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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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August, 2009
by "Biggest Daddy"

Interview with Mike Stein,
Cleveland Rocks

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 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 off.

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 with.

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 3 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 short term?

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 control."

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.