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."