TFL Draft Date Set!

So NFL owners and players still cannot come to an agreement. The season doesn’t seem to be in jeopardy (yet) as a July 21 meeting is planned, which could put an end to this extended lockout. Regardless of how this comes to an end, one thing is for sure. It will take players longer than normal to hit their strides for this upcoming season.

I think this an important, but probably won’t play into a fantasy draft. We see it nearly every year when starters rarely see any playing time during the preseason in order to avoid injury. The outcome, it ends up taking about 3-4 games for them to get going, work out timing issues and start playing like we (fantasy owners) expected.

The 2011 TFL season marks the 28th year I have been acting as league commissioner. While that might seen hard to believe there are three original owners who are still active since day one. A four who made his triumphant return a few years back and only two owners who are newcomers participating for 2 years.

We have set out traditional date for the TFL draft. This year it will be August 19-21. The venue, The Palms in Las Vegas. It has become “tradition” the past  10 years or so as we spend an entire weekend in Vegas. The draft actually takes place on Saturday, late morning for those owners who might have had difficulty the night before.

Now that the date is set, the smell of fantasy is in the air. Lots to do leading up to the draft, including keeping up to date on a frenzied free agency that could see lots of players moving different directions. It’s also time to renew the league software at CBS Sportsline. I do believe I can get the most up to date information from Fantasy Football Starters, now in year 2 there I believe in their product and people.

TFL: 27 Years of Fantasy Football

Much like winter, spring, summer and fall, fantasy football has a season. On Sunday evening we entered our 27th year playing fantasy football. Die hard roto geeks find it hard to believe there was fantasy football back in the 1980s. I was fortunate enough to have 5 good friends, all of whom had a father participating in my father’s fantasy league, so the boys started their own. Little did we think after 27 years we would still be playing.

During the 1983-1984 season we had 6 owners who participated in the first TFL or Toumi Football League. While we did use our Apple computer, all the pre-draft preparation and scoring were done by hand, spending countless hours going through what limited resources we had. My father created a neat program with Filemaker (I believe) that allowed us to input each team. It would then spit out a weekly worksheet and roster sheets that we, as the commissioner would use to manage the league.

Since the inception of the TFL we have made necessary changes to the league. The number of owners have increased from 6 to 8, finally to 10 owners just a few years ago. Our scoring system, consider archaic by today standards did not evolve as quickly. The rudimentary scoring rewarded 3 points for a TD pass and 6 points for a TD. In terms of yardage, 100 yards receiving or rushing or 250 yards passing scored 7 points. Kickers received 1 point for a PAT, 3 points for a field goal 45 yards and under and 7 points for any field goal over 45 yards.

We still have 4 of the original 6 owners, who are now known as “The Wise Men” rarely are changes made to the league with consulting them first. We often think we missed out on the dot com boom by not going live with our prognostication during the 1990s.

We finally move to an Internet based software to manage our league in 2000 using My Fantasy League. It was a cut above what doing all the work by hand and allowed me to spend more time providing takes and making predictions on the upcoming year. In 2004 we made the switch to CBS Sportsline.

Another oddity about our league was paying out the top three places based on total points, not a head to head competition that is prevalent in many leagues today. In 2003 we added H2H as a “side bet” and paid the winner. Since then total points still reigns supreme, pays the biggest winning, but there is excitement in the H2H competition that allows owners another chance to win some scratch.

In 2004 we loaded up draft central and flew into “Sin City,” Las Vegas, Nevada where we would hole up at The Palms for a weekend. The weekend would consist of owners flying in on Friday afternoon, gambling and hanging out poolside drinking beer until everyone arrived. Friday night would be dinner at The N9Nes Steakhouse where we would “pull the ace.” This would decided our draft order for the upcoming season. The owner pulling the ace could slot himself anywhere.

On Saturday we would stumble out of bed, grab some breakfast to cure the Friday night binge. We would gather our belongings and head poolside to a cabana, where would set up draft central and spend the next 4 hours drafting and drinking and drinking. Did I mention we drank?

Saturday night would be another dinner and other “extracurricular” activities that included gambling. While I have yet to stay a full weekend, all the owners would fly out of Vegas on Sunday.

It has been a great way for me to remain in contact with many of my childhood friends even though we are separated by hundreds of miles. The yearly Vegas trip is a time for us to get together, reminisce about years gone by and catch up on what we are now doing. Not sure how much longer we will continue on with many now family men, some single. It has been one hell of a ride and always look forward to the start of fantasy football.

Time. More Time.

It never seems I have enough time to get everything I need to do accomplished. As I have mentioned many times before when I run of of time it is my site that suffers. I have much content to upload, as well as updates to the site to do, but time is something that is currently precious and I have none to put into it. But with that said I will bring you up to date on the current happenings.

First football…no, not the NFL, but REAL football is back as the Prem and now all the other worldwide leagues have kicked off their seasons. Unfortunately, my boys at AS Roma are now 0-2, the manager resigned and the fans are pissed off at ownership. Hell, almost sounds like an NFL franchise. LOL.

Speaking of NFL, we did hold our 26th TFL draft the last week of August in Vegas, poolside at The Palms. It was another great time with many friends I had not seen to spoke to since the last draft in 2008. Always fun to get together with childhood friends and reminiscence. Unfortunately, we were one owner short, but hopefully we will see him next year. We did add two new owners, so for the first time in the TFL we have 10 owners, which made the draft interesting.

I am slowly mitigating my computers to Ubuntu (currently running Jaunty Jackolope v9.04). I downloaded 9.04 after having issues with my Toshiba laptop loosing my profile and then not being able to find the Ethernet controller. I reinstalled from a retail version of Windows Vista with no luck. Then attempted to reinstall from the DVDs that came with the laptop. Again, no go. So I said fuck it and removed Windows. Buh bye Bill Gates and this horrible operating system.

So far I have been impressed with Ubuntu and recalls my memories of running many of the older Mac OSes I grew up with. So far the laptop is the only system running Linux, but it is just a matter of time before I change my two other computers. The great thing I notice about Ubuntu, it had an entire section for amateur radio that was included!

Speaking of ham radio…the new vertical antenna is now up and completed. Well mostly. I am still working on the ground system to the best of knowledge. I am guessing it is not completely correct, but would be deemed better than nothing. I am still having issues with reception on the SteppIR BigIR. Of course with sunspots being nil it has been difficult to make many contacts on SSB, but have had some luck using CW and a few of the digital modes.

I have an email out to a friend (N6WM) who uses a SteppIR at their club station, in the hopes he can come over and provide some pointers to me. This new station is a bit more than what I originally started with in 2007 with a Icom IC-718 and a Hustler 6-BTV. The current station consists of a Yaesu FT-1000MP, SteppIR BigIR MkIII and an Alpha 76PA. Under the right conditions a very powerful station, but given my limitations in the backyard I don’t have the necessary room to run full length radials.

Finally Facebook…I know I was somewhat against the social networking but just yesterday I was reunited with a long lost aunt, Pam, who oddly enough still lives in the bay area. I recall hearing of her back in the late 80’s or early 90’s. As I understand it, she is my dad’s half-sister as they share the same father. So it was great to hear from her, as I said oddly enough through Facebook.

As for the site, don’t get me started one of these days when I am really bored I will update content on the site. Maybe I need to starting bringing the laptop to work again to get some work done during the week. Anyway, that brings me up to date. More later…

Fantasy Football Primer

It is almost that time of season. Recently, I have not been all that excited about the upcoming NFL season. While I still support my home town, Chargers I rarely watch a game on television. But being in the bay area, I love mixing it up with the myopic “Raider Fan” on a weekly basis. While the start of the 2009-2010 NFL Season is coming, the fantasy football (NFL) are heating up. This is year 26 of the TFL, originally started by my father and his friends nearly 30 years ago. I started my version a few years later with friends of my own.

Much like last year, we are set up for a Vegas weekend, poolside in a cabana at The Palms. It really is a great setting and great time for all the owners involved. Of course my wife is not fond of her married man going to Vegas and being poolside. I can understand her hesitation to say to this trip every year. Of course what makes it better is when I return home with money from playing the wheel. Okay, so that does not happen often, but the chance is there, right?

This year the TFL is expanding from 8 owners to 10 owners. This will be the first time in our history we have ventured above 8 owners. One of the “original wise men” (original owner) is calling this “an experiment.” I would like to look at it in another light. Our league was rather stagnate and musty up until a few years when we implement some scoring changes that brought the league to a new level, more on par with other fantasy leagues. For a few subsequent years we made some minor rule changes, all of which have been accepted and written into the league rules.

I have currently been reading Time to change things up? on CBS Sports directed at commissioners who run leagues. Since we have already “updated” our league the past few years many of these ideas won’t come to fruition in our league. Many of our changes were done in order to reward players for their performance, not reward them for mediocrity.

Points awarded for pass attempts, carries and catches, “for a player merely getting a chance to make a play.” What is this? I can understand points for catches, if your league uses a tight end, but for “having a chance to play?” Laughable! This does nothing to reward performance.

Other ideas touchdown passes and yardage bonuses reward performance. I think many leagues already provide three or four points for a touchdown pass. In our league we increased that value to 4 points a few years back. The yardage bonus is something we had, but recently removed because of how we modified our scoring for yardage. Sometimes this bonuses would only affect a small percentage of players. I think I speak for the league, we like the new scoring guidelines now.

The TFL has never played defensive or special teams. The only exception is if a WR or RB you play returns a kick off, punt or I guess an interception they would be rewarded for a touchdown. Our league is completely dependent on offensive scoring only. Other ideas like starting two QBs or drafting team QBs don’t seem to fit well in the TFL. Owners have the option of starting two, but it is not mandatory.

Flexibility in a starting lineup is key, as well as being able to field a full team when the bye weeks kick in. The draft is the most important part of the season, one in which each owner approaches differently. I look for a very balanced team from QB to RB and WR, while we have another owner who drafts RB heavy. It is not unheard of to have 5 or 6 RBs before drafting a starting QB. Draft strategy is a discussion for another time.

One thing that does come into play during a draft are rules changes. This year won’t change for the existing owners, but the new owners will have to review them and have a general idea of how points are allocated. Almost 30 days until the draft, looking forward to the new fantasy season and new owners.

The Las Vegas Stink

So I spent about 36 hours this past weekend in Vegas. You know the sleazy city, whose slogan is, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” I left Friday morning before sunrise from Oakland and arrived about 8am for our 25th anniversary fantasy football draft. Yes, we draft poolside in Vegas! Owners arrive on Friday, the draft is Saturday and most leave Sunday morning.

This year, we returned after a year off from Vegas due to other family commitments. I know my wife was not really thrilled at the prospect of my return to Vegas, even if it was just for a single night. But being the truthful and honest husband I am, I told her what some of the guys do (read strip clubs). Most of the time is spent gambling and hanging out poolside with an alcoholic beverage in your hand. Although this year was a bit different.

Friday morning was quite uneventful, which I spent most of the time by myself, as the two other guys there were getting full body massages fro two hours. Did I mention we stayed at The Palms? So I spent much of the morning by myself, I did hit the roulette table and win a small bit of money, nothing to write home about.

Many of the guys started rolling in about 1pm or 2pm. After the massages we went to the pool, but ended up at a $15 minimum blackjack table (single deck). I don’t play the game and not too fond of it. But I ended up costing my buddy a few hundred. Hey blame him for throwing $100-$300 a hand out there. Guess I should learn more about the game and know when to hit and when to stay.

By 3pm all of the owners were at the blackjack table and five of us were playing. I finally backed out and let one of the other guys play since I was not making any money. That even we spent at N9NE Steakhouse with a bill of $1300! The steak, sides and appetizers ARE worth the money! Great food, great fun and great friends.

I was trying to figure it out, but I think I have known most all of these guys 25+ years. We started fantasy football before many even knew what it was. I guess if we smart we would have started our own fantasy football service, one in which others came to us for information. Why we never thought of this years ago is beyond me.

Saturday night is pretty much a blur. I know I had a few too many scotch and waters, lost my ass at roulette and I think I wandered the casino aimlessly watching others hits their numbers. I did not sit back down after I got up. I did find the rest of the group playing blackjack and not fairing much better.

Saturday was the draft, poolside in two cabanas that overlooked the back section of the pool. While it did not look as crowded as it was Friday, it was still well over 100. I came home red, which I knew I would. But we spent the better part of 4 hours and 20 rounds to finish off the 2008-2009 TFL Draft. There were some nice surprises and some downright dumb picks. Yet that is part of the fun of the entire season, getting together for the draft.

While I wanted to stay the full 3 days, I was ready to leave. There seems to be a stink that follows you out of Sin City. Spending hours in a smoke filled casino with people drinking continuously and throwing all sorts of money on the table for a chance at much more. So while it was hard to leave and say goodbye for another year, I don’t think I would have had much fun Saturday night. I was bored with gambling since my numbers were not doing me much of a favor I did not want to piss away what money I won. We had already done the N9NE Steakhouse, so I guess it was a smart move to come home.

As for next year, I am thinking about bringing my wife. She is not that fond of my going without her. Understandable. I would like her to meet them, not that it would change anything, but I do think we would have more fun together for a night or two in Vegas. I am sure the entire football would laugh at me, but hey they do now so nothing would really change.