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.

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