User Interview: Csherwood

Q&A with noted Hardball Dynasty user Csherwood

We recently contacted Hardball Dynasty standout Csherwood to discuss budgeting, winning 5 World Series, the amateur draft, Lenny Dykstra, Elvis, single-malt scotch, hiring coaches, the Eagles and Harry Arrojo.

WIS

Who is csherwood?

Csherwood

Csherwood is Chad Sherwood, a 33 year old civil and commercial litigation attorney from the State of South Jersey (as opposed to that other state that we call North Jersey). I live with my fiancée (we are going to Vegas in November to be married by Elvis) and our 2 cats. I live and work just outside of Atlantic City, am a huge sports fan especially the Phillies in baseball and the Eagles in football. I am also a huge college basketball fan despite the fact that my school (Rutgers) has not made the NCAA tournament in 14 years.

WIS

How did you learn about whatifsports.com?

Csherwood

As I stated, I am a college basketball nut. I am a member of the website collegerpi.com. About a year and a half ago or so someone on the user group there posted about his Hoops Dynasty team. The idea behind HD really interested me so I checked out the site and eventually signed up for my first team.

WIS

Which games of ours have you played?

Csherwood

While I started with HD (and still have a team in World Iba), when Hardball Dynasty opened a few weeks or so after I started, I joined one of the first private leagues that was formed. I have not tried any of the SimLeague games or Gridiron Dynasty, as I now spend the majority of my time online dealing with my 6 HBD teams. I have played around with the SimMatchups as well.

WIS

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

Csherwood

Being a litigation attorney is very time-consuming itself. Other than WIS, and watching sports, I don't do much other than simply hanging around with friends or just spending time with my fiancee. I do also enjoy, time-permitting, watching movies, playing poker, and drinking single-malt scotch.

WIS

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

Csherwood

Most of us strive to win and succeed in our daily lives. Unfortunately, that is not always possible. But by having sports teams to root for and cheer on, we can vicariously live, win, and succeed through them. During football season, for example, I spend the first 3 or 4 days of the week after an Eagles victory celebrating the win and the good feelings that come with that accomplishment -- and conversely if the Eagles lose that week, my first few days of the week are always slow and painful. Watching or even playing sports lets us become part of something bigger, be it the team we are on or the fan base we are a member of. And through this, we get to live out the triumphs that we may not have in our own lives, or suffer the losses while knowing that they won't actually have any long-term affect on our personal lives. (Didn't mean to get too philosophical there, but I actually hold a degree in philosophy and every now and then it creeps out).

WIS

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

Csherwood

Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Mike Schmidt, Roger Maris, and Barry Bonds. Ruth and Aaron were the two greatest home run hitters of all time, and Maris in my opinion still holds the true, unblemished single season home run record. Schmidt would be there as well because, as a diehard Phillies fan, he is one of my heroes and, in my opinion, was the greatest third baseman ever to play the game. And all four of those guys played the game the right way. The reason for the discussion is very simply so the first four can tell their stories and discuss their accomplishments, then look Barry Bonds in the eye and force him to see how, by what can not be explained as anything other than cheating, he has ruined some of the greatest records in the game. Baseball, more than any other sport, has been about the numbers and records that these and other greats have put up.

WIS

Who are your favorite players of all-time?

Csherwood

As a huge Phillies fan, perhaps my favorite team of all time was the '93 team with Schilling, Dykstra, Krukker, Inky, Wild Thing, and company. Lenny Dykstra was probably my favorite position player of that group just due to the all-out hustle way he played the game. My favorite pitcher was and continues to be Curt Schilling. In fact, if I had to win one game and could pick any pitcher to start it for me, it would be Curt. He just always seemed to step it up an extra notch when the game was more important. I was at Game 1 of the NLCS where he came out firing, striking out the first 5 Braves batters and I was at the Phillies home game against the Yankees the very first year of interleague play where he was dominant again, striking out Jeter five times.

WIS

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

Csherwood

I was never very good at any sports growing up. I did play some basketball but not with much success.

WIS

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

Csherwood

I have been to a World Series game and an All-Star game, and I have seen the first weekend of March Madness the best way (in Vegas!), so the top sports thing I have left on my list would definitely be attending the Super Bowl, preferably one in which the Eagles win it all!

WIS

You have won five Hardball Dynasty Major League World Series. Congratulations. What would you consider your greatest WIS moment?

Csherwood

Each of my 5 championships was great in its own way. I won World Cooperstown in both Seasons 1 and 2, and that world was created only for players with a history of success in HBD. In fact, my division (AL East) alone has 4 owners that have a total of 13 HBD championships between them and is probably the toughest division in any world out there. To have won the World Series in each of the first two seasons so far, including losing only 1 game in the entire Season 2 playoff run, is probably my greatest WIS achievement.

WIS

In Hardball Dynasty, how do allocate your budget?

Csherwood

I think one of the biggest mistakes owners make is equating money spent on player payroll to wins. To me, the key to success is to be able to win while keeping your player payroll as low as possible. This allows you to invest the extra money in coaches and the draft, and thus build a farm system that can turn a couple rookies out each season. By turning a couple rookies out each season, you are able to let the high-priced veterans go when their contracts expire (instead of paying the minimum contracts to your rookies), hopefully get a couple extra draft picks if they are Type A or B free agents, and use those picks to build even more depth in your farm system.

WIS

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

Csherwood

With arbitration, I always go with the better deal. If the guy is cheaper per season to sign long term, I sign him long term. If it is cheaper to arbitrate him, I take him to arb. I always try to get the most that I can for my dollar each season. As for free agency, while I believe in avoiding overspending, I don't completely avoid spending big money. When I spend big money though it better be on the guy that is going to put my team over the top, and not on some mediocre player that I am signing just to fill a roster spot. The two biggest free agents I have signed (both for over 13 million per season) have both won MVP awards and one of them has led my team to 2 championships in 2 seasons.

WIS

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

Csherwood

I do not enjoy coach hiring. I therefore re-hire as many coaches as I can. As for coach hiring, I have found that coaches do not begin to sign until the 11PM Eastern cycle the day after coach hiring begins. I therefore do not even bother making any offers until a cycle or two before signings begin. This way, I can get through the entire process in about half a day. I very rarely go for the top coaches at any level but instead take guys further down the list that I have a better shot at signing without getting into a bidding war. I may be able to win a battle for the top guy, but I would rather just get the process over with and move on with the season.

WIS

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

Csherwood

I create a spreadsheet of every player on my team. I then use my spreadsheet to fill in a notepad that has a line for each position, including bench and inactive roster, on each level team. This way I figure out what holes I have not only on the big league level, but also in fielding a full team at each minor league level. All of my rosters are set before spring training starts and spring training performance is meaningless to me in setting my teams up.

WIS

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

Csherwood

I use the classic model you see in major league baseball. A good contact/eye/speed guy leads off. My best all-around hitter bats third. A big power guy 4th. I also like to have a big power guy in the bottom of my lineup, 8th or 9th. My pitching rotation is simply my best 5 pitchers in order. I very rarely switch around their order based on my opponent unless in a late-season pennant battle. I cut down to only a 3 man rotation in the playoffs.

WIS

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

Csherwood

On defense, arm accuracy is a huge rating for me for 2nd, 3rd, and shortstop. On offense, I look for guys with huge power numbers (mid to upper 90s) combined with solid contact and eye. I can live with low left/right splits if the power is big and he makes contact and doesn't strike out a lot. With pitchers, I always look for high control. If someone is going to beat me, I want them to do it with hits, not walks.

WIS

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

Csherwood

I concentrate on the amateur draft to acquire new talent. I have found that the international market for signing guys is normally way out of control especially early in the season. I would rather use that money on scouting for the amateur draft or other budget items, and therefore rarely pursue internationals. I check the waiver wire daily and often make claims if the guy has any potential and is not too expensive, even if I only send him to my minor league team. I do all my promoting before the start of the season and rarely make any in-season promotions.

WIS

Do you think your strategy is 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?

Csherwood

I feel that my strategy is geared towards multi-season dynasty, and my results there hopefully speak for themselves. I have yet to have a team make the playoffs one season and fail to qualify in a subsequent season. The only time I failed to defend a division title, I qualified as a wild card and went on to win the Series anyhow. My goal with each of my teams is to build a system that will turn out Rookie of the Year candidates each season. That said, I am also not afraid to deal a top prospect or two during the season if it is a move that can put me over the top.

WIS

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

Csherwood

Paulie Rhodes on my Wichita team in FYC is a monster bat, who twice has barely missed out on winning the Triple Crown. Happy Henley (a/k/a "the Fritter") on my Kansas City team in NABCL is a monster as well. I signed him in free agency and have won the championship in each of his first two years. Finally, I have a soft spot for pitcher Osvaldo Padilla on my Philly team in Sandberg. I traded for him late in Season 1 and he came in and was absolutely dominant leading me to a NL pennant (lost the World Series in 7 games), then won the Cy Young in Season 2. He is now 36 or 37 years old and no longer has starter stamina, but I keep resigning him each season for my bullpen because of what he did for me in the past.

WIS

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

Csherwood

I spend too much time! I think that if you set your lineups and rotation properly at the beginning of the season it doesn’t take more then 15 minutes or so per team per day during the season. The majority of the time for each team comes at the start of the season (and with 6 teams, I seem to always be at the start of a season).

WIS

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

Csherwood

I have a thread in the forums called WKRP Radio. In it, I am detailing my rebuilding efforts with an absolutely dreadful team that I picked up in World Addicted Users. My intent is not only to chart my progress but also to offer insight into how I handle each of the various phases of the season. I have gotten a lot of positive feedback from the thread and hopefully in another couple of seasons it will be about how to maintain a dynasty instead of how to rebuild a disaster. I also receive sitemails on occasion from other users and, time permitting, I will look at their teams and offer my comments, or at least point you to something in my WKRP thread that may provide some guidance.

WIS

Who are the users you respect the most?

Csherwood

I have respect for a ton of guys, including the majority of the owners in the worlds I have teams in (Sandberg, FYC, NABCL, Mays, Cooperstown, and Addicted Users), but don't want to specifically give any names because I am certain I will leave someone out that I should have mentioned.

WIS

What are your opinions on the most recent HBD update that includes the Rule 5 draft?

Csherwood

I am excited to see it in action. I think that WIS did a great job in developing a manner for the Rule 5 draft to work. I had tried to think through ways that it might be implemented in this setting and thought that it would prove difficult to pull off, but the system looks solid and I give tons of credit to WIS for adding this feature - this game just seems to keep getting better and better!

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of HBD?

Csherwood

Reading the play-by-play of my teams' games and sweating each game out to the end, especially those extra inning thrillers. The two best games I ever saw happened in Games 6 and 7 of the NLCS in World NABCL, Season 4. I had a 3-2 series lead heading into the games, lost Game 6 in an 18 inning marathon, then won Game 7 in 12 innings. Sweating out each line of the play-by-play in games like that is one of the things that makes this game great. And seeing your third baseman just barely slide in under the catcher's tag to score the series winning run in the bottom of the 12 in Game 7 is about as good as it gets in HBD.

WIS

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

Csherwood

My least favorite aspect is coach hiring. 3 things I would change would be to expand on the Coach Re-hiring, perhaps allowing us to make offers in the same manner that we do during regular Coach Hiring - in other words maybe my AAA Bench coach wants to explore other AAA options, but give me the chance to offer him a bucket of money and a major league job during Coach Rehiring.

Second, I would redo the Roster Management screen and cut down on the amount of mouse-clicks that are needed for each roster move. If I want to inactivate one minor leaguer and activate another, and then reset my Player Rest, Defensive Replacement, and Pinch Hitting charts, it seems to take a million points and clicks to pull it off.

Finally, I would rename World Cooperstown to World CSherwood as I completely own those bums!!! :)

WIS

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

Csherwood

Given that I am not very athletic, if I was in HBD, I would have to be the infamous Harry Arrojo from World FYC. Before the start of Season 1 (as always happens), players started posting various guys that they were looking to trade. And as always seems to happen, someone has posted about a very weak player and stated that they were looking to trade him for a Cy Young caliber pitcher or some such. So I found the worst player in my organization, Harry Arrojo (a dreadful Rookie League relief pitcher) and started shopping him around. He quickly grew to be a World Chat legend (mostly with talk about his nightly exploits in the seedier parts of downtown Wichita). I finally traded him away early in Season 2 and as soon as I did, my team took a nosedive. I then was able to get him back, actually brought him up to the bigs at Roster Expansion, and in fact that team ended up being my first championship. He now sits inactive at AAA for me and comes up to the majors at Roster Expansion each season.

Harry is a relief pitcher that can throw about 5 pitches every other day. That is probably just about the best of my athletic abilities, so I would have the same ratings as he does. However, he is also the "good luck charm" for my team and given that I have had pretty decent luck in my own life, I would probably be Harry if I was in HBD myself.

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