User Interview: Threester

Q&A with noted Hardball Dynasty and SimLeague Basketball user Threester

We recently contacted Hardball Dynasty and Simleague Basketball standout Threester to discuss the amateur draft, Spring Training, allocating budgets, Omar Vizquel, Red Auerbach, movie reviews, John Starks, softball and Mark Langston.

WIS

Who is Threester?

Threester

Threester is an extreme baseball fan, who lives and dies by the success of the Seattle Mariners. As of late, there has been a lot of "dieing" going on, but we always hold out hope that next year will be our year! During the Fall and Spring I co-manage a softball team that has been together for a number of years now, and nothing beats being able to be out on the field so often. In my down time I am an avid writer, and participant in many fantasy baseball leagues. When I found out about WIS, I couldn't resist the chance; and when HBD came along, the rest is history!

WIS

How did you learn about whatifsports.com?

Threester

It was a fluke actually, one day I was looking through the internet for a simulation game in order to figure out some of the best players in baseball. I happened across the WhatifSports site!

WIS

Which games of ours have you played?

Threester

I have played the SimLeague Football, Baseball, and Basketball as well as the Hoops Dynasty. But when I found Hardball Dynasty, that was the game that I immediately became hooked on.

WIS

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

Threester

Well I am a writer, often reviewing products for both web-sites and companies, as well as doing movie reviews for a few web-sites. I used to write on a football web-site, but have since moved on from that. I love hanging out with my finance and just goofing around a lot of the time, but when I am not doing something with her (or something associated with sports), you can find me in a movie theater catching the newest release or out on the softball field with the team that I co-manage.

WIS

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

Threester

Red Auerbach, Jackie Robinson, Joseph "Shoeless" Jackson, Hank Aaron, and Lou Gehrig. They all have stories to tell, and I would love one-on-ones with each and every one of them.

WIS

Who are your favorite players of all-time?

Threester

If we are talking basketball, I loved watching John Starks play. The energy-level that he brought to every game made me a quick fan, and when they made it to the 1994 finals I was elated. I am a die-hard Seattle Mariner fan, and there are many favorites that I have had through the years that include Mark Langston, Harold Reynolds, Omar Vizquel, Edgar Martinez, and Jay Buhner. I am relatively young in the whole scheme of "sports fan" so my favorites go with that age; but if we are talking all time, I love the grit that Bob Gibson played with, and how talented Magic Johnson was on the court.

WIS

Which are your favorite teams of all-time?

Threester

The Seattle Mariners, the Sonics sans Payton (was never a fan of his), the New York Knicks, and of course the Seattle Seahawks are the teams that I will live and die for; and in particular I loved being a part of the 1995 Seattle Mariner playoff chase, watching the 1994 New York Knicks, and more recently the 2006 Super Bowl Seattle Seahawks. Want to talk college? Go Washington State University in any sport!

WIS

Did you play baseball or basketball (or other sports) growing up?

Threester

I played baseball and basketball while I was growing up, but I branched out to cross country running and tennis as well when I hit my later high school years. You would always find me out on the field/courts after school if you knew me back then.

WIS

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

Threester

I really want to be able to go to the Final 4 and see my alma-mater play in the college basketball championships. It is one of those dreams that most college basketball fans have I am sure, but that would be the ultimate opportunity for me.

WIS

You have won three Hardball Dynasty Major League World Series in three different worlds and one SimLeague Basketball championship. Congratulations. What would you consider your greatest WIS moment?

Threester

My greatest moment would have to be taking over an abandoned team in the Gibson league that had finished in last place; and taking them to a world series title that first year I was the GM. I did this all with only an 80 million (or so) payroll, and without bringing on any major contracts. It was an exciting time for me to be sure!

WIS

In Hardball Dynasty, how do allocate your budget?

Threester

I think it depends a lot on the team that you have to work with. Some teams are built for the future, so if you want to compete now as well, you have to spend money in the free agent market. You really want to make sure that you are putting your team in the best possible position to succeed, and sometimes that means putting a lot of money into scouting because you have a few good draft picks, into training because you have a lot of young talent that needs help to reach their projections, or in salaries because you know you will have to bring in some big names to succeed. Each team is different, but no matter what, you have to spend some time thinking it out, and evaluating why you are putting money into that "line-item". The budget distribution is one of the most important things in the pre-season, and you want to make sure you treat it that way.

WIS

How do you approach off-season events with players such as arbitration and free agency?

Threester

If I have a star player that could be heading to arbitration, I want to lock him up long term with a contract that will probably save me money over the duration. Free agency is always a place to pick up those missing pieces to your team, and it can be the place to find diamonds that other teams just didn't like. I approach all of these off-season events with the same mind-set. "How will this player help me this year, and how will they help me in years to come."

WIS

What is your general strategy for hiring/re-hiring coaches?

Threester

The whole process of hiring/re-hiring coaches is one of the most frustrating in the game. It doesn't matter how many times you go through it, it just gets on your nerves even more the next time. My approach is that coaching is very important, and I try to get decent coaches at every level. Most importantly, you want coaches that will help to develop your players, and I look for ones that are good at several categories, and not just at their specialty. If they fail me, they are not coming back next year.

WIS

How did you finalize rosters at each level? What role does spring training play in your decision making?

Threester

Spring Training starts out as a way to evaluate a new team, but as the seasons go by, it becomes more of a risk to play your stars because you don't want to cause them injury or take away their stamina from the regular year. If I have new players that might make the line-up, I play them in spring, and compare them as best I can against what the other player did last year. I also try to play all of my prospects to get a few extra at-bats that could help them mature at a faster rate. When it comes down to finalizing that roster right before the regular season starts, I take into account all of these factors to decide if someone has earned a spot on the big team, or if they need another year of seasoning.

WIS

What is your basic strategy for setting your starting lineups and pitching rotation?

Threester

If I have an ideal staff, I want to set the starting rotation and leave it alone for the entire season. That way nobody gets over-worked, and the load is spread out. For the line-ups, I will go through and figure out match-ups regarding who is best against a right-handed pitcher or who is best against a left-handed pitcher. If someone isn't performing up-to-par, I will look around for a replacement through promotion, trade, or waiver wire.

WIS

What do you believe are the most important individual player ratings for performance?

Threester

I don't think that there is one single rating that you can rely on for a player to be good/dominant. For example, you want a starting pitcher to have good stamina and control, as well as a decent L/R split. For a closer, you are looking for someone that has 1 or 2 great pitches, the L/R needs to be even better, but the stamina doesn't matter as much. For relievers you also want to have someone with good durability so they can pitch often. It's a little different on offense because people approach it in different ways, but typically the best hitters are those which are high in contact, power, L/R, and Eye.

WIS

How do you approach in-season player events like the draft, international prospects, waivers and promotions/demotions?

Threester

As soon as the draft board is available, you want to be looking through it to figure out what players you want to go for, and which positions are best represented. It is great that we can now sort the draft and pre-rank our players ahead of time, because this gives us more control over who we get. Most of the time, I don't pay much attention to international prospects because they end up being too expensive, but when I see a real diamond I have to at least try. I never really focus on them as important though, unless I have a large budget to work with at the start. With waivers, I am watching them like a hawk from the first day of the season until the last pitch of the World Series. There is no telling what you might find on there, and one team's dud could be the player you have been looking for all season. When teams are trying to dump salary, this is the best place to look for a discounted star. During the season I like to watch my minor leagues, but I don't promote within unless someone really stands out. The only demotions for me occur from the big team down to AAA, and likewise nearly all of my promotions are just from AAA up to the show.

WIS

Do you think your strategy will be conducive to building a multi-season dynasty? Or, do you feel that your team may be great for a couple seasons, but then must rebuild?

Threester

I think that my strategy, as a whole, is conducive to building dynasties. I think that there are always going to be times when you have an off year, but if you built your team correctly, you will have plenty of Major league talent good to go, and a lot of gems just waiting to mature down in the minors.

WIS

Do you have any favorite players from any of your HBD teams?

Threester

Of course! Who doesn't? There are definitely those players that you root for day in and day out, and you want them to be on the all-star team as well as the post-season awards list. If they aren't you almost take it personally. You can get really invested in your own players with a game like this, and with that you become almost a fan of many of them.

WIS

How much time do you spend on your Hardball Dynasty teams? How much do you think is necessary to be competitive?

Threester

I spend way too much time on my teams, but I really enjoy it. I don't think that it is necessary to spend every waking hour on the site to be competitive or to succeed, but I think that every moment you can spend looking over your teams as well as your opponents can only serve to help you in the long run.

WIS

Have any other users sought you out for help? Do you mind helping other users?

Threester

I have been asked many times for assistance, and I love being able to not only give help, but to chat with users about what we feel are the most important attributes to a player. It is always fun talking with new users or people who have been around the site for a while, and are just here to have a good time. I try to be there as a resource when seasons or leagues start up, and I like to believe that in the end it helps to raise the competition level just a little bit more.

WIS

Who are the users you respect the most?

Threester

On HBD if we are talking about sheer success, I have really come to respect 7yankees7 for the number of teams he has worked with, and just how well he has done as a GM. GYDK is another owner who I love to trade with, and who has been great competition in a number of leagues. I think I could go on and on with users that I respect or aspire to be like, but that could take days.

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of HBD?

Threester

My favorite part of the game is that we control everything about our teams, and we define what their destinies will be.

WIS

What is your least favorite aspect of Hardball Dynasty? As it is still a new game, if you could change three things about HBD, what would they be?

Threester

My least favorite part is the coach hiring process. If I could change three things, I would first want to make the coach re-hiring as easy as the player re-signing, edit the draft one more time so that we can do it live and choose our own players as it goes on, and finally I would like to be able to see what people are offering in the free agent frenzy. That way you would know what the offer needs to be raised up to, or you could just bow out.

WIS

If you were in one of our games, which sport would you play? At which position? And, what would you be rated?

Threester

I would want to be a point guard in simleague basketball with a great assist to turnover ratio, that would be rated high in defense.

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