User Interview: Plague

Q&A with noted Gridiron Dynasty user Plague

We recently contacted noted Gridiron Dynasty user Plague to discuss evaluating talent for recruiting, gameplanning, Division I Playoffs, Ghengis Kahn, Dan Marino, out of position players, Curt Flood, scouting trips and Plato.

WIS

Who is Plague?

Plague

I am a 41 year old single male with no children. I live in Stockton California, where

I have been working for the US post office for 21 years. I am currently working there as an expeditor.

WIS

How did you find out about WhatIfSorts.com?

Plague

I played the USA Today fantasy sports game for a good 12+ years and visited their forums regularly. Other people who visited the forums would mention web sites or other games, and this was one of the games someone mentioned. I tried it and played WIS SimLeagues for a few years before I tried Gridion Dynasty and then I was hooked.

WIS

Besides simulation sports websites, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?

Plague

Most of my hobbies have died with age. I was a baseball card collector in my 20's. I still kick myself over turning down someone who offered me 100 Barry Bonds '87 fleer cards for a nickel each. I did end up buying 20, but 100 would have been sweet. I will probably die before selling my collection. My other main hobby is the strat-o-matic baseball board game. A friend and I have every printed advanced season ever made and I have bought some individual basic teams on Ebay. We have a draft where we take all the best individual players (1 player's best year) and we draft a 12 team league. It's taken about 13 years but we have completed 8 full seasons and are 100 games into season 9. I use excel to create a baseball encyclopedia where I keep all individual and lifetime stats for each player that ever played in our league. Then, I print it out each season and keep it in a binder so we can look at it when playing. With most of my friends married or moved to other states I have had to pick up a lot of hobbies that I can do by myself. Besides sports, my other favorite topics are history or sci-fi.

WIS

What is your favorite sports moment?

Plague

That's a tough one. All I can remember are the heartbreakers like Kirk Gibson's homer off Dennis Eckersley, or Robert Horry making that shot against my beloved Kings. My most enjoyable sports moment was watching the 1982 NFL playoff game between San Diego and Miami (my team). Miami lost, but I can appreciate what was the greatest game I have ever seen in any sport.

WIS

Who are your favorite teams of all-time?

Plague

1984ish Miami Dolphins. I loved watching Marino throw to the "Marks" brothers. And, the late '80's Oakland A's teams.

WIS

Did you play any sports growing up?

Plague

I didn't play high school sports. I am sure if I tried out for football I would of done fine. If I could do it again, I would (play football). We had a large group who people who played pick up games every day after school. Most of the people who we played with then played high school sports and went on to college sports. We had a few casual players who went on to the pros. Mike McFarlane played with us occasionally, but he was pretty much a 1 sport star. We had a memorable pickup game against Shante Carver and some friends. I never see kids out playing sports at the parks or schools like we did when we were young. In my early 20's, I played on a softball tournament team that traveled the area playing tournaments on the weekends. I was addicted to playing in those days.

WIS

What players did you admire most growing up?

Plague

Greg Maddux, he did not look like an athlete, yet he dominated. Hank Aaron, this guy was going through what Barry Bonds is now except Hank was more of a class act. Ryne Sandberg, not sure why, but he was my favorite player. Curt Flood, he basically sacrificed his career for what he thought was right.

Dan Marino, favorite player on my favorite team in my favorite sport.

WIS

Who are your favorite players in today's game?

Plague

I don't have any modern-day favorite players.

WIS

What is the top sports related thing you want to do in life that you have not yet done?

Plague

I would like to see the Dolphins play live in the Super Bowl.

WIS

Why do you think sports are so big in our culture?

Plague

This is like an essay question. Men love competition. Sports go back 2000+ years when countries would call a truce in their wars to compete in the Olympics only to continue the wars after the Olympics were over. I couldn't imagine what our country would be like without sports. I know economically a lot of money changes hands daily thanks to sports and a lot of people are employed due to sports. Sports are going to be around as long as man is alive

WIS

Which five people, past or present, sit at your dream roundtable?

Plague

Ghengis Khan, this guy did more with less than anyone in history. There is no doubt in my mind Ghengis Khan would have been a dominant GD coach. I would love to hear him teach strategy. Alexander the Great, he never lost a battle; a fearless and strategic leader. Jesus Christ, I am not religious, but imagine the stories he could tell, and I would love to see if they are true, or how stories evolved as they went from ear to ear. Plato, a great mind. I would love to hear him speak and hear about his travels. Sun Tzu, same category as Ghengis Khan. Just to hear him talk strategy would be incredible.

WIS

If you could be commissioner of any league, which sport would it be and what would you do to change the game?

Plague

I would be commissioner of baseball just so I could add a salary cap. I grew up an A'S fan and lost interest in baseball just because the A'S would give away their players every time they got close to being a free agent. The difference between the haves and have-nots ruined baseball for me. I would also like to be commissioner of NCAA football just so I can implement playoffs.

WIS

As a coach in GD do you draw on the philosophies of any past or present coaches?

Plague

I never thought about it, but I guess Chuck Knoll would be the guy I am closest to. My philosophy is run first and defense.

WIS

What is your favorite WIS moment?

Plague

Winning the TOC in baseball and winning my 1st GD title.

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of our website?

Plague

I like how it's affordable. I have yet to find a cheaper web site that puts out an enjoyable game. All other web sites I like cost around $25 a season. I remember the days where I paid a $100 to play diamond legends. I still can't believe I paid that much. Most games I find that are free or almost free are not very good.

WIS

Least favorite?

Plague

I somehow get logged out and have to reboot my comp to get back in. I know others have this problem. (Editor's note: This is an issue that concerns storing cookies that will be resolved within the month. If it happens to you, please clear cookies and return to the page). There is also a lag when making changes to my gameplans in GD. I guess I can take advantage here and say I don't like not having playoffs at Division 1 level, but I need to take that beef up with the NCAA.

WIS

Having played in over 80 seasons with a winning percentage over .850, what do you believe is the biggest key to GD success?

Plague

Evaluating talent and then successfully recruiting the talent. I have seen many average coaches take over talented teams and win championships, but I have never seen a great gameplanner take over an average team and win a championship (excluding Divsion 1 where you only need 1 playoff win). I have also seen many coaches think they have talented players yet they can't get to the next level, and do not understand why. That is where evaluating talent comes in.

WIS

What is your approach to recruiting?

Plague

When I take over a team I plan on staying at least five seasons. My first season is to find leftover bargains, get them cheap, and save cash for next season. I never battle someone in recruiting unless I have the advantage in cash (I never know for sure, but I have a good idea) and I take distance into consideration when evaluating if I have the advantage. When recruiting, I always do an ast scouting trip, and I pretty much discard anyone who has poor growth potential. The player needs to have at least will improve a lot as growth potential or I won't recruit them. I also recruit nationally without worry, and after I saved up enough cash I consider local players mine and will be aggressive in getting the local ones I like.

WIS

How do you go about setting your depth chart and game plan?

Plague

I think the key to setting your depth chart is finding that magic percentage where you use all the players at a position without having to play players out of position. I want my percentage to be as high as possible under those conditions. That is why I like to recruit guys with high stamina. I have had a lot of defenses overperform and I find that they tend to have one thing in common, a high stamina. GD just introduced a new defensive system so everyone is altering their gameplans including me. Things might change as I learn what works and does not work, but at this moment I believe you need two offensive gameplans, one formation that you can pass or run, and shotgun. With the new rules, the defense will have the advantage against any formation on 3rd and long except shotgun. I want a balanced offense because I want to be unpredictable and be able to exploit my opponents' weakness, assuming they have one. With my defensive gameplanning, I strictly look at my opponents' tendencies and then try to add the human element into it where do I have a feeling they will change against me for whatever reasons.

WIS

Who are the users you respect and/or enjoy the most?

Plague

Deang, he is definitely one of the top coaches I have played against and is very helpful to others. Bronco2rings, he always returns his sitemails. He is one of the top recruiters and an excellent gameday coach. Paranoid0, I don't chat with him very often, but the recruiting rankings he provides for the forums doubles (if not more) the GD enjoyment. I think more people would miss him if he quit than any other person in GD. A couple guys I respect for their accomplishments are Michaeldartt and Kobo. Both guys are very nice and respectful and both put up unbelievable runs. Two guys I have had long term rivalries with are Curtains and Psap. We had a long rivalry but in both cases one or more had to move on. Moranis, while we argue all the time, and he is not the guy I would most like to have a beer with, I respect the thread he put together for new owners and I think something like that is invaluable for people who are trying to learn the game. I would like to name a 100 plus more coaches, but that's unrealistic. I would also like to apologize to anyone I missed out that I chat with often.

WIS

What is your ultimate goal in Gridiron Dynasty?

Plague

I have pretty much accomplished everything I wanted except one thing, and that is a Division 1 National Championship. I have kept most of my teams below Division 1 because the lack of playoffs in Division 1 lowers the fun level to me. My lifetime record in Division 1 as I write this is 58-1 and I have never played in a Division 1 National Championship game. I am not saying this because I believe I was more deserving than the teams that made it. I just believe if I go undefeated I deserve a chance to win the title and a playoff gives me that chance.

WIS

What would you tell new users to the site who want to get the most out of WhatIfSports.com has to offer?

Plague

I think WIS is the best value game out there. The game has flaws and you will not find the perfect game, but for how much we pay to play you can't beat WIS and it is very enjoyable. I have set my alarm clock many times to see scores or recruit. I have played a lot of MMORPG and one thing I learned is all games are a work in progress and WIS is the same way, the games are constantly improving to get better and doing that sometimes creates other problems, and then those problems need to get fixed. As far as learning to get better, I suggest reading the forums. There are a lot of excellent things to read on the forums to improve your WIS experience. Don't be afraid to send WIS a ticket asking them a question. My first three months playing GD I probably averaged 3 or 4 tickets a week asking questions, and maybe I am just lucky but I have had better success with WIS returning tickets than any other games. Some games never respond. With WIS, I almost always get a response within 24 hours. If it's during business hours, I usually get a response in a few hours. Don't be afraid to send sitemail to other owners asking them questions. I recommend being specific when asking questions. A lot of experienced owners are happy to answer questions.

WIS

If you were in one of our games, what sport would you play, at what position, and how much would you cost?

Plague

I would play football and my position would be waterboy. At 41, waterboy is about all I can handle on a regular basis.

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