A with the Centennial League, WhatIfSports' first progressive SLB league
SimLeague Baseball's first progressive, the Centennial League, began in 2003 with 24 users, led by league founder and commissioner seaphil. The league began by drafting only players from 1969. Upon completion of the first season, they moved on to 1970, then 1971 and so on. Today, almost nine years later, the league is about to catch up to the present-day. In honor of this great achievement and the dedication of all involved, we recently interviewed current commissioner ceez, who took over for seaphil after a few seasons, as well as many of the other current players.
WIS: Who is ceez?
ceez: 41-year-old, hardworking/life-loving chef/bartender, father of two awesome boys, married to a beautiful woman who lets me drink martinis at 8 in the morning if I so choose.
WIS: What is your league format?
ceez: The original progressive, no IR. The league started when seaphil posted his request for owners on June 29, 2003. Tom Seaver was the first draft pick by Minnesota/Iceman67 on July 11, 2003 and the first set of games were played on August 12, 2003...over 8 years ago, damn.
WIS: How did the league form?
ceez: Seaphil bailed after the first couple seasons. I enjoyed it so much that I refused to let it end on my watch and took over. I have a waitlist of owners ready to jump in and would like to take this minute to invite anyone interested to SiteMail with interest. Please include a list of your favorite cocktails. I don't choose new owners by order but by drinking preference.
WIS: What is in store for the future of the league now that you have caught up to present-day?
ceez: I'm collecting everyone's email and when a new crop of players are released into the sim, we will play the season out - WE SHALL NEVER DIE!!!
The current cast of the Centennial League is below, including overall SimLeague records and overall SimLeague championships.
2010 Centennial League
|Montreal Spectres '10
|NY MAD MEN '10
|Philadelphia Cold Stealers
|Houston Lone Stars
|San Diego Conquistadors
|St. Louis Cthulhu
|Orange County Choppers
|Chicago White Sox
Tom Seaver was the Centennial League's inaugral No. 1 pick.
WIS: What first drew you to the league?
laura: I was recruited by Ceez - a wonderful commissioner who seems to know everyone at WhatIf, so he's always able to draw fantastic owners and personalities (albeit with strong smartass tendencies) to his league.
zlionsfan: Ceez - I suspect he invited me after looking at my sim baseball record.
sjstapleton: Ceez - his constant nonsense and ridiculous bantering made me ask about openings in the league he runs. This league has more trash talk than any other progressive league I've seen.
bagchucker: Ceez recruited me. The Centennial was my first. Now I'm in like seven.
ortails: The concept is brilliant...in fact, I'm pretty sure I thought of it first...but I can live without the credit.
chrondon84: My dad (bagchucker). He's played the game forever. He knew, with my superior baseball knowledge, that I would dominate the league. He bought me a 5-pack of teams for my birthday to get me started.
ernestleifB: Now that we are almost caught up with real life, this concept is now the perfect combination of a sim game and rotisserie style fantasy baseball.
verbal kint: Getting in on the ground floor of a progressive, which was still a new idea when this league started, was what I was looking for. The fact that a bunch of the guys that I befriended on the boards, the infamous Mouth Gang I believe we were once called, were joining too made it even more appealing.
WIS: What has motivated you to remain active in the league over the years?
smeric: This was MY team. *I* built it. This is about as close to "real life" as a league concept can get. For the most part, the league has always been filled with great people, thanks solely to ceez's devotion to recruiting. I've been in about 10 other progressive leagues that have all gone defunct (usually in the early 90's), but this league has survived and realistically never been in jeopardy - that stability encourages an owner to stay put.
verbal kint: I have to say I am amazed that the league has survived all these years.
laura: Ceez guilt-trips me every time I try to leave.
cold: The great secret to my success is to never, never access the WhatIf site while sober. This is not as easy as it sounds, especially mornings and during drafts and trades - but that's when the concept proves most important! Waking up the next day in dread, trying to remember the details of some awful trade or tirade - that's where it's at.
chrondon84: As long as Ceez is here to beat, I'll be here.
rsp777: Never a dull moment in the CL. The conversation, squabbling, trading, ******* and moaning are always top notch.
ortails: The success of my team. To year in and year out have one of the top teams in the league is the driving force that keeps me coming back.
zlionsfan: Death threats from ceez plus the rest. Also the opportunity to show that I know more about baseball than the average real-life GM.
bagchucker: Ceez. No better recruiter in progressive history. Never lacking for ownership.
WIS: What is your favorite league moment?
bagchucker: 2005, a big fat ring. Whipped the universally despised kermit team. Broke his heart with a steady diet of Shawn Green and Bobby Abreu. Mwhahahahaha.
Robin4: I remember the inaugural draft nobody had a clue what they were doing. Nolan Ryan dropped to the 3rd round (if memory serves). In another progressive that started in 1969, he was the first overall pick.
sinatra: Ldmfan drafting 1983 Reggie Smith in the first round.
zlionsfan: Maybe the time when I snuck into the playoffs as the wild-card and knocked out ceez in the first round. You should ask him if he remembers that.
sjstapleton: Winning the WS in the 2009 season.
rsp777: Winning my only WIS championship in the 2002 season. I traded with one of our former owners who was an arrogant *** and got A.J. Burnett, who had a GREAT season and led my team to the title.
chrondon84: Every time we smoke Ceez SF 69ers. So I have like 12 favorite moments every season.
cold: For a time I shut down our home internet, and had no choice but to push little children aside at the library to get to some important draft deadlines. Often I found the kids' assistance and insight quite useful though.
sford: Winning the 1995 Centennial League World Series. I'd won the title in 1989, but had to completely rebuild. No member from the '95 team was a part of the '89 team.
verbal kint: Hard to say. The inaugural draft was one. The 2007/2008 drafts where I managed to go on trading frenzies, insulting ernie and rsp whenever I get a chance and I will always gloat over the small pleasure of Brian Wilson winning the Fireman award after I refused to trade him to ceez and he angrily informed me that Bobby Howry was better and would save more games. How'd that work out for you, ceez?
WIS: A lot of time has passed since the league first formed. What big events have occurred in your personal life during that time?
sford: Moved in 2001 from Nashville to Houston, and then in 2011 moved back to Nashville from Houston.
ernestleifB: I achieved a longtime goal of bench pressing 300 plus pounds
rsp777: I got to play several great gigs such as having the opportunity to play at the Mayhem Festival in 2007 in front of about 10,000 people and to open up shows for bands such as Disturbed, Slayer, King's X, Killswitch Engage, Mastodon and Five Finger Death Punch.
ortails: Most would say I've gotten even better looking.
zlionsfan: I used to have one cat and now I have two, but that was probably before the Centennial League started. More of my hair has fallen out. I went on a date once. Wait, maybe that was also before the Centennial League.
smeric: Marrying the love of my life and mother of my children; becoming a very successful investment advisor and meeting my professional goals before the age of 30; becoming a victim of the financial crisis and being terminated for the first time in my life for being too successful (pricing myself out of a job since I represented the biggest cost savings); surviving that ordeal to start my own business and now two years later beginning to return to the same level of success; getting ready to send my oldest child to college (he was probably 10 years old when this league started).
WIS: Talk about the league community. Have any friendships formed?
bagchucker: More like enemyships. They are such idiots. You know who you are. Then I got my kid to join and now I hate him too.
zlionsfan: I don't think too many people know each other in real life. Otherwise the arguments about tanking would turn bloody.
sjstapleton: I've known my brother rls1 his whole life. Despite the fact that he tanked his team and was able to draft Roy Halladay and Albert Pujols, he has no WS titles and I have one.
chrondon84: Our league is the best. All other progressive leagues I'm in are sooooo lame compared. The reason: Chit talk! Some of the longtime owners have known each other for awhile. I believe there is a large number in the Chicago area. Me 'n my pops are in Oregon. Maybe someday we will get an invite to meet the rest. A Centennial League party in Chicago with all the owners would be cool.
laura: Malcolm Gladwell would call ceez a WhatIf connector, and certainly the progressive league concept has taken on a life of its own, partly due to this league. Ceez also was the center of the first Chicago WhatIf gathering at the infamous CroBar Nightclub, and that gathering evolved into Wrigleyfest.
verbal kint: Despite my better judgment, I've grown fond of rsp. I have no idea why. No one else in the league likes the cheater at all.
WIS: Has WIS created any challenges for you?
chrondon84: You know, I never thought of it. Maybe it's why my last two girlfriends left me. WIS never asks me to go shopping. WIS never tells me to get a real job.
ernestliefB: I have done some drastic things during our drafts to get to a connection.
rsp777: I'm real good for taking the day off work when the Centennial League draft is around. I take the drafts WAY too seriously. And yes, my obsession with WIS drives my wife nuts on occasion. I remember ESPN columnist Bill Simmons (whose comments about WIS originally led me to the website) writing about his wife saying something to him to the effect of "You mean that website with dead baseball players that's ruining your marriage," and I can relate to that...LOL!
ortails: I do admit to altering entire days of plans to be sure I am connected to make a draft pick. Missing a pick and losing a player is not unlike taking a roundhouse kick to the marbles. Like many, having to explain the difference between this and 'Fantasy' has lost its luster.
sjstapleton: Trying to get an internet connection while on vacation, calling my brother to find out the results of a World Series game while out of town, my woman asking me, "How many hours a day would you say you spend on that site?"
zlionsfan: Only the part about saying I'm in second place when I'm really in fourth behind three teams tied for first.
verbal kint: Not really. I refuse to try and understand the game or why sparky does the things that it does. So, whenever you tweak the engine and completely screw up all the current cookies that the losers cling too, I'm not really affected by it. I just carry on in willfully obtuse fashion.
sinatra: The fact that the website doesn't work so hot with the iPhone has been a challenge.
WIS: Do you recommend any other theme leagues to WIS users?
verbal kint: No. For one, no other league ever has been or will be as well-run and enjoyable as the Centennial League. The other reason, there are a couple of other leagues that I like and I don't want you yahoos invading them.
Only in a simulated league can Rodrigo Lopez be a Cy Young candidate.
WIS: What is your favorite aspect of SimLeague Baseball?
sjstapleton: I look forward to sford's 2021 move from Nashville to Houston (or Houston to Nashville).
ernestleifB: SimLeague Baseball strikes me as the logical extension of the dice-driven baseball card games that I would play as a kid. My brother and I designed a baseball sim game with a 100-sided die that functioned like a sim game. It accounted for hitting, pitching, defense, and base running. Getting the baseball encyclopedia for my 10th birthday was a huge event in my childhood. Seriously it was.
rsp777: In my current 2010 season, pitcherRodrigo Lopez is 8-1 with a 2.73 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP even though his real life numbers are a somewhat atrocious 5.00 ERA with a 1.42 WHIP. I'm sure he'll come down to earth, but when Rodrigo freaking Lopez is in third place for the Cy Young 60-some games into the season, it's pretty cool.
ortails: Proving to myself what a brilliant GM I would be if Boston would smarten up and give me the Kingdom.
rsp777: It's always fun when a computer baseball game brings out the absolute worst human traits in people, myself included.
WIS: Least favorite?
bagchucker: No pictures. Where is my TV version, where I click the link and watch the game?
Robin4: Those ridiculous teams that won in the playoffs with two starters and ****** off everyone. Can't remember off the top of my head who the owner was.
ortails: Not being able to have that 162-0 season I deserve...I wish fatigue was more of a factor. Watching a journeyman throwing at 75% stamina 2-hit against a stacked lineup turns my stomach.
smeric: Don't forget about our illustrious founder/bailer: seaphil. I was in about three successive progressives he founded, then promptly bailed from after a couple seasons. Thank goodness for ceez. All hail Ceezer!
chrondon84: Ceez is my rival. I'm too new to be his. The #$%#@$ won the division my first three seasons. I believe he beat us like nine games in a row at one point. At the end of every season his roster looks like trash for the upcoming season. And every season he makes a handful of trades to compete.
sjstapleton: Another low moment for me was losing a bet for a free team to ortails, over whose team would have the better record.
ortails: That team was actually one of my worst...man, your team really stunk.
WIS: What is one feature you want to see implemented in a future update?
zlionsfan: The almost total lack of support for progressive leagues has made our commissioner pull his eyes out every season.
bagchucker: Progressives support. Keeper lists and draft lists and running the draft. In order to do this right, WIS has to play and run some progressives for a few cycles. Otherwise there are a thousand niggling details you are sure to get wrong.
smeric: The inability to run keeper leagues and annual drafts for said leagues automatically through the draft center. Progressive commissioners would have a much easier time sustaining their leagues if the draft center was more progressive friendly. From a business standpoint this should be a HIGH priority for WIS given the long-term nature of the PROGRESSIVE league concept. I've been in quite a number of progressive leagues that ceased operating due to commissioners being unable to maintain the incredible level of effort required over 20, 30 or 40+ seasons. Make it easier to run progressive league and you'll see more of them survive and therefore more recurring revenue for your company.
ernestleifB: I think that it would be rather easy to generate a players list automatically for an upcoming draft of an ongoing progressive league. The commissioner of the league, in this case ceez, could enter the league number of the previous season and a feature could be created to generate a list of players available in the next season's database that did not appear on any roster at any point during the previous season. I don't think it would be that hard to do.
rsp777: A-FREAKING-MEN TO THIS! That is one VERY simple idea that would make sim leagues SO much easier for commissioners to deal with, especially in our case where there is no IR and a guy returns to the draft pool if he misses a season. Sometimes the research needed in the Centennial League can be a bit much because of the no IR rule, and a feature such as this would make things WAY easier for the commish in doing an available players list and it would also make things WAY easier for owners because it would eliminate the need to dig deep to find guys who miss a season. That way another "Ian Kennedy"episode wouldn't happen and he wouldn't drop to me at the #6 pick.
Editor's note: Big plans are in the works to help progressive league play. Stay tuned!
WIS: Thanks to ceez and all members of the Centennial League. Congratulations on your achievement!