WhatIfSports User Interview: RobinHood410 From WhatIfSports.com image

User Interview: RobinHood410

Q&A with noted Hardball Dynasty user RobinHood410

We recently contacted Hardball Dynasty ace RobinHood410 to talk about his life in and out of WhatIfSports, including: building a dynasty, the most important ratings, setting rotations and lineups, the peace corps, the conversation that he would have with John Kruk and why one day he wants to run with the bulls.

WIS

Who is RobinHood410?

RobinHood410

My name is Bryan Cimorelli. I just turned 30 in April and got married to an amazing woman last October (the same day as patrickm, actually). I am a relocated Philadelphian who has been in Baltimore for 3 years now. Before that, I lived in a small, rural village in Togo, West Africa, as a Peace Corps volunteer. I returned from the Peace Corps to a Masters Program in Public Policy, where I also worked with housing and service programs for homeless and mentally ill adults. Last June, I "sold out" and took a fellowship as a Budget Analyst with a major government agency. As a person, I'm much more proud of who I used to be than who I am now, which is why I shamelessly talk about my last job much more fondly than my current one - haha. When I find the time between work and play, I try and keep up on a Philadelphia sports blog that my cousin and I have been running for a little over a year now. If anyone is interested, you can find us at www.broadstreetbelievers.com.

WIS

How did you learn about whatifsports.com?

RobinHood410

My cousin was talking about this college basketball team that he had, where he recruits "fake" players to his "real" team and then watches them grow from freshmen to sophomores, and so on. I was absolutely fascinated, and both my brother and I got teams in Maine that we had never heard of (Maine, Farmington and Maine Maritime Academy) and have both been hooked ever since. As a former baseball player and an admitted seamhead, I signed up for HBD immediately upon its rollout and haven't looked back since.

WIS

Which games of ours have you played?

RobinHood410

Other than one season in Gridiron Dynasty (which I liked, but not nearly as much as the other two), I have only played HD and HBD. I have thought about trying SimLeague Baseball, but haven't done so yet.

WIS

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

RobinHood410

I try to stay a very active person. My three favorite sports to play are baseball, basketball, and tennis. I am in a couple softball leagues and play a good amount of tennis, but haven't been able to play nearly as much basketball as I would like to since moving down to Baltimore. I also try to ride my bike to work a couple times a week. I am a die-hard Philadelphia sports fan, so I do everything I can to follow them down here and stay current on the blog.

WIS

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

RobinHood410

This is a great question that I have actually thought before. A couple of them are easy. One is Jackie Robinson, for obvious reasons. What he achieved with his on-field success, all-around class and dignity is absolutely miraculous, considering what he was facing. It cannot be overstated what he accomplished for society (forget baseball), as a whole. There are no words too great for Jackie Robinson. The second easy one is John Chaney. I have been a die-hard Temple basketball fan since I can remember, but basketball probably wouldn't be the topic of our conversations. I look at him as a true hero in how he has handled the urban situation in America and played his little part with humility and fortitude, using what he has been given to truly make a difference in the lives of many less fortunate individuals. The third easy one is Bob Dylan. Maybe the most complex and interesting person to ever walk the earth, a conversation with Dylan would be absolutely fascinating, in many, many ways. The fourth was a tough decision between Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. I finally went with RFK because much less of his life and philosophies have been written, so I have so many more questions for him. I would ask him so many things about the 60's, about his brother's presidency, and just about basically being a Kennedy. The fifth one is John Kruk. Like many Philadelphians my age, I am in love with the 1993 Phillies, and who better to relive that season with than Krukker? He was crazy enough then to have been in the middle of everything that went on in that clubhouse, but he is also intelligent and insightful enough now to have really interesting takes on today's game. Plus, when Jackie and Chaney and even RFK went to bed, I would probably need the Krukker there late night so it's not just me and Dylan hanging out - that might be awkward.

WIS

Who are your favorite players of all-time?

RobinHood410

Baseball? Kevin Stocker. Period. When the '93 Phillies decided to call up Kevin Stocker to play short instead of Juan Bell, I was a 14-year old boy whose entire life revolved around the shortstop position. So, when this kid came up and hit .324, with stellar defense, and led the team to the World Series, he had me then and there. Basketball? Lynn Greer, Pepe Sanchez, and Allen Iverson. While Lynn Greer was the smoothest player I have ever seen play, Allen Iverson was the toughest. I also think that Iverson may have been one of the most misrepresented athletes that I have seen in my lifetime. He was one of the most intelligent basketball players - on and off the court - but a lot of people can't see past his exterior. If you really listen to Iverson speak, I believe you will hear a brilliant (albeit, unpolished) man. And, Pepe Sanchez was, quite frankly, the best player in the history of college basketball to average fewer than 9 points per game. Tennis? Lleyton Hewitt. I have modeled my athletics after the bulldog style with which Lleyton Hewitt plays the game. He is never out of a point, a game, or a match. You have to knock him out again and again in order to beat him. He has achieved more with less physical ability than most players on the tour, and I respect that to end. And, yes, I know that he seems to be less than a great person off the court, but I choose to ignore that.Football? Brian Dawkins. I trust the Eagles brass when they say that a player is finished, but WHY DAWKINS? WHY?!?

WIS

Which teams are your favorite teams of all-time?

RobinHood410

The 2008 Phillies - obviously (the only one of "my" teams to ever win a title in my memory). In fact, this current Phillies team is probably the best team in Philadelphia sports history, so I love them. The 1999-2000 Temple Owls gave me my biggest heartache as a sports fan when they lost in the second round of the tournament to a clearly inferior Seton Hall team. That Temple team had a legit shot to win the title, and blew a 20+ point lead in the second half. I was also heartbroken by the 2003 and 2004 NFC title games because I thought those Eagles teams were good enough to win it all. And, of course, the 1993 Phillies.

WIS

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

RobinHood410

I did. I actually played a lot of baseball and basketball growing up, and I also ran cross-country. Though I had scholarship offers to run in college, I decided instead to play D-III baseball and pay for college (smart, huh?). I was a very light-hitting shortstop who somehow earned a starting spot as a freshman because my coach believed that my defense was enough to overcome the anemic bat (not sure if I would have made the same decision if I were the coach, but I didn't complain). In fact, there were many games where I was even DH'ed for, as the shortstop, allowing the pitchers to hit. At the time, I took it as an embarrassing knock on my hitting (which it clearly was), but now I have convinced myself that it was a compliment to my glove - whatever helps us sleep at night, right?

WIS

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

RobinHood410

I would like to ride a bicycle across Africa (Cape Town to Cairo). My cousin, a couple friends, and I rode across the United States in the summer of 2001, which was probably the most amazing thing I have done yet, and, if we could stand the heat, I think Africa would be the ultimate. I also really want to do the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Yes, I know it sounds phenomenally stupid - which is pretty much why I want to do it. From a spectator standpoint, I would like to spend "a fortnight" in Wimbledon Village during the Championships. It just sounds like something that needs to be experienced. Ya, I know, it's tennis. Whatever...

WIS

In Hardball Dynasty, what is your strategy for allocating your budget?

RobinHood410

It obviously depends a lot on the team. Generally, I try and figure out the exact guys I want to keep and those that I want to let go, and give myself about $3-4 million in buffer room in player salaries for bit free agents and promotions. If I need an impact free agent (which I rarely look for), I give myself maybe $7-12 million to sign him. I have been lucky enough to have had pretty good teams, for the most part, so my draft spots have been in the late first rounds, so when that is the case, I look at the international market to bring in talent to the minor leagues. But, if I do have a rebuilding team, I use both the international and the draft. I seem to budget a lot more than most people for coaching, so I never have a problem getting the exact coaches I want. I have no idea if this is smart or not, but I keep doing it.

WIS

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

RobinHood410

As far as free agents go, I am not completely against signing big-time free agent pitchers, but I usually stay away from the big bats, especially at corner outfield or first base. Then again, I did sign RF Benny Moya in Clemente, which goes against pretty much everything I just said. The one thing I do like to do is I try to bunch my Type A free agent signings in one year (if possible), so as to give up later picks than a first for them - if that makes any sense. As far as arbitration, I generally sign the long-term deals if it saves me money or if it's the last year of arbitration and I know I want to keep the player long-term. It's all about dollars and cents with arbitration.

WIS

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

RobinHood410

Like I said before, I seem to budget a LOT more for coaches than most people, so I generally have the best coaches simply because I can afford them. Again, not sure if this is smart, it's just what I do. And, since my coaches are all generally good, I always rehire just about anyone who wants to come back.

WIS

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

RobinHood410

I am generally pretty slow at promoting prospects. You will very rarely see guys with any less than 4 years of pro experience on my major league teams, and even the 4-year guys are rare and have to be special or fill a need right away. I make sure that my ML-caliber prospects always get maximum playing time, even if it means slower ascension through the organization. I can usually promote every ML-caliber prospect at least one level every year, but they usually stay there, unless I know I'm going to need them in the bigs earlier. Spring Training almost never makes any impact on my decisions. I just think it's too hard to evaluate players when the quality of the competition is such a crapshoot, like it is in ST. You never know who is going to play whom (not that that's a bad thing - I'm just as unpredictable), so it's hard to say that any one of your players outperformed anyone else. Every once in a while, I'll have a "competition," but it will only be for the 25th man or the last bullpen arm or something. I pretty much have my starting lineups and rotation set before ST starts.

WIS

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

RobinHood410

The rotation is pretty straightforward, with the best guys at the top of the rotation, obviously. But, I generally love that one "horse" at the very top of the rotation. My #1 guy usually upwards of 250+ innings per season, some of them even hit the 300 mark. That is by design. I like having that one guy in the rotation who may not be the most dominant guy, but can be counted on for 7-8 innings every start, even if it means 4 or 5 runs. I like that because it gives the bullpen a rest every fourth or fifth day. As far as the lineup, my leadoff guy is more about OBP than speed (though, obviously, speed helps a lot). My #2 guy is OBP and contact. My #3 hitter is almost always my best all-around hitter. On my one AL team, I like to have a "second leadoff" guy hit 9th. And, I have, every once in a while, in the NL, used the LaRussa-inspired lineup where the pitcher hits 8th. I only use it occasionally, when I have a speedy, defensive shortstop in the lineup, who doesn't hit much. You know - the HBD version of RobinHood410.

WIS

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

RobinHood410

What I feel are the most important ratings (RH/LH splits and POW for hitters and RH/LH splits and CTL for pitchers) are not always what I target when trying to acquire a player in a competitive market. I try and look at what aspects are the most undervalued, in my opinion, so that I can get the best value in a player, be it in a trade, free agency, or the international market. I think that EYE, SPD, and the defensive traits are the most undervalued for hitters, and therefore, I try and go after those kinds of guys because I feel like I can get them cheaper than what they are worth. I also think that people add no value to a player who is a switch-hitter, so I like to target them as well. For pitchers, I think people focus so much on CTL and the splits, that they almost disregard the pitch ratings. I'm not saying that the pitch ratings are more important than the others (in fact, I don't believe that), but I do think that in a competitive market, you can get great value for guys with good pitches because they are, in general, undervalued. Just my opinion. That being said, I think it's clear that control is paramount for a successful pitcher.

WIS

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

RobinHood410

A team based on free agents and aging vets is not built to be a dynasty (I know this first-hand with my Trenton team in Clemens*). So, regardless of my budget spent on the draft, I do spend a good amount of time on the ordering of the prospects. I think that it is important to build your team from the ground-up, and I think that if you do a little work, you have a shot at ML-caliber players at any spot in the first 5 rounds - not stars, obviously, but contributors. I also like to be a major player in the international market. I like the fact that you can pick your players and bid as high as you think they are worth. I don't spend much time perusing the waiver wire, but that is just because I find myself claiming more people than I really should. I would like to develop more discipline in this aspect, so that I can trust myself to go to the wire and not make a knee-jerk claim that costs me salary. I think it's a great place to get that 23rd or 24th guy that might make the difference. As far as promotions and demotions, I keep pretty close tabs on my minor leagues (too much, probably), but do not make many promotions or demotions other than around the all-star break. I like to ride them out for the season, unless they're on an advanced timetable to the majors or they are clearly too good for the level at which they are playing. I am weird in that I kind of like injuries because they force me to make moves throughout the organization.

WIS

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

RobinHood410

My three favorite players are probably all from my first team - Scranton in Clemente. Charlie O'Halloran was my first free agent signing and he was everything to my team; "The Edge" Carlyle was an absolute workhorse of a pitcher who never let me down; and, Dante Jung is the all-everything catcher who is still around 13 seasons later. I also like guys that I watched grow from the minors, like Robert Gil, Julius Lawson, and Brad Freeman on my Philly team; Midre Ordonez, Robert Gibbs, Nicholas McCormick, and Les Brumbaugh on my Scranton team; and, pretty much my entire Buffalo team. In fact, the Buffalo team that I have in 7Yankees7 may end up being my all-time team because I built it from absolutely nothing and have watched them all pretty much from A-ball.

WIS

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

RobinHood410

I look at WhatIfSports as kind of two separate requirements - there is the routine, day-to-day upkeep and then there are the necessary activities. The routine upkeep is pretty much dependent (for me) on how much work I have or other things to do. Generally, I spend very little time on the weekends on WIS (unless it's a lazy weekend, then I spend a lot of time). When I have a lot of work to do, I can do as little as 10 minutes per cycle for all 5 teams. So, I can get away with as little 20-30 minutes a day (not that I usually do that). But, then there are the necessary activities that can be time-consuming, like the amateur draft, some of the preseason activities (coach-hiring or FA bidding, if you're in on that), and when you're trying to make a trade (and recruiting for HD). These activities do require a bit of a time investment in order to come out the way you want them to. Granted, I don't always have this time, but I try and work around these events, as best I can, to give me a chance to get them done. So, for first-timers or those interested, it does take some experience to realize how "little" time you can spend and still be good, as long as you are prepared for some of the larger events. I think a lot of first-timers get turned off because it seems so complex, but once you get in a groove, you can get everything done in less than 30 minutes a day. I often do, and I have 5 HBD teams and 4 HD teams.

WIS

Who are the users you respect the most?

RobinHood410

Personally, I am not as into the whole "community" of WIS as many people are. I am more into my teams and such, but I have found that there are some really good and funny people that do add a little bit to the experience. Obviously my brother (cimmy426), cousin (doogan), and long-time friend (gregdoc6) are the guys that I go to for WIS advice or banter. But, I do have a lot of respect for the guys that I've played with from the beginning of WIS in Clemente, FYC, 7Mickey7, and Clemens*. Also, all the guys that have come and gone in the Centennial Conference in Crum (they all know who they are). Obiewon and inkarm have both helped me out when I was on one of my various vacations and my teams needed babysitting, so I appreciate that.

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of HBD?

RobinHood410

Honestly, I just love reading the boxscores. I feel like a little kid, but I do love following my teams pitch-to-pitch or possession-to-possession. Obviously, I don't always have time to do this, but when I do, it is definitely my favorite part. Also, I really enjoy trading in HBD. It is a lot of fun to try and make a deal that works for both you and someone else. There are so many trades that can be made where both teams are better because of it, and I find it a lot of fun to try and figure out exactly how to do that. And, finally, as a stat junkie, I do pay a lot of attention to the stats of the game, and there are certainly enough to keep me entertained, when I get the chance to dive in.

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?

RobinHood410

I have very few complaints, honestly. I know everyone hates the coach hiring, but I don't - at all. I actually kind of like it. Maybe it's because I have so much money to throw around, but still, I find it like a little game in and of itself. I would make ST a little shorter (play every 4 hours instead of 8), but that's just nit-picking. Also, I hate the 5-game playoff series (I REALLY hated the 3-game playoff series) and would like to see every round a best of 7. I know that it's not "realistic," but neither is the 12-team format and that works. The only reason they don't have it in MLB is because it would put the World Series in the middle of November - we don't have that concern. But, other than that, I can't think of anything major that I would change that hasn't been addressed.

WIS

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

RobinHood410

In HBD, I would definitely be a shortstop who would be one of those 25th man type guys. I would probably play 90-100 games every year with 70-80 at bats, as a 9th inning defensive replacement or pinch-runner. In HD, I'd probably be a nice, little PG off the bench who could shoot a little and play defense for a solid 12-15 minutes a game.

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