Custom Leagues Kings
If you want to play in a tried-and-true format and create your team right now, standard leagues (Classic and SSG) are open to the public 24/7. But if you want to try something different, Custom Leagues – created by customers – are there in abundance.
There are franchise leagues, progression leagues, captains leagues, high and low salary cap leagues, “rags to riches” leagues, alphabet leagues, place of birth leagues … the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
Diamond Mind Online would not be the same if the Community did not include some of the most clever and prolific creators of Custom Leagues. We’ll be featuring one of these in this space each month. This month we’re visiting with Julian (julclash) Sheppard, a regular creator of both Classic and SSG custom leagues.
We asked Julian to answer some questions for us and here’s what he had to say:
Q: Tell us something about yourself: age, occupation, marital status, where you live, and interests (apart from DMO, of course).
A: I live in New York City with my wife and son. I’m a writer and teacher, predominantly at NYU. I’m 51, which is a fact of constant surprise to myself. Aside from DMO and baseball as a whole, both my work and interests revolve around theater, film, and TV. We also have a small house near the Jersey Shore and love spending time at the ocean and beach.
Q: When did you start playing DMO and how did it first come to your attention?
A: I started playing when it came to ESPN in late 2001. I was at an artists’ colony, and we weren’t able to have wifi in our residential spaces, so after dinner I’d go online and check ESPN. I noticed the link, clicked on it, and proceeded to spend more time than I should have figuring out my first team. It was called the nyc abracadabras and featured the 1-2 punch of Lefty Grove and Steve Carlton.
Q: Where do you get the inspiration for your Custom League ideas?
A: Most of my Custom Leagues come from trying to create rules which create limited pools of players to draw from to fulfill those rules. I looked back; I created a league back in 2007 that required you to draft players across fourteen eras – pre-1890s, 1890s-2000s, and Negro Leaguers. So although you had access to the whole catapool, you had to work within confines and be inventive and flexible about how you create your rosters. In the last couple of years I’ve done a few Classic Leagues that are literally called 28 Rules. You must have one player for each rule, which can be something statistical, or name-based, or geographic, or about a team they played on. I also like active leagues, where there are upgrade opportunities, or quirks. During Covid, I’ve started playing SSG, and have now run three SSG Custom Leagues, and all have had a twist so that the player pool is a bit more intricate. One was based off teams that made an in-season trade between leagues, and you were allowed to make an in-season pickup from across leagues, going outside your rosters to bring in new blood, just like “real life”.
I tend to like mid-size caps, in the 130-145 million range, because while I’m not as into pure all-star teams, I like the teams to be limited by whom you can draft, but still have access to a breadth of salary.
Q: What have been your favorite leagues?
A: My favorite was a series of leagues based off of people’s or team’s careers. I started with Gaylord Perry in September, 2009, and went through 21 leagues, the last of which was based on Roger Peckinpaugh in 2015. There were 28 rules, riffing off the subject’s career. Because some of the pools were so small, you really had to do a manual draft, and I stopped having time to do manual drafts, so I curtailed them. They were always extremely competitive leagues, and after the first few I got the rhythm of how complex and complicated to make them. Generally the same group of owners stayed with the league – I think Andrew Bywaters was in every iteration – and that carryover made it feel like one long league. You had to be extremely strategic with your drafting and upgrade strategy or you could get stuck a bit. You’d have drafts were your draft was based around getting a 500K backup catcher in the first round, because it took care of a brutal pool of players.
My favorites in that series were the ones based on Bobo Newsom; Alan Trammell/Lou Whitaker; Jimmy Sheckard; The Whiz Kids; and Darryl Strawberry/Dwight Gooden. (The full list is available upon request.)
In the end they were each a definite challenge and also let you unlock a pretty specific chunk of baseball history. So you not only had fun – maybe you learned a little.
I want to try one of these in SSG down the road.
Q: Is there any advice you would give to people who haven’t created a league before, but would like to give it a try?
A: Sure. Think about what you enjoy in leagues and try and create something that brings that to life. Don’t be afraid to make requirements – owners here tend to seek out and thrive with restrictions on their roster building.
Also – listen to the people joining the league. It’s your league, but they might have insights about things you missed. And if you miss something – own it.
But mostly, be inventive and make it a league you’ve never seen before.
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Why not try creating a Custom League one yourself? Just click on the Start a League of Your Own link top left of your My Teams page to get started!