Wednesday, February 12, 2014

You Can Go Home Again

I started on the internet in 1994 and by 1995, I became aware that people created online simulated baseball leagues on the internet using Tony LaRussa Baseball 3, which is one of the finest sports simulations ever created.  The first league I joined was Deep South Baseball, which last about two seasons, but I met some very interesting people for the time, including the first decidedly religious person I ever met.  I mean, I knew someone who went to mass every Saturday and Sunday and played the organ, but I do question your dedication to the holy spirit and god's mission when you use phrases like "Roast Beef" with regard to many of the passing women or talk about this girl's "wide-screen TV ass", for whom you are writing a love song.  But I have certainly digressed into my first job beyond what was necessary for the story. 

And for a number of years that followed, I played in a variety of Tony LaRussa 3 and Front Page: Sports 1998 baseball leagues online, throughout the rest of my high school and college years.  It was something I did, but I suspect most of my closest friends know nothing about, because on the whole, it isn't interesting if you aren't part of the league.  About a month after leaving college, I learned about Out of the Park Baseball, which had released OOTP3 that spring.  Being a simulated baseball junkie, I was instantly hooked and would say it was one of the best games I've ever played.  At first, I played by myself, but quickly learned there were online leagues and saw a posting for Cooperstown Diamond Legends, an historical league starting in 1969 by the original commissioner looking for owners.  I dashed off a witty response to the ten or so questions you needed to be able to answer in order to join the league and picked up the Houston Astros prior to the expansion draft.

I can tell you to this day, I retained Jimmy Wynn over Joe Morgan, because Jimmy Wynn was an unstoppable on-base machine in a league starting in 1969 and drafted reasonably well.  Having always loved sabermetrics and bright orange, this was a natural fit for me in the summer of 2001.  I was starting law school and at times was running in four or so leagues, which could be a fairly sizable commitment.  However, after our second season ended, one of the original commissioners stormed out of the league, to the better in my opinion, since I didn't agree with how he ran things.  With a void, some previous experience helping out in other leagues and a desire to keep something I loved going strong, I volunteered to take over some of the co-commissioner duties in the fall of 2001. 

Sadly, my simulated baseball team was always a priority, which while never impacting my studies, might have crimped my social life from time to time.  But for the next thirty seasons and four or so years, I was the co-commissioner of the CDL, uploading files on a dial-up connection for most of the time to FTP.  However, I learned a lot about managing people, dealing with difficult personalities, coming up with fair rules and editing computer files to make things more realistic.  After this time, it began to be a grind and I found myself burning out from it, even though, we were a team of three people running a simulated baseball league.  So, I first stepped down from running the league, then from the league in total about a year later, since it is hard to not be in control, once you have tasted the power. 

And I came back for a few short stints, but seldom gave those great days and more importantly, great people a lot of thought.  Then today, as I was in my living room, I received an E-Mail letting me know the CDL was closing in on 100 seasons and they were building a history project.  More importantly, Sam, our website guru and commissioner extraordinaire, wanted to catch up on old times, which I was more than excited to do.  And I found out there was an opening in the league, nearly 13 years and 100 seasons after we started.  Being sentimental and loving the thrill of competition for its own sake, I jumped at the chance to lead the New York Mets, which have a dash of orange, a spot in first place and a team needing active stewardship and went home again, to a world left behind for all of the wrong reasons.  And I returned for the right reasons, the people, most of whom were actually pretty great guys.  Of course, now I have to beat them into submission to get a fourth orange banner with my name emblazoned upon it, but those are the breaks in, I guess you can say you can go home again. 

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