Tuesday, October 21, 2014

30 for 30 History of the Vince Lombardi Memorial Rest Stop (Fantasy Football League)

*This is a special presentation of ESPN's 30 for 30. All of the quotes herein are 100% accurate.

The Namesake
There are thousands of fantasy football leagues worldwide. But none have the unique combination of commitment, sportsmanship and competitiveness that is found in the Vince Lombardi Memorial Rest Stop Fantasy Football League (the “Vince”). This is the story of a fantasy football league of scallywags, hooligans, and backstabbers – all vying for the Lord Stanley’s Cup of fantasy football. The Bucket.  But the Vince suffers from one significant flaw, it’s founding document, the Constitution. If the Vince were Gotham City, Bruce Wayne was shot and killed long ago with his parents outside the theater. There is no savior – no Batman, Adam Banks, Neo, or Russell Casse. Nevertheless, the one common unifying factor is the love of football, which brings the members together twice a year for revelry, merriment, and bucket.

LEE ROBINSON - League Member 2009 - 2013
The Blue Wizard

“Horseshit. I’m pretty sure this league has nothing to do with football.  You guys talk about football for no more than 15 minutes of a 12 hour (air quotes) “draft!”   The rest of the time you argue about rules that no one follows, hold sham elections and votes to impeach the commissioner and argue about whether championship jackets or patches should be awarded, which by the way, NEVER happened. I couldn’t sit through another 12 hour ordeal, which is why I sold off my team to Creegan…sucker.”

History shows that, competitiveness and commitment wavers from season to season, and sportsmanship is questionable, if not altogether non-existent.  When it comes down to it, with all of its flaws the Vince members enjoy the competition, but really seem to oddly relish any excuse to get blind drunk and yell at the Commissioner. It is fully expected that the Vince will be eventually get banned from every steakhouse in NYC.

DXR - 2011
“I’m okay with that.  Those places are overpriced and overrated anyway.  I know it was my idea, and a fantastic one at that, but seriously, did anyone actually expect that we would be able to control ourselves, even in an environment where the waiters are wearing bowties and vests? Actually, we should probably make bowties and vests mandatory for all winter meetings.  What really derailed the 2014 Winter Meeting was the pre-meeting caucus at the German Beer Hall. As Vice Commissioner, I decree that every winter meeting start at the German Beer Hall (and end in shame).”

The origins of the Vince date back to 2005, in the hallowed halls of the Quinnipiac University School of Law, where rising 2L Brian Palmeri conceived of the concept of a fantasy football league comprised of all his friends. 

The Commissioner circa 2005
 “This was my first shot at being commissioner. No one was inviting me to join their other leagues so I thought, what the heck, now that I no longer have to be the founder, president and sole member of the Republican Law Society, I should get all my friends to play fantasy football.”

The first fantasy football league commissioner-ed by Brian Palmeri and was indeed the Ohio League to the present day power house that is the Vince. It was an 8 team league that included Chris Balll, Joe DiSillvestro, and “Sneaky” Peter DeFranck.

The sneakiest of Petes
“Brian was my 1L roommate. When he invited me to join this league I was really surprised and happy. I’d finally broken through! After 12 months of cooking him elaborate meals that sometimes required every single pot and pan in the kitchen and leaving aromatic apple peels in the shower, I’d finally broken through his tough exterior!”

“Sneaky Pete was one of the oddest people I’ve ever known, but we needed an even number of teams so…”

That 2005 league was cleverly named QU Law on Yahoo!’s fledgling fantasy sports website. The teams were poorly drafted and Mario Martins finished in last place, kicking off a trend that would carry him to the most last place finishes with 3.  However, in the modern era, he is merely tied for last place finishes with Covey and Hamor at two apiece.

Two thousand and six marked the first year of expansion from a pathetic eight team league to a full-fledged 12 team league. Sneaky Pete was tasked with filling out the rest of the league and brought in his night section cohorts, Ari Schneider and Jordan ________.

GJB circa 2006
“ I vividly remember this draft as it was the first live in-person draft that took place at the historic/infamous mansion/pizza parlor/flophouse known as 680 West Woods Road.”
The Dungeon Basement - 680 West Woods Road
“How could you forget the basement, with its absurdly colored walls, bar, beer pong table, which I dominated, and the Christmas light ceiling. That house survived a lot, and I’m 100% certain that the new owners have no idea what went on there.  I wonder if their inspection uncovered the poorly excellently patched Dan Robinson ass-sized hole in the wall across from the second bedroom.  Even Creegan has experienced the best and worst 680 had to offer, in particular the great Eskimo conquest of 2006.”

2006 was marked by the hosting of the league on an ESPN.com website, which everyone agreed was terrible a terrible idea. There was even a trade made at the draft that was promptly vetoed by league vote.

ARI SCHNEIDER – League Member 2006:
“I made a brilliant move trading away Shaun Alexander. It was a live room so I decided to announce the trade immediately instead of waiting for after the draft.  However, once the trade was announced, there was a cry of foul – I think it was KJ who spoke first – and next thing I know the trade is vetoed.  I was pissed, but it was only made worse when my fears were realized and Alexander got hurt and began the decline of his career.”
KJack - on Left

“Whoa, hey ! It wasn’t me.  I definitely voted against the trade, but I’m pretty sure it was Palmeri that spoke first.”

“Doesn’t matter.  You guys were a bunch of dicks. I knew it was time to get out.”

Brandon Dickstein won the 2006 season, which included his selection of the finest NFL jerseys that $60 could buy. His choice, future NFL superstar, Reggie Bush of the New Orleans Saints.
Rare Dickstein Sighting 2013

“Look, I already had Pennington, D’Brickashaw, and Vilma jerseys - why not switch it up for the free one? I picked Bush because I thought it would be a humorous contrast to my last name.  I’m pretty sure the commissioner just bought some cheap knock-off from a Chinese website. The stitching was all wrong, and the logo said “MFL” on it!”

In 2007 keepers were introduced into the yet unwritten rules.  This decision would change the landscape of the league forever…

Lead Singer for Aerosmith?
“I loved the idea. The keeper value concept created a whole new market for the league in terms of trading and drafting. At the time a free agent pick up was a 16th round keeper in the next year and only lost two rounds worth of draft picks in subsequent years. Of course, we couldn’t just leave it alone. Each year after keepers were introduced more rules were proposed to manipulate the system. I proposed a system where teams could buy and sell equity interests in their teams and would allow for cash and other considerations to be incorporated into trades. These guys just don’t have the vision to see that the Vince could have become a whole new marketplace right alongside the NYSE and NASDAQ.  Pretty short sighted if you ask me.”

Disappointment? Probably.
JARAD LUCANN – League member 2006-2007:
“Once they decided to make this a keeper league I knew I had to get out.  2006 was enough of a shit show without keepers. They could barely agree on which of Palmeri’s western Massachusetts friends to let in the league. By the way, it should have been neither of them. That’s why I got out at the first opportunity.”

2007 marked the introduction of the first of the Commissioners appointed team owners. Brian Rice and Tommy Silver replaced Ari and Jordan, appearing for the draft at 680 West Woods Road.

Martins 2005
“They were decent guys, stuck around a couple of years if I recall. But they weren't bringing anything to the table.  Rice just complained a lot.  He fit right in when it came to giving the Commissioner a hard time, but it always seemed mean spirited. We like to bust balls, but we do it because it’s funny and he deserves it, and we keep it strictly to his shortcomings as a commissioner. The personal attacks just seemed misplaced.”

2007 also marked the final year that 680 West Woods Road was available as a draft location.  It was retired in a grand fashion, as the host venue for the viewing of the first of two Super Bowls in which the Giants defeated the favored Patriots.

The 2008 season saw the departure of Jarad Lucan, with Brett Woodis taking over his team.  The draft was held at Archie Moore’s in Derby that fall.

Woodis - foreground
Mook - fantastic background
Winter Meeting 2013
“The Commissioner asked me if I wanted to join a fantasy football league. I think I was the third or fourth person he asked after Cartona and Hillman. At the time, those guys were smart enough to pass.  I really had no idea what I was stepping into. There was a major controversy over Tom Brady, who was injured early in the 2008 season, dropped by Dan Robinson, and then picked up by the Commissioner.”

2008 was indeed a dark year for the Vince. The move by the commissioner forever changed the Vince from a cordial league of gentlemen engaged in a gentlemanly fantasy game, plunging it into the dark depths in which it lives today. The commissioner, given the opportunity to act in the overall best interests of the league returning Tom Brady to the free agent pool or allowing him to be stashed on IR, instead manufactured a justification that allowed him to keep Tom Brady as a free agent for as many as four years, throwing the competitive balance in his favor for the subsequent seasons. From that day forward league members no longer focused their attention on drafting the best team possible. Instead the focus was shifted to three alternative goals: (1) finding and taking advantage of loop holes in the poorly drafted constitution; (2) proposing amendments to plug those holds; (3) catching the Commissioner from finding ways to take further advantage of the poorly drafted constitution that he, himself, drafted.
Yeah. Pissed.

“The Brady Rule, as it now infamously known, is complete bullshit. It continues to fuck me over to this day – I’m carrying child beater Adrian Peterson on my roster instead of dropping him just so someone can’t keep him in the 10th round next year. My proposed amendment – that draft status stays with a player for the full season – would alleviate that.  The commissioner’s reasoning at the time was a clearly done out of self interest. Read it for yourself. None of the reasons/goals make sense.”

NARRATOR (Reading):
Brian Palmeri <brianjpalmeri@gmail.com>
to KJ, horatius12, me, fabb05, Mario, Daniel, daniel.x.robin., oods9xu, Justin, Brian, qututors, tommy14bb
Dear bitches,

I cannot pass the buck under the guise of democracy any longer. The potential for endless conversation is a real possibility. Therefore, I took all the suggestions and did some of my own research and adopted a set of rules for the league which will be in effect going forward. There's nothing dramatically different and only the keeper rule re: 3 years is retroactive.

I'm not going to justify each individual rule (except the "brady rule") so save any griping. About the "brady rule." Essentially, a "keeper" is a term applied to a player on a roster and the "keeper" label is akin to that player's contract rights. However, if he is dropped he's not on the team and like real life, his rights are re-set. Thus, if you trade with someone, you assume the player part and parcel which is a consideration in the trade. But if a player is dropped, he becomes a clean slate.

I will say that each rule was set with a few general goals in mind:

1.) Fairness

2.) Risk and reward in player management

3.) Maintaining interest in the league and draft form year to year

PETER DE FRANK (shaking head):
“You think you know a guy. You peel apples for him and all of a sudden he pulls this move.  The writing was on the wall.  It was time for me to quit before things got really out of hand."

The Commissioner’s move ultimately paid off in the 2009 season with a championship* and conveniently coincided with the doubling of the entry fee from $50 to $100 per team.  The raise in entry fee priced out Tommy Silver and Brian Rice. Zack Turner and Lee Robinson joined the league in 2009 and Justin Covey replaced Sneaky Pete.

“It was really great to see everyone. I had a blast. Not sure about that Turner guy though. He was clearly not well – physically, mentally, emotionally. Seriously, he was wheezing from the moment he stepped foot in the house. I thought maybe he hiked to Goshen or swam the lake on his way in but no, it turns out he was just really really out of shape and really really drunk. Some serious consideration was given to how many people it would take to get him into a flatbed and to the hospital. After that day I committed myself to physical fitness and feats of athleticism and haven't looked back.”

Matt Brow - foreground

MATT BROWN (waking up):
“Turner. Who’s turner?”

After Turner passed in 2010, Michael Cartona took his place, finally joined the league after years of claiming he didn’t like fantasy football.
2005 Cartona - Center 

“Fantasy football is still stupid. Palmeri asked me to join for like 6 straight years before I finally gave in. I didn’t quite get it.  Bautista kept yelling about overturning some “Brady Rule” and Brown would switch between “SANCTIONS!” and “AUTODRAFT!” I thought this was fantasy football, but clearly something else was going on.”

Winner take all, indeed.
2010 marked the first year that the “compete every other year” strategy was introduced and executed successfully by Mario Martins.

“We should keep raising the entry fee. Seriously. Winner take all.”

At the 2010 draft Lee Robinson placed the sticker for Sidney Rice on the draft board in an early round, not realizing the Rice had somewhat recently suffered a season ending injury. Much to the dismay of KJ Kelly, Lee was afforded the opportunity to take back the pick.

“I wasn’t at this draft but I would have made him keep the pick.  Once the stickers on the board all bets are off.  He could have drafted Keyshawn Johnson – which would have been a great pick – and I would have made him keep it.”

“Yeah, I should have been stuck with Rice.”


Tragedy struck in 2011 as the Goshen cabin was blown away by hurricane Irene. Adding to the issues was the fact that rancid meat was smoked and ultimately consumed. League ombudsman, Cartona, also caught the Commissioner again trying to manipulate the rules by using another, later pick in the same round acquired from another team to keep a player.

2013 Winter Meeting
“One season in and I was onto his shenanigans.  Frankly, I wasn’t really sure it was illegal, but it seemed shady the way he was acting.  All shifty eyed and jittery. Sure he’d had over a big gulp’s worth of coffee at that point, but it’s easy to catch him being shady.”

Although the league ultimately later agreed that the Commissioner’s move was “probably fine” it unanimously voted against allowing him to do it that season.  The consensus was it is illegal simply because he was the one trying to do it.

The 2012-2013 seasons were the first stable seasons the Vince experienced, ever. There was no team turnover. The draft returned to Goshen.  The Crying Dolphins made their momentous debut, complete with a completely disproportionate reaction by the Commissioner who was allegedly “trying to sleep.” 

“He said we could do whatever we wanted as long as we were inside!”

Commissioner with
Championship Bucket
2013 was the inaugural year of the LBI draft, effectively killing Labor Day weekend for years to come.  The 2014 season saw the exit of Lee Robinson as the league welcomed John Creegan into the mix. The future of the Vince is simultaneously bright and dark. Undoubtedly future seasons will present new challenges as the Commissioner finds new and different ways to manipulate the rules and the league reacts to stop him. Dues will continue to rise at a rate above inflation. But each year, on the weekend before Labor Day, the members of the Vince Lombardi Memorial Rest Stop will congregate in a location chosen by the Vice Commissioner to once again raise the Championship Bucket in friendship and solidarity.

“We’ve come a long way from a Championship Reggie Bush jersey.” 

Draft Day 2012

Marinating Bucket

KJ's Wedding 

Friday, December 14, 2012

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's the most wonderful time of the year!
With Hamor cellar dwelling,
And Matt Brown telling me, "There's always next year,"
It's the most wonderful time of the year!

It's the hap-happiest season of all!
With those smack talking greetings and gay Tuna meetings,
When Percy Harvin takes a fall,
It's the hap-happiest season of all!

There'll be new bucket hosting,
Palmeri is toasting,
Barreling Dickstein out of the show.
KJ's team's still deplorey,
And tales of the glories of,
Buckets won long, long ago.

It's the most wonderful time of the year,
There'll be much Greggy gloating,
and Woodis' boner growing,
When championships are near!

It's the most wonderful time...
It's the most wonderful time...
It's the most wonderful time...
It's the most wonderful time of the year!

For those of us who never made it (Birdman, Dicktotr, Cartona, LRob, DRob, Mook) and those who barely suckled the playoff teet (Mario, Dickstein), it's far from the most wonderful time of the year.  Some of the esteemed members of the Vince may disagree, but I'm solidly of the opinion that fantasy football is probably 80% luck.  The other 20% requires the know-how to not royally mess up a draft and earnestly trying to make use of the waiver wire and/or trades.  If you can give yourself some semblance of a fantasy football team, lady luck will either shine on you or kick you in the yule log.  How else to explain the No Feelings super team getting bounced in the first round?  Or prognosticators thinking the Birdmen had a shot to make some noise in the playoffs this year only to hit a five-game losing streak after trading for Ray Rice?  If you, dear reader, will allow me to vent for just a moment, I would like to kick my bastard child of a team while they're down.  F them all.  F them long, and F them hard. 

I feel better.

Like I said in the Poo-Men's edition of Why Your Team Sucks, ANYTHING can happen in the playoffs.  Like an injury to LeSean McCoy.  Or Amendola.  Or Hernandez and Bowe and Nelson and Nicks.

That being said, I'd like to compare everyone's teams to a Christmas movie.  This might have been done before, but I don't care.

In order of current standings:

1. 27 Tampa - Miracle on 34th Street

Yes, KJ, the playoffs are real.  Only a miracle can explain the easy schedule the fighting KJacks took to a first round bye.  So yes, Miracle on 34th Street is fitting.  Or I guess I should say Miracle on 34th Strasse since you're in Germany.

2. Fecophocles - Scrooged 

Pompous, a wealth of (fantasy) assets, and ruthless.  Meet Greg Bautista.  He hoarded fantasy players in his quest to become a big shot in the Vince.  But will his corporate greed come back to haunt him?

3. Cunning Stunts - Nightmare Before Christmas 

Much like Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, Woodis grew bored with his team and routine, coasting through the season with the same cast of characters.  So he decided to dupe Tuna into trading him Jimmy Graham for picks similar to what I was offering and...Jonathan Stewart?  Tuna thought this was a better deal, thus sealing my Nightmare Before Christmas.

4. Statutory Apes - Die Hard

Part of me hates to give Palmeri such an awesome movie and one of the best action heroes of all time in John McClain, but what else to give to the oft-maligned Commissioner who sells off key assets before the deadline only to see his team improve?  That makes him and his team Die Hard.  Although unsubstantiated, after Brown traded for Reggie Wayne in the deal heard 'round the proctologist world, Palmeri said, "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!"

5. No Feelings - Bad Santa 

Dreams and plans all year to knock off a shopping mall at Christmas with a little henchman.  Mario dreams and plans all year to knock off the Vince at Christmas with a little henchman (Matt Brown).  Likes his smokes and has sexy time encounters in public places like Billy Bob.

6. Dirty Dirty Sanchez - Eight Crazy Nights

Self explanatory.

7. Doctotrs - Gremlins 

Brown dresses like a gremlin, is averse to water, and can't be fed after midnight.  Throughout the movie, the gremlins are annoying to the cute mogwai, Gizmo.  Brown sent a million text messages to yours truly -- poking and prodding my failure to make the playoffs.  Also, harbors a deep resentment to the true #1 receiver of the International Playboys.

8. 10 Things Not Skrillex - Love Actually 

On the surface, Toons loves to hate the Commissioner, crying corruption and constantly stirring the pot.  But we all know deep down what his true feelings are.  Definitely dances to Jump (For My Love) alone at night regularly.

9. Birdmen - A Charlie Brown Christmas 

Perpetually down on his luck, cute, much too young to have hair issues, and from the midwest, yes, Charlie Brown embodies the Birdmen like no one else.  Pick your analogy -- Charlie thinking he's finally going to kick the football and then Lucy yanks it away at the last second or his meager little Christmas tree -- either one is apt to describe the gut punch my loser fantasy team delivered me.  An autopsy was performed on the Birdmen after the season after a suspected heart attack and it was discovered they never had a heart to begin with.

10. SB1070 Tacos - National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 

Both LRob and Clark Griswold thought their holiday season would be perfect.  Coming out of the draft with a very formidable team, the whole world just seemed to be against the Tacos from the start.  Cousin Eddie (Greg Jennings) was a constant annoyance. 

11. HandsomePantsLess - A Christmas Story

 DXR not only wears his hair like Ralphie, but also has a banana suit which rivals the pink bunny suit in ridiculousness.  Had to rinse his mouth out with soap after trading his namesake quarterback. 

12. S. Taylor's All-star - Home Alone  

Isolated after being banished to the attic (or cellar, for Hamor) at Christmas.  Comes up with a plan to stave off the wet bandits (or the Jimmy Suck-It) and protect his home...and hilarity ensues.  The league collectively screams like little Kevin McAllister putting on after shave after Hamor trades away Trent Richardson for pennies on the dollar.

To all the members of the Vince:  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year.  See ya guys on January 5.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Power Rankings – Independence Day (1996)

These power rankings* are a not so in depth look at the teams in the league, loosely compared to the cast of the 1996 blockbuster/smashhit/bestmovieever Independence Day.

*power rankings are based on the Yahoo! system

12. SB1070 Tacos – President Thomas J. Whitmore

Having literally traded away every halfway decent player on his roster, SB1070 Tacos has become the league favorite to finish in dead last place.  S. Taylor’s All-Star can breathe a sigh of relief as there may be a team that will beat his in the race to the bottom. Some might argue that President Thomas J. Whitmore is the wrong ranking for a team with a #12 ranking. Make no mistake, this ranking has nothing to do with the team and everything to do with SB1070 Taco’s affinity for the greatest presidential speech in the history of mankind. Mankind…that word should have new meaning for all of us today…

Memorable Quote:

11: Doctotors – Dr. Brackish Okun

It’s surprising to see the 6th place Doctotors so low in the power rankings.  That might have to do with the always threatening two-tight end set Doctotors seems to think will be effective or the dangerous on paper but hardly effective wide receiving corps. Nevertheless Dr. Brackish Okun (portrayed by Brent Spiner) was the clear choice – a little eccentric, pretends to be knowledgeable, but ultimately gets killed by the aliens and used as a telepathic communications puppet (more on that later).

Memorable Quote: This is the vault. Or as some of us like to call it: The Freak Show. or AUTODRAFT

10: S. Taylor’s All-Star – Tiffany

Bright lights distract her. So much so that she fails to pay attention to the alien attack taking place (the league), and may as well have been dead before the movie started (the football season).

Memorable Quote: ______________

9: HandsomePantsLess – Captain Jimmy Wilder

He wants to fight, is cocky and "handsome", but realizes that good looks cannot get you through an alien invasion.  Eventually gets killed in a dogfight (trades TB12).

Memorable Quote: Check me out, Stevie. I'm gonna try something.

8: Dirty Dirty Sanchez – Constance Spano

Constance – DDS has been constant – winning the league only to come back and compete in the next year. This is a stretch, but if DDS actually showed up to drafts I might have more material.

Constance: Now what do we do?
President Thomas Whitmore: Address the nation. There's gonna be a lot of frightened people out there.
: Yeah. I'm one of 'em.

7: 10ThingsNotSkrillex – First Lady Marilyn Whitmore

A powerful figure, who fails to do anything (Vick) early in the movie, a casualty of the alien attack.  However, she can eat 10 double cheeseburgers.

Memorable Quote: Liar

6: Statutory Apes – Jasmine Dubrow

Stripper with a heart of gold.

Memorable Quote: Not even a four pointer. Go back to sleep.

5: Cunning Stunts – General William Grey

General Grey played an important role as a key advisor to the president and leader of the U.S. troops. Unfortunately, despite his powerful position (Arian Foster) he could only watch the carnage unfold around him, powerless to do anything about it due to the ineffectiveness of his weapons (Stafford) as [other teams] make significant playoff runs.

Memorable Quote: Hasn't anyone told you? ...El Toro has been completely destroyed.

4:  27 Tampa – Albert Zimzicki

President Thomas J. Whitmore’s internal nemesis, Albert Zimzicki most certainly would take issue with the president using his executive power to refuse to use nuclear weapons against the aliens pull Sidney Rice off the draft board.

Memorable Quote: Two words, Mr. President: "Plausible deniability".

3: Birdmen – Russell Casse

Pilot – Crop Dusting - Alien Abudcted - Alien Anally Probed (see No Feelings), what more needs to be said?

Memorable Quote: Payback's a bitch, ain't it?

2: Fecophocles – David Levinson

In Independence Day, David Levinson was the genius who deciphered the alien’s code and used their technology against them.  Fecophocles has done just that with No Feelings strategy, only he’s executed it better than No Feelings could ever hope to.

Memorable Quote: A toast, to the end of the world.

1: No Feelings – The Alien Invasion

Much like a parasitic infestation, No Feelings has infected the league with an up-and-down strategy, trade picks for players one year, and lay low the next. This was on full display during the draft, when No Feelings wheeled-and-dealed in specious back-room dealings, acquiring Aaron Rodgers and Megatron. Of course, Doctotors (Dr. Okun) was the team complicit with No Feelings execution of this strategy. Of course, everyone knows how the movie ends for the aliens.

Memorable Quote: DIEEEEEEEE!

And once again the Vince is without a hero. (Captain Steven Hiller). God help us all.