User Interview: Ez37

Q&A with noted Gridiron Dynasty user Ez37

A marketing co-op turned full-time "statistician" at WhatIfSports.com recently, as he does about every other week, contacted one of our most respected users to conduct an interview that would soon appear on the My Locker page. While each interviewed user thus far has offered interesting commentary and a wealth of knowledge and insight, our employee was still not prepared for an hour (or more) phone conversation that will stick with him forever. He listened and learned and tried to keep up with a man rich in wisdom and experience.

What follows is a snapshot of this conversation between WhatIfSports and Ez37, a former baseball and football coach, spanning topics from Gridiron Dynasty recruiting and SABR's Deadball Society, to integrity and fast-pitch softball.

WIS

Who is Ez37?

Ez37

I am a retired teacher/coach, originally from Chicago, but spent most of my life in Indiana. I now live in a golfing community near Leesburg, Florida. I'll be 68 soon, but as a younger man, I coached football, and baseball in junior high school, and high school. Most of it was at Carmel, and Westfield in Indiana. I finished up with a few years of football here in Florida.

WIS

How did you find out about WhatIfSorts.com?

Ez37

I have been a table-top sports game fanatic for many, many years. I was surfing the net one day, trying to get some fresh ideas for a game that I designed, when I stumbled across WIS. I tried Grid Iron Dynasty and got hooked.

WIS

Which Simleagues or Dynasty games have you played?

Ez37

Well, I'm in my ninth season of GD and have also played one season of Hoops Dynasty. Even though I am from basketball crazy Indiana, I still like the football game better.

WIS

Besides simulation sports websites, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?

Ez37

These days I play golf 3-4 times a week. Keeping in touch with my teaching days, I am still active as a social studies consultant for a school district here in Florida, and as a history buff, I am a member of SABR, specializing in baseball of the early 20th Century.

WIS

What is your favorite sports moment?

Ez37

More than any game I coached or played in, or even witnessed as a fan, my top sports moment is, and I believe it is for many guys, the first time I walked up the ramp at a major league stadium, and looked down on all that "green"! I was eight years old, and my dad took me to old Comiskey Park. I'll never forget that first "look"! It will stay with me forever! Talk about "first love"!!!!!

WIS

Who are your favorite teams of all-time?

Ez37

When I was around, maybe five or six, living on the south-side of Chicago, some bigger, older kid walked up to me and asked if I liked the Cubs or Sox better. An animal sounded better than clothes, so I said," the Cubs". He punched me in the mouth and knocked me down. From that moment on, I became a die-hard White Sox fan!

WIS

Did you play any sports growing up?

Ez37

Sure, in those days you played them all! I played some semi-pro football, and baseball for awhile, but it was basically for "pennies" then. I was still playing over 200 games of softball a year until I blew out a leg at the age of fifty-one. One of the fast-pitch teams I was with in the 1960-70s, won eight state championships, and was ranked in the top 10 in the nation. All that time involved became a way of life for our families!

WIS

What players did you admire most growing up?

Ez37

Guys you probably never heard of, like Don Kolloway and Wally Moses. Moses was great because he put up big numbers (it seemed like every other year). I was fortunate to get to know, Hall of Famer, Luke Appling. He lived in the same apartment building as one of my grade school teachers, and he used to take me down the ramp behind the Sox dugout, and yell at all the visiting players until they came over and gave me their autographs.

WIS

Who are your favorite players in today's game?

Ez37

I've got to love this year's version of the (White) Sox. They're like a throwback team; an old NL team that can run the bases, but has some power too. I like guys I'm just starting to know who play hard and smart, like Scott Podsednik, and Jermaine Dye. Podsednik is just like those early 20th Century players who lived to get in the dirt!

WIS

Build your all-time college football team:

Ez37

My team would have a bunch of guys from the old Notre Dame teams. When I was a kid, I was a big fan of Terry Brennan. He was a wingback whose play, I swear, made Johnny Lujack an all-american, and Heisman winner, in 1947! I really followed the Irish return to power in 1964 too, and am hoping to see the glory days return to South bend.

WIS

What is the top sports related thing you want to do in life that you have not yet done?

Ez37

This one is easy! I want to shoot one round of golf at par or better. It can be at any course; I don't care! All my life, I could hit a baseball or softball going close to 100 mph, but I never seem to be able to hit that little white ball as straight or as far as I should, no matter what I do! It does not make sense! I tell you the two most frustrating things in the world are golf, and women! Not necessarily in that order. I guess it depends upon what game you are playing.

WIS

Which five people, past or present, sit at your dream roundtable?

Ez37

I'd want to see Socrates the educator, Julius Caesar the warrior, Christ the prophet, Benjamin Franklin the intellect, and Abraham Lincoln the leader. Those, and I would like to grab a beer with a guy like Honus Wagner, or Babe Ruth. I want to know what it was like, and hear their stories!

WIS

If you could be commissioner of any league, which sport would it be and what would you do to change the game?

Ez37

I would be the commissioner of baseball and I could write a book about everything that I'd like to change, First thing, I would unify the rules for both leagues. I've gone back and forth on the DH, and I am not sure which way I would go, but both leagues need to be the same. That, and I'd unify the umpire calls (strike zone), and be more strict on discipline, and the drug policy. Plus, I would like to see the World Series go back to day games. I can remember when the World Series was on, the world seemed to stop, and watch, and listen. Baseball needs to get that respect! And, I would probably try to shorten the season back to 154 games, so we are not playing the post-season in the snow.

WIS

As a coach in GD or in real life do you draw on the philosophies of any past or present coaches?

Ez37

I guess, to some extent, Bob Knight. I respect his integrity, not necessarily his personality and actions. Knight wants to be a teacher first, and to create men. Really, that's all I ever tried to instill in my players was integrity, and respect for the game, and for each other. Gridiron Dynasty seems no different to me. I almost treat my players as if they are real. There are times when I just want to call them into my office and talk things through. How weird is that? Similar to Knight's philosophies in general, I believe that anyone can win in GD, but not everyone is willing to prepare to win.

WIS

You currently have a .730 winning percentage in GD. Is this in line with your real coaching record?

Ez37

Actually, I figured it out, and if you include every game I ever coached, as a head coach, from junior high on up, we had a record of 84-4-1. Most of that was from my days at Carmel and Westfield. It is easier to win when you have the players, and trust me, we had the players! At Carmel, more than once, we took seven fan buses to away games for the freshman football team. Westfield was much smaller and located right next to Carmel. We put together a junior high team that went through a season and was not scored upon. There was another season that our little Westfield JV team of only 15 players went into Carmel Stadium and beat their undefeated team. I'd say it was the same in those games as it is today with GD; take the time to prepare to win.

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of our website?

Ez37

Game days. I still get the same kind of feeling when I am going up for the Division Championship, or playing in a big game as I did when I coached. The site allows me to get that feeling back.

WIS

Least favorite?

Ez37

Recruiting can be a pain! There is no bigger let down in GD than scouting a player only to have him already considering a higher level SimAl before the recruiting period even starts.

WIS

We have not interviewed a regular GD user since the first champion. Having played in a few seasons, what do you believe is the biggest key to GD success?

Ez37

You can't run a horse race without horses! Recruiting is undoubtedly the key to GD success at this point.

WIS

What is your approach to recruiting?

Ez37

I may be too conservative, but I try to limit my battles and spend money on players who are good in some key areas. A 730 DL may sound better than a 650 DL, but not necessarily so, if 85 of those points are for blocking. I guess I look for good, not great, players.

WIS

How do you go about setting your depth chart and game plan?

Ez37

I change my mind all the time. Really though, my scheme is dictated by my personnel, and the players I have recruited. With all coaching I try to adapt to my people.

WIS

What one feature in GD would you add?

Ez37

The game could always be more user-friendly, especially as it becomes more complex. You guys do a great job, but it would help if there were a greater fluidity on the recruiting board and more consistency with assistant coaches and recruits' responses. Also, I am looking forward to more multiple decisions to be made for different dilemmas.

WIS

What feature that currently exists would you eliminate?

Ez37

Some of the email responses are ridiculous! I understand that you are trying to vary the tone of the players, but I don't think we need all the "wild" responses. These days, I don't even read all of them during recruiting. There is the "absolute yes" that ends up gone, and the "don't bother" that ends up signing with you.

WIS

Who are the users you respect and/or enjoy the most?

Ez37

Everyone from the Pioneer Football League in my world (Wilkinson) is helpful. They are a great group of guys! The conference as a whole is strong, active, and cooperative. Plus, I have to mention my absolute favorite player: my son,(ed_zimny01).

He took over a Hanover team, that I did not want to leave, and built a powerhouse program. I admire him a great deal. He's a jock/weightlifter who could kick my butt, and also (don't tell him I said this) a computer engineer "nerd", who I respect in every context.

WIS

What would you tell new users to the site who want to get the most out of WhatIfSports.com has to offer?

Ez37

Integrity is still the key for me. Keep the playing field in mind. Win with grace, and lose with dignity. Life doesn't get any simpler than that, but to some it seems so difficult.

WIS

If you were in one of our games, what sport would you play, at what position, and how much would you cost?

Ez37

I was once at a party, and talking with George McGinnis (of the old ABA's Indiana Pacers) and he looked me square in the eye and said, "Can you believe they pay me for playing this game?" That's how I feel. So, I'd probably play baseball as an OF/1B, and I would give everything, and I do mean everything, to cross those white lines, one more time!

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