User Interview: LocoHombres

Q&A with noted SimLeague Baseball user LocoHombres

We recently contacted the father and son Simleague Baseball playing tandem of TellySavalas and LocoHombres to discuss playing in leagues together, using the waiver wire, finding value in the sim, Kirk Gibson, the Dirty Dozen, Captain Crunch, Tony Phillips and a meeting with Bob Milacki.

WIS

Who are TellySavalas and LocoHombres?

TellySavalas

I am Gregory Cruz originally of Philadelphia (and South Jersey), now living in Lynchburg, Virginia where I previously attended Liberty University, meeting my wife Tina and receiving a B.S. in Pastoral Ministry. I have six children, three boys and three girls (it's a fair fight). I currently work for the Alliance for Families and Children after owning a computer consulting company called Small Office Solutions where I mainly did spreadsheet programming for financial consultants.

I was introduced to WhatIfSports through a friend of mine from college, Leonard Diggs (owner name - batballguy), who bought a team for me and put it into a league. We shared a room with 2 other guys and one night (as we were lying in bed trying to go to sleep - back in those days we all slept in 2 bunk beds in the same room) the conversation turned in a rather strange way to the movie "The Dirty Dozen". I won't get into any more detail than that but needless to say it was such a memorable night that when Leonard bought my team (23 years later) he decided that Telly Savalas was the perfect owner name for me. I couldn't have picked a better one. However, in order to dispel some obvious misconceptions, I am not Greek (I am Puerto Rican) and the name has nothing to do with my hair (or lack there of).

Joseph, LocoHombres, is my youngest son and he and I both play WIS baseball.

LocoHombres

I am 13 and in 7th grade. When I was younger, my sisters used to always call me Wild Man JoJo. I use that name for my email address; but, when I went to signup, the name did not fit. My older brother suggested LocoHombres which is Spanish for "Wild Men."

WIS

Which SimLeagues or Dynasty games have each of you played?

TellySavalas

Baseball. I have considered playing basketball, football or hardball, but when you have six kids, you have to make decisions so I cannot have too many teams or other sports to learn.

LocoHombres

I am playing my fourth baseball team by myself. My dad and I built the first team together and I have had four since.

WIS

Besides this site, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?

TellySavalas

Since I joined in May, 2005, this has been my biggest hobby with 33 teams. I love to draft teams. I'll create new user names all the time just to enter Spring Training teams and test strategies by playing those teams in the SimLive venue. Every time I put a team together I remember Kevin Costner's quote in "For Love of the Game" when he is trying to explain the essence of baseball, "It's what we do, we count things." Otherwise, I especially enjoy Broadway musicals. Currently, all of my teams are either named after the Telly Savalas character Kojak or my dog Dusty (except for my "Dad's Ichie Rashburn" which is both a tribute to Richie and my current skin condition), but my next few team names may relate to musicals. I like all kinds of music. I have one of the more eclectic music collections out of anyone I know. I am always changing up my Ipod.

Most of the rest of my time is spent going from field to diamond to court to follow my kids. We are a sports family. Right now, I have a daughter cheering football, one playing volleyball, and Joseph is playing football.

LocoHombres

I play WR/DB in football and OF and 2B in baseball. I also love to watch ESPN and play sports video games. I just love all sports.

WIS

What are your favorite sports moments?

TellySavalas

My all-time favorite sports moment is watching Kirk Gibson's homerun off of Dennis Eckersley in the 1988 World Series. That is just a moment that makes you come out of your skin. A moment that I can remember where all of us were watching was when Kerry Wood hit a homerun in Game 7 of the 2003 NLCS. Most of my kids are Cubs fans and were all going crazy. I'll also never forget the Miami vs. Kansas City game on Christmas Day in 1971. I remember watching the game and thinking that I would forever be a fan of the team that won that game. I have been a Dolphins fan ever since.

WIS

What is your favorite WIS moment?

TellySavalas

I won a TOC on my first try. The team only won 85 games, but I tweaked the team throughout the TOC to find the best matchups. The team was ugly though. It had pitchers from great pitching seasons and hitters from hitting years. But, it survived. I got lucky, to be sure, but that's part of the game. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. I was a little bit of both in that TOC. The Final Round of the TOC came down to the seventh game. Around 2:30 am, I woke up my three sons and we gathered around the computer to read the boxscore where a AAA rookie had a walk-off hit to win me the game and the series.

I am also proud of winning an Open League championship where there were over 400 championships from the owners in the league. It was my first OL championship (which came after my first TOC championship - how weird is that?). I was still fairly new at the time.

LocoHombres

The first team that I built had 108 wins and by my third team, I had 118 wins. Dad kept telling me that I was in the wrong park for the players I had drafted, but I still won 118 games. The team got "M&M'd" in the first round of the playoffs, but it was a good team.

WIS

Tell us about Bob Milacki.

TellySavalas

It was early April of this year when I learned that Bob Milacki is the pitching coach of the local AA Farm Team here in Lynchburg, Virginia called the Lynchburg HillCats (Pittsburg Pirates Farm System). I called the team manager to see if he could arrange a surprise birthday meeting for my 13 year old son to meet Bob. The manager said he would be happy to arrange the meeting. Milacki had been the pitching coach here in Lynchburg for 2 years and I had no idea. We don't attend that many games. Rarely does a plan go off according to plan, but this meeting went off even better than I could have imagined. I met Milacki down on the field before the game.

Joesph was off playing with a friend we had brought along. I clued Bob in as to what was happening and what I was about to do. Then, I called my son down to the field and let him impress Bob with how much he knows about baseball history. I asked him a few questions that only those of us in SimLeagues would know. For instance: I asked him what the highest full-season batting average of all time was. Most people think it was Ty Cobb, but Joseph knew it was 1894 Hugh Duffy. Then I asked him what outfielder had the greatest range factor of all time, and of course he answered 1928 Taylor Douthit. Then I asked him what pitcher had the lowest OAV of all time with at least 25 IP. Joseph immediately answered 1988 Bob Milacki. Then I asked him one last question. "If your SimLeague team was in the World Series and you had ONE game you HAD TO WIN. What pitcher would you want? And Joseph spit out, without hesitation, 1988 Bob Milacki.

At that point I simply looked my son and said, "Joseph, meet Bob Milacki". The look on Joseph's face was priceless. Bob shook his hand (which was rather limp with shock and awe) and went on to tell us all about that call-up and his time in Spring Training. He said he threw "one bad pitch in the Detroit game" (his third start) a high inside fastball to (my memory isn't certain of this, but I think he said) Allan Trammel who hit it out of the park. He probably spent 20 minutes or so just chatting. He didn't seem rushed or in a hurry to get back to the pregame stuff. He was so normal. A real unassuming guy. He had no idea of the OAV deal and was amazed that he was so popular in our world of SimLeagues.

LocoHombres

I'll never forget that moment. He seemed a lot younger than I imagined, but he really was so cool. He autographed some cards for me that another WIS user (who read my dad's forum post) had actually sent my dad before the game. And he autographed a ball we bought at the stadium.

WIS

Who are your favorite teams of all-time?

TellySavalas

Dolphins and Eagles, Phillies

LocoHombres

I love the Redskins and Cubs.

WIS

Who are your favorite players in today's game?

TellySavalas

Donovan (McNabb) is so classy and versatile. I have been a big fan of his since the day he was drafted and some of our other fans were booing him.

LocoHombres

Clinton Portis is a beast. And (although he's a Cardinal), Albert Pujols is my favorite baseball player. He is just amazing.

WIS

Build your all-time baseball dream team(s):

TellySavalas

1B - Gehrig, 2B - Nap Lajoie, 3B - Schmidt, SS - Wagner, OF - Ted Williams , Mays, Ruth, C - Bench, SP - Walter Johnson, RP - Dennis Eckersly.

LocoHombres

That looks pretty good to me, too.

WIS

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

TellySavalas

Well, I am 46 with a bad knee and a worse knee, so about the only thing left for me to do is coach and golf. I have coached basketball, but I'd love to coach baseball because that is what I played the most growing up.

LocoHombres

My goal is to make it to the Dixie Youth World Series (We don't have little league in my hometown).

WIS

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

TellySavalas

Abraham Lincoln, Abraham (yes the REAL Abraham), Winston Churchill and Martin Luther.

LocoHombres

Give me a few years. I'll get back to you. But if there's milk at that table, then let's get Captain Crunch there for sure.

WIS

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

TellySavalas

I have thought about this quite a bit and I just think that I am too much of a fan to ever be commissioner. I couldn't do it.

LocoHombres

I would like to be the football commissioner and I would let the guys play the game. Right now, they don't let them do anything on the field. It's not football.

WIS

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

TellySavalas and LocoHombres

I generally build two types of teams - HR teams and non-HR teams. With my HR teams, I try to find a stadium that will give me an advantage. For instance, Coors aids all HR hitters and does not allow me to negate any offensive strengths in other teams; but Hilltop only really helps right-handed power hitters so I use that and stack my lineup with righties or I go with AFC to neutralize doubles and triples teams. With non-HR teams, I focus more on finding a ballpark, like Kauffman or the Astrodome to match my roster. My teams are never pitching dominant in salary, but I always have good pitching numbers because of value, defense and ballpark.

WIS

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

TellySavalas and LocoHombres

In open leagues (which is where most of my teams are), value is the most important thing. Right now, pitchers from good hitting years present the best value, especially when coupled with great defense. It is crucial to have great defense at five positions - SS, 2B, 3B, LF, CF. Catchers are a special case. Every now and then I will use an expensive catcher, but I normally go with 2004 Kendall. I go with offense at 1B and RF but you can only really ignore defense at 1B. Regarding defense, everyone looks at range, but I think that fielding percentage is underappreciated. Fielding percentage does not just affect the edge of a player's range, it affects his entire game. Quite often a player may be most valuable at one of his secondary positions so I watch those carefully. When drafting, it's strictly a numbers game, but once the season starts, they all become my flesh and blood (you know - sort of).

WIS

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

TellySavalas

Yes. The starters that I think have the most value at each position with respect to open leagues are - 1B) 1886 Dave Orr, 2B) 1991 Tony Phillips, SS) 1921 Hod Ford, 3B) 1941 Pinky May, LF) 1954 Richie Ashburn, CF) 1951 Richie Ashburn, RF) 1912 Chief Wilson, SP) 1894 Dad Clarke, RP) 1918 Jake Northrop, C) 2004 Jason Kendall.

LocoHombres

I generally use Hod Ford, Jake Northrop and Tony Phillips as well, but I like a few different guys for my teams. At 1B, I love to use Rod Carew. He always seems to hit better than his numbers and is great defensively. At 3B, Brandon Inge is my favorite. He has good defense and can hit a few homeruns. I also use 1954 Ashburn in LF and 1958 in CF with 1984 Kirby Puckett in RF. For pitchers, I don't use as many guys from 1894. Instead, I like Addie Joss, Pink Hawley and Cy Young.

WIS

Do you make any transactions during the season that set you apart from other teams?

TellySavalas and LocoHombres

While the general consensus is that the waiver wire is bad because it costs 10% of a player's value, we both believe that the waiver wire can used as a positive. For instance, in an open league where I am fortunate enough to have a AAA player or two who can contribute everyday, even if those players are worse than current starters at their position, the current starter can be cashed in for value elsewhere.

Given the nature of the waiver wire, with variable pricing based on time spent without being claimed, some great bargains can be found. I recently dropped a poor-performing Bill Freehan season and picked up the $8 million 1972 Johnny Bench for about $7.2 million (after the transaction fee). That move added $800K of value to my lineup while improving my hitting. Since that WW move, that team is 22-3 and now has the best record in the league. That is adding value. I watch the WW all the time for players who just sit and get discounted. If I can find a player that fits my park and my lineup, and if he is discounted to the point where I can actually add value to my team, I often pull the trigger even if the player I'm replacing isn't necessarily doing badly. If I feel that I can improve my team I do.

WIS

What one feature in SimLeague Baseball would you add?

TellySavalas and LocoHombres

I think we would both like to see an option that would allow users to "tag-team" players who we want to play together. I want some pitchers to be replaced by specific relief pitchers in certain situations and some fielders to be replaced by certain fielders and that is hard to handle in the current sim due to Pinch Hitting and Pinch Running.

WIS

Do you spend much time in the forums? Why or why not?

TellySavalas

Yes I do and I have learned so much through them. I just read, read, read and ask some occasional questions. There are so many great owners out there who are helpful.

LocoHombres

I have read some of the forums but have only posted a few times in some of my dad's topics.

WIS

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

TellySavalas

There are two great things about this site that I have never found with any other website. Customer support goes above and beyond and the other users are so willing to help. With customer support, I have been amazed with the level and timeliness of my responses. I often feel as if they are waiting for and looking forward to the next question from TellySavalas (and I do send in more than my share). And the level of competition with the other owners is phenomenal. We all work together to improve our quality of play and that helps the site. The more quality owners there are in the game, the better. That's why I have done my best to bring in new owners like one of my local buddies, bigballs2, who has done very well very quickly. I also love to join some of Ozomatli's champions leagues because of the challenge.

LocoHombres

Have fun with it. Draft teams and compete. There are a lot of ways to succeed, but it is important to have fun.

WIS

Do you participate in leagues together? If so, who does better?

TellySavalas and LocoHombres

We are currently both in the same open league division with the exact same team. Both of us were trying to build teams with two 50 game winners. Currently, I (telly) have a nine game division lead in that league with 17 games to play while Joseph is 2 games out of the Wild Card spot, but is coming on strong late thanks to some terrific WW moves he made before the Transaction Deadline. We were also in another league together where Joseph made his first TOC appearance and I failed to make the playoffs. Ideally, as a father, I would like to find an area with which I can connect with each of my children that is uniquely our own. WIS gives Joseph and me that very thing.

WIS

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

TellySavalas

I would be a decent (fair - OK, maybe light) hitter, but a versatile fielder who could play just about every position above average. I guess I would be a $226,000 Tim Foli. Just a bit above the league minimum, but a valuable guy to have on the team. Plus, I'm tons of fun in the clubhouse.

LocoHombres

I play OF and 2B and make some good contact with just a little power, so I guess I would be a lot like Tony Phillips and cost about $5 million.

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