Blog Entry

The Abnormal Psychology of Fantasy Drafts

Posted on: March 6, 2009 2:37 pm

All forensic psychiatrists should observe or paticipate in a fantasy baseball draft at least once in their lifetimes. It's the world's biggest laboratory of truly abnormal, delusional behavior, behavior that would be evaluated for fitness to stand trial, temporary insanity, mitigating circumstances and obsessive/compulsive extremes.

Fantasy league owners are fundamentally neurotic personalities. They fall into the same traps over and over and over, mostly so they can worry about them.

  • The Injury History Trap: Will life change for Scott Kazmir now that he's on a bona fide contender?
  • The Head Case Trap: Will Milton Bradley refrain from beating up game announcers now that he's a cuddly Cubbie?
  • The Walk Year Trap: Two words -- Andruw Jones.

Obviously, the age of the internet has changed the way we game. While it has depersonalized us on the one hand, it has allowed for coast-to-coast and even global fantasy leagues on the other. Sometimes I get a little paranoid that fantasy owners in Russia might be trying to lay the groundwork for Commie mind infiltration because I don't trust Putin as far as I can throw a piano, but that's a discussion for another neurosis.

One year I asked owners in an on-line league to send me pictures of themselves saying, "Dammit!" My intention was to stick them to my monitor during the draft, to complement my fantasy that I was plucking their next picks out from under them as I went merrily along filling out my roster. Now I know this sounds a little creepy, but four of those owners actually did send photos. What were they thinking?

And speaking of delusional thinking -- everyone is guilty of this one: There's a player out there who has never done crap, but some kind of weird bug gets planted that he's about to break out, and I mean BIG TIME. You fret that the bug has been planted in every owner, and sense that if you don't reach for him somewhat...say, by about 10 rounds or so...he'll be long gone, your season will be a train wreck and you'll be kicking yourself mercilessly. So you pounce, glance around all self-satisfied at your fellow owners pictures' mumbling, "Dammit," and never even notice that in the chat window they're asking, "Who?" "Isn't he like a Toyota dealer or something now?" and "Do you think his daughter would go out with me?"

In an auction-style league where you draft offline and in-person, the challenges are far greater. There, the object is to deplete your opponents' funds as much as conserve your own and get the players you want for impossibly low salaries. There, you need a poker face, and there's little room for poker faces within the bounds of idiocy. You can try getting another owner to overpay for a worthless piece of garbage by placing a bid or outbidding with your most practiced Hollywood smirk, but chances are pretty good you'll be met with blank stares.

Then, all you can say is, "Dammit."




Since: Jan 29, 2008
Posted on: March 16, 2009 10:51 pm

The Abnormal Psychology of Fantasy Drafts

 Recent examples are Aaron Harang and Justin Verlander.

*cough*Carl Crawford*cough*....

And god, what's with people and bringing up Justin Verlander? Is there some conspiracy to make me jump off a building?

And as for those traps, I've got 2 outta 3. Chris Young and Milton Bradley. If you can't figure out which trap I didn't fall into, you've got problems.

Since: May 22, 2007
Posted on: March 14, 2009 2:59 pm

The Abnormal Psychology of Fantasy Drafts

Bloop, you're absolutely right about overcoming these psychoses by developing an ability to cut ties and move forward as an active manager.

I can do that, and have done it repeatedly. But then someone who's established, not just a gleam in your eye or holding out the temptation of "potential," comes along and systematicaly starts dismantling your season. Recent examples are Aaron Harang and Justin Verlander. You just know that other owners are circling over, waiting for you to thrown in the towel. They as much as tell you so. And you "know" that if you do, those players will discover what's been derailing them, get back on track, and go on to make up for lost time.

I hate the thought of them doing that to me, so I stick with them through alal the pain till the end of September. And yes, I assume have me in mind when they pull that crap. Am I taking this game too personally?



Since: Nov 26, 2006
Posted on: March 12, 2009 8:10 pm

The Abnormal Psychology of Fantasy Drafts

Amen, Bloop. 

Since: Jul 31, 2008
Posted on: March 12, 2009 2:27 pm

The Abnormal Psychology of Fantasy Drafts

I tried to convince myself of superiority while I read the blog.  I told my myself, "I walk around those traps all of the time."  Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. 

I checked off The Injury History Trap.  I've always avoided taking a chance on the Chipper Joneses of the world for more dependable options.  Then I looked at my roster for a ten player keeper league for which I'm getting ready to draft.   Sitting there in the middle of my roster:  Rich Harden.  Maybe the Ultimate Injury History Trap.  I could argue how the strength of the rest of my roster makes it worth the gamble, but it doesn't change the fact.  I stepped right in the middle of the trap.

At least I was too good to land in the Head Case Trap.  I've always took the position of "Once a knucklehead, always a knucklehead".  That said, I did take flyers on Hamilton and Hamels when all the speculation was flying around about whether their heads and hearts were in the game. 

I try not to pay attention to the Walk Year hype.  I don't want to select someone just because they are playing for a contract.  If I didn't like the guy before, why pick him up now.

What leads all of us into these traps is potential.  And that may be the biggest trap of them all.  You fall in love with the possibility of a player.  It leads you to reach in drafts and bypass players who might help your team.  I've always held the philosophy of drafting for upside.  So you take chances on promise versus the unspectacularly reliable.  For every Ryan Braun or Evan Longoria, you run into a Alex Gordon (so far) or Jeremy Hermida.  The positive side of this is that there is always another possibility coming around the corner. 

None of our traps are fatal.  The only fatal trap is sticking with a player when he doesn't work out.  Don't stay in the trap.  Cut ties and move forward.  There is no mistake that can't be overcome by an active manager. 


Since: May 22, 2007
Posted on: March 8, 2009 6:33 pm

The Abnormal Psychology of Fantasy Drafts

SMFan: Oh no, you're not going to derail me with Frieri. I might be crazy, but I ain't stupid.

chick: I've got one of those too...those happy places. My problem is, on draft day, like all eight of my personalities try to crowd into it, no one brings the beer and I only have 5 available outfielder spots. It's a freakin' mess. And then I worry about that .

Good luck tonight you guys!



Since: Dec 1, 2007
Posted on: March 8, 2009 4:28 pm

The Abnormal Psychology of Fantasy Drafts

I am not neurotic!  I just go to my happy place, lol.  Great blog item, Fran, thanks.  Good luck tonight!

Hey, SMF, Ernerto Frieri's mine, you can't have him!  Good luck to you too!

Since: Nov 26, 2006
Posted on: March 8, 2009 4:13 pm

The Abnormal Psychology of Fantasy Drafts

fRANTicantic:  Nice piece. 

But, I am not delusional!  I know you think that!  Don't you?  Well, I'm not!  I know you know I want to draft Ernesto Frieri in the 4th I have a back-up better not know my plan already...Dammit!

BTW:  Photo on its way.

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