CommIssues: Draft Night

Posted by: Peter Waterman

In the second installment of CommIssues I look at various issues that we face while running our drafts.

Once you have penciled in the draft in your calendar you are only delaying the inevitable slew of draft night issues that will ensue. You have undoubtedly worked hard to make sure that the majority, heck maybe even all of your owners, can be at the draft. You have reminded everyone to pre-rank, just in case something happens. Maybe you have everyone’s cell phone number in case you need to send out some last-minute text messages. You login to your league, click on the DRAFT ROOM button and so that you arrive a safe 15 minutes ahead of the draft. You never know what is going to be on tap.

Draft order is incorrect: If you are playing in a keeper league your draft order is most likely determined by some combination of regular season finish, playoff performance and amount of blackmail material each owner has on you. You remember going in and manually setting the draft order, but of course something happened. And then you remember that you made a change in the draft time because the loudest owner would be unable to make the first attempt. This must have reset the order. No worries, you have 14 more minutes. You logout of the draft room, head to the COMMISH TOOLS, and make the changes. Good to go.

The guy who has the #1 pick is late: As the pre-draft countdown ticks away you notice that the owner of the #1 pick has not yet arrived. You drop him a text reminder that the draft is tonight and ask anyone in the chat if they have heard from him. No one knows where he is. Hopefully he pre-ranked, because the default #1 guy is on the 60-day DL to start the season. (This actually happened last night in our draft.  The guy with the #1 pick was unable to be in the room on his computer, and the phone app was sort of working.  At least we had emails from before the draft so we knew who he wanted to select).

Don’t make me turn this draft around: You knew your dad was not to be messed with when on a long car ride (and as a kid I’m talking anything over 30 minutes, that required the AAA map book be brought along) he turned to you and your sister after a mere 15 minutes in the car and said “Don’t make me turn this car around!” Of course that was the goal, you really didn’t want to go see the tallest corn silo in Vermont, you wanted to go back home and play some wiffle ball in your neighbor’s yard. Still, you shut your mouth, put your hands in your lap and were on your best car behavior for the next 3 hours. But I digress. No sooner has the clock hit 0 on the first pick and the default pick goes out, than the #2 guy selects the stud who was bypassed by “Mr. I Forgot To Pre-rank.” And no sooner does that #2 pick go official than the owner of the #1 pick logs in. “Sorry guys, stuck in traffic on the way home, the baby pukes on me, my dog needed to go out and then I had to call the cable company because my internet wasn’t working. Can we start this draft over?” Trying to be as diplomatic as you can you hit the PAUSE button. A quick vote in the chat room and it is decided that his excuses are valid (though highly lame), and you back the draft up. He selects the stud and now the #2 pick is back on the clock.

Hey wait a minute, he can’t draft that guy, I have a placeholder for him: Things go rather smoothly for the next several rounds (OK, I am kidding here. You stop the draft another 8 times, back up to redo 5 picks because “the system wouldn’t let me select Jed Lowrie” or “I got logged out” or “My computer froze”, pause so everyone can grab another beer, and stop so you can take your 14-year-old dog out for a walk). Then someone drafts the next great import from Cuba and the chat room is filled with a rant from the prospecting owner who claims to have a placeholder for that guy on his roster. You hit the PAUSE button. Checking the league site you see he really does, but he had an extra keeper if that is the case. You can’t simply take away his last pick, so what do you do? Simple, you force him to draft a scrub with his next pick that he can drop after the draft. You let everyone know the plan, they agree, you back the draft up, and we are on our way.  (Thankfully no placeholders in our league this year).

Oh geez, why can’t I draft the guy I want to draft here: Well, you see, at the end of the draft you need to have a complete roster. So, if it is the last round of the draft, and you have a great sleeper of a 2B pick, but you have not yet drafted a catcher, unless your sleeper is dual-eligible at C/2B (a la Craig Biggio) the system will force you to draft a catcher. There is really no way to override the system on this one, just make sure everyone is aware of this before the draft.  (We had this issue pop up, though it was more of a where is the guy I want, I can’t find him.  The SEARCH feature is always a good feature to know how to use).

And Mr Irrelevant is……: Who really cares, because once this guy is picked the draft is over. Your 12-team, 20-round draft took a mere 7 hours to run. There were 17 stoppages. You backed the draft up and reselected 14 players. You cried. You drank an entire 12-pack of Yuengling. Come to think of it, that was the best part of the draft. You can finally logout and head to bed. Just know that tomorrow morning your email inbox will be packed with complaints from everyone. They will want to know when add/drops are open, when can they add an unlisted player, can they draft an international player or a hot-shot prospect. The season is less than a week away, and besides remembering to set your roster each week, there will be plenty of new and exciting issues to deal with. Aren’t you glad you are commissioner?

OK, so my 14-team keeper league had their draft on Sunday night. This draft is generally a disaster, with many stoppages. And while we “only” draft 13 rounds of players, the draft seems to take longer than an ocean crossing in a leaky canoe. To add to the awesomeness of this draft, I realized after setting the date that Sunday was a full moon. As I am fearful that full moons bring out the worst in all fantasy owners, I attempted to quell the storm ahead of the draft using several commissioner powers.

Force: I had already used force to set the draft date and time. Of course I ended up giving in to the Democratic process and hosting a dozen polls on the site. In the end, the draft was set for the time and date I originally proposed, but at least everyone had their say.

Fear: I ran a pretty vicious smear campaign against myself last year during the elections for 2014 commissioner. I vowed a platform of reform based on the doctrine of Kenesaw Mountain Landis and Roger Goddell. Somehow no one was scared off, I was still elected, and now had to run the draft.

Bravado: I posted a note that asked for the Over/Under on draft stoppages this year. Numbers started coming in, so I posted “How about something new this year? NO STOPPAGES!” My bravado was all for naught as I stopped the draft less than 1 minute in because someone was late.

Indifference: I finally faced the reality that I was captaining this ship, adrift in the fantasy ocean. Would we find land before we ran out of fresh water? Would there be a mutiny? Who knows? All I can do is sail along with the current and see where this season takes me. Here’s hoping my team management skills are sounder than my commissioning skills.

Well, I am happy to report that I survived the draft, and I believe the other 13 owners did as well. I am sad to report that the 12 Yuengling that began the journey with me perished into my liver. They tasted delicious though, and certainly got me through some tough spots, including the draft room freezing (at least 6 times), including one time when none of us could get back in for several minutes.  Maybe scheduling a draft on Selection Sunday, with a possible Billion Dollar Bracket up for grabs was a bad idea.

Jose Abreu was selected #1 overall with Mr. Irrelevant being Joe Kelly.  In between there were a fair share of surprise picks.  I was surprised to see Will Middlebrooks selected 11th (thought he would have lasted a bit longer).  I was happy when Victor Martinez was still there for my pick at #29.  Drew Smyly as the first pick in the 5th round (pick 57) is a great pick IMO.  I am sure plenty of busts and surprises will come out of this draft, they always do.

Do you have any stories about having to deal with these issues as a commissioner? I’d love to hear them. And stay tuned for more CommIssue pieces. Bring on the regular season, and Opening Day, from Australia!

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