- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
- Obama: ‘We tortured some folks’ after 9/11
- Obama administration asked whole D.C. Circuit to take on major Obamacare case
- Mark Levin: Topple GOP leadership or country will ‘unravel’
- Massachusetts to let police chief deny gun buys to those deemed unfit
- John Kerry condemns attack on Israeli soldiers, kidnapping
- U.S. starts to evacuate American Ebola patients from West Africa: Report
- Geraldo slammed as ‘dummy’ for backing Clinton’s bin Laden claim
- Israeli spokesman: No need to debate who broke the cease-fire
- 35 Palestinians killed; Israeli officer missing
EXCHANGE: Fantasy baseball league still a hit
Question of the Day
AURORA, Ill. (AP) - With a passion for baseball in his heart, $2.60 in his pocket and “nothing better to do” with his time, Rich Bentel, at 17 years old, began a relationship that now is older than his marriage, older than his career and among the longest-running of its kind in the world.
Now a 47-year-old financial adviser with an office in Lisle and a wife and kids in Aurora, Bentel is the commissioner of the Cub Fan Club League rotisserie baseball organization that he and buddy David Mahlan started in 1984 during their senior year at Oak Park and River Forest High School.
“We were in the same study hall, and I saw him doing something baseball,” Bentel says in recalling the day they met freshman year. Both teens played board games that used dice to determine outcomes based on prior statistics of actual Major League Baseball players. Their lives changed when Mahlan heard about a new kind of fantasy league - one that used current statistics from real big league baseball games.
“We walked into Kroch’s and Brentano’s bookstore and found this book,” Bentel says, holding up a 30-year-old, dog-eared copy of “Rotisserie League Baseball,” the bible that emphasized statistics and launched the sports fantasy league craze. The book explained the rules that author Daniel Okrent created for fantasy baseball during lunch with some friends at a now-defunct New York restaurant called La Rotisserie Française.
“It was kind of a perfect storm,” Bentel says. “This came out, and then Bill James came in with all his stats, and then all the geeks just took off with it.”
According to the book’s rules, rotisserie owners were to spend $260 buying players for their fantasy teams.
“We were in high school. We didn’t have 260 bucks, so we moved the decimal,” Bentel says, remembering how he spent 44 cents of his $2.60 budget on standout catcher Gary Carter and finished last in the six-team league. While Bentel’s Dem Rebs have won two championships in 30 years, Mahlan’s David Copperfields won 11 in 27 years before he left the league.
“He’s the Yankees,” Bentel says of Mahlan.
Bentel still has the yellowed sheets with draft prices and statistics from the early years of the league, when they had to compile stats from USA Today and the only way to find out about up-and-coming players was through the annual Bill Mazeroski’s Baseball publication.
“Back in 1984, there was no Internet, so we did everything by hand. This is all typewritten because there weren’t computers,” Bentel says. “We had nothing but time. We sure as hell didn’t have girls to distract us.”
Mahlan, now a father of three teenagers, remembers compiling the statistics from the newspaper a week after a game, typing up the results, photocopying them and mailing copies to owners who would see the stats two weeks after a game.
“These days your player gets a single and you see that recorded in the standings,” says Mahlan, who admits that instant access to all sorts of baseball information takes away the advantage he once had. “I was always just a little ahead of the curve. I was into stats and sabermetrics before everybody got into that.”
The Cub Fan Club League has added and lost teams and boasted 44 owners during its history, but it has lasted eight times longer than most jobs and is twice as old as the Chicago-based Fantasy Sports Trade Association, which serves the more than 35 million Americans who play fantasy sports.
This year, the CFCL’s 10 owners, including those who are coming in from California and North Carolina, will convene March 29 in the conference room of Bentel’s office in Lisle for the annual draft of new players.
“In our world, Christmas comes on draft day in March and on Dec. 25,” Bentel says. “And if you don’t have kids, the first Christmas is better.”
By Orrin G. Hatch
Procedural changes impede the chamber's traditional deliberative function
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Border agents cleared of civil rights complaints from illegal immigrant children
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Ben Carson takes major step toward presidential campaign
- Porn-surfing feds blame boredom, lack of work for misbehavior
- Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- House backs faster deportations, cancels 'Dreamer' policy
- Ted Nugent slams 'lying freaks' at liberal media: I'm 'doing God's work'
- HATCH: Destroying the Senate and our liberties
Top 10 U.S. military helicopters
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors