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Benchwarmer Baseball - A Short History

Benchwarmer Baseball began in a rush during the spring of 2000.  We're now entering our 10th season of play...


After Robot Baseball went under and did not return for the 1998 season (see BWB Heritage), I always imagined trying to revive it.  Originally, I meant to call it Ghost Runner Baseball, but eventually switched to the idea of "Benchwarmer Baseball" - I'm a fan of alliteration in the first place, and the ghost runner term seemed to be only geared toward the hitting side of the game.


During the early months of 2000, I started fooling around with a scoring formula - trying to make it a little more manageable and understandable and come up with scores similar to real life.  After getting the basics, I took some old box scores from 1999 and began plugging  in real stats - tinkering around with the formula to get the offensive numbers in my game to match the real results.


During the same time, I started putting together the player lists - going back to 1998 and 1999 stats to generate the salaries for 2000.  All that was left to find were players.


Posting in league bulletin boards and mining some friends, I found 11 other people to come aboard.  It took until mid-April to finish the first draft (so we played a couple weeks well after the real games), but Benchwarmer Baseball was born.


From that opening crew of the Founders League (renamed the Hall of Fame League a couple years later - since the divisions were named for the initial Cooperstown inductees), the following franchises are still operating with their original owners:

  • Las Vegas (me)
  • Springfield
  • Nordeast
  • Copenhagen
  • San Francisco

Here's a quick rundown of the history and developments in BWB - both in game play and technology:

  • Benchwarmer Baseball is born with one league, 12 owners in the spring of 2000.  I use a section of my personal web site to show the standings, game results, box scores, rosters, etc - all done by copying and pasting.  (The pages featured a hard-to-look-at color scheme that I intended to look like a baseball field).  Games are scored by hand copying and pasting queries from MS Access to Excel.  The Springfield Isotopes win the first championship.
  • In 2001, the web domain debuts and, for the most part, the web site takes its current look.  We also expand with 4 new teams to a full-size league.  Boar's Nest, D-Town, Milford, and Oaxaca join.  San Francisco takes the league title.  The Player of the Week award is born.
  • 2002 brought scoring changes to the relief pitchers, trying to deal with greater specialization in the major league bullpens.  After the 2001 season nearly ended with a divisional tie that would have been broken by tiebreakers such as head-to-head record, a playoff system is instituted.  We also make it harder to sign really cheap 5-year contracts (Albert Pujols was signed for a ridiculously low amount in 2001).  We also institute a maximum cash balance for teams entering the season, and premium bonuses are added to player salaries at the upper range.  Nordeast wins the championship.  The Gore Cup and Bottom Feeder Open begin with an expanded post season and I correct a major error by adding BW Bucks financial benefits for division standings (hopefully preventing late-season tanking).  We play our first mid-season All Star Series.
  • In 2003, a change that wasn't apparent to anyone but made my life easier.  Instead of hand-scoring each game with Excel spreadsheets, I was able to write programs to handle all of that in seconds.  We again tinker with the bullpen innings pitched minimums.  San Francisco loses out to Wheatland in a one-game divisional playoff (thanks to the 2002 rule change).  Boar's Nest, a former expansion team, wins it all.
  • Major web site changes between 2003 and 2004 brought about a large tie in between the web site and the background databases for BWB.  No longer do I need to copy and paste team rosters, game results, standings, etc.  The new league, Beatleball, is formed and we get a chance to try out some improvements to the start up draft made after the experience of 2000.  Another major back office change makes me a happy guy - the game-scoring process was automated in 2003, but the substitution procedure is still done by visual inspection and changes by hand.  In the early part of the season, a new program does that automatically, reducing a task of 30 minutes per 2 or 3-game BW Series to just seconds.  D-Town completes a worst-to-first run in the Hall of Fame League (our second straight ex-expansion team to win) and Gorilla takes the first Beatleball honor.  At the end of the season, we hold our first Benchwarmer Bash - an off season competition between league champions (and some wild cards).  Gorilla wins the first BW Bash.
  • In 2005, we expanded to five total leagues, adding Longball, K Street, and Shadowball.  And in the Hall of Fame League, our first 2-time champion - Boar's Nest.  We also added automatic trade requests and acceptance via the web site, along with a "trade rumors" bulletin board.  Carlisle from Beatleball is the BW Bash Champion.
  • 2006 - Reality Bites and Golden Throat are the new leagues for this season.  NJ from Shadowball wins the Bash.
  • 2007 - 2 more new leagues: Chevy Chase and the Beer League (our first 16-team league package - made up primarily of old Robot veterans).  Gashouse in Reality Bites wins the Bash.
  • 2008 - Our slow growth continues and we expand advertising from the web into print (in Fantasy Baseball Index and Sports Weekly).  Two leagues join the family, bringing us to 11: Redbirds and Three of a Kind.  The BW Bash champion is Trinidad, from Longball.
  • 2009?  Beyond?  See the future

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