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

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December, 2009
by "Biggest Daddy"

Interview with DJ Shepard,
Akron Ryche

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?

D.J. SHEPARD: Simply put, itís just a great game. Good group of guys.

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

DS: Itís a mixed bag, I guess. On the hand, Iím disappointed to have never made it to the Series (let alone win one). But, Iím pretty pleased that I have the fourth most franchise wins and third most manager wins in our history.

BD: What is your favorite aspect of the BDBL?

DS: I would have to go with the actual team building aspect of the game, especially the drafts.

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.

DS: Arthur Rhodes. Barry Bonds. Thatís all I can bear to say.

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

DS: Despite Akronís proximity to Cleveland, and the whole ďBattle of I-77Ē thing, Iíd probably have to go with Chicago. Coming into this year, of the nine years Iíve been in the Hrbek division, weíve won the title eight times between us (four each.)

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

DS: Itís not so much that I love talking trade with anyone in particular; itís more of there being certain guys that just seem easier to strike a deal with. The guys that come immediately to mind are Mike G., Tom, Jeff, and Greg.

BD: How did you first hear of the BDBL?

DS: Just one of those lucky coincidences, I guess. I stumbled across the DMB site while looking for baseball games. I then found Mikeís ad on the league directory page. I think it was up for less than a month when I first came across it. Perfect timing, I just happened to be looking at about the same time that Mike was putting this all together.

BD: What would it take for you to exit the league?

DS: Barring something completely unforeseen, Mike would probably have to kick me out.

BD: What is your favorite BDBL memory?

DS: Thereís so much to choose from. Iíll go with the 2001 season, and winning my first division title.

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

DS: Itís hard to really say for sure, even for a team like mine that hasnít always been the busiest on the trade front. That being said, I think my best and worst happened in the same year, to the same team. In early 2003, I made what you could call a challenge trade with Salem. We both had a reliever that was performing awfully for us. So, we decided to swap them. What makes it stick out as the best trade was that we decided to also swap a couple of farm pitchers in the deal. I sent Kris Honel to Salem and got back Justin Verlander.

A chapter later, I hooked up with Salem again as I tried to load up. I donít consider it the worst trade in that I got screwed over or anything. Itís just looking at the names that I emptied out of the farm system while ultimately having a failed season. I sent Rich Harden, Brad Lidge, and Cliff Lee packing in that one. Thatís an awful lot of cheap pitching that ended up panning out.

Another one along those same lines, the following year I sent Travis Hafner and Ryan Madson to Villanova in the same deal. No wonder I starting getting a little gun shy about getting rid of my farm guys!

The ultimate worst trade might have to be from that 2003 season again. I got Arthur Rhodes from Litchfield. See question #4.

BD: Other than Glander, what GM would you absolutely hate to see leave the BDBL?

DS: Like I said before, we have a good group of guys. So, I donít want to see anyone leave. If youíre forcing me to pick one though, Iíll go with Tom. Heís the one Iíve probably conversed with the most over the years. Besides, I still owe him some painful playoff defeats before he goes.

BD: Who is the craziest character in the BDBL?

DS: Crazy can be defined in a number of ways, some good and others not so much. Iíll take the easy way out and quote Slade, ďMama Weer All Crazee NowĒ.

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

DS: It all begins (and probably ends) with Pedro. There really hasnít been anyone that has been around for that many years like he was, so no one else really stands out. Rolen might be a possibility, though he was only around for four years. If Iím lucky, Verlander will join Pedro some day as one of the faces of the Akron franchise.

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

DS: I have no idea. I could say the Indians because they made the playoffs a bunch of times, but never won it all. Then again, they actually made it to the Series a few times. It would have to be a team that is fairly successful without ever being a big player in free agency. Maybe the Twins? Itís really hard to say.

BD: why has your team never finished in last?

DS: When I saw this question, I was shocked that I hadnít done so yet (Unfortunately, that streak is coming to an end this year). I guess that I had never really thought about it. The one truly terrible year that I had, I was lucky that another team struggled just a tiny bit more that year. I would probably say that my tendency to focus on pitching has been the key. For the most part, I had good enough pitching to keep me competitive enough to where Iíve only had the one season where I at least wasnít close to the .500 mark.

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

DS: Overall, Iíd say it hasnít changed much at all. Iím still a fool for the pitchers. The way I look at them has changed though, the stats, attributes, etcÖ Hopefully, Iím refining it for the better. Time will tell.

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

DS: I think the most significant change might in fact not be a change at all. That weíve become a pretty stable league is probably the best ďchangeĒ.

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

DS: Iíll go with the pranks that have been pulled. Itís almost too bad that they were so good, as itís that much more difficult to pull one now.

BD: What will it take for you to attend a BDBL weekend?

DS: An act of God? I kind of, sort of attended the one this year. Well, I made a trade over the phone with Mike while he was attending. The one Iím most disappointed in missing was Pittsburgh. I was forced to work that weekend at the last minute. Talk about being pissed!

BD: Tell us about life as a Pepsi Driver.

DS: Well, Iíll have to venture into the memory banks for this one, as I no longer am with them. It was fun while it lasted. Suited me perfectly actually. I was pretty much alone for most of the night. Listened to lots of late night radio talk shows (Art Bell!), lots of music, and baseball games from all over the place (itís amazing what you can pick up late at night in the middle of nowhere). There wasnít much to it though. I just shuttled trailers (doubles) back and forth all night from one of the plants to a drop yard in the extreme NE corner of Ohio, which made it interesting in the winter, as I was driving through the snow belts (primary and secondary) the whole way.

BD: Thanks, DJ!