User Interview: WIS Insider

Q&A with noted SimLeague Baseball user WIS Insider

You've seen the column. You've probably even read it a couple of times. And, while doing so, you've probably often wondered, "Who is this guy?" Well, now we let you know.

We recently contacted our own Insider, Adam Hoff, to discuss such topics as SimLeague baseball, the Seattle Mariners, Jack Bauer, Larry David, the Football Uncyclopedia, tinmen (Editor's note: Nice!) and underrated historical figures.

WIS

Thanks for taking the time out to meet with us.

WIS Insider

No problem. Thanks for having me.

WIS

Most of us are familiar with your column on the WhatIfSports.com My Locker page. How did you become the WIS Insider?

WIS Insider

Well, WhatifSports.com was the only site out there willing to pay my enormous, Manny Ramirez-like salary. I'm kidding, of course. It was just one of those things. A few years ago I was writing for a website that I started with my friend Shawn Peters (currently writes for nba.com and a few other sites) called SportsPage43 (the thinking was that if ESPN's Page 2 was the cutting edge of sports/humor columns, we were about 41 pages behind). I had just gotten hooked on WIS, so I wrote a column for my old site titled "The Wide World of WhatifSports." It found its way here and the rest is history.

WIS

How did you find out about WhatIfSports.com?

WIS Insider

One night, right before I fell asleep, I invented it. It all came to me in a rush, so I scrambled to my computer, and that is when I realized it already existed. Crushing moment. Okay, the real way I found about the site. Like many WIS users, particularly those that came on board between 2001-2003, I heard about it from ESPN's Bill Simmons (note the Page 2 reference above). He made mention in a few of his columns, and since I used to spend the rainy days of my childhood (I grew up in the Portland area) playing Stratomatic baseball and creating full seasons of college football using dice and a tattered notepad, I made a beeline for the website. I got hooked on the concept immediately. As for Simmons, it is kind of ironic that he led me to WIS, because it was his old Boston Sports Guy column that got me writing about sports in the first place. I've always done a ton of writing (can I pimp my first book here? Is that allowed? It's called the Football Uncyclopedia and it is due out in the Fall of '07. Look for it on a bargain shelf near you!), but I never wanted to write about sports because I was under the impression that you could do so only if you A) merely reported the facts, or B) wrote like a pretentious, sanctimonious jerk. Simmons made me realize that you could make sports writing fun and inspired, so I started up the old website and here we are. I should add that it took me a few years to find my rhythm and create my own style, so I was probably ripping him off for a good while. Sorry about that, Bill.

WIS

Which SimLeagues or Dynasty games have you played?

WIS Insider

I'm a purist, so I stick to baseball. Okay, so maybe "I am lazy" is the more appropriate phrase. I dabbled in basketball when I first signed on, but in all honesty, I was terrible, so I moved. For that matter, I'm not real great at the baseball sim either. I had a good run from late fall 2001 to summer of 2002, but then I got married and went to law school and a whole bunch of other things that kept me one step behind the strategy changes and the evolution of all the really terrific players on the site. I remember when I first joined I had some great rivalries with Elliot (eschwartz67). Now he's my answer to the question "which sim owner helps you the most." E and a whole bunch of other guys just blew me out of the water. Now I join theme leagues with the guys I know best and do it for the fun of trying to stay above .500 against superior competition while building my team around players like Tony Batista.

WIS

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

WIS Insider

Wow. Do I have a time limit? All I have are interests and hobbies and that is why I am constantly searching for a way to avoid a real job for pretty much the rest of my life. I write a lot (mostly fiction), read voraciously, play some poker and drink a little, love to travel, and watch episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development over and over and over.

WIS

Who are your favorite teams of all-time?

WIS Insider

I grew up in the Northwest, so I rooted for the Blazers, Mariners, and Seahawks growing up. That said, my favorite all time teams are:

1. 2001 Seattle Mariners - They lost Unit, Griffey, and then A-Rod, each guy more ungrateful and disloyal than the last, only to win 116 regular season games. They couldn't get it done in playoffs, but it was a great run.

2. 1999-2000 Pepperdine Waves - My alma mater; this was the year the mighty Waves won 25 games and absolutely destroyed Indiana in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Bonus for the fact that it wound up being Bobby Knight's final game as coach of the Hoosiers.

3. Sweep the Leg -This was a fantasy basketball that was particularly near and dear to my heart. I loved those guys.

WIS

Did you play any sports growing up?

WIS Insider

I played baseball and basketball in high school. I also had a (very) brief football career.

WIS

Do you play any sports now?

WIS Insider

I play a lot of basketball and a ton of golf. I also play tennis, beach volleyball, and pretty much any other sport around (bowling, flag football, foosball, softball, the "throw the football at the trash can in the alley" challenge, ping-pong, etc.). My favorite current sporting event is called The Tin Man Pentathlon. My Dad invented this over a decade ago and I tinkered with it while working in LA. Basically, you have 16 guys playing three rounds of five different sports (always in rotating teams of four). It is about a 14-hour day of team sports with one individual champion and it is the most fun you can possibly have without breaking any laws. For a quick (and rudimentary) breakdown of the event, you can check out http://tinmanpentathlon.blogspot.com/.

WIS

What players did you admire most growing up?

WIS Insider

I used to have giant baseball card collections of both Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry; however, I can't exactly say that I admired them given what I learned later. I loved Herschel Walker, Randall Cunningham, Eric Davis, Mark Langston (because of the Mariners), and Mo Cheeks, just to name a random few.

WIS

Who are your favorite players in today's game?

WIS Insider

I'm pretty transparent in my writing and I tend to play favorites. Most people who have read a lot of columns know that I've got a soft spot for a lot of slightly built athletes that dominate despite their size. Guys like Iverson and Pedro tend to be my favorites. Throw Reggie Bush onto the list of "new favorites." I love that guy.

WIS

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

WIS Insider

Hard to say. Using my education and work experience to eventually work in sports is something I am strongly considering, so it could be something from a professional standpoint. Also, there are all the events I'd like to attend (Super Bowl, The Masters, NBA All-Star Game, certain venues, etc.). Plus, I am in planning to make a run at getting in the Guinness Book of World Records by playing the longest game of one-on-one basketball. So I guess there are a lot of things.

WIS

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

WIS Insider

1. Shaq - Seems like the most jovial athlete.

2. Jack Bauer (from "24") - Just in case anything went down, he could pistol whip everybody and stop the world from ending. Plus, he has a disdain for protocol, so if we were having this roundtable discussion over dinner, he would do explosive things like use the wrong fork, drink white wine with a red sauce, and hit people with stun guns.

3. Alex Trabek - So that I could ask him a bunch of Jeopardy questions that he doesn't know the answer to. Man, that guy is smug. Also, if he tried to use his fancy French accent, I could have Bauer pistol whip him.

4. Larry David - For comedy purposes, obviously. Plus, with Shaq already in the group, we might get a reprisal of the classic Shaq-David interactions from the "Scategories" episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. In fact, if things went really well, we could all play Scategories. (And prove that Trabek is worthless without his little cue cards.)

5. Ponce de Leon - Very underrated historical figure.

WIS

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

WIS Insider

I have a few qualms with all sports, but I would pick football. I would change the game in a variety of ways, most dealing with the rules. No more "ball at the one-yard line" pass interference calls (maybe half the distance to the goal line, maybe 25 yards, something like that). Clipping penalties would be 35 yards so that people would stop doing it (every freaking punt return ends with a flag). Penalties must be announced within 30 seconds. No more fines for wearing the wrong socks. I would also implement a scoring system for touchdown celebrations, complete with a panel of judges ala diving or figure skating. If you are able to score above a 9 out of 10, you can not be penalized unless you break a law.

WIS

What is your greatest WIS moment?

WIS Insider

It's a three-way tie between my first 2000 Pedro no-hitter, my first piece of misspelled hate mail, and the site winning the Webby award. I think I can sum up my feelings regarding that last highlight with the following quote from Hot Rod Hundley: "My biggest thrill came the night Elgin Baylor and I combined for 73 points at Madison Square Garden. Elgin had 71 of them."

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of our website?

WIS Insider

The cool people, the constant improvement of the games. Plus, the ability to build teams like the "All Cocaine Baseball Team," the "Serial Fathers Basketball Squad" (starring the frontcourt of Shawn Kemp and Larry Johnson), the "Pitchers That Mysteriously Fell Apart Staff" (highlighted by the likes of Rick Ankiel and Mark Wholers), and many more.

WIS

Least favorite?

WIS Insider

Probably the constant negativity of a handful of people.

WIS

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

WIS Insider

Not a thing. I just wish I had more time so I could try to keep up with the elite.

WIS

What is the best advice you can give to users in our SimLeagues?

WIS Insider

Have fun.

WIS

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

WIS Insider

I would pretty much be Mark Loretta in a down year. Give me 2B at about $2.9 mil.

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