WhatIfSports User Interview: ozomatli

The WhatIfSports user interview segment is back, featuring SimLeague Baseball player ozomatli. A regular on the site since he was a teenager, ozomatli is one of the more experienced and successful SLB players you’ll find. He’s collected 39 championships, plus another five T.O.C. crowns. We had a chance to pick ozomatli’s brain about his SimLeague Baseball strategies, his experience with dynamic pricing, and more.

SimLeague Baseball Overall Records

Seasons Reg. Season Record Playoff Record Championships
364 31,558-25,242 (0.556) 915-796 (0.535) 39

Tournament of Champions Records

Appearances Record Finals Championships
65 378-241 (0.611) 14 5

WIS: Who is ozomatli?

ozomatli: I’m Mike, a 25 year old data analyst working for a major tech startup in Southern California who’s originally from Philadelphia.

WIS: How did you find out about WhatIfSports.com?

ozomatli: It’s been so long that I honestly don’t remember. I know that I was 12 or so at the time and thought it’d be a good way to avoid doing my homework. I was actually on the site playing LIVE for about a year before I bought my first team. Back then, LIVE had a much larger user base and you could almost always find people to just play scrimmage games against. I actually almost got banned during that first year because I had essentially found a way to “play” 50-100 games at once and bump up my LIVE rating with each one. I’ve always been a bit of a hacker.

I stepped away from the site for quite a while (5+ years) after high school, but returned about a year and a half ago when it spontaneously popped into my head one day at work.

WIS: What are some of your interests and hobbies?

ozomatli: Techno, reading, running, hiking, and WIS!

WIS: Did you play any sports growing up?

ozomatli: Yeah, I’ve tried basically everything. I’ve always been an active person. My dad got me started hitting off a tee a few hours after I learned how to stand up on my own. From age 12 to 16, I played baseball all year round, traveling up and down the east coast. I was also a competitive tennis player, winning a good amount of local youth leagues and a state title in high school, but chose to focus on baseball instead. I likely would have played in college if not for awkwardly breaking my throwing hand wrist when I was 16. My pitching velocity and command never fully recovered.

WIS: Who are your favorite all-time players? 

ozomatli: Pedro! No one, especially no one that small in stature, has been able to do the things he could do. Also, Mariano Rivera since he did it all with one pitch.

WIS: Do you have any sports-related items on your bucket list that you have not yet done?

ozomatli: I’m not a big bucket lister (yet?), but here are some things that float to the top of my mind: I’d love to check out Camp Nou in Barcelona, experience the Olympics or the World Cup (or both), and get playoff game Monster tickets for my dad.

WIS: What is your favorite WIS moment?

ozomatli: So far? Probably last spring when schwarze asked me if I’d like to essentially act as an apprentice with the goal of assisting with the WISC going forward. However, winning the WISC at some point will top this. I’m very competitive.

WIS: You first joined WhatIfSports in 2004. What big events have occurred in your life since then?

ozomatli: I actually first joined in 2003 (though I suspect it was under a different account, can’t remember). Since then, literally everything from graduating high school to landing a dream job.

WIS: How do you go about coming up with names for your teams? Is there any significance to the “MH” that starts each team name?

ozomatli: Before, during and for some time after college, I was a decently well-known music producer and DJ in the tri-state area. Producers generally don’t get the same recognition as vocalists, and a common practice within the industry is to come up with some sort of short audio “tag” to place in all of your tracks. MH are my initials, and it’s my way of carrying that practice over into WIS.

WIS: Do you have any favorite SimLeague Baseball theme or progressive leagues?

ozomatli: One of my favorite parts of this game is refining strategies within certain formats to try to find an optimal solution. Due to this, there are plenty of leagues I play and enjoy every season of. These include but are not limited to Donburgh’s Exclusive Ownership, CLWECW’s 24 Extreme Themes, cannotbebeat’s Best Damn Franchise League, sylemark’s Winner’s Theme, TBill7’s King of the Hill, Big_T’s Cactus Grapefruit League, schwarze’s 12×12 format, Lazerhawks’s 100M TOC Advantage (and other, similar, no restrictions style leagues) and “The Skunk Pack” which is the six pack of teams that mostly go towards skunk206’s themes (Choose Your Own Theme, Build-a-Blacklist, The Non-Invitational, etc.) every few months. Additionally, cwillis802 has a knack for coming up with challenging concepts.

I also have a few leagues that I run consistently (shameless plug) that definitely fall into this category. These include my Catchy Title Theme, WIS Big Balls Showcase, Back to Back Clones, EF Twist, and my all-time favorite WIS league that I took over recently and will be running again in January, DODGEBALL.

WIS: What is your general strategy for building teams in SimLeague Baseball? Do you draw on the influence or philosophy of any actual general managers or managers?

ozomatli: In one of the WISC Round 2 leagues, someone made a comment saying their strategy had been to pick good players. I think I prefer picking useful players.

I suppose my overall strategy is to build to the specifications of the theme, don’t try to drop in a strategy that worked in another, different league and apply it to this one in cookie-cutter fashion.

With that said, I think the most important searchable stats in the Draft Center are $/IP and $/PA, with ERC# and HR/9# being my guideposts for pitching and RRF, Speed, XBH/100AB#, and OBP# being my guideposts for hitting.

WIS: Are there any players that you regularly like to put on your teams?

ozomatli: Yeah, which is almost (almost!) a contradiction of my last answer. I’ve used 1921 Frankie Frisch at everything from 90M to 180M.

I know we’re not at the dynamic pricing question yet, but I do feel that my “consistently used players list” has gotten notably smaller since the initial switch last February.

WIS: Are there any 2016 players you’ve had the chance to use? Any that you think will become regulars for you?

ozomatli: I’m glad I just got to touch on dynamic pricing since it’s relevant here too. 2016 players haven’t gone through a usage bump yet, and are generally great values right now. As an example, 2016 Clayton Kershaw’s price point should (and will eventually) be higher than 1888 Elton Chamberlain just based on quality, but he’s currently considerably lower. He’s definitely already a regular.

WIS: How has your experience been with dynamic pricing?

ozomatli: It’s been amazing. I still have questions, but overall it has definitely promoted not only a wider variety of players used but also an increase in the viability of a variety of strategies.

To play devil’s advocate, I also think it’s increased the divide between top players and everyone else.

WIS: How much time do you spend on your SimLeague Baseball teams? How much do you think is necessary to be competitive?

ozomatli: For me, the honest answer is that it can greatly vary. For my teams in Round 1 of the WhatIfSports Championship this year, I probably spent over 3 hours most days tweaking my teams. At the same time, I currently have a team in a 150M no restrictions league that’s winning at a .750 clip called “MH 5 Minutes Tops” which reflects how much time I spent on the team.

I actually just took a new job where I’m unable to check in for more than 60 seconds at a time (or so) during the day. So, what do I think is necessary to be competitive? More than that.

WIS: If you were to give one piece of advice to a new user, what would it be?

ozomatli: This is a common thread in these interviews, but there’s a reason. Read the forums, and ask questions. 99% of the people who play this game, even the top players, are generally responsive to site mails if you write out questions thoughtfully.

WIS: What is your favorite aspect of SimLeague Baseball?

ozomatli: I think this is the first SLB user interview done since dynamic pricing was implemented. So, I’ll go with dynamic pricing. Close second goes to learning more about the history of the game.

WIS: Least favorite?

ozomatli: The lack of follow through on updates. The UI could use a boost, sure, but new features would be much more useful and appreciated.

WIS: What is one feature you want to see implemented in a future update?

More stats! Bring on the sabermetrics. OFer arm ratings (INF arm ratings too?) No more 10% bump for hitters (that one’s for Arlen). Sorry, I’m already over one suggestion.

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

ozomatli: This site has such a great community both in terms of intelligence and camaraderie. This list is sure to leave off more people than it includes, but just to name a few…WaitNSee, schwarze, redwingscup, crimsonblue, sudsy11, jbohrman, ArlenWilliam, frankum, duece_duece, charliembg, ybjsports, bigmc, skunk206, rbow923, discodemo, brianjw, mensu1954, bardin, elleryq, the whole Dodgeball crew, and many, many more. These are just some of the names who, when I look at their teams, I most frequently find myself thinking “why didn’t I do that?” about.

WIS: If you were in one of our games, what sport would you play, at what position, and what would you be rated?

ozomatli: I’d probably be a Milacki-type short-inning SP who had no other useable seasons.

WIS: We thank ozomatli for sharing, and for all of his contributions to SimLeague Baseball.

View the WhatIfSports User Interview archive.