- AJ Mass, Fantasy
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So let's say you've been in a league for a while, and for some reason, it just isn't as much fun as you think it should be. There's always some argument that splits the league right down the middle, or a large changeover in owners, or just some indefinable something that's bothering you about the league.
One possibility is that your league is unbalanced -- and I am not talking about the schedule, categories or anything like that. I mean that the root of your problem is caused by there being too many owners of the same basic personality type in your league. There's a saying that goes, "Too many cooks spoil the Bravo channel." And although I am not sure that adage is true, I am sure I'd rather discuss Salman Rushdie than salmon mousse with Padma Lakshmi. To put it another way, if your league has a whole bunch of argumentative "have to be right all the time" headstrong owners, and not enough peacemaking levelheaded "let's try and 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.
Still confused? I have compiled the following list of The 12 Personalities Every League Should Have. Map it against your league, and see if you recognize anyone. If you find that too many of these archetypes are missing, your league might be in need of some new blood. And if you are just starting out, keep this list in mind to avoid the mistake of recruiting a whole bunch of "Make Me a Supermodel" clones as your draft-day companionship. In the long run, you will thank me.
1. The Loose Cannon: A league with too many Loose Cannons is sure to end up looking something like New York City in the movie "Cloverfield." This owner is a hothead. The slightest little nit-picky thing might send them into a whirlwind tirade. They might go off on a scathing e-mail rampage simply because you reminded them of an upcoming deadline. Will press everybody's hot buttons. But on the plus side, the Cannon is extremely passionate and will do whatever it takes to win. And very often, he does.
2. The Diplomat: Always tries to see everyone's point of view. He is the peacemaker in disputes. (Also can be dashingly witty and handsome.) Ideally, this should be your Commish. If not, think twice before joining the league. The downside to a league full of Diplomats is that changes rarely get made; nobody steps up to the plate to offer up criticism for fear of stepping on someone's toes.
3. Old Reliable: He never complains, always gets his lineup in on time, always tries to improve his squad -- even when sitting in the cellar, 50 points out of first -- and as a result, always finishes in the middle of the pack, with occasional forays into a money position. No maintenance required as a Commish, and you could do a lot worse than have a league full of Old Reliables. Of course, if you do, you'll simply be replaying the same season over and over and over like a bad Bill Murray rodent-based comedy.
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 Shawn Green, an Edgar Renteria or an Aaron Boone … the type that always ends up having a huge impact on the playoff race ... yet, if I asked you to tell me what team he was 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 year. 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 league mates on Internet message boards. Abandon hope, all ye who enter there.
6. The Idiot Savant: This owner drafted Ryan Braun and Troy Tulowitzki early in last season's draft (amidst chuckles). This owner traded away B.J. Ryan for Matt Capps "on a hunch" last April. This owner should not be winning the league ... but he is. (Not to be confused with "Desperate Housewives" actor Doug Savant, who is married to the sultry Laura Leighton and is, therefore, not an idiot.)
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 over 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. Bart Simpson's Dad: 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 Cardinals fan when you want Grady Sizemore and he says, "I'll take Rick Ankiel." Also, this person is very likely to bring tons of his favorite golden beverages to the draft. Because, as Homer would say, "Mmmmmm ... beeeeeeeerr."
9. Bill Clinton: He'll take advantage of any 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 Andy Sonnanstine strikes out three hitters tonight, Louise's team moves into third place!" Think about it!
11. The Marriage of Convenience: They own the team together -- and both submit different starting lineups to the commissioner. One accepts your trade offer, and the other one vetoes it. Draft night decisions take forever. He says to-may-to, the other says to-mah-to. Then again, if you can get these co-owners fighting with each other, that's one less team to worry about.
12. Johnny Fairplay: Everyone in the league wants to pile-drive this jerk into the concrete. He'll claim his lineup was a day late because his grandmother died -- and he'll be lying. He'll propose the following trade: "You have Johan Santana. I have an autographed photo of Screech from 'Saved By the Bell.'" And Fresh Meat will accept. And the circle of hatred continues. But he'll make an otherwise long season incredibly interesting as you wonder what stunt he'll pull next.
A.J. Mass is a fantasy football, baseball and college basketball analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.