User Interview: Zlionsfan

Q&A with noted SimLeague Baseball user Zlionsfan

One of the best parts about working for a site like WhatIfSports.com is the interaction we have with this community that we created, yet our users have built. Of course, we get our occasional illogical support ticket and a few unnecessary whines, but for the most part our users are kind, intelligent, introspective, passionate, good people. Those who have had been previously interviewed fit this mold and this interview is no different. Though he has only been a user on WhatIfSports.com for just over a year, we have come to know Zlionsfan (his hockey rating not withstanding) as one of the nicest, most respectful and honest people who we have ever met in any walk of life. We recently met up with Zlionsfan to discuss all of our SimLeagues and Dynasty games, video games, the 1984 Detroit Tigers, horseshoes, All You Can Eat Buffets, Kordell Stewart, the Great Alaskan Shootout and Kurt Rambis...oh yeah, and the Lions.

WIS

Thanks for taking the time out to meet with us.

Zlionsfan

Thanks, I think it's an honor to be selected.

WIS

Who is zlionsfan?

Zlionsfan

I am a 37 year old programmer in the Indianapolis area and a really big sports fan. I am single and I find that 95% of all women stop listening after I introduce myself as Dave who plays video games and sim sports involving players who are not even alive or never existed.

WIS

How did you find out about WhatIfSports.com?

Zlionsfan

Two different ways actually. I first heard of it around the NCAA Tournament time in 2004, played a couple of sim matchups and left it alone. Then, when I was looking for an alternative to ESPN's postseason hockey challenge, I Googled for something similar and found WhatIfSports again. I played a spring baseball league and then started to play full seasons of baseball. Eventually I played every game and have been hooked on them all. Now, if WIS launches Horseshoe Dynasty I'll think its great and buy a ten-pack

WIS

Which do you prefer?

Zlionsfan

Baseball is still my favorite. Pre-1994, baseball was my favorite sport to watch and follow. It lends itself the best to statistical simulation because most plays in baseball have been recorded as far back as the late 1800s, whereas for the NFL, for example, it's difficult to get detailed play-by-play information from older eras, and that doesn't tell you how well the o-line blocked or how the defense reacted.

WIS

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

Zlionsfan

I play video games. I have almost every system, except for a couple of old ones (Colecovision, SNES, 2600). Actually I was cutting back and have not gotten the PSP yet, but I've already caved with the Xbox 360 (waiting list) and probably will for the PS3 and Revolution next year. I also play some sand volleyball and bowl. I wish I could say I read, but I do not have the patience for it any more. My typical Sunday consists of watching 8 NFL games and playing trivia or QB1 at the local bar.

WIS

Why do you think it is that sports are so big in our culture?

Zlionsfan

Sports are the purest form of competition. We know exactly what is going on. It's not like at work with a promotion where we do not know why things happen. With sports we always know where a team stands. However, I do not agree to sports being as war. At most levels of sports, we do not compete for aggression, we compete for spirit of competition.

WIS

Who are your favorite teams of all-time?

Zlionsfan

The 1984 Tigers were dominant. It was almost a let down to watch that whole season because, with all due respect to the Mariners and Indians, we knew the Tigers would win the World Series in May. Similarly, the 1997 Red Wings were a great team. After the Rangers won the Cup in 1994, the Red Wings had the longest drought of the Original Six, having not won since 1955. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the 2004 Pistons were great because no one expected them to win it. Taking down Shaq, Kobe and the Lakers, who I had learned to hate long before, was great. And the Lions? Let's say that my favorite Lions team has yet to play.

WIS

Did you play any sports as a kid?

Zlionsfan

Not much. I had poor vision and did not pick up baseball, football and basketball (there is no ice to play hockey in Bloomington, Indiana) until it was just a bunch of us out on the playground. I kept it up in college until I discovered All You Can Eat buffets and video games.

WIS

What players did you admire most growing up?

Zlionsfan

I loved Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker. I was already watching baseball when they came up and followed their entire careers with the Tigers. I even remember when they guest starred on Magnum P.I. I mean already loved the guy because of they Tigers hat he wore. Kurt Rambis was another guy I loved because he did not belong. Actually, my game is a lot like Kurt Rambis', but smaller. A lot of elbows and hustle with no real ball handling ability or athleticism.

WIS

Who are your favorite players in today's game?

Zlionsfan

No Tigers this year. I like Ben Wallace, but I am not as connected to this Pistons' team as I was with Bad Boys. Still got to love Stevie Y. At my age you have to love all the players that are older than I am. After Rice retired, I checked and there are only six active players in the NFL older than I am. I have a feeling that the chance of me starting a pro career anytime soon is in jeopardy.

WIS

Who do you feel are the most underrated athletes of all-time?

Zlionsfan

I think we must separate the players who are underrated now, but received acclaim in their day. Oscar Robertson deserves more credit today, but he was heralded when he played. In general, offensive linemen seem to be underrated. We have no way of quantifying their individual worth and we will never be able to truly argue about the best.

WIS

Overrated?

Zlionsfan

Man I wish I could make this answer great so that it shows up on a Google search and a player sees it. Michael Vick is the guy in today's game who pops in my head first. He is a pretty good running back, but he is not even the best quarterback in his family. At least his brother appears to be able to throw the ball. I'd rather have Kordell Stewart on my team, because he's a better punter.

WIS

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

Zlionsfan

I'd love to dunk, but I should say bowl a perfect game, because I actually could do that (I'm about 5'8"). I've bowled six strikes in a row more than once. Now, it's just a matter of putting them together. Really, I need something to distract me when I bowl though because it is the pressure to get the perfect game that would get to me. It would also be great to run a kick back for a touchdown, but I don't play football and if I did it would probably be in a league without kickoffs.

WIS

Who sits at your dream roundtable discussion?

Zlionsfan

This is a tough question. It would be mostly sports people, so that I know we'd have common interests to discuss. Ralph Wiley, because he always said what he felt, and he could discuss a wide range of topics. John McKay, for his sense of humor and his knowledge; sure, he supported the execution of his Bucs, but he was also a great coach at USC. Bill James, because I respect the work that he's done, and I'd love to hear how some of it has come about. Bob Costas, for all the sports he's covered and his willingness to say what's on his mind. And finally, Sofia Vergara, because sometimes you just don't feel like talking.

WIS

What issues in sports today pique your interest? Why?

Zlionsfan

Finances are interesting. Balancing money between owners, player and fans while still maintaining competition without all teams being perfectly equal is a challenge. It seems like a prevailing theme over the last few years is owners who run their franchises just to make a profit and not necessarily to win. I am not saying that this never was or even should not be the owners focus, but it seems like we hear of this more and more. Plus, when owners and players both want more and more, who ends up paying for it? Drugs of all kinds are also plaguing sports. I think it is embarrassing that the people inside sports who have denied any problem have been called out by those outside of athletics. Sports with stringent drug testing still seem to produce a viable product, so what is wrong with that? Players associations claim that players have rights when it is just the players in the spotlight that they are protecting. Governing bodies in athletics should be able to identify the behavior they want and enforce it. Similarly, with Randy Moss types of drugs, there should be punishment for the illegal behavior. At this point, leagues can realize wrong, like with Leonard Little, and wait for the legal system instead of acting. So now, kids grow up believing there are no real consequences for illegal acts and we end up with Sidney Ponsons.

WIS

Do you draw on the philosophies of any past or present coaches in SimLeagues?

Zlionsfan

I guess I play an Earl Weaver brand of baseball. I shoot for the three-run homerun. Speed is complementary, but not always necessary. That sounds odd because I would always prefer to watch a 1-0 game. I guess that is because I have seen way too many 10-1 Tigers' games recently and I'd rather see competitive baseball. With hockey it's different. Winning is not so essential to me. I try to milk stats out of guys I think may do well for me and I end up looking like an expansion coach - "no they really are that bad."

WIS

What is your greatest WIS moment?

Zlionsfan

There was a week where I won two World Series in three days. I primarily play theme leagues against some of the top competition so it was great. Of course, I haven't won one since.

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of our website?

Zlionsfan

What it does - generating seasons from unrelated players. I love the macro aspect of the site and how it allows users to understand history. Some users like the micro aspect more - reading the play-by-play of each game carefully - and that's cool too.

WIS

Least favorite?

Zlionsfan

Users who enjoy spoiling the competition for others by dumping everyone on the waiver wire, unbalanced trading, etc. I understand it is your $13, but you have the opposite goal as everyone else and that can ruin it for the rest of us.

WIS

If you could change one thing about each of our SimLeagues, what would it be and why?

Zlionsfan

Overall - I wish we could download CSV files of stats and standings for any page/window on the site. This would great help for a lot of team building/managing and theme leagues like those with adjustable caps.

MLB - A balance for stolen bases such as catchers' arm ratings (Editor's note: will be in next release, September 26th ) or pitchers' hold ratings.

NBA - A more involved game-to-game feel. Now, we just draft a team and watch. It could use a little more strategy.

NFL - Balance (Editor's note: should be vastly improved with latest release, August 29th).

NHL - A way to view the sim and real life stats for all lines or all pairs.

HD - A preseason tournament with Alaska Anchorage in the Great Alaskan Shootout. I need to have some way to play the big name teams. That's right - don't forget to include the host schools!

GD - IA playoffs would be nice for the top 16. I like the bowls for the other schools, but adding playoffs would help.

CRD - Just keep on working. The game has already evolved quite a bit and shows some great promise.

WIS

Having made the playoffs 72 times in SimLeagues, winning 5 championships, what is the best advice you can give to users in each of our SimLeagues?

Zlionsfan

It's nice of you not to isolate my hockey record! Overall, I'd say the most important thing is to set your goals before you draft. If you want a team of your favorite players and you don't care if you win, that's fine; if you expect them to win, your favorite team better be the Yankees. Use the waiver wire with caution. There's a reason why you didn't draft the player who's now available - why do you want him now? The only specific advice I have is for baseball. Match your park effects to your team. You'll play at least 81 games in that park; if your team isn't suited to it, that can cost you enough games to keep you out of the playoffs.

WIS

You have also played in more than 400 simmed Dynasty games, what is the best advice you can give to users in each of our Dynasty games?

Zlionsfan

Keep in mind this is coming from someone with a sub-.500 record! Recruit within your means. Keep in mind that the games are always changing; don't plan your entire team around a loophole in the sim, and don't ignore features that haven't been fully implemented yet, like decisions.

WIS

What are your general guidelines to drafting in SimLeagues?

Zlionsfan

I always want the best team I can build for the theme I've joined. I won't try to change my roster just to spend an extra $10K if I think I've got the best bench I can get. I always keep fatigue in mind. I try not to let my real-life "knowledge" of players affect my drafting; it's surprising how many players weren't really as good as I thought they were. I always read the rules in the forum while I'm drafting to make sure I'm compliant; well, almost (sorry, schwarze!). I also make notes for leagues that have rules about play, whether it's a cap on IP or a limit on using rookies/AAA/MLers. I actually won one of my titles partly because some of the better teams in one league exceeded some in-season limits and were bounced from the playoffs.

WIS

How do you approach the adjustable settings in the SimLeagues?

Zlionsfan

The more I know about the sport, the more I tinker with the settings. I'm most comfortable with my knowledge of the baseball sim. I usually get the recommendations for hitters and pitchers and go from there; I knock relievers' pitch counts down so I can use them more often; sac bunt settings go way down, because I hate giving up the out; and pinch-hit and pinch-run settings go down. I don't mess with basketball much; if a full-time guy missed several games during the season, I'll reduce his minutes so he can hopefully play 82 games. Apparently I'd be better off in the hockey sim if I let my cats set my lines for me.

WIS

Do you spend much time in the forums? Why or why not?

Zlionsfan

It varies. I like to use the forums to see the effects of changes. I can read the FAQ or release notes to understand the intention, but I really want to know the perception of those who have multiple leagues and can literally experience the change. The forums are a great way to get immediate feedback. I also enjoy the interaction. And, I tend to be particular about language in theme league ads. I will not join a league if the user is rude or disrespectful to other users or the games. Plus, the forums are always a great way to spend work time...I mean to share knowledge.

WIS

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

Zlionsfan

I know you don't like cliché answers, but I appreciate the guys who have been on the site a long time and still give time to help newer owners. I also have to tip my hat to Schwarze and Davkarball for their work on the WIS Championships. These tournaments take a great deal of planning, organization and effort and I am glad they could help. I'm sure the owners running the current hockey championship will get the same praise once that's done!

WIS

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

Zlionsfan

Read the forums and ask questions. There can be too much depth to figure the games out alone. And don't be afraid to send in a support ticket. A lot of questions on the forum are just answered by a veteran user who alludes to the last time he sent in a support ticket; we're helpful, but we're not always right. No user knows everything.

WIS

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

Zlionsfan

If I were in HD, I'd be a DIII walk-on PG with no ball handling or passing, but good D. I'd probably be an F- in the zone and a C in man-to-man. You would always know what you were getting with me though - pretty much nothing. If I were in simleagues I would be a $350,000 WR/KR with ok stats. Some guys would draft and play me until they saw all the drops and fumbles. Then they would kick themselves for wasting $25,000 they could have spent elsewhere.

WIS

Can we get a Lions prediction for the 2005 NFL season?

Zlionsfan

6-10. I think Kevin Jones will have a great year and Harrington will find a way to disappoint. The injury to Garcia could prove huge.

User Profile

User Profile:
LoginID:zlionsfan
Name: Dave
Age:37 (almost 38)
Location:Indianapolis area
Occupation:Programmer/Analyst
Favorite Sport:baseball
Favorite Team(s): Detroit everything (even the Wheels and the Drive)
Member Since:April, 2004
Greatest WIS Moment:Winning two World Series in one week

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