View From The Balcony: Rob Eckstut

It’s been a while, so I thought I’d get back to contributing to CAC’s looooong history of interviewing new/breakout/exciting players and gms.  This week from the Balcony, we’ve got Rob Eckstut, a first time GM who put in not one, not two, but THREE teams in the Fall 2010 season.  Talk about knowing how to handle a load.  I’m sure he’s got a lot to say, so let’s get right to it!

Rob, where’d you come from and how’d you get here?

I’m originally from CT (Weston/Westport) and western MA (Northampton). I moved to Cambridge (Somerville, specifically!) 3+ years ago. To be honest, there wasn’t a specific reason for me to be “here,” but I had a bunch of friends in the area (finishing up @ Tufts) so I wanted to be closer to them and within driving distance of my family. Didn’t like giving up that much space living within Boston, so… Cambridge/Somerville made the most sense!

See, Northampton, that’s Western MA people. I’m sick of telling people that Warren (where I’m from) isn’t Western MA. It’s Central, right in the middle of the state people! Clearly I have a complex about this.

A friend of mine, who is originally from Hingham, told me he thought all people from western mass were weirdos. I guess there is a stigma around here from being from that area, so I understand the need to separate central and western mass!

Frail introduced you to CAC right?   Everyone only talks about our online ‘feud’ (we’re both internet tough guys) but they don’t see the constant g-chats about video games, how much the Chiefs actually blow, and his dog.  How’d you get wrapped up with that character?

Frail is a nice guy, but I don’t actually know him that well! Rather, his friend/I think college teammate (Adam Larkin) is a subscriber to an online site where I’m a co-owner. I have a somewhat active blog (although it badly needs to be updated at the moment, heh) and have written a lot about pickup basketball. I hadn’t played in a rec league before, though, and since he had an open spot on his team last year in the B1 Winter league, he invited me to play. So, that was how the introduction was made!

Nice, a bunch of the guys in the league are poker guys.  Delicious Dobos, who you play against in the B2 South is one that immediately jumps to mind.  I don’t play as much as I used to, which is a shame, so you know the first thing I did was check out the site.  Feel free to write about CAC all you want, we could use the free press!

No problem, I’ve written a few things already (all good stuff!). Funny enough, Scott had PMed me (private messaged) on leggo about joining my team – I guess he found a more talented team to play on tho!

So, you went from first time player to the captain of THREE teams this season. Most guys and gals can’t handle the responsibility of just 1 squad.  How do you do it, and more importantly WHY?

I really love basketball. I have a lot of free time and actually spend the majority of “my time” on basketball related pursuits. Specifically, advanced stats in the NBA; I’m an active member of board called apbr metrics, which is basically a message board for all the stat nerds who love basketball. After playing in the winter session with just 1 team, (and having a really good time) I wanted to branch out and try different leagues.

Talk about jumping in with both feet though!

To be honest, I *slightly* regret having 3 different teams (collecting money was a pain in the ass, to put it mildly!) but I probably will have 2 teams for the upcoming winter sesh. And, to make it clear, I like pickup a lot, but the game format esp with refs/scorekeeping appeals to me a bit more, since it’s more competitive then a typical run to 11 or whatever.

I poker guy, a stat nerd and spend all day on message boards? How are you not on staff yet? Tell us your thoughts about CAC. You see a LOT of different refs and scorekeepers this season.  As a stat guy, break it down for me.

Some are better then others. Some are great – I’ve learned the names of a few refs… Rilwan has been the best ref, by far. Did an A+ job. Bob, from the 4on4 league, makes up some calls from time to time, but he’s consistent on both ends of the floor, at least. The 2 refs who have reffed (most of the 5on5 B2 games) are both solid, although I’m blanking on their names.

Score-keeping is really difficult, especially when the action moves quickly. (And when 1 person looks like another – for the coed team, we have 2 brothers, Joel and Dan – it’s somewhat easy to mistake one for the other!)

My teammate from the Frail/Larkin squad, Kap, is by far the best scorekeeper. Doesn’t get anything wrong whatsoever and is on top of stoppages of plays/timeouts late in the game. (And letting people know their foul situation!) BFab from the coed league does a pretty solid job too, although I think he’s robbed me of a few blocks this season, lol. (Maybe when you block a girl it doesn’t count?)

I’ll forgive you for give Kap WAY too much credit since you didn’t have me as a scorekeeper until last night.  But I hope you noticed that I am far superior to the troll.  Oh and BFab robs me of blocks all the time, so welcome to the club!

True, you did a great job with the last game, so, sorry to not mention you w/ the other dudes.

I’ve noticed 1 scorekeeper, who will remain anonymous, likes to make up boxscore lines. I like to look at the boxscore and do a possession count – it’s a pretty easy way to basically balance the two sides. Most of the time the possession count should fall within 1-3 or so on both sides. (FTs, especially when they’re and1s or 1and1s, as well as deadball turnovers, mess up the count slightly, but it should still be close) There have been ~2-3 games where the possession count is pretty out of whack, which generally means the scorekeeper was just making stuff up. (Which I got a kick out of, for the record)

See people, this man knows what he’s talking about.  I will say that Wall Ball (CAC) will always skew possession count (which, at one point, I did try to track, along with total fg % and minutes – all too detailed for one lonely scorekeeper on the balcony).  The biggest factor is the wall. There are so many lost rebounds, both offensive and defensive, because people are bricking their shots off the backboard and right into the wall.  Plus, with no baseline, it’s tough to gather in those airballs that *should* be rebounds.

Yeah, absolutely. Tracking minutes is VERY difficult, and honestly that would pretty much blow away every other scorekeeper. Btw, I feel obligated to mention you missed that I hit 1 of my FTs yesterday, haha – I finished w/ an even # of points and 1 3… I hit my last ft!
I know there’s a turnover tab, so when I approximate things team turnovers basically = opponent steals + deadball tovs/balance out possession count.

All that said, I have an affinity for numbers, and I’ve really enjoyed that aspect of CAC basketball!

Changing gears, as a man who rocks a sick headband for every game, what do you think about the NBA cracking down on Rondo’s upside gear? 

Yeah, I’m a bit upset about the NBA’s stance on the upside down headband. Seeing Rondo w/o the headband is kinda odd! Although I can’t say it’s really hurt his performance.
The NBA *should* be more lenient for things like this.

Quick addendum, it was actually Frail/Kaps idea for the headband. Close to the playoffs last year I think Frail brought a headband in for everyone, and even though I sorta scoffed at it at first, they really work! I now sometimes go w/ the bandana, other times various headbands, etc. Highly recommend them!

Stop giving Kap so much credit!!  I’ll say it [Rondo’s upside-down-ness] was so prevalent last year, that this year’s ESPN Mag’s NBA preview (animated by Marvel) featured the shamrock upside down on his head.I loved that touch.

Speaking of loving touches, be honest, how many times have you coped a feel in the Co-Ed league this season?

haha. twice.

Are we talking per minute stats here? Per game? I do NOT believe that’s only two on the season, it’s OK, you don’t have to lie, I’m thinking that should be factored into the Co-Ed Player Rater.  No? I’m glad we finally got to Player Rater.  Given our limited stats, how would you, as a stat-head, suggest improving the Player Rater.  if you don’t know, the formula is 
Offensive Player Rating Formula OPV: PTS+(1.5*OREB)+2*AST-TURN
Defensive Player Rating Formula DPV: (1.5*DREB)+2*(STL+BLK)    
Player Rating: OPV + DPV
We don’t tract turnovers any more unfortunately.  I’ve had a ton of people complain about it, but no one come up with a reasonable solution.

It’s actually not that bad. It’s really, really difficult given minutes are not tracked – that is my only gripe, since some teams feature very few subs and thus most people simply play more. If it was adjusted based on #ppl/team, so in a sense context is accounted for (like on one team w/ 5 people in a 4on4 league vs another w/8 ppl, the avg mins on the floor for the first team is ~32 mins vs ~20 mins; a lot of extra stats can be had in those 12 mins!)

Not sure how much detail you’d like me to go into to but the truth is points w/o shooting % is kinda rough. Bulk shooters can technically just keep shooting at no cost to their player rater. But since all that info is kinda tough for the scorekeeper, on the surface, the player rater does a good job.

You hear that people, a GOOD JOB!

Ideally, people first play to win, not for their stats, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit a few times I’m trying to pad my own totals a little!

What sets Rob Eckstut apart from your generic CAC GM!?

So far, I’m doing quite a bit worse, as 2 of my 3 teams are floundering! (Although I have a feeling my co-ed team will make a deep run in the playoffs)

Really this first season of GMing is a lot of getting my feet wet. When you play pickup with someone it’s not always easy to gauge their abilities relative to a league that you yourself have barely played in, so now that we’re playing games together, it’s easier to see what works and what doesn’t work. I certainly guarantee we’ll be more competitive in the winter season!

Really it all comes back to CAC. I expect a lot of movement and roster changes from the Bobbohead Ballers, Ballocrats and Two Plus Two (had to give your teams a shout-out).  Notice how we talk of no one on them though.

Yeah, the big thing will probably be moving them from 3 teams to 2. I’m definitely not done with the whole GM thing!

Switching gears again, keep up people, I watch Jersey Shore, a LOT. As a pasty Irishman is this a personality crisis that i need to resolve with a shirk? I’m not trashy unless I drink too much.

I love Jersey Shore. Kinda sad but I’ve watched every episode ~twice or so. Just so quotable.

Did you know The Situation’s book  is a real thing? 

If you have a crisis, I have it too man. So for our sake, I think we’re perfectly OK

Whew, A wise teammate once told me: “Tibbs, shut the f*(% up and get out of the way” so I’m turning this over to you.  Leave us with a parting shot.

Haha, I’m just glad you invited me to do this interview, so, thanks – maybe when I’m more comfortable I’ll tell you to go to hell or something, but yeah, no parting shot from me!

I’ll take it, I think this is the first time someone’s passed on a free shot at the Player Prez. We’re making progress people! Rob, thanks for taking the time to do this.

No prob, thanks again for the opportunity.