STEIN: I'm not married, but I have a feeling that my
relationship with the BDBL is like a marriage. Usually I
love it. Sometimes I want nothing to do with it and just
need to get away.
Sometimes I think I'm neglecting it and feel bad. But I
always want to make it work.
BD: How have you felt about the overall success of your
franchise at this point?
MS: Is the part where someone asks, "What success?" We're
kinda like that show "According to Jim." All of a sudden you
look up, it's eight years later, and that show's still on.
We've only been in the playoffs once, are right in the
middle of the pack in franchise wins, and have had only two
MVP or Cy Young winners. But we're still here! Can't get rid
of us! And maybe we'll win an Emmy someday!
We do have the coolest team name in the league, though.
BD: What is your favorite aspect of the BDBL?
MS: The camaraderie and the history. I am currently in and
have been in other leagues just as complex and long-lasting
as the BDBL. While they pretty much have one or the other,
it's rare to find both in one place. All the ball busting on
the message board, even over things that happened ago,
really keeps things alive. And even if we treat each other
like jerks sometimes, we all seem to like each other. Even
as we're trying to rip each other off.
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
MS: I'm not too happy that I passed up Colby Rasmus, Josh
Hamilton, and Matt LaPorta at different times in the BDBL
farm drafts. I remember thinking about each one and passing
them up for someone else at various times. It's things like
that moreso than trades I think I might have lost -- or
should I say know I lost. You'll win some trades, you'll
lose some trades, and usually when I make the trade I have a
reason such as I think it might help me make the playoffs,
so that's why I would give away good young talent. But the
ones where you have the guy right in front of you and you
let them slip away, those are tough.
There's tons of games where I felt miserable after losing,
but the funny thing is I can't remember a specific one right
now. Our playoff appearance in 2007 against Nashville was a
severe letdown. We were swept, but had the series in our
grasp. Game 1 we led in the seventh, Game 2 we lost in 11
after leading in BOTH the 10th and 11th, and Game 3 we gave
up the tiebreaking run in the ninth. Ugh.
BD: Over the course of your time in the BDBL, who is the
one GM that you consider your largest rival or target?
MS: Since Akron's just a long home run down I-77, I always
enjoy games against D.J. Shepard. The Ryche usually own us,
so it was especially sweet in 2007 to go 13-3 against them
and make the playoffs. We're 6-2 against them so far this
year. An omen for the playoffs? Games against John Gill are
always memorable as well. For some reason I remember a lot
of last-at-bat wins both ways in those games. Maybe there's
just a couple times that I'm thinking of that makes me think
an outrageous amount of games against Chicago are decided
that way. And it always gets me when Bob Sylvester is the
perfect gentleman during games all while slowly putting his
foot down on your throat until you've choked to death.
Playing Bob reminds me of that scene in "Saving Private
Ryan" where the German soldier stabs the American guy
through the heart and is kind of comforting him at the same
time, like you'd shush a baby to bed. Bob is the stone-cold
killer of the BDBL; he makes you enjoy death.
Oh, and shutting out Nashville for almost three games
straight was the straw that broke Steve Osborne's back
earlier this year. Driving him out of the league was
memorable! (I didn't want Steve out of the league, just that
being the tipping point is kind of a trip.)
BD: Name a GM that you absolutely love to talk trade
MS: It's always an experience when you get an offer from
Bobby Sylvester. I usually learn a lot of player names I
never heard of before when he fills my inbox! When I look
back, I'm surprised at how many different people I've traded
with just in the last two seasons -- John Gill (Chicago),
Chris Luhning (Kansas), Greg Newgard (San Antonio),
"Handsome" Jeff Paulson (Los Altos), Brian Potrafka
(Ravenswood), Tony DeCastro (South Carolina), Nic Weiss
(Marlboro), Tony Badger (New Hope) this season; Steve
Osborne (formerly of Nashville), Sharky Kaminski (formerly
of Marlboro), Bobby Sylvester (St. Louis), Brian again, Tony
Chamra (Villanova), D.J. Shepard (Akron), John Duel (Sylmar)
the year before.
That's 15 different guys, 13 different franchises. I think
I've traded with everyone in the league at least once,
except for Mike Ranney. Maybe I'm not the Johnny Appleseed
of the BDBL, but I might be spreading something around.
BD: How did you first hear of the BDBL?
MS: I actually was looking for an online league where you
could use the up-to-date stats of players and plug them into
your team and play out the current season using current
stats. Maybe download them every week, something like that.
I have played in fantasy baseball for many years and wanted
to make actual teams out of the fantasy teams and see how
they would play against each other with real lineups and
pitching rotations in a league format. I stumbled across a
league that used Strat-O-Matic's computer game, although not
in the fashion I wanted. Can't remember which came first,
the BDBL or DMB, but it seems like I found them both at the
same time. Though it wasn't exactly what I was looking for,
it worked just fine. I was also just starting out as a
librarian so I wanted to practice my search skills and see
if I could find something kind of niche on this rising thing
called the Internet. Guess that worked out pretty well.
BD: What would it take for you to exit the league?
MS: Getting a life. But I hope when I do finally get one
I'll stay in the league. And let's face it -- if Glander
left the league (especially if it was over something like
his team sucking rather than real-life events that just suck
up too much time) it wouldn't quite be like getting a new
actor to play James Bond and continuing the franchise.
BD: What is your favorite BDBL memory?
MS: I remember back in the days of NetPlay, where we had the
ability to talk to the other guy when we were playing
(although I didn't have a microphone), I remember hearing
someone, I think it was D.J., go, "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh" when
some bum on my team hit a HR late in a game. That was kind
of funny. Trading for Cliff Lee and having him eventually
turn into a Cy Young winner was a great moment, even if it
took four years. If only I signed him to one more year.
Well, maybe I can do that next year.
BD: What is your best trade ever? And your worst?
MS: Absolute hands-down best trade ever was Matt LeCroy for
Adrian Gonzalez in 2006. That's got to be one of the best
BDBL trades of all time. That one flew under the radar. And
the fashion in which I made it makes it legendary. My
Internet connection was down at home. I worked til 9 p.m. on
trade deadline night and was furiously working the trade
wires. Well, I had to leave work at 9, so I drove about 20
minutes to my alma mater to use the computers there. I was
on some ancient computer working AIM and consummated the
trade with Johnny Bochicchio of the Las Vegas Flamingos
minutes before the deadline expired.
At the same time I was working on a three-way deal with Ken
Kaminski, then-owner of Marlboro, and either/or Billy
Baseball or Anthony Peburn of New Milford -- can't remember
who was running the team at the time (mid-2006). Well, my
team was finished that year so I was rebuilding. At the same
time I got Gonazlez I landed Nolan Reimold, Freddy Sanchez,
and Scott Feldman from Marlboro in exchange for, well,
nothing as it is listed on the transactions page. I also got
a couple pieces from Marlboro in the deal, and whatever
compensation the Blazers would have received from me (Kenny
Lofton and Jason Michaels) just went straight to Marlboro.
So I am listed as receiving Reimold, Sanchez, and Feldman
for nothing. And this was all consummated on AOL IM on some
ancient operating system in the basement of the John Carroll
University library just minutes before the trade deadline. I
think we actually had to post the time-stamped IMs to prove
we agreed to the trade before the deadline, because the time
it took to post would have made it after. Beat that, you
Jedi mind controllers!
Worst -- well, I have given, and I do mean given, Roy
Halladay and James Shields to Bob Sylvester of the SoCal
Slyme in different years. I think all I ended up with from
those deals were a few hearty thank yous. And in a moment of
weakness I gave Mike Glander Dustin McGowan for Santiago
Casilla. That trade was saved only by the fact that
McGowan's arm fell off not too long afterwards.
An honorable goes to us picking up David Aardsma at
midseason and trading him a chapter later each of the last
two seasons. Only an honorable mention, though, because last
year we landed Joel Peralta, who was worse for us than
stubbing your toe at 3 a.m. Then this year after we traded
him he didn't revert to suckiness afterward, so we might
wish we still had him next year. There will be no picking
Aardsma up off the scrapheap in 2010.
BD: Other than Glander, what GM would you absolutely hate
to see leave the BDBL?
MS: Geeez, this is like Sophie's Choice. I think right now I
would hate to see Tom DiStefano leave. He needs to stay on
for his entire descent into Billy Baseball land if he's
going to be trading guys like Yovanni Gallardo for a few
midget baseball players and some track suits.
BD: Who is the craziest character in the BDBL?
MS: Gotta be Brian Potrafka, aka Skizm. No one's quite sure
if Skizm is his alter ego, if if Brian Potrafka is Skizm's
alter ego. I've met the guy and am not sure. He's like
Lastings Milledge, one of those prospects whom no one would
be surprised if he washed out of baseball in three years or
went on to hit 500 homers. Brian's got that kind of crazy
range. If it turned out he lived a life like that Dexter
guy, protector of the innocent by day, serial killer of
those who deserve it at night, we'd all nod our heads as if
we knew it all along.
Although if I hadn't met him, I wouldn't be so sure that
"Jim Doyle" wasn't just a made-up character. And come to
think of it, maybe Ryan Melosi was.
BD: If your franchise had a Team Hall of Fame, which
players would be members?
MS: Most of them were so long ago I barely remember them.
Current guys, Jim Thome is going to be a member. He's a
no-doubter. We got him cheap in 2006 and have loved him ever
since. He's hit 108 HRs through Chapter 4 of 2009 with an
OPS over 1.000. And you can bet he'll be adding to that
total next season. Freddy Sanchez has an outside chance,
mostly due to longevity. We project him as our starting
second baseman next year, which will give him 3½ years and
close to 2,300 at-bats for us. If he keeps up what he's
doing, he'll have nearly 700 hits. A .300 average for that
amount of time could get him in our hall.
Vlad Guerrero is a charter member. He hit 148 HRs while
playing for us the first three years of the league. Roberto
Alomar and Ivan Rodriguez were great for our first three
years. They're in. Frank Thomas played two different
two-year stints and hit 112 HRs. He's in. Robb Nen is our
all-time saves leader with 90. He got them in his final two
seasons. He's in. Sad to say Nen might be our only pitcher
in our Hall. But maybe Ryan Klesko gets in just because we
loved him enough to acquire him four different times.
BD: Tell us which MLB team that you feel like your BDBL
franchise is the most like.
MS: Thinking about Question 2 also got me thinking about
this one. In one sense, we're kind of like the Cincinnati
Reds, a once-proud franchise, a beacon for the BDBL (we did
have five winning seasons in our first six years) that now
is basically irrelevent. No national presence, nothing
expected from them (at least not by Power Rankings Guy).
But we've had no one banned for life from our team, so maybe
I'm being a bit harsh. I actually think we've got some
up-and-comers and will be a favorite for next season with a
couple more additions. I think we're kind of like the
Seattle Mariners at the moment, outperforming expectations,
changing some strategies, and on the verge of returning to
some recent glory.
BD: What criteria would you tend to look at when deciding
between signing a guy to a long-term contract, as opposed to
MS: Prior performance would be up there. I didn't hesitate
in giving Chipper Jones an extension through 2010 before the
2008 season. Even though he was getting up there in age and
price, he had proven to be worth his salary for so long I
figured he would be good for another couple years. But I
gave Gary Matthews too long of an extension after his one
good year and he went right back down the drain. Fortunately
he was cheap to start with so it didn't cost too much. But
that brings me to my other criteria -- price and age. If a
guy's young and has talent and is cheap I'll give him a
four-year deal because even if he doesn't pan out it won't
cost that much. Edwin Jackson, Josh Johnson, and Scott Olsen
are two examples of this. They were loaded with unrealized
talent. I got them all cheap in 2008 and had to commit to
them before '09. Well, they all got long-term deals because
the back end of it wouldn't be a terrible price, even if
they were worthless. Turning out well so far, with Jackson
and Johnson looking like real bargains. Same with Russell
Martin. Justin Masterson will probably be next up for this
test. But those guys you get right at $5m because they are
coming off a good season, those are the dangerous ones to
give anything more than just the next season.
BD: How has your overall team-building philosophy changed
over the years?
MS: Just take a look at our pitching staff for next year.
Edwin Jackson, Josh Johnson, and Ricky Nolasco, all cheap.
We tried it with Scott Olsen as well and while it won't work
out for next season, we'll get one more shot with him in
2011. Justin Masterson's next up in the pipeline. Kyle
Drabek's a touted prospect. And on the hitting side, we've
had Freddy Sanchez long-term, have Russell Martin under
contract through 2013, have Alex Gordon tied up through
2016. Nolan Reimold's a keeper.
Really, I got all those guys for next to nothing. I had this
theory back when I was trading guys like Roy Halladay, Joel
Pineiro, James Shields, and Dustin McGowan for the
equivilent of 1990s Marvel comic books. Those were all guys
I had basically found lying on the sidewalk. If they were
that readily available, why not trade and keep looking down
on the sidewalk? Well, I decided to keep looking on the
sidewalk but to stop trading away what I find laying there.
BD: What has been the most significant change in the BDBL?
MS: A lot of the significant changes seem like old hat
because they've been in play for awhile. The D-Day auction
page is a wonderful innovation. The website was upgraded a
few years ago. This league's generally ahead of the curve on
a lot of things. Hell, you could say that the best
innovation in real baseball is 90 feet between the bases.
One hundred fifty years later it's still the perfect
distance, leading to bang-bang plays on everything from slow
rollers to short to hot shots down the third-base line. You
could say our salary structure is the 90-foot basepaths of
the BDBL. It's the original innovation that set the table
for everything that followed.
BD: Name your favorite "off-the-field" moment from BDBL
Weekend or the league forum.
MS: I enjoyed playing host to the guys for BDBL: Cleveland.
Not sure, but it might have been the first time we took in
two games in the weekend, at least all as a group, as we
drove to Akron Friday night before enjoying the Tribe game
Saturday night. Watching Jack Cust fall down 15 feet from
home and getting tagged out for the last out at BDBL:
Baltimore was one of my greatest in-person baseball moments.
I lost a $1 bet to Glander that Pat Hentgen couldn't throw
one pitch 90 miles per hour according to the radar gun at
that game. Hentgen made it one like his next-to-last pitch.
BD: What's keeping you busy these days? How can we get
you to the next BDBL weekend?
MS: I just need to more smartly budget my money so I can buy
those plane tickets!
BD: What's the most bizarre thing you have experienced
while in the library?
MS: I'm constantly amazed by the people who come up and tell
me the keyboard doesn't work when it turns out the
number-lock key is not enabled so the number pad doesn't
type numbers. That happens way more than it should. But for
a single instance, had to be the time a guy came in and
wanted books on what he called, "mind control." I
immediately started thinking hypnosis or maybe some kind of
meditation thing. Nope! "You know, pimping!" he said. "Mind
I spent 20 minutes of my lunch break trying to help this guy
find books on how to pick up women and put them under your
control by pimping on them. No food in the world was better
than this search! Who knew this guy was tapping into a
hidden industry? Not long after that experience this guy
Neil Strauss put out a book called "The Game" that was
basically about his experience with a bunch of guys who went
around working mind games on women to get to date them. The
guy featured in that book, some dude who went by the name
Mystery, ended up with a VH-1 show called "The Pick-Up
Artist." Some people call it "The Douchebag Show" or
something along those lines. I belive my library patron
would call it just right.
BD: Thanks, Mike!
MS: Anything for you, Biggest Daddy.