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Big Daddy Baseball League

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slant.gif (102 bytes) FTDOTC Special 10-Year Anniversary Edition


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April, 2009

A History of Pranks

Once upon a time, pranking -- especially around this time of year -- was the #3 pastime in the BDBL (behind message board arguing and game playing, in that order.)  Each year, someone would create an elaborate hoax to fool one of more members of the league.  After a while, however, the league became so hyper-aware of anything that even remotely smelled like a prank that it became impossible to pull one over on anyone within eight weeks of April 1st.

Here now is a history of pranks in the BDBL:


Less than a month after the league was born, we had owners for all 24 franchises established.  We were in the process of determining a couple of dates for the live draft when I received the following application in my in-box:

Subj: New guestbook entry
Date: 12/6/98 11:14:23 PM Eastern Standard Time

Name: Mike Fitzgerald
Home Town:Lakewood, CA
Team nickname: Expos
Age: 38
Profession: Retired Major league catcher
Fave MLB team: Still love my Expos !
FB Experience: Helped my son with a Roto league the last 2 years . And we think this looks interesting hoping to get the chance to play.
Reason why: I can bring some real major league experiance to the BDBL , and my son will be upset if we don't get to play, almost as upset as myself.

I couldn't believe it.  Here was a real-life major league ballplayer expressing interest in my newborn little fantasy league!  I shouldn't have believed it.  But I fell for it, and created an opening in our league by kicking out 16-year-old Neil Parker, who was being difficult about the two dates we had chosen for the live draft.

I responded to "Fitzgerald" with enthusiasm and excitement:

Subj: Re: BDBL
Date: 12/7/98
To: fitzzy20

Mike (and son) -

It would be an honor to have you. I remember you from your playing days, and I have tremendous respect for anyone who can play at the major league level for so long.

Your acceptance into the league is contingent upon two things, however. First, you must be able to attend the two draft days I've listed on the web site. If you're busy on either of those two days, or if you won't have the time to sit at your PC for 8 hours two Sundays in a row, let me know. This league is a great opportunity because you'll be drafting a team from scratch instead of inheriting someone else's problems. But unfortunately, there's a price to pay - and that's sitting through a long draft. The good news is this will be the last year we'll have to have a draft this long.

Also, you must have purchased (or plan to purchase before Feb. 1st) a copy of the Diamond Mind game and the 1998 player disk. Originally, I made it possible for owners to run their team from the GM position only. But as I started getting tons of applications in, I realized I could be a little more picky. And besides, the game is a helluva lot more fun when you manage your own team.

I hope you accept these provisions, as I think you would be a great asset to the league. Please let me know as soon as possible - preferably before this Friday.

- Mike

Fitzgerald gladly accepted my invitation by instant message.  (We both happened to use AOL at the time.)  In the course of our IM conversation, I learned that Fitzgerald planned to have his son be a lot more active in the league than he had initially mentioned.  I then received this e-mail from his son the next day:

Subj: Re: BDBL
Date: 12/8/98 6:05:37 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: Fitzzy20
To: Bdbl1999

I will be 8 in March and my favorite major league player is Ken Griffey Jr so I will draft him first. I have all of Ken Griffey Jr baseball cards and my dad took me to meet him so he signed a jersey for me and his baseball card also. he gave me one of his bats too.

I now found myself in a very awkward position.  As commissioner, I wanted the BDBL to be a competitive league filled with the most knowledgeable fantasy baseball people in the country.  I kicked Parker out of the league, in part, because I felt he was too young to be all that knowledgeable about baseball.  But I then replaced him with someone HALF his age, who apparently doesn't understand the concept of a draft!

By sheer coincidence, I ran into "Fitzzy" on-line the next day.  I mentioned to him my apprehension about having his son run his team, and he responded by telling me how much it would mean for his son to play in the BDBL.  He then told me his son is wheelchair-bound, and doesn't get to interact with people all that much.  The BDBL would be a really important part of his life, Fitzgerald explained.

My heart broke for this poor kid. the same Spidey-senses tingled with skepticism.  So I steered the conversation toward Fitzgerald's career.  I then looked up his record in my handy-dandy Bill James Handbook, and asked him a few easy questions about where he played.  When he couldn't answer those few simple questions, I knew I'd been had.

My old buddy, Phil Geisel, phoned me shortly thereafter, laughing hysterically.

Front Page News

Unlike today, where all major announcements about trades, changes in ownership, etc., are posted on our message board, these announcements were usually made on our home page through the first several years of the BDBL's existence.  Because of that, the BDBL home page was the first page most owners would check each day, to catch up on the news around the league.

For several years, I made it a tradition to post phony front page news items on April 1st, and count how many people actually fell for it.  Here is one example from the 2000 season:

April 1, 2000
Madison, Kansas Swap Teams
MADISON, WI - In a history-making trade today, the Madison Fighting Mimes and Kansas Law Dogs swapped their entire 45-man rosters today. "We've both pretty much turned over 50-percent of our rosters since last December," explained Madison owner Brian Hicks, "so why stop there? Why not go the full route?" This unprecedented roster swap will become official as of Chapter Three.

April 1, 2000
Glander to Resign
SALEM, NH - In a stunning development today, BDBL Commissioner Mike Glander announced that he will be resigning at the end of the 2000 season. "I just don't have the time for it anymore," stated Glander, "and to be honest, I've just kind of lost interest in all this baseball stuff. Since I bought my satellite dish, I've started watching women's basketball, and I've become quite a fan. With women's hoop occupying most of my schedule during the summer, there's just no time left for baseball anymore." The fate of the BDBL lies in good hands, however, as Glander has lined up former BIBL owner Dave Presser to take over the league. "Dave has already taken the BDBL's web page," said Glander, "so why not take the league as well?"

April 1, 2000
New League Forms
MORGAN HILL, CA - A new Diamond Mind League is forming for the 2001 season according to sources close to BDBL headquarters. The league, to be called the "Little Daddy Baseball League," will consist solely of former BDBL owners. "This is a fresh, new concept that no one has ever tried before," stated league commissioner Chuck Shaeffer. "Well, except for the Bubba Trammell League."

April 1, 2000
Geisel to Appear on Star Search
NEW MILFORD, CT - Litchfield Lightning owner Phil Geisel, who wowed the crowd with his rendition of Madonna's "Like a Virgin" at the China Buffet during karaoke night last summer, is receiving his big break in show business thanks to an appearance on Ed McMahon's Star Search later this month. "My dream is to follow in the nimble footsteps of my hero, Milli," said Geisel. "But not Vanilli," Geisel added, "that guy's a dick."

April 1, 2000
Jersey Man Becomes Breakfast Treat
MARLBORO, NJ - In a bizarre twist on the phrase "you are what you eat," Jersey native Ken Kaminski turned into a waffle. "I don't know how this could have happened," said grieving wife Jodi. "One minute we're discussing how I'm going to spend our money, the next minute he's sitting on a plate all covered in syrup." Said BDBL Commissioner Mike Glander: "It was apparent from his personality traits that his DNA was startlingly close to a waffle's. I think something just pushed him over that fine line."

April 1, 2000
Zigmund Changes Allegiance
PLATTSBURGH, NY - Tim Zigmund, former Boston Red Sox fan and current resident of Minneapolis, announced that he is switching allegiances and has now become a Minnesota Twins fan. "I'm tired of rooting for a bunch of losers," said Zigmund. "And besides, I want to root for a team that has a shot of winning the World Series before I die." In other news, Zigmund's Plattsburgh Champs have acquired Ben Davis and Robert Person from the New Milford Blazers in exchange for Mike Piazza. "I have seen the error of my ways," said Zigmund.

April 1, 2000
Marazita Joins Professional Wiffleball League
STAMFORD, CT - With his workload reduced to just sixty hours a week, Stamford owner Paul Marazita is filling his free time this summer by joining a local wiffleball league. "Between volunteering at the soup kitchen five days a week and flower-arranging classes on the weekend, I found that I still had a few hours left in my schedule," explained Marazita. "I've always felt that my talents on the wiffleball diamond were being wasted. I'm thankful for this opportunity to display those talents once again for all my fans."

April 1, 2000
Zook Fundraiser Held
KANSAS CITY, MO - Scot Zoot, owner of the Phoenix Predators, held a $1,000 a plate fund-raiser at his home in Kansas City in order to raise funds for the Kansas City Royals organization. "The poor Royals owners are living in cardboard boxes trying to keep this team competitive in this brutally-unfair system," said Zook. "How can a team possibly expect to compete in such a small town as KC? As an avid Royals fan, I'm just doing my part to help my team. We hope to raise enough money tonight to afford to keep Johnny Damon in a Royals uniform for at least another year."

April 1, 2000
Romaniello to Join Orioles Front Office
NEW MILFORD, CT - Peter Angelos, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, has been searching far and wide for a GM to fill the position vacated by Pat Gillick last winter. That search is over. After watching Billy Romaniello operate the New Milford Blazers franchise the past two years, Angelos has grown to admire Romaniello's baseball savvy, calling it "very Oriole-like." By joining the Orioles team, Romaniello inherits a roster very much like his own Blazers roster, only $20 million more expensive.

Here are some additional headlines from 2002 and 2003.

You Been Funk'd

This April Fool's Day tradition continued until 2004.  That year, I had written several phony items for the front page, and was all set to post them on the night of March 31st.  But that night, a news item was announced on our message board that made my phony news items seem downright reasonable.

That season, the league had undergone a radical realignment, which placed my team into the same division as my most hated rival, Stamford.  Despite owning what I thought was a much better team, I found myself trailing the Zoots after one chapter of play.  Greg Newgard then compounded my frustration by trading a pair of all-stars to Stamford in exchange for a couple of middling prospects.  Needless to say, I wasn't too happy when I learned on the night of the 31st that the Nashville Funkadelic had just traded ace starter Roy Halladay to Stamford in a knee-jerk reaction after losing a series.

Everyone knew Halladay would eventually be placed on the block by Nashville owner Steve Osborne, but no one expected him to be traded so quickly -- and to the evil empire of Stamford, no less.

That night, I posted the photo to the left on the home page, signifying my displeasure with this ridiculous chain of events.  In it, a smiling Paul Marazita receives a trophy handed to him by Osborne, with the Stamford Zoots flag waving in the background.

I noted my displeasure with the trade on the front page, but I didn't say a word on the board.  At the time, Marazita was in the midst of a self-enforced policy of silence on the league forum, and I didn't want to feed into his "Glander picks on me too much" delusions.  So I kept quiet and waited for others to react with outrage, so that I wouldn't be accused of being the only voice of opposition.

I waited patiently for the outrage to begin.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited.

For a moment, I thought the entire league had quit in protest of this outrageous trade.  But after a while, it dawned on me that it was all a setup.  I'd been had.  Again.

This much was verified when Osborne posted the photo below, notifying me that I'd "been Funk'd" -- and the entire league was in on the joke.

Full details

Revenge of the Funk'd

The following year, Osborne sent me a PM, asking me if I had any interest in getting back at the league.  I believe my response was, "HELL YEAH!!"

We knew that if we planned our hoax too close to April Fool's Day, we'd draw too much suspicion.  So we started our prank as early as February.  We began by arguing on the league forum over silly topics like steroids, Ty Cobb and Dick Radatz.  The arguments escalated every so gradually throughout the month of March, with the two of us exchanging insults and calling each other names like "asswipe" and "jackass."

Throughout all the exchanges, the league mostly stayed out of it, with the exception of a few brave souls who tried to play peacemaker by steering the debate to other topics.  By the end of March, the insults and name-calling escalated to ludicrous levels.  And all the while, Steve and I were working in the background, exchanging PM's on how we should proceed, what we could argue about next, and how heated we should get before April 1st.

On March 28th, I ended one of my posts with the threatening admonition, "I've never kicked anyone out of the league just for being an asshole, Steve, but I have to say you're getting damn close."

As scripted, Steve continued to push my buttons until I was left with no choice but to remove him from the league:

And people say that I just don't know when to quit?

Steve, I gave you a chance to shut the hell up, and you couldn't do it. So you're out. I'm invoking the Sakolsky Clause of Rule 20.1. Effective immediately, you're done. Good bye. Have a nice life. Or don't. At this point, I couldn't give a rat's ass.

I locked the thread, banned Steve's IP address from the forum, and removed his user account.  But we were far from done.  The plan was to keep escalating and escalating until either someone called "bullshit" or the clock struck midnight on April 1st.  The night that Steve was "booted from the league," he made an actual reservation for the same hotel where BDBL Weekend in Philadelphia was being held.  He then forwarded this reservation to me (and a few others) and threatened to kick my ass.

The next day, we escalated the prank even further.  On the 30th, I announced that I had found a replacement owner for the Nashville franchise.  And that owner was...Paul Marazita.  Several people in the league gleefully welcomed Marazita into the league with open arms.  I then created a phony ID for "Marazita" and logged in under that ID.  Then, to escalate it even further, I posted what I call "The Marazita Mea Culpa."  It was a work of pure unadulterated art, written in a voice that was unquestionably Marazitaesque (with the exception of its humility and apologetic tone):

First, I would like to thank Michael for allowing me back into the league. I know that we didn't part on the best of terms, but over the past several months I have had a chance to think long and hard about my experience in this league, and reflect upon the events that led to my resignation, and I have come to realize certain things about myself and this little hobby of ours. Michael and I have talked extensively off-line, but I just want to let you all know where I stand.

From my standpoint, my experience in this league began a downhill slide after my victory in the 2003 World Series. As most of you remember, I took a great deal of heat over my decision to start Clay Condrey in that series. At the time, I felt it was a perfectly legitimate decision, given that it was perfectly legal and others were starting similar pitchers. I felt the attacks reached a personal level by questioning my ethics. Looking back, I now realize that the criticism was somewhat justified. While using Condrey may have been legal in the strictest sense, we did have rules in place to bar short-usage pitchers from starting in the playoffs. I found a loophole and exploited it, in order to win at any cost. Unfortunately, the cost was my pride and the legitimacy of my trophy. For that, I apologize to Tom and the rest of the league. Needless to say, I was a bit defensive when the issue first arose, and rather than listen to what Michael and some of the others were trying to tell me, I went into attack mode. What can I say? It's the Sicilian in me. Now, I realize what you all were trying to tell me so long ago, and I see your point. Mea culpa.

I have also come to realize that the criticism that I earned after a few of my more lopsided trades of the past several years was not specifically directed toward me with any unusual malice or venom. I now realize that this criticism was not solely directed toward me, even though it certainly felt as though I was being singled out at the time. I now realize that every trade is criticized, both by Michael and several others in the league, and we all come under the gun at one time or another. At the time, I felt these attacks were made personal, but after having had the chance to review what was written, I now understand that the focusof the criticism was on the trades and not my character, and as such, I may have overreacted. Again, I apologize for that.

The "straw that broke the camel's back," if you will, was the reaction to my trade with Phil Geisel. Though I still firmly believe that Edmonds was a great hitter, I now realize, looking back, that he was not worth anywhere near $11.5 million at that time. I knew that he wasn't worth that salary, but I was desperate to free up some money before the draft, and Phil was the only person willing to take it. The fact that I convinced him to throw in Jerome Williams and Carlos Baerga was just icing on the cake. I saw the opportunity to go for the jugular and I went for it. It is how I have always been conditioned to compete. However, it is not something that one friend should do to another in a friendly competition such as this one. In making that trade, it's possible that I took advantage of my friendship with Phil. I have apologized to Phil privately, but I just want to state publicly that I am sorry for taking advantage of my friend's trust and naivete. I assure you it will not happen again.

In the grand scheme of things, I now realize that this is just a game, and I was probably treating it a little more seriously than I should have. In case you haven't noticed, I tend to be a bit competitive; and sometimes, in the heat of battle, I get a little carried away. From now on, I will try my best to remember that in a competition like this, where the only thing at stake is pride, it really isn't whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.

I look forward to getting a fresh start in this league, and I look forward to proving to myself -- and to all of you -- that I can win without bending the rules or taking advantage of my friends. I enjoyed this hobby immensely, and it wasn't until I was away from it for a while that I realized just how much I enjoyed it. I believe that relocating to the Eck League, where I can escape from my rivalry with the Cowtippers, and where I won't be ostracized over my preference to play against the computer manager, will be a beneficial change of scenery. Needless to say, I enjoyed competing against all of you as well, and I look forward to competing against you all once again.

P.S. -- Bobby, you're going down!

Finally, after perpetuating this hoax for more than a month, Tom DiStefano officially called "bullshit."  I tried to keep it going for a little while longer, but at that point, the whole thing had become so absurd, it was beyond saving.

But still, it was nice to get some revenge, Funk-style.

Full details