- AJ Mass, Fantasy
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Something in your fantasy league isn't working.
You used to have a lot of fun playing fantasy baseball, but now you look forward to draft day about as much as a trip to the dentist. Arguments between owners have arisen at the drop of a hat, and suggestions you offer to make things better are met with hems and haws as your fellow owners refuse to go along with anything that might challenge the status quo. And, in the words of Dr. Horrible, the status is definitely not quo.
Perhaps it's time to venture out on your own. Leave that unbalanced league -- and we're not talking about the schedule -- take the bull by the horns, and become commissioner of a league of your own. But if you opt for greener pastures, be careful when choosing your new leaguemates, lest you find yourself in the exact same situation one or two seasons down the road.
Every league has a better chance of survival if it has a nice mix of personality types in its ownership ranks. If your league has a whole bunch of argumentative "have to be right all the time" headstrong owners, and not enough peacemaking, level-headed "let's try to reach a compromise" types, it is doomed to repeat this cycle: Season begins headaches begin yelling begins bad feelings stew full-on league brouhaha develops owners mutiny season is ruined season mercifully ends.
Thus, I've compiled the following list of 12 personalities every league should have. Compare it to your league, and see whether you recognize anyone. If you find that too many of these archetypes are missing, your league might be in need of some new blood. Let's face it, even the ratings machine that is "American Idol" realized it needed to add a judge to the panel to shake its predictable routine. Now we should get a welcome break from the "Pitchy, dawg. It wasn't your best for me. You made that song your own, and that outfit makes you sparkle like the true inner star you are. That was bloody awful karaoke nonsense," same old same old. And if you are just starting out, keep this list in mind to avoid the mistake of recruiting a whole bunch of "Rock of Love" clones as your draft day companionship. In the long run, you will thank me.
1. Christian Bale: A league with too many Christian Bales is sure to end up looking something like Gotham City after the Joker goes on one of his destructive sprees. We're talking a real hothead. The slightest little nitpicky thing might send him into a whirlwind tirade. He might go off on a scathing e-mail rampage simply because you reminded him of an upcoming deadline. He'll press everybody's hot buttons, but on the plus side, this loose cannon is extremely passionate and will do whatever it takes to win. And very often, he does.
2. Barack Obama: He always tries to see everyone's point of view. He is the peacemaker in disputes, and he reaches out across the aisle in a spirit of bipartisanship. Ideally, this guy should be your commish. If not, think twice before joining the league. The downside to a league full of such diplomats is that changes rarely get made. Nobody steps up to the plate to offer criticism for fear of stepping on someone's toes.
3. The little engine: He never complains, he just keeps chugging along, always getting his lineup in on time and constantly trying to improve his squad -- even when sitting in the cellar, 50 points out of first. And, as a result, he always finishes in the middle of the pack, with occasional forays into a money position. No maintenance required here as a commish, and you could do a lot worse than have a league full of owners who "think they can." Of course, if you do, you'll simply replay the same season over and over and over on an endless loop.
4. The ninja: Name all the owners in your league. He's the one you either can't remember or struggle to think of. He's also the one who's always in the playoff race until the final week yet you can't name a single player on his roster. Like a Luis Gonzalez, David Eckstein or Octavio Dotel-type who always ends up having a huge impact on the playoff race yet, if I asked you to tell me which team they're playing for, you'd struggle to answer that.
5. Fresh meat: He's the guy who has never played fantasy baseball before. He'll draft four catchers and six middle relievers in the first 10 rounds, possibly just because he likes the sound of their names. He'll finish last this season. And next. But he will win a game or two in a head-to-head league by sheer luck. Will he beat you? And can you take the abuse? A butcher shop's worth of fresh meat can be found looking for leaguemates on Internet message boards. Abandon hope, all ye who enter there.
6. Sheldon Cooper: This owner drafted Cliff Lee and Josh Hamilton early in last season's draft (amid chuckles). This owner traded away Victor Martinez for Carlos Quentin "on a hunch" in April of last year. This owner should not be winning the league but he is. (He's not to be confused with Cecil Cooper, manager of the Houston Astros, who is far less likely to have the same kind of 2009 success.)
7. Doc Brown: "Why don't we all draft umpires and get points for ejections?" This mad scientist will come up with thousands of ridiculous rules ideas throughout the course of the season. Then, when the season's over, the commish will solicit ideas for rules changes, and Doc won't remember a single one of them. But sometimes, in all the madness, there emerges a flux capacitor, and the league's rules do get a welcome addition.
8. Ron Santo: Yes, you always know you can get better than market value in a trade with this homer; he is the type of owner who covets any player from his favorite team. There is nothing better than drafting behind a Cubs fan when you want Ryan Braun and he says, "I'll take Kosuke Fukudome." All together now: "Oh noooooooo!"
9. Lionel Hutz: This attorney wannabe will take advantage of any perceived ambiguity in the league rules. For instance, if the rules stipulate that "the top six teams make the playoffs," he'll argue about what "top" means. Then he'll argue that "make" doesn't necessarily mean "qualify for." He'll drive you nuts! But you'll end up having a league constitution with really clear rules, so he has no loopholes to slip through.
10. The XX factor: This person is, well, a "she." Don't laugh. Having a female owner is the single greatest thing you can do for your league. Why? Before: "Honey, there's another baseball game on? You're not watching that one, too!" After: "Honey, hurry up and finish the dishes; if Zack Greinke strikes out three hitters tonight, Louise's team moves into third place!" Think about it!
11. Chuck and Larry: The guys in this so-called alliance own the team together -- yet each submits different starting lineups to the commissioner. One accepts your trade offer, and the other one vetoes it. Draft night decisions take forever. One says "to-may-to," the other says "to-mah-to." It's a nightmare, to be sure, but it's one you can use to your advantage. After all, if you can get these co-owners fighting with each other, that's one less team to worry about.
12. Sylar: He's pure evil, out for nobody but himself. Everyone in the league wants to send this villain on a one-way ticket to oblivion. He'll claim his lineup was a day late because his power went out -- and you know he's lying, because you're his roommate. He'll propose the following trade: "You have Hanley Ramirez. I have an autographed photo of Chaka from 'Land of the Lost.'" And Mr. Fresh Meat will accept. And the circle of hatred continues. But he'll make an otherwise long season incredibly interesting as you wonder which stunt he'll pull next.
AJ Mass is a fantasy football, baseball and college basketball analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.
AJ Mass takes a tongue-in-cheek approach when looking at which personalities a successful fantasy baseball league should have.