Baseball enthusiast crazystengel is the subject of our latest User Interview. A WhatIfSports.com user since 2006, crazystengel has developed into one of the premier SimLeague Baseball aficionados. We discuss everything SLB in this Q&A.
crazystengel SimLeague Baseball Overall Records
|370||34,363-26,893 (56.1%)||1,421-1,086 (56.7%)||72|
crazystengel Tournament of Champions Records
WIS: Who is crazystengel?
crazystengel: Husband. Father. Neighbor. World's #73 ranked theremin player (Readers' Poll, Theremin Player, July 2008).
WIS: How did you find out about WhatIfSports.com?
crazystengel: I was searching online for something resembling a game I played in the early 1980s called Computer Baseball. Its sim-engine was quite sophisticated for its time, and for a decade I played the hell out of it on my old Commodore 64. When I found WIS I quickly became addicted – it was light years ahead of Computer Baseball in every way. After playing a few exhibition seasons to get the hang of things, I took the plunge with my first full-season team – which won about 82 games and missed the playoffs. 1985 Darrell Evans was a particularly egregious underperformer. (Forgive, yes. Forget? Never!)
WIS: Which of our games have you played? Which do you prefer?
crazystengel: I've stuck with SLB. Not only is baseball my favorite sport, but I think it's the one best suited for simulation.
WIS: What are some of your interests and hobbies?
crazystengel: I play the acoustic guitar, badly but with a blundering gusto. Movies – foreign films, documentaries, Woody Allen, the Coen brothers. I'm a passionate consumer of all sorts of printed matter: novels, histories, restaurant menus. Some of my favorite baseball books are The Glory of Their Times, Baseball When the Grass Was Green, The Armchair Book of Baseball, The Boys of Summer, Robert Creamer's biographies, Roger Angell's essays, and anything by Bill James.
WIS: Which five people, past or present, sit at your dream roundtable discussion?
crazystengel: I'll pick John McGraw, Casey Stengel, Leo Durocher, Sparky Anderson, Tony LaRussa. Five veteran managers, none of whom were bashful about telling you how brilliant they were, and who together have first-hand knowledge of just about every Major League ballplayer from the late 19th century to the present day.
WIS: Who are your favorite all-time players?
crazystengel: Mark Fidrych was the first player to capture my imagination. For a 10-year-old baseball fan living in the Detroit area, you couldn't ask for more than the loopy exuberance of The Bird in 1976. The Tigers developed a lot of fine young talent soon after: Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Lance Parrish, Kirk Gibson, Jack Morris, Dan Petry. I cheered for all the players on the team, even the mediocre ones like Tommy Brookens and John Wockenfuss (goofy name, even goofier batting stance).
WIS: What is your favorite WIS moment?
crazystengel: My most satisfying moments have come from progressive leagues. I enjoy the friendly rivalry with the other owners, a group that changes very little from season to season. And as an owner, there's nothing more satisfying at WIS than building a prog team into a multi-season contender. By far the best run I had was in the 100 Year War prog from 1911-20: my New York Yaks got to the World Series eight times, winning seven of them. My best players were Joe Jackson and Pete Alexander, who were on the team for all ten seasons. Shoeless Joe "retired" (ahem) after 1920, but Pete's kept a spot on my roster through several rebuilding seasons, and I hope to get him at least one more ring before he calls it quits after 1929.
WIS: Do you have any favorite SimLeague Baseball theme or progressive leagues?
crazystengel: I love all three of my progs – the No Whining Progressive, Jimmy Carter, and 100 Year War. I think progs represent the best of the SLB experience. I'm also a fan of theme leagues, including O.G. Twist and Best 90M Team Ever. (Random Captain is pretty good, too!)
WIS: What is your general strategy for building teams in SimLeague Baseball? Do you draw on the influence or philosophy of any actual general managers or managers?
crazystengel: I don't have a general strategy in terms of what kind of players or park I'll choose. One of the swell things about SLB is you can be competitive with all sorts of different teams – and frankly, if that weren't the case I wouldn't have hung around for all these years.
League restrictions permitting, I like to draft "split squad" rosters wherein I'll start the scrub players in interleague and other non-must win games, saving the "A" team for division and wild card rivals. My theory is that a team has only so many wins in it – if it's, say, 90, then you'd like to go maybe 28-14 against division rivals and 62-58 against everyone else. When there are only x number of bullets in your gun, make sure you're pulling the trigger at the right targets.
WIS: How has your strategy evolved during your seven years playing SimLeague Baseball?
crazystengel: I draft far fewer innings/plate appearances now. Once upon a time I was nervous about playing anyone under 100%; now if my team ends the season with no one tired, I figure I drafted badly. At some point it hit home that when I draft a player I'm paying for two things: quantity (number of IP/PA) and quality – and the less I take of the former, the more I can have of the latter.
WIS: You have found success in the TOC, winning almost 55 percent of your TOC games and 10 championships in 15 finals appearances. Does your managerial strategy change in the TOC? Do you consider TOC compatibility when building teams?
crazystengel: There's a huge element of luck involved in winning TOCs, so I feel fortunate to have done as well as I have. In any event, I usually can't consider the TOC when drafting my teams, because the vast majority of my teams have come from themes (with limited player pools) and progs.
As for TOC strategy, more often than not I'm short on IP/PA so I'll almost always tank the opening game – start my worst batters and let a 200K pitcher get shellacked while going the distance. Then, one of two things happens: I'm eliminated in the first round, or I make it to the second round with a rested team that has a better shot at going deep into the tournament.
WIS: Are there any players in specific that you like to put on your teams?
crazystengel: I like 1899 John McGraw at 3B. He's an OBP monster, great as the lead off or #2 hitter. And he has few enough PA that I can incorporate him into my "split squad" strategy, but not so few that he can't start every playoff game at 100% if he enters the post-season sufficiently rested.
WIS: Do you make transactions during the season to try and separate yourself from others?
crazystengel: I'm not in many leagues that allow transactions, and even when I am I won't use the Waiver Wire much, aside from rotating 200K pitchers in and out of my lineup. Whenever I see an owner in one of my leagues hitting the WW panic button, a little film noir voice inside my head whispers hoarsely, "It's a mug's game, Johnny. Walk away!"
WIS: How much time do you spend on your SimLeague Baseball teams? How much do you think is necessary to be competitive?
crazystengel: In my honest opinion, I do not spend very much time at all on my teams. My wife's opinion, surprisingly, is not the same. Seriously, once your team is drafted you don't need more than a couple of minutes a day. Of course, how much time you need to spend and how much you want to spend are two different things. I look at it this way. When you pay the admission to an art museum, do you stop at every exhibit and give it the time and quiet contemplation it deserves? Or do you rush through, barely glancing at anything just so you can end the whole experience faster? (Yes, I just compared sim boxscores to works of art!)
WIS: You currently have seven SimLeague Baseball teams and two TOC teams. What is the most teams you've ever had at one time? Is it challenging to keep all of your teams organized?
crazystengel: Within the space of a month in the summer of 2009 I somehow won three TOCs. Back then the top prize was $250, and I went nuts joining leagues with all the six-packs I'd purchased. I had 30 teams going at once, and I came to appreciate what the phrase "too much of a good thing" really meant. Since then I've rarely gone above 8-10 teams, which is my personal limit in terms of "exactly enough of a good thing."
WIS: If you were to give one piece of advice to a new user, what would it be?
crazystengel: Read the forums, and don't be afraid to ask questions about how the sim works. There are plenty of knowledgeable and friendly users on the site who are happy to help newcomers.
WIS: What is your favorite aspect of SimLeague Baseball?
crazystengel: The sim-engine itself, which I think does a terrific job of providing us all with these fascinating fake boxscores three times a day.
WIS: Least favorite?
crazystengel: The lack of updates with respect to player salaries. One owner posted in the forums a while ago that when you buy an Open League team your draft center roster should come pre-loaded with 1908 Addie Joss and 1989 Howard Johnson. As the comedy aficionados like to say, "It's funny because it's true!"
WIS: What is one feature you want to see implemented in a future update?
crazystengel: I've misplaced my glasses, so I'm seeing two one's in your question and reading them as eleven. Anyway, I'd like to see more options with stats. Let's face it, most of us here are stat geeks, so why not give us more of what we want?
Here are 11 suggestions for a future update:
1. Team Rankings and League Leaders by real life stats.
- Especially useful in one-season progs.
2. In progs and multi-season themes, Team Rankings by all seasons (a feature already available in League Leaders).
- Check to see which team in a multi-season league hit the most home runs, had the best ERA, etc., in a single season.
3. Team Rankings and League Leaders for single games.
- Which team hit the most doubles in a game, or stole the most bases? Which pitcher had the most strikeouts in a game, or pitched the most innings?
4. League Leaders/Career Totals for the playoffs.
- Let's see who the top hitters/pitchers are in the post-season; and for progs/multi-season leagues, which players have the best career playoff stats.
5. Sortable stats for AAA players only.
6. Allow us to sort League Leaders by worst (not just best).
7. View Entire Schedule, with results, for every team (not just your own).
8. In User Profiles, show users' W-L records in their most recent 162 games simmed.
9. Standings by Game
- When you click on the schedule dates (the ones that let you see the scores for all the games that cycle), you should be able to see the standings as of that date, too. So even if it's the playoffs, we would still be able to view what the standings looked like after Game 40, Game 81, Game 120, whatever.
10. Sortable Season/Career Stats for Open Leagues
- Similar to what the players in multi-season progs and themes have. I'd like to click on the sortable Leaders link and see not just the current season's leaders, but all-time season/career leaders that incorporate the stats for all previous OLs. I'd also like to click on an OL player's profile and see what each of his past seasons has looked like, and which owners have used him.
11. Sortable Stats page for Owners
- Allow us to sort owners' stats by Games, Wins, Losses, Winning %, Championships, Playoff Appearances, etc.
WIS: Who are the users you respect and/or enjoy the most?
crazystengel: There are a lot of great users on the site. First some of the commishes from my progs and favorite themes: contrarian23, oram13, 0soup4u, ff09, genemock91, thejuice6. Other owners I like seeing in my leagues/posting in the forums are zubinsum, italyprof, eastvanmungo, chargingryno, just4me, boogerlips and antoncresten. There are many more, but only the aforementioned names ponied up the dough for a mention, so there you are.
WIS: If you were in one of our games, what sport would you play, at what position, and what would you be rated?
crazystengel: I'd be the out-of-shape bat boy who gets knocked unconscious with a screaming line-drive foul ball down the third base line. But after I came to, I'd jump up and get right back in there!
Unless the pain was, you know, too much. In which case I'd go home and lie down for a while.
WIS: We thank crazystengel for sharing with WhatIfSports.com and the SimLeague Baseball community.