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Big Daddy Baseball League

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slant.gif (102 bytes) Know Thy Enemy, 10th Anniversary Edition

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October, 2009
by "Biggest Daddy"

Interview with Mike Glander,
Salem Cowtippers

BIGGEST DADDY: Thank you for sitting down with us for another installment of "BDBL: A retrospective".  Generally speaking, how do you feel about the BDBL?

MIKE GLANDER: Thanks, Biggest Daddy.  Although I'm not feeling all that great about my team at the moment, I always feel good about this league.  Although this game sucks monkey nuts at times, the fact that I get to share in this utter misery with so many great guys makes it worthwhile.

BD: How have you felt about the overall success of your franchise at this point?

MG: I don't think it's any secret that I'm disappointed in not winning that godforsaken trophy.  While the division titles and almost 10,000 wins in ten seasons are nice to have on the resume, I'd trade it all for just one trophy.  It would be much nicer to have a piece of hardware that validates all the hard work and effort I put into this hobby.  But over the years I've learned that it's not about the destination; it's about the journey.  At least, that's what helps me to sleep at night.

BD: What is your favorite aspect of the BDBL?

MG: I absolutely love the league forum, and don't know what I'd do without it.  I keep it open on my desktop all day, every day, and probably hit the refresh button 1,000 times a day.  I'd like to think I've made 23 friends (well, 22 friends and Peburn) for life through this silly fantasy baseball league.  I look forward to BDBL Weekend more than any other day of the year, and I genuinely enjoy hanging out with everyone in the league (except Peburn), whether virtually or in person.

BD: Tell us the absolute low point of your franchise, whether it was a particular game lost, or a particular trade ripped to shreds, or a particular fellow GM that ticked you off.

MG: It's difficult to pick just one, Biggest Daddy.  Every year, it seems like I reach a new milestone low point.  And just when I think it can't get any lower, this game proves me wrong.  Our very first season was a bitter disappointment for me, because I really wanted to win the first championship, and thought I had the team to do it.  I also wanted to "undo" all the damage my ego had taken in the old CBL a decade earlier.  I guess you could say that didn't work out too well, eh?

In 2002, I didn't think I had a prayer of beating Tom in the World Series.  But I got SO CLOSE to that championship, I could taste it.  Ninth inning of Game Seven, with the game still tied -- you can't get any closer than that.  So losing that one was extremely gut-wrenching, knowing it may be the closest I ever get.

In 2004, I was convinced that having two or three dominant aces was the formula for success in the playoffs.  And I had three dominant, lights-out aces.  And I sat there and watched as all three imploded in the very first inning, three games in a row, against the #4 seed in our division.  That was a huge slap across the face.

Then, in 2005, I was so convinced that it would finally be MY year that I wrote my infamous on-line novel Five Games in November to commemorate the occasion.  But instead of a celebratory, feel-good story, it became just another occasion for the league to revel in my misery.  I'm still shaking my head over Brian Roberts' five-hit game and the two blown saves by Mariano Rivera and Juan Cruz.  That one hurt even more because it was the second World Series loss to Tom, and I figured the Baseball Gods owed me one there.

But no.  The Baseball Gods had even MORE punishment planned for me.  As if two weren't enough, they set me up for a third loss to Tom in 2008.  I came out of the 2007 playoffs (where I once again lost to the #4-seeded Infidels in absolutely ludicrous fashion) vowing never again to manage a playoff series.  But I sucked it up, and reluctantly (VERY reluctantly) went into the '08 playoffs fully expecting the Baseball Gods to crap all over me once again.  I just wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible, and was actually annoyed that I made it to the World Series.  I was triply annoyed that my opponent would be Tom, as I was sick and tired of that story.  And I knew what the outcome would be before the series even began.  Two losses to Tom were more than enough.  A third was just kicking a man while he's down.  Completely unnecessary.

Then, there's this season.  I could never count on my team to perform as expected in a short series, but at least they always performed well over a long 160-game season.  But this season has been just one long disappointment from beginning to end.  It's been the least fun I've had in this league, quite frankly.

But if I had to pick one low point, it would be 2001.  On a personal level, I lost my mother that year after a long battle with cancer, and I guess I felt as though I "deserved" something good to happen to me after enduring such a tough year emotionally.  I also felt that I "deserved" to win the championship that season after building this incredible team, and after watching Marazita win the first two.  I just felt it was "my time."  Instead, I not only lost that series to Marazita in the OLCS, but I was swept by him.  And just to add insult to injury, that sweep was executed face-to-face at his house, so I got to endure the snarky smirks, the gleeful celebrating of my defeat (by both Marazita and his butt-boy, Geisel), and the condescending lectures about sportsmanship from a guy who's never been on the losing end of any fantasy baseball championship series.

Yes, that 2001 playoff series was most definitely the low point of my BDBL career.  I realize it's "just a game," but every once in awhile, a small victory in a meaningless little game can give you the emotional lift you need to keep pushing forward.  I haven't gotten that from this game at all.  In fact, I've gotten only the opposite.  You can only take so many emotional beatings before you become absolutely numb to it all, and I think I reached that point a while ago.  Even if I were to finally win a championship now, I wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much as I would have several years ago.

If there is one thing I have learned from this experience, it is that the DMB software doesn't care who "deserves" to win.  It doesn't care who "wants it more" or who "worked harder for it" or who "played by the rules."  It doesn't care who knows more about the game of baseball, or who spent weeks, months or years formulating a "can't lose" strategy.  It's just a random series of cold, impersonal, unfeeling dice rolls.

Thanks for the question, Biggest Daddy.  I think I'm going to head out back and shoot myself now.

BD: Over the course of your time in the BDBL, who is the one GM that you consider your largest rival or target?

MG: No secret here.  First it was Marazita, then Tom, and now Peburn.  I would call Paulson a rival, but he's beat the snot out of me so badly over the years, you can hardly call it a "rivalry."  That's like calling the Yankees and Red Sox, pre-2004, a "rivalry."

BD: Name a GM that you absolutely love to talk trade with.

MG: I could take the politically correct way out and suggest that I love talking trade with everyone in the league.  But as everyone knows, I'm anything but politically correct.  So I'm going to say John Gill is probably my favorite trading partner.  I like dealing with John because: a) he doesn't insult my intelligence with ridiculous offers he would never accept himself, b) he doesn't give me vague offers, fishing for me to make him an offer instead, and c) he's not afraid to talk about anyone on his roster.  There are a lot of guys in this league who cling to certain players so tightly that they pass on deals that would have really helped them.  But John will discuss trading ANY player on his team, and I'm the same way.  As a result, we often end up making huge blockbuster deals where we both benefit enormously.  I don't think you can point to any trade we've made over the past ten years and definitively say either of us won.

Why did you decide to create this league?

MG: Basically, I got tired of rotisserie baseball, and was looking for something that was more like "real" baseball, both from the standpoint of a manager and GM.  I somehow discovered Diamond Mind, ordered the game, and really enjoyed playing it.  But solitaire just wasn't cutting it.  I needed to compete against other people, and I couldn't find an established league that had all the rules I wanted.  I'm also a little bit of a control freak, and I don't trust other people to make all the decisions I feel would be best for the league.  So, I just created my own from scratch.  When I played rotisserie, I came up with the idea for our salary and contract structure, and I was anxious to put that idea to work.  And although a lot of people insisted that system would not work over the long run, it's been very gratifying to me to have proven them wrong.

BD: Are there any GM's no longer in the league that you really miss?

MG: Several, actually.  In no particular order: Sharky, Tim Zigmund, Brian Hicks, Billy Baseball and Scott Zook all come to mind.  Of course, Sharky still remains a fixture on the board, but I miss his waffling over each and every decision.  It was endless entertainment.  Ziggy, Hicks and Zook were all great fun on the board, and we engaged in some lively debates over the years.  And Billy Baseball has been my friend for 28 years now, and we still keep in touch on occasion.

BD: What is your favorite BDBL memory?

MG: "On the field," beating Marazita with my "SUS-busting" strategy in 2002 was sweet justice (though it was too little, too late.)  I also enjoyed Game 6 of the '02 World Series.  And the anticipation and excitement of Draft Day is always a highlight.  I also get a huge adrenaline rush whenever I make a blockbuster trade.  I probably enjoy the entire process of negotiation, announcing the new deal, and placing my new players in my lineup more than actually playing the games.

BD: What is your best trade ever? And your worst?

MG: The Berkman trade is probably my favorite.  It took me forever to convince Geisel to part with him, and he remains the only player in Salem history who's ever played for me for more than three seasons.  Trading Wes Anderson for Teixeira was also a highlight.

My worst trade is a tie between the John Danks and Jon Lester trades of last winter.  I honestly don't know what I was thinking when I made those deals.  I acquired both pitchers via trade, because I believed they were on the verge of a breakout.  And a few weeks later, I was sending both of them out the door for a couple of one-year stopgap solutions.  Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb.

BD: What GM would you absolutely hate to see leave the BDBL?

MG: Okay, this may seem like the politically-correct response, but I can honestly say I'd hate to see ANY of our current owners leave.  And yes, that includes Peburn.  Every league needs a villain.

BD: Who is the craziest character in the BDBL?

MG: I suppose the obvious answer here is Skizm, but I really don't think he's crazy.  He is my "Id."  Everything that he says or writes is everything I experience internally.  The only difference is that my "Ego" and "Superego" filters out all that stuff (sometimes), and I'm able to give the phony appearance of being a "good sport."  But like Brian, I'm an ultra-competitive person, and I completely identify with the level of intense hatred for this hobby that Brian communicates so well.

John Duel has by far the craziest outlook on politics that I've ever encountered in my lifetime.  I have some liberal friends here in the Northeast, but West Coast liberals are a whole different breed of cat.

That said, I'd like to nominate Jim Doyle as the craziest character in this league.  I mean, just look at the dude's trading history!  Then, there's the fact that he changes his franchise-building strategy every year.  Remember the "all-defense" strategy?  Or the $20 million bid for his #2 starter?  Or the four-year contract for B.J. Upton?  I don't think there's any contest.

BD: If your franchise had a Team Hall of Fame, which players would be members?

MG: Well, if we had won the 2002 Series, Mike Magnante would be a first-ballot Salem Hall of Famer just based on one game's performance.  But alas, we didn't.  Since only one player has ever lasted more than three years on my roster, it would be difficult to name anyone else to a Salem Hall of Fame other than Berkman.  And he's certainly a first-ballot election when the time comes.  We'll see a number 17 hanging in Sam Adams Stadium when he retires.

BD: Tell us which MLB team that you feel like your BDBL franchise is the most like.

MG: Hmm...let's see...a New England-based baseball team with a gross inferiority complex and rabid fan base that consistently plays well during the season, but then chokes in the post-season so badly that the franchise appears cursed.  I can't think of one.  At least, not anymore.

BD: As Commish, is there a particular task that you would prefer to not have to do?

MG: I've pretty much outsourced all of my mundane tasks through the years, leaving me with just updating the web site.  And I really enjoy writing and creating all this content for the site, although I haven't had a lot of time to do so lately.

BD: How has your overall team-building philosophy changed over the years?

MG: It hasn't, really.  And that's the problem.  I think I'm going to have problems maintaining success going forward unless I make some tweaks to my strategy.  There is too much information freely available these days, and too many owners all drafting and scouting from the same sources of information.  It makes it nearly impossible to gain an edge.

BD: What has been the most significant change in the BDBL?

MG: My answer to this question is related to the one above.  The biggest change isn't specific to the BDBL; it's the proliferation of information available on the internet today that wasn't available when this league first started.  In the good ol' days, I held a distinct advantage in acquiring free agents (both minor league and majors), because I knew where to get the information.  But today, we're all sharing the same scouting notebooks.  There are no "secrets" or "hidden sleepers" anymore.

In the early days of the league, only a handful of owners actually paid attention to the minor leagues, and a much smaller handful paid any attention whatsoever to college, high school and Japanese players.  Today, we're taking 14-year-olds with the #1 overall pick of the farm draft.  This league has become ludicrously competitive.

BD: Name your favorite "off-the-field" moment from BDBL Weekend or the league forum?

MG: Again, there are so many it's difficult to pick just one.  The time Doyle decided to ask a crazy homeless man in Cleveland for restaurant recommendations, and we ditched the two of them, was definitely a classic.  I laughed so hard I didn't think I'd ever stop.  Our tour of the Budweiser brewery in St. Louis was a blast, and San Diego was a fun town.  San Fran was also a blast, and I'll never forget that Chinese dinner we had.  There have been so many great times at BDBL Weekend, and it's definitely become the highlight of my year.

BD: Will you have enough energy to run this league for another 10 years?  And if so, what will the league look like in 2019?

MG: I'll definitely have the energy.  The question is whether I'll have the mental toughness to keep taking a beating year after year after year.  Like my forum signature reads, "It's not about how hard ya hit.  It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward."  So far, I'm still moving forward.

In 2019, we'll all be playing Diamond Mind via virtual-reality helmets.  A high-definition, 3-D playing field will be filled with photorealistic replicas of every MLB player, and we will sit in the dugout making managerial decisions through our thoughts.  (Of course, Tom will still choose to manage via MP.)  The sounds of the game and the crowd will be played for us through the Dolby HD surround sound in our helmets, and the smell of hot dogs and sweaty ballplayers will waft in through HD smell sensors.

Of course, the game itself will still suck.  Felix Hernandez will still post an ERA double the size of his MLB ERA, and base runners will still stand at first base with dumb looks on their faces when you order them to steal.  But the graphics will be amazing.

BD: Anything that has taken place that you regret?

MG: I suppose I could've handled the Delmon Young/Ian Stewart trade controversy a little better, eh?  And in reading so many old posts in preparation for the 10th anniversary articles, I cringed at a lot of idiotic things I wrote.  But that's who I am.  I'm a passionate guy with passionate opinions, especially when it comes to baseball and politics.  I realize that level of passion makes me look like an asshole sometimes, but I'm okay with it.  If you go through life suppressing your emotions and opinions because you're afraid of what other people will think of you, then you become a pretty boring person.  If there is one thing I don't want to be remembered for, it's being boring.

BD: Is this league perfect?  What would make it better?

MG: My gut reaction is to say the only thing that makes this league imperfect is the Diamond Mind software.  But there's probably a lot of bitterness in that opinion.  When you're winning, DMB is great.  When you're losing, DMB sucks.  Yes, there is a lot of randomness in the software, but I'm not sure that's a bad thing.  It just makes it more difficult to assemble a winning team when you have no idea how your players will perform.  But isn't that the same problem MLB managers face?  I'm sure Terry Francona didn't count on Daisuke Matsuzaka posting a 7.00+ ERA this season.  And I'm sure Joe Maddon was planning on B.J. Upton hitting a little better than .232.  But that's baseball.

BD: When you started, did you think the league would make it ten years?

MG: The first year was no picnic, but throughout all the turmoil and drama, I never believed that our league would be doomed because of it.  I knew it would take awhile to find 24 good owners, and I'm really happy with the mix of guys we have now.  It was hard work, but it was all worth it.

BD: Now that your boys are getting older, how much interest are they showing in the league? Would they ever be interested in having a team?

MG: I actually considered having my 13-year-old take over the Funkadelic earlier this year.  But he played rotisserie for the first time this year, and he could probably use a little more experience before he jumps into this shark tank.  He joined two other leagues shortly after the first, so he's becoming a fantasy baseball junkie just like his old man.  He's now talking about forming a league with his friends next year, so we may have a Baby Commish on our hands!

It's too soon to tell whether my other two sons will be into baseball.  They won't even sit to watch more than an inning of baseball right now.  It's funny, because I always assumed that my sons would naturally inherit my love for the game, but I don't think any of them will ever love it as much as I do.  They just have other interests, and I'm okay with that.  I've never forced my interests onto them.

BD: Mike, gotta say, congratulations on making this league such a success!

MG: Thank YOU, Biggest Daddy (and those who preceded you with that title) for lending your services to this league for so many years.  The Biggest Daddy interviews are one of my favorite features of the site, and I often go back and reread some of the older interviews.