WhatIfSports User Interview: Yaz_Benders

We interview SimLeague Baseball player Yaz_Benders.

Focus On Sport/Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The newest WhatIfSports user interview features SimLeague Baseball player Yaz_Benders, whose trophy room is filled with 59 SLB championships and four Tournament of Champions crowns. A member of the site since 2005, Yaz_Benders shares a bit about himself and some of his favorite SLB moments.

SimLeague Baseball Overall Records
Seasons Reg. Season Record Playoff Record Championships
376 36,076-26,975 (0.572) 1,257-998 (0.557) 59


Tournament of Champions Records
Appearances Record Finals Championships
102 452-412 (0.523) 5 4

WIS: Who is Yaz_Benders?

Yaz_Benders: International Man of Mystery (with apologies to Mike Myers). Actually not so mysterious, a dual US/Australian citizen with an interest in baseball and baseball history.

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

Yaz_Benders: I don’t recall (reaches for a bottle of Merlot while suppressing an LSD flashback), for some reason (sound of cork popping) the discovery of WIS a decade ago doesn’t register with my current set of neurons. But as a kid, I had the Strat-O-Matic and Sports Illustrated sports games –€“ wore out many sets of dice. This planted the baseball simulation seed. Come to think of it, why don’t I recall how I found out about those games?

WIS: What are some of your interests and hobbies?

Yaz_Benders: I have played in a ‘veterans’ (over 35 yo) basketball league for quite some time. All of the plays are run in slow motion. It is good exercise and therapeutic as well –€“ any issues or worries that might dominate your day are non-existent during the game.

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

Yaz_Benders: Let’s start with Jacques Cousteau and Charles Darwin. Both were true explorers and pioneers. Their vast knowledge and shared passion for the natural world would create some insightful discussion, enhanced by their different eras and tools-of-the-trade. I’d include my father and a more remote ancestor, say my great-great grandfather. My dad had a brilliant mind and was a good conversationalist. I would then just listen and learn about natural selection (including the natural selection that created me!). Finally, the young Ludwig Van Beethoven would provide entertainment at a grand piano. He too had a passion for nature, having reportedly said, "I love a tree more than a man."

WIS: Did you play any sports growing up?

Yaz_Benders: All the time. Whatever game was happening at the neighborhood park, I would join in.

WIS: Who are your favorite all-time players?

Yaz_Benders: Probably hard to guess, but Carl Yastrzemski was my earliest favorite. His batting stance seemed to be based on a dare -€“ "how high can you reach with the tip of your bat?" In basketball, Bill Walton; football is less clear-cut (sounds of neurons misfiring) but I’ll go with Walter Payton.

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

Yaz_Benders: Yikes. I know I’m not immortal, but I don’t have a bucket list. Another thing for my ‘to-do’ list.

WIS: What is your favorite WIS moment?

Yaz_Benders: I’ve been fortunate to have had many over the years. I was lucky enough to win one of thejuice6’s big tournaments based on drafting a handful of exclusive players. As I recall, a field of 96 was narrowed in the second round to 24. I scraped in to the final 24 and proceeded to have a dream run through the playoffs.

WIS: You first joined WhatIfSports in 2005. What big events have occurred in your life since then?

Yaz_Benders: It seems that memorable events are now mostly the accomplishments of my kids. (Yaz slips into a geriatric coma for a few moments and then wakes with a start). Oh yes, I did get to hold a wild koala in the forests of Kangaroo Island. (Oh Dad! Not THAT story again!)

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

Yaz_Benders: I play LIVE leagues almost exclusively now and there are two that stand out. The USA Federation theme has a structure that allows teams with different salary caps to fairly complete. It is exhilarating when your $40M team takes down a $100M team! The goals, AAA and projected win-rate are factored in to make this a balanced league despite the salary differences (sign up now in the LIVE forum). Also Read ’em & Weep, which has a non-LIVE counterpart. Owners draft 25 players but only after the draft is finalized are the individual season randomly selected for each. Mike Trout has no ‘bad’ seasons and would be selected early. Conversely, Rico Petrocelli might be skipped even in Round 25, buuuuut… if you are lucky enough to get Rico’s 1969 season, then he could end up in the running for the MVP. The draft is great fun and the random element gives added importance to strategic trades.

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?

Yaz_Benders: I try to dovetail the ballpark and the player skills. The Royals’ outfield is spacious and certainly their recent crop of outfielders have the range and speed to make this factor a team advantage over the course of a season.  Sometimes I’ll experiment with an enormous bullpen or select batters that don’t strike out to accentuate hit-and-run opportunities. I once had a team with only player names of animals – Bob Moose, Catfish Hunter, Snake Wiltse, etc. I don’t know why, but I enjoyed them immensely.

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

Yaz_Benders: I like to vary players, but one guy I think is of good value is 1920 Edd Roush. He can play both 1B and the OF very well and this versatility allows increased use of the better AAA player (1B or OF). Edd rarely strikes out, and doesn’t walk much either, and thus is an excellent hit-and-run option; an important attribute for LIVE play. In addition to fielding position flexibility and batting contact, his defensive range is huge and over the course of a season, the ++ great plays will lead to wins and reduce pitching fatigue.

WIS: Are there any 2015 players you’ve had the chance to use? Any that you think will become regulars for you?

Yaz_Benders: I have 2015 Jake Arrietta and Zack Greinke on a current team and they are performing well. I really enjoy the inter-era aspect of SimLeague (other than progressives) but I’ll certainly explore the 2015 talent in due course.

WIS: Do you make transactions during the season to try to separate yourself from others?

Yaz_Benders: In progressives, I rarely trade future draft picks for players near the end of their careers. I once made a mid-season trade for 1920 Shoeless Joe Jackson and it did not end well. The simulation may have been a bit too precise, but the game-fixing could never be proven :). In some themes, the waiver wire can be a good way to better balance the team and use the best of your AAA players.

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

Yaz_Benders: It is tough to be competitive without utilizing all the team’s resources and pushing the envelope of fatigue. I am able to check my teams frequently enough to rest players, alter the lineup and  pitching rotation to avoid fatigue, however I am rarely among the owners who have the most LIVE games played.  

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

Yaz_Benders: Be patient, enjoy the wins, learn from the losses, try LIVE. (Dad –€“ s’pose to be ONE piece of advi… (sounds are heard similar to that of Bart being throttled by Homer))

WIS: What is your favorite aspect of SimLeague Baseball?

Yaz_Benders: Baseball has changed little since the early Cretaceous era and so it naturally lends itself to simulation. The normalization of statistics works very well. It is easy to imagine the inter-era match-ups, teams and individuals — Cobb thrown out by Bench or ARod being decked by Drysdale.

WIS: Least favorite?

Yaz_Benders: It is an obscure thing, but because Yastrzemski played in Fenway’s LF (chickens wouldn’t qualify as free-range in that space) his defensive range statistics are skewed. The man won a ton of Gold Gloves but he gets no respect from WIS! Errors caused by weird caroms off the Green Monster’s nooks and crannies hurt his fielding percentage too. The Gold Glove voters of the era were not wrong, so please upgrade his defense to at least A-/A- for each GG year (thanks in advance). 

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


Voice activation mode LIVE – Yaz_Benders login.     [voice of Stephen Hawking "login accepted"]

Fast forward to the eighth inning…

Corners in. Let’s turn two. Pitch him carefully but DON’T walk him!    [voice of Vin Scully "Oh my, Toad Ramsey has just walked in the tying run!"]

D’OH!     [voice of Stephen Hawking "instruction not recognized"]

Replace Toad Ramsey with Oil Can Boyd.    [voice of Vin Scully "Finally there is a pitching change. This Manager is as clueless as Charlie Chan’s son, which reminds me of a story about Jackie Robinson…"]

You get the idea…

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

Yaz_Benders: Too many to name! The LIVE crowd is a good bunch. At the risk of alienating*, I will give a thumbs-up to joshkvt who recently passed the legendary Habsfan on the Top 100 LIVE list.

*-come to think about it, there are a few owners that COULD be aliens, MenInBlack style. That explanation would solve some mysteries.

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

Yaz_Benders: I’d be an outfielder. Just a hundred ‘at bats’ so I could enjoy most games from the dugout. A modern dugout with unlimited free snacks. But late in the game, I’d be ready to pinch hit, pinch run or play defense. An impact player like 1995 Dwayne Hosey.

WIS: We thank Yaz_Benders for sharing with WhatIfSports.com and the SimLeague Baseball community.

View the WhatIfSports User Interview archive.

Play WhatIfSports.com Games