving to actual games being played, Draft Prep is accelerating.  Prior to right now all we could do is look at projections, assumptions and last year's numbers.  Now we can actually see that one of our players pitched four innings giving up one run.  Or went 0-2.  Our time starts to get used up.

The CFCL has eleven owners who are professionals so there is the career thing to take up our time.  Seven owners are married and with that comes responsibilities and time commitments.  Four owners have young children which bring with it more awesome responsibility and time commitments.  The DoorMatts, thus far, are the only CFCL team to have "graduated" through the young reliant children stage to the empty nest stage, so while they dealt with the above challenges for many years as a CFCL owner, they currently enjoy endless amounts of time to surf the net for baseball nuggets.

Oh yeah, and it's also the time of year that Uncle Sam gets really interested in our money so there's a time commitment to organize our tax information, unless we want to wait until after the draft to put our accountants under the gun to meet the deadline.

There's a lot going on at this time of the year for all fantasy owners and unfortunately being creative on a daily basis has become a losing battle.  My apologies if you are a daily visitor looking for the latest memory of CFCL life from the past 30 years.

But having watched the TTG clip and seeing updates on the MLB network naturally made me think of  . . . Gary Scott.

It was spring training of the 1991 season.  The Rebels were coming off a very disappointing 6th place finish and needed to make a move for the future.  As we saw with the Will Clark Incident and the Jeff Stone Incident, pre-season hype can be costly.  Well, the Rebels are slow learners.  Reports out of Arizona all spring training long were about this phee-nom that was tearing up every pitcher he faced. 

Gary Scott was a 22 year old thirdbase prospect who, heading in to spring training, was not supposed to make the club out of camp.  He was viewed as someone who could be the next great thirdbaseman since Ron Santo, but he was not supposed to be that guy in 1991, in April.  But Gary would NOT be denied.  Every day the sports report on WGN radio told about Scott going 1-3 or 2-4 with an RBI. 

I used to listen to Spike O'Dell in the afternoons and I specifically remember about halfway through spring training the sports guy was doing an update and said "And from Arizona, Spike, guess who just drove in the winning run again?"  Spike responded "Not Gary Scott again!"  Sportcaster, "Yep."

Scott made the club and that sealed it in this GM's mind.  I HAD TO HAVE Gary Scott.  I built my entire draft around getting Scott and riding him to the title while he helped the Cubs win their division.  As the draft loomed nearer I sweated and fretted how to approach Scott.  Should I nominate him early when everyone else might be focusing on the likes of Charlie Hayes, Terry Pendleton and Matt Williams? 

But this is a Cubs Fan League.  Bringing him up early in the draft when everyone had money to spend could cause his price to be higher as emotional Cub fans drafted their teams.

If I waited too long, I may not budget my money properly and someone could lay in wait and snag him just beyond what I could afford.  Oh the dilemmas.

As it turns out, I don't recall exactly how it played out as to when Scott was nominated.  All I remember, as we drafted in the apartment David and I shared in Forest Park, was that I GOT GARY SCOTT!!!!!  And I got him for a steal - .09!!!!  My season is made!  I also seem to recall that everyone else on my "Have to Have List" ended up on my team as well.  What a shrewd drafter am I!

The one lasting memory I have is right after I bid .09 on Scott and the last standing owner folded, I exclaimed some sort of victory expression.  I also remember the other owners more or less looking at me as if to say "You poor fool.  This is just another example of a Cub having a great Arizona experience who will no doubt fail."

What did they know?  I wanted Scott.  I got Scott and together we would pop champagne together.  We would raise pennants together.  We would be awesome!

The results?

1991 - Rebels finished 5th (better than 1990 but a half point worse in accumulated points).

Gary Scott - one homerun, five RBIs, batting average of .165 and in the minors by May.

Foiled again.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Trading the Gator: Draft Prep

Spring Training has begun, and soon teams in Arizona and Florida will begin playing preseason games.  Elsewhere, all around the world, fantasy baseball owners are shaking off the cobwebs of winter and starting their research and preparation for the Greatest Day of the Year - Draft Day.

Draft Day prep can involve many facets - from reading every bit of news you can get your hands on and watching spring games - live or on television, to arts and crafts and ensuring you have the right foodstuffs with you at the Draft Table.

See all that and more in this latest clip from "Trading the Gator," the fantasy baseball documentary that featured the CFCL (read that story in this earlier post).  You'll see CFCL owners Kelly Barone, Eric Lamb, David Mahlan, and Jason Grey, Paul Zeledon, plus Walter Shapiro of the American Dreams League discussing their pre-Draft routines and strategies.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Will Clark Incident

Earlier in this blog’s life, we revisited one of the very first Draft Day “Incidents” in the CFCL’s history: the time the Co-Founders found themselves locked in an insane episode of bidding on Phillies’ outfielder Jeff Stone during the 1985 Draft. The end of that write-up teased a similar incident from the following year. It’s now time for the Co-Founders to to reminisce about 1986’s The Will Clark Incident…

RICH
I LOVE the history of the CFCL. I LOVE the fact that I have been a part of all the history of the CFCL – many times on the embarrassing end (see Jeff Stone Incident, Mitch Williams Incident, Murphy/Dysktra Trade). But every so often I am able to come out on top (Steve Carlton Incident). And here’s one more – The Will Clark Incident. 

The problem is I don’t remember the minute by minute, blow-by-blow happenings. I remember the before and I remember the after. The during? Not so much. It could be because I was still reeling from the Jeff Stone Incident the year before. It could be that it was 28 years ago and, really, how much can one person remember?

DAVID
Flashback to spring training, 1986 -- This was in the early days of Rotisserie and fantasy baseball, and information on minor leaguers and prospects was still fairly hard to come by. The minor league overview in Bill Mazaroski's annual magazine was the best of the easily-obtainable sources, and the owner who knew about Baseball America's "Top Ten Prospects" issues, let alone who could find one on a newstand, had an incredible advantage. 

RICH
Here’s what I do recall. The Rebels and Copperfields had teased each other with our plans heading into 1985 when we both had our eyes on Jeff Stone. After we squared off in the bidding on Jeff Stone, I think we were both reluctant to lend voice to our intentions for the 1986 draft. 

This time around we both had our sights on a young left handed slugger in the Bay Area. I can’t recall if we gave each other even a bit of indication of our desires or if we figured it out during the bidding.

There was still a good chance of “back-dooring” a young or unknown talent. There wasn’t ESPN and Internet. You had the Sporting News and Bill Mazeroski’s mag. 

DAVID
And it’s not like Mazeroski was over the moon for Clark. In the positional outlook for the major league team the magazine mentioned Clark as a possible contributor in 1986: 
"[Dan] Driessen’s limitations could help [Bob] Brenly worm his way in here, at least against lefthanders. And don’t count out last June’s No. 1 draft pick, Will Clark, who pumped 25 homers in just 65 games at Mississippi State last year, then jumped to Fresno and hit .305, drove in 48 runs in 65 games, jacked 10 home runs and had an on-base percentage of .458. Clark might not be able to make the jump this year, but it won’t take him long."
The minor league write-up at the back of the magazine said: “He’s a disciplined left-handed hitter with 20-homer strength and Gold Glove potential. Clark will get a chance to take first base this spring because he’s so far advanced in the mental aspects of the game.”

Jackpot! Just what every Rotisserie owner longs for – mental aspects!

Clark didn't even make Maz’s Gold List (the prospects likely to make their presence known in the majors in the coming season). Instead, that list was toting the likes of Todd Worrell, Lance McCullers, Andres Galarraga, and Roger Mason. Maz’s list of secondary prospects did mention Clark, saying that he “could make the leap this year – sometime.”

All-in-all, not exactly ringing endorsements; and not the type of write up that would set our winter hearts a-lusting.

RICH
So if you read those periodicals, you knew of a guy named Will Clark. Had a pretty good college career and was expected to make the team and be wonderful in 1986. But to the passive eye, he wasn't that well known. 

DAVID
It wasn't until March 1986 that stories of "The Natural" came drifting Chicago-way. Tales told of an intense young slugger with only 65 minor league games under his belt who was the hit of the Giants' spring camp. There were rumors that he hit a ball through the outfield fence in a spring training game. 

RICH
Clark had a pretty solid spring. This was when the Cubs played the Giants about 450 times during the Cactus League, so now he was becoming less unknown. But one could still be hopeful that the other owners would attribute it to a young kid having a good spring against lesser pitchers (kind of like being Gary Scott before Gary Scott).

DAVID
Still, Rich and I both hoped -- no, believed -- that each of us was the only one to be hearing this info. We were both certain we would be able to sneak Clark though at the end of the Draft. Of course, this was another textbook case of Hyper-Inflation resulting from Pre-Draft Obsession.

RICH
We were both disappointed on Opening Day. Any chance we had of trying to sneak Clark through at a low price ended on April 8, 1986. Keep in mind, back in the early days, we drafted after Opening Day so we knew who was on an NL roster. By the time we drafted there were some games already played and emotions affected (see Brian Littlefield effect in the original Rotisserie Book).

On April 8th, Will Clark came to the plate for the first time EVER in a major league game. And he homered. Homered in the first inning against the Astros. Homered to straightaway center field in the Astrodome. Homered off of . . . Nolan Ryan in his first at bat ever. And the legend exploded.


No more sneaking him through. Now it’s good ol’ country hardball ala 1985 and Jeff Stone.

DAVID
Flash forward, to Draft Day 1986 -- Our new owner, Dave Holian, received the honor of nominating the first player of the Draft. This ended up being the unofficial institution of what would come to be known as The Ruffin Privilege, which wasn't formally recognized until 1992.  

Of course, it's obvious who he chose to make the first player up for bid in 1986 -- Will the Thrill.

Bidding quickly escalated, with the Bald Eagles, Copperfields, and Dem Rebels the main participants. Bob Monroe, owner of the Eagles, called a conference with Head Copperfield in a side room. The Bald One offered to drop out of the bidding on Clark if In would promise not to bid up another player later in the Draft. I refused, and we returned to the draft table where the bidding continued. Monroe remained in a little while longer, then dropped out, leaving me and Rich as the only two active bidders. Another showdown between the Co-Founders/Co-Commissioners. As the bidding reached the upper 30s, memories of the Jeff Stone Incident crept into both our heads.

RICH
I was probably feeling the pain of Stone still so at some point I blinked and the Copperfields got Will Clark for .40.


DAVID
Perhaps it was the memory of what Jeff Stone did to his team, but whatever the reason, after I said ".40", Rich said "Pass", and I brought his head crashing to the table at the realization of what I had done.


Clark's stats for the year: .287-11-41-4. Respectable, but not worthy of .40.

RICH
Clark would go on to hit only 10 more home runs and drive in only 40 more runs all season. So I finally won a showdown against the Copperfields, right?

1985 – Rebels outbid the Copperfields on Jeff Stone for .32 and finish 4th out of seven teams.
1986 – Copperfields outlast the Rebels on Will Clark for .40 and win their first championship (first of three in a row and first of eleven overall).
And that right there in a nutshell is the Rebel/Copperfield rivalry.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

This Is The CFCL

I will admit what follows does not put the CFCL in a class all by itself, but it speaks VOLUMES to the kind of owners we are fortunate to have participate each year.  Each owner makes sacrifices from spending time away from their young children all day on a weekend day, to adjusting their work schedule to attend the draft to making annual travel arrangements to make sure they come into town on Draft Day.

The Twin Killers (California), Beatniks (Iowa - gateway to Nebraska), Ruffins (North Carolina) and Kenndoza Line (Ohio) all put together travel arrangements to make sure they can participate live at the draft and then scurry back to their part of the country to get back to work and school on time the following Monday.

This year, the Kenndoza Line is adding an additional challenge by going out of the country on a family vacation the week before the draft. 

After posting a reminder at our Front Office about some deadlines for Roster Cut Day and Draft Day, there was this response from Kenn:

So...March 23 I will be overseas.
Know - as I'm sure you already do - that I will still not be the last to send in my keeper list. When I arrive (in the Bahamas) on March 22, one of my first items of business will be making sure I have internet access. Apparently it's going to be ridiculously expensive. The amount spent on internet the week before the draft, the hotel the weekend of the draft, and gas to/from the draft (I'm driving, not flying this year) will far exceed whatever I might be lucky enough to win. I guess I like this league.
See you 53 days.
 
Finishing in the first division 70% of the time for the past 10 years certainly could enhance his "liking" of the league.  But this attitude, held in its own way by each owner of the CFCL, is what makes this league so damn special and so much fun to be a part of.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Faces of the CFCL

Thanks to League Photographer and Archivist David Mahlan, we were able to capture some close up pictures of the current local owners of the CFCL.  Unfortunately, not all CFCL owners were able to attend.  Not pictured below were Mike Bentel (Twin Killers), Dave Holian (David's Ruffins), Nick Hansen (Eukennott Beatniks) and Kenn Ruby (Kenndoza Line).  All four selfishly decided that travelling a hundreds or thousands of miles to Chicago for a few hours of pizza eating and beer swilling wasn't an efficient use of their time and money.  Go figure.

Below are the local faces of the CFCL and a little bit about their team history.
Matt Bentel - owner of the DoorMatts.  Joined the CFCL in 1994 and still looks frustrated for tying with the Kenndoza Line for first in 2009 and ultimately finshing in 2nd due to tie-breaker rules.
Mike Coulter (in red) - owner of Candy Colored Clowns.  Joined the CFCL in 2008 and won his first championship five years later (2012).  Also is our savior in handling all transactions and issues with our statistics at OnRoto.com.
Matt Grage - owner of Graging Bulls.  Joined the CFCL in 2000.  Celebrated his first CFCL title in 2013 (and only his second money finish).  Matt also provides all the owners with the Master Draft List on Draft Day that saves us tons of time.
Tim Morkert - owner of Morkertzuma's Revenge.  Tim joined the CFCL in 2008.  Here Tim looks like he has a concerned look on his face as he reflects back to 2011 and his oh-so-close run for the title.  "Dammit Brad Lincoln!  I hate you!"  A commissioner and owner in a fantasy baseball league in San Francisco, Tim has been a long standing member of the CFCL's Executive Committee.























Pat Chesnut (left), Matthew Barriball (right) - co-owners of Hey Patta Matta Swing.  Pat and Matthew joined the CFCL this off-season and will enjoy their first season in 2014.  They have previous fantasy baseball experience and, based on their conversations and e-mails, bring a ton of game.  This is the future face of the CFCL.

Rich Bentel - owner of Dem Rebels.  Rich is the last remaining original owner (1984).  In 30 years of ownership, the Rebels have performed poorly with only seven money finishes (two championships).  Rich also took over full Commissioner responsibilities when the Copperfields retired in 2010 as well as League Secretary responsibilities circa 2009 in a failed effort to keep the Copperfields around forever.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Memory of a Banquet IV

This last walk down memory lane could quite possibly be the greatest one.  Yesterday's entry is very strong - the one at the Bald Eagle's house (trying to off the Rebels, mocking the Rebels at Gibson's homerun and unsuccessfully trying to get the rest of the league to join him in giving the champion Copperfields a Yoo-Hoo shower).  Very strong indeed.

But this one (I'm thinking it took place in the mid '90's) I feel takes the cake because it involves something so counter to the CFCL culture.  Yes, the police were called.

The police? Yep.  You heard me.  We bad.  And this wasn't involving my brother-in-law who is a cop (and former CFCL owner of the Flatfeet).  This is the establishment where the banquet was held . . . called the cops on the CFCL!

This particular banquet I don't think we had a massive turnout.  So we tried to find a middle ground for those owners who could attend.  I know for a fact that the Lambchops, Rebels and Copperfields attended.  I'm thinking - based on the location of the banquet - that the Meisters also showed up.  But that may have been it.

So since Paul and Eric lived in the Schaumburg-ish area and I lived in Aurora and David lived in Downers Grove, we selected Batavia/Geneva as the middle ground.  Not geographically perfect, but it makes for a great story.

One of us was charged with finding an establishment in that area.  Well what screams out Baseball Celebration better than Chinese food?  Nothing, it turns out, so we held our banquet at a Chinese restaurant.

The evening started out well enough.  We had a nice dinner, talked about the newly finished season, handed out the awards . . . and then things got crazy.  We kept talking, about CFCL matters, about how to fix the Cubs, about life.  Eventually any other attendees filtered out and all that was left were the Lambchops, Copperfields and Rebels.  And I don't mean all that was left from the banquet.  I mean all that was left IN THE RESTAURANT!  Yes, we closed that mother down!  (That is the first and only establishment I have ever closed.) 

But we are a bunch of baseball nerds and didn't realize what we were doing.  It took the waiter to come over and say "If you don't want anything else, we're trying to close."  Sheepish looks on our face as we settled the bill.  We kept chatting as we walked out of the restaurant.  And then like the baseball magpies we are, we just couldn't say "good-bye".  We kept talking and talking and talking in the middle of the parking lot.  Nothing seemed strange to us except perhaps that it was a little chilly to be standing outside talking baseball.

All of a sudden a squad car pulls in to the parking lot.  Again, we're clueless geeks.  We just keep on talking.  The officer pulls up to us, ** rolls his window down and says "What's going on guys?"

**  I don't know much about police procedure but usually officers will take tactical positions and keep their distance from potential perps.  This guy must have, as he was turning the corner into the parking lot, assessed the three of us and said to himself "Are you kidding?  What the hell am I doing here?"

"Oh nothing.  Just talking about baseball, officer."  Man were we cool.  The officer then points out that the workers in the restaurant want to go home ** and they're afraid to leave the place because they think you're waiting in the parking lot to jump them.

** as he's saying this, I'm thinking "why are you telling us that?  We left the restaurant, we don't need them anymore."

If you could call Hollywood and ask them to cast three guys who would never be confused with attempting to jump anyone you could not find three more appropriate guys than David, Eric and me.  Yet there the cop was saying "Maybe it's time to head home, right?"

The minute we heard we were keeping the workers in the restaurant and why, we all embarrassingly apologized and moved directly to our cars.  That was the night the CFCL took it to the streets and rumbled with the cops.

More pictures from this year's banquet.

The CFCL's local owners.  Why does it look like everyone's laughing at the Commissioner?
Going around the table to the left, starting in front: Matt Grage, Matt Bentel, Tim Morkert, Pat Chesnut, Matthew Barriball, Mike Coulter and Rich Bentel.


Mike Coulter enjoying sweet victory as he takes home the certificate for Best Free Agent Acquisition (Francisco Liriano).  In the background is Matthew Barriball (co-owner of The Swing) smiling contentedly knowing next year's certificate will be his.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Memory of a Banquet III

1988.  I still remember it like it was yesterday.  This banquet, or at least the highlights, stand out in my memory.  The Bald Eagles offered to host the banquet at their home in Brookfield.  We were there to celebrate the 1988 season and crown the, oh here's a shocker, Copperfields champion.

The evening started off on a typical note.  Bob, as host, went about offering his guests something to drink.  Interestingly he didn't ask me what I would like to drink.  After a few minutes he emerged from his kitchen with a strange looking glass of water.  He handed it to me and when I looked at the glass like "what the hell?" he explained that his pipes were kind of rusty.

Well I didn't play along with his little ruse and I came to find out that he loaded my glass of water with tobasco sauce.  Oh Bob, such a kidder.

I can actually, maybe for the only time other than this year's banquet, tell you the specific date of the banquet.  It was Saturday, October 15, 1988.  How do I know?  We were watching the World Series.  Game 1 of the World Series.

I know the Copperfields and Eagles were in attendance.  I think the Six Packs and Ruffins were there as well and it wouldn't surprise me if the Aces and Crocketts were there since Bob was their boss.  The Picks were most likely there as well because, well, what else would they have to do?  So it's possible we had the entire league in attendance.

I am most certain that in that house that night I was the only Oakland A fan.  Everyone else wanted the Dodgers to win.  I was riding high until the ninth inning when, as we all know, Kirk Gibson swung with one arm and somehow deposited Eckersley's backdoor slider halfway up the stands behind the right field wall.

I was crushed.  Looking back I'm embarrassed to say I was sucked in to the phenomena of the Bash Brothers.  But there still was The Eck, Welch, Stewart, Lansford, Parker, Henderson, Steinbach . . .

When Gibson homered the entire room erupted in joy and many fingers were pointed in my direction.  Monroe especially enjoyed pointing out that the A's had lost.  He was such a meanie.

The other part of the evening I recall was Bob trying to coerce a few other owners to douse the champion  Copperfields (this was their THIRD title IN A ROW) with Yoo-Hoo.  I can't remember if he was successful, but I do recall being out in the front yard running around for a while.

More pictures from this year's banquet:


Commissioner Bentel trying unsuccessfully to organize the award certificates.


The Revenge cautiously accepting their certificate for 7th place.  No doubt they wanted to finish in the money for a third straight year.  Notice the patrons in the background completely oblivious to the historical nature of this 30th consecutive gathering.

 "Really Mr. Coulter?  CFCL Champion last year?  That's amazing!"  Actually the Clowns and The Swing were most likely rehashing the specifics of the blockbuster trade they  made a few days earlier.  The first one of 2014 had the Clowns sending Adrian Gonzalez, Cole Hamel and Didi Gregorius to The Swing in exchange for Carlos Gonzalez.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Memory of a Banquet II

We held our first Banquet and Awards dinner in 1984 to celebrate the completion of our first year in fantasy baseball.  The first few years we held the banquet at my mom's house in River Forest.

I don't remember much about the first couple of banquets, but the one thing I do remember is that a blockbuster trade was made between the Friars and Sluggers during the second banquet.  They were sitting in our living room, in the swivel lounge chairs by the picture window.  The Friars kind of leaned over with their roster sheet and pointed to a couple of names.  The Sluggers looked at their roster sheet while the Friars said "What if I traded you him for him" as he continued to point at the rosters.  The Friars then laid out a reasoning as to why the trade would be a good idea, being all secretive and vague lest any wandering ears (like mine) would hear the highpowered negotiations.

It was cool.  It was awesome.  Turns out it was illegal.  Here's why.

The rules of Rotisserie League baseball state that when you draft a player you get that player for two years plus an option year.  So if I draft Derrek Lee this year (don't laugh - I LOVE Derrek Lee and the fact that he's been retired for three years, well I've done dumber things that's for sure) for .05 I have Lee at his .05 salary for 2014 and 2015.  In 2016 I could sign Lee for one more year at .05 and then lose him at the end of the season or I could sign him to a long term contract.

The rules stat that if I were to trade Lee this year or next (who would be dumb enough to take Lee in a trade considering he's retired?  Good point.  Nobod. . .. hold on.  Let me e-mail the Ruffins.) Lee's contract does not change.  So the new team would get Lee and have him until 2016 when they would need to make the decision to sign him for one year or long-term.

That's the rule and it has always been the rule.  Well, somehow in the infancy of our league we misread that rule.  So the Friars and Sluggers made a deal because we all were under the false impression that if you traded a player his contract would reset and the new team would have TWO NEW YEARS before having to make the decision to sign for the option year or go long-term.

So (and if you believe that rule, which we did, this trade proposal was brilliant in a way) the Friars proposed trading Dale Murphy to the Sluggers for Tim Raines.  The Friars had drafted Dale Murphy in 1984 for .61.  Yes, .61!  The Sluggers drafted Raines for .47 that same year.  The idea of being able to keep two incredibly talented players for two more years without having to sign a long-term contract was brilliant.  Too bad the move was illegal.  Also, the strong argument here is "Why would anyone draft a player for .61?"  Well, this was all new to us and we had a lot to learn.  But it worked for the Friars having Murphy on his team for .61 - he kept finishing in the money those first two seasons.

The deal was struck and announced and finalized.  I know at some point after the trade, possibly before Draft Day 1986 we determined that you can't trade like that and have the contract reset.  I don't recall if we did anything about it or said "From this point on . . . "  But it's a great memory.

Since we've reminisced about the beginning of the CFCL and the newness and such, here are some more photos from this year's banquet featuring our new owners of Hey Patta Matta Swing.


Sandwiched between the Revenge and Clowns, our new owners Pat Chesnut (in the awesome Cub hat) and Matt Barriball (in the equally awesome Wrigley Field shirt) are clearly captivated by the amazing words pouring out of the Commissioner's mouth.



The owners of Hey Patta Matta Swing eye the CFCL's ultimate prize - The Copperfield Trophy.



New owners Chesnut and Barriball absorb the handouts of the banquet, which included certificates and the league history of statistics - generously updated each year by League Historian David Mahlan.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Memory of a Banquet - I

As my memory pulls up the images it's telling me this banquet took place in 1997 or 2002.  Why of all the 30 banquets would my mind tell me to pick from those two years?  That in a minute.

The ambiance and positioning of TVs in the establishment suggest to me that we were at Giordano's in Oak Park.  So that leads me to believe it was more likely 1997 than 2002.  David and I began our migration deep into the western suburbs of Chicago in the late 90's or early 2000's with the growth of our respective families and at that point we settled in on HomeRun Inn in Darien.

Prior to that we held the banquets in our homes, at Giordano's, even at a Chinese restaurant (that's a story you don't want to miss).  But this story I'm pretty sure took place at Giordano's in Oak Park.  I seem to recall the room we were in, with a big screen TV near the ceiling (or maybe it was elevated in the bar area next to the room we were in).

Usually, for most owners, the allegiance to a given player ends with the last out of the regular season.  I may own Aaron Hill and want him to have an MVP year, but since I'm not really a Diamondback fan, once the post-season starts I don't want to see Hill beating up on a team I would like to get to the World Series.

Apparently that was not the case for one of our owners.  In 1997 (and work with me here that all the specific details I'm sharing are actually accurate) we were enjoying some pizza, camaraderie and award announcements with the NL playoffs on the television in the background.  David Mahlan (Commissioner and CFCL God) was smoothly running the award ceremonies when, in the middle of handing out an award, we heard "YEAH!!!!  WAY TO GO JT!!!" and saw Paul Zeledon (owner of Da Paul Meisters) jump up [literally] and clap because JT Snow got a single against the Marlins.

Mind you he didn't hit a game winning homerun, didn't drive in a run if I remember correctly.  He . . . got . . . a . . . single.  He got a single in the post-season which does not count one iota for CFCL purposes.  We all looked at Paul and said "Paul?  What are you doing?"  Paul responded, "Snow got a single!  He was on my team this year."  Didn't matter the single didn't count for the Meisters stats.  Paul just wanted all of his players that were in the post-season to do well.

And here's the best part (please, memory, please let this part be true as well).  As I remember it, JT Snow's contract with the Meisters expired at the end of the 1997 season.  So technically Paul was cheering for a player he no longer owned.

Right there, in a strange nutshell, epitomizes the essence, the passion, the geekiness of the CFCL and its owners.  To paraphrase a popular beer commercial of today "It's only strange if you're not in the CFCL."

More images from the 2013 Banquet:


The DoorMatts happily accepting their certificate (and envelope) for finishing in 3rd place - in the money for the 4th time in the last six years.




Commissioner Bentel showing the new owners the Copperfield Trophy (won by the Graging Bulls).  The trophy consists of two baseball cards (one of the top offensive player for the CFCL Champion and one of the top pitcher - this year it was Carlos Gomez and Stephen Strasburg); an engraved nameplate and a Cubs logo ball all signed by the 2013 CFCL owners at the draft.  At this point of the explanation Bentel may have been instructing . . . imploring . . . threatening the new owners "Do Not Sign In The Place Of Honor!"  The previous year's champion signs the ball underneath the Cubs logo in the Place of Honor.  It's fitting that this post was about the Meisters.  Paul could never quite follow the instructions to not sign in the Place of Honor.

Monday, January 20, 2014

CFCL Banquet

At long last the CFCL celebrated their own post-season by gathering at HomeRun Inn in Darien, IL, handing out awards, reliving the 2013 season and crowning its newest champion.

No, we usually don't hold the banquet this late in the off-season.  We typically try to meet during the baseball playoffs.  This year, however, the Commissioner was ridiculously delinquent in putting together the ballot which caused a delay in the voting which caused a delay in the printing of the awards, which cause the CFCL to meet for the banquet in mid-January.

This week we will be going down memory lane to relive special moments of the CFCL banquet.  Yes, believe it or not, there have been memorable events at the CFCL banquet, including one in which the police were called.  There, that should have you coming back each day.

For now, we celebrate the reason for the season - crowning the latest CFCL Champion.


Matt Grage, owner of the Graging Bulls, holding the Copperfield Trophy.  This was the Bulls' first championship in their fourteen year existence.