User Interview: Rooskie

Q&A with noted WhatIfSports user Rooskie

Baseball's "hot-stove" league is heating up just in time for the cold weather, but, as always, the games play on at WhatIfSports.com. Being the most popular game on the site, it takes a lot of work and a great understanding of the game to consistently succeed as a SimLeague Baseball owner, especially one relatively new to the site. One such owner heading up through the ranks, taking on the toughest opponents he can on the way, is Rooskie. WhatIfSports.com recently interviewed Rooskie to talk about his successes, goals, speed, pitch counts, sparky, "fishin,'" and seals.

WIS

Thanks for taking the time out to speak with us.

Rooskie

You're welcome; I'm excited about the opportunity to interview with WIS and for being recognized out of so many users as a successful owner on the rise!

WIS

Who is Rooskie?

Rooskie

Back in the 70's I lived in the Delta Region of Northern California and use to travel with my friend Joe to enjoy the fishing in the Sierra Nevada. While on the bank of the Tuolumne River one day we were discussing nicknames and the fact that I was called Rusty as a kid and Joe started stretching Russ and Rusty and before you know it he was hollerin' out Roooooskie.

I never thought or heard it again and lost touch with Joe but in my forties I started working in the same forest we used to go fishin' and it reminded me of those times. When I joined WIS this last January it was easy to come up with an owner name. How ironic that rooskie lives and works where he used to play.

WIS

How did you learn about WhatIfSports.com and our SimLeagues?

Rooskie

Initially I heard about SimLeagues through MLB.com.

WIS

Which coaches, teams or players, past or present, do you draw on for inspiration?

Rooskie

Growing up in the mountains of Southern California gave me an interest in the forest but fanned my interest in speed followed by pitching and defense as I became a Dodger faithful of the Sixties, seeing Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale pitch regularly (Sandy 10 times - all victories) and listening on the radio to Vin Scully nightly while simulating the pitches on the side of the house.

At a game one day, shortly after Drysdales' consecutive shutout inning string, I went to see Don because Sandy had retired the year before. Roberto Clemente got the only two hits the Pirates got that day but he drove them both over the center field wall (within 20' of our seats) and the Pirates won. Clemente now plays for the Rooskies and so does Sandy. Drysdale has yet to get the call.

Let's get one thing straight right now though - after re-locating to Northern California in 1970 it only took a few short years before I fell in love with the A's and Giants. But, of the two, it's the Giants and I was one of the few people that actually enjoyed games at the 'Stick except games 3 & 4 of the 1989 WS.

The all-time greats were a passion of mine and I always use to read books in the early Sixties and soon became fascinated with the stats of guys like Honus Wagner, Napoleon Lajoie, and Wee Willie Keeler - now I have a team with all three!

I truly was inspired by the statistics published in the Sporting News - memorizing them, laying out my baseball cards in the shape of a diamond, using pebbles to simulate playing the game, going so far as to write down the play-by-play and boxscores.

I also want to give credit to my grandmother who saw my interest in baseball, and supplied me with the publications weekly to fuel that interest. She passed this year and thanks to all the WIS members who shared in my grief, in particular: xnay, psychodoc4, stebbs, and homerwagner.

WIS

Did you play any sports growing up?

Rooskie

As a kid, my first interest was track and I soon found I was faster than anyone in my school hence my interest in speed (slow bulky ballplayers rarely interest me). I started out in Kiwanis baseball using a 10-inch ball moving on to Little League, Pony, and Colt Baseball. I played 1st and 3rd base and was a line drive hitter who led the league more than once in doubles and triples.

WIS

Which SimLeague or Dynasty games have you tried? Which do you prefer and why?

Rooskie

I've only tried baseball and, rather than try several sports, having many baseball teams and staying focused will allow me to reach the level I think I am capable of soon. Once I'm satisfied with my performance, I may try other sports; but, baseball still holds many challenges for me now.

WIS

As a fan of baseball, what are your thoughts on the current state of the game?

Rooskie

Baseball to me is a reflection of society; people do not like what they see and of course it bothers them because it strikes close to home. Rampant steroid use and violence mimic the "me" attitude that seems to be the norm today.

WIS

If you had the power to be commissioner, what is the first thing you would try to change?

Rooskie

The salary structure along with getting Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame. As a child and young man I admired Pete's' work ethic and desire to challenge Cobb's record. He used to talk about the pace he would have to stay on in published articles as far back as the sixties.

WIS

You have been described as an "up-and-coming" SL Baseball owner. What was your initial reaction to our site and our games? How has this changed over time?

Rooskie

I fell head over heels when I found it and have been in love ever since! Over time it has become part of my daily life and I dream of becoming one of the top 25 players of all-time, along with having one of the top 25 winning pct's.

WIS

Having played primarily in baseball, do you prefer open or theme leagues? If theme, which types of themes are your favorite and why?

Rooskie

I am interested in AAA theme leagues at this time and am in one davis started and seem to spend most of my time on it. Anything over 100 mil seems boring and unrealistic. I am not into leagues that promote all hitting! Open leagues are still a challenge for me though and having a team recently that made the top 25 for a while has been a big thrill.

WIS

In the SimLeague Baseball, what is your general strategy for building teams?

Rooskie

I would have to say pick a team concept including the park, and stick to it. I have noticed from the beginning many guys like offense and home runs, leading the league in many offensive departments. This usually leaves them vulnerable in the pitching department so nullifying their hitting becomes a priority and then using guys that have good OBP and/or speed.

WIS

What is the most important thing to keep in mind while drafting?

Rooskie

To me it is comparing what you can get in the same price range after you think you have decided on a player.

WIS

Are there any players in specific that you like to put on your teams?

Rooskie

Fitting with my theme for each team The Rooskies always have Koufax, Clemente, and Wagner ('08 Wagner always plays well for me). Garrotte also has Wagner along with Keeler and Lajoie. I've started a series of Seals teams that I'm having fun with - a team that walks, runs, and a couple with balance; but all have good pitching and are at or near the top of the league rankings.

WIS

How do you go about setting your lineups and pitching rotation?

Rooskie

Batting Order: #1 speed and contact, #2 contact, #3 avg., #4 rbi man, #5 obp/rbi man , #6 avg/speed, #7 avg/speed, #8 lowest ab's/lowest obp (obp goes up do to free passes).

Drafting determines rotation. Some times you get lucky and get a good AAA pitcher. A good bullpen is a must!

WIS

How do you approach setting tendencies (advanced settings) and pitch counts?

Rooskie

Strict pitch counts must be determined dividing appearances by actual innings pitched (ie. 3 man rotation = 54 starts so therefore if pitcher has 270 innings he's good for 5 innings x 16 pitches per inning = 80 pitches). I usually will set them 5 pitches less at the beginning of a season to build stamina and also set them on 2 (call bullpen) so that they don't get pulled too easily, leaving my bullpen depleted too early in the season. In the bullpen it's the same thing - low pitch counts using many pitchers instead of high pitch counts counting on only one.

Advanced settings for hitters and runners are funny and seem to vary. No advice there but one thing I have noticed is that when you bring up your AAA guys, you can usually spot a hitter by the recommendations (ie. pinch-hitting).

WIS

Do you make transactions (call-ups/demotions, trades, waiver wire, etc.) during the season to try and separate yourself from others? Why or why not?

Rooskie

When I draft I might bring a pinch-hitter with me but usually I will send all utility players down and bring up my AAA players. I don't like to tank a player completely like a lot of guys are doing now but I will use a low priced player like Bobby Knoop or Paul Schaal at 2nd and 3rd respectively, hoping to get a better AAA prospect because I love to play at least one rookie. In this scenario, I might hit the wire to pad my bullpen. Generally, I do not hit the waiver wire and cannot believe guys hit the panic wire, as I like to call it, within 20 games. If I can upgrade from a player that hasn't performed all year I might do it. One time it worked for me when nobody performed and I started 5 AAA guys and beefed up my pitching and won the division.

WIS

What do you believe is the overall biggest key to success in SimLeague Baseball?

Rooskie

A good understanding of statistics and being quick with math in your head helps! Seriously though, the only thing that will help is paying attention to what works for successful owners and playing lots of games.

WIS

Have you ever sought help in the forums or via sitemail from other users? Have other users contacted you for help sitemail?

Rooskie

Honestly I have never used the forums or sitemail for help or advice and would like to think of myself as self-reliant and competitive with knowledge of baseball that stems from years of research and enjoyment of baseball statistics. Taking statistics in college didn't hurt either!

WIS

Who are the users you respect and who challenge you the most?

Rooskie

My first league was challenging and had many respected and well-known owners including a's fan, mgnumbers, and shaybee in it, and believe me I studied every move they made that first season. Since then I have been in many leagues with xnay, manowar (losing a 7 game WS) and zackaryl but the one who whooped my butt and I couldn't do anything about it was wmays as he swept me in the WS. I am looking for some payback! It was an honor after I chased jcurry for a division title with an 18 game win streak for him to say in the owners forum that it was amazing to him how far I had come in such a short amount of time. My toughest competition is with xnay and I will do anything to take a series from that bum and am looking forward to the day we can play in the WS. (What am I saying? -I hope he doesn't read this!)

WIS

What do you believe is the biggest differences between you and these users?

Rooskie

Well I guess I'm gonna have to admit that the key difference now is that they can all beat me and they all visit the top 25 with their teams - but I'm getting close and thought I had manowar in a recent WS after taking the first 2, but then he took the next 4. And, recently, Seals Can Run bounced in and out of the top 25 for a while.

WIS

Having recently been in their shoes, what advice can you give to new SimLeague Baseball users who want to succeed and have fun?

Rooskie

Take your time when you draft and be patient with your players' performance! Don't expect the player to perform the way he did from the year you selected him - too many variables exist that will alter the outcome of their performance. And, don't blame Sparky!

WIS

What are your thoughts on the recent changes in SimLeague Baseball (salary structure, online league drafts, pinch-hitting/running logic)?

Rooskie

The new salaries were hard to get used to at first because I was just starting to feel comfortable with the old ones. Overall, I believe they are more balanced at this point even though I always here griping about Lajoie and that he overachieves and he's priced too low but I don't think so. Some guys are always going to be interested in big #'s offensively and some are not going know how to beat them - that's why they have 1st to last place!

WIS

What is your favorite part about SimLeague Baseball?

Rooskie

The competition most definitely; pitting yourself against others to see where you stand!

WIS

Least favorite?

Rooskie

The guys who don't understand the game and continually blame Sparky and the site for their problems or lack of understanding!

WIS

What do you think should be changed about SimLeague Baseball (or anything WhatIfSports.com does)?

Rooskie

That's a tough question but I think the simulation compass is heading in the right direction and leaving the door open for input shows owners a willingness on WIS part to enhance and upgrade as program development becomes available.

I would like to see a pitcher who has high fielder ratings be able to be used for utility play and also AAA players who have pitcher-fielding ratings should be able to be used at pitcher for mop-up etc.

WIS

If you were in one of our games, which sport would you play? At which position? And, how much would you be worth?

Rooskie

Baseball, 3B, 5.9 million

User Profile

LoginID:rooskie
Name:Russell Holt
Age:50
Location:Groveland, Ca.
Occupation:Forest Service
Favorite Sport(s):Baseball, Football, Basketball
Favorite Team(s):Giants, 49ers, Kings
Favorite Sports Memory:Meeting Dusty Baker at his baseball camp (when he was manager of the Giants) with my son and making Dusy smile and laugh because instead of bugging him with small-talk about the Giants I told him I could still remember his walk-off homerun against the Phillies in '78 to win a playoff game. (At that time I was still torn between the Dodgers and Giants.)
Member Since:01/08/2004
Greatest WIS Moment:Game 7 of my 1st WS bottom of the 10th inning after going down by one in the top of the inning - Willie McGee coming thru with the 2-out 2-run single to win it all for Rooskies IV.
Motto:You never know!

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