The “Guys” in the Draft Room

"If you can't spot the sucker...at the table, then you ARE the sucker."

Author’s note: In this piece, I use the word “guys” a lot, but I am using it as a colloquial way to refer to all players male, female, and gender non-binary who are “that guy” in the draft room. 

We are in the thick of draft season and it is glorious; almost as glorious as sneaking a Rounders quote into the subtitle. I mean, who doesn’t like getting together with a group of friends to talk baseball and make fun of them for 3-4 hours? Or maybe you prefer to bust the chops of total strangers for 3-4 hours instead and that’s fine too.

Whether it’s a friendly league with a small buy-in or a high stakes NFBC contest, daily or weekly lineups, best ball, roto, points, there are so many ways to scratch the itch of fantasy baseball. But despite the myriad formats available, the digital smorgasbord, and virtual cornucopia of options, there is generally one constant throughout, one tie that binds: needling the h*ck out of your competitors.

And indeed, some of those league-mates make themselves more obvious targets than others either by virtue of their picks or strategies (or complete lack thereof) or their mannerisms and behaviors. This is an homage to the latter; a reverence for all the roles that are filled in a draft room. This is a tribute to all the “that guy” guys and gals that make the draft season so entertaining.

Obviously, there is but one way to deliver such an honor: by busting their (base)balls.

Without further ado, away we go!


The Hold Up the Draft Guy


I hate quick clocks. I absolutely loathe them. I have become quite fond of slow drafts for this reason: I do not ever have to make a panicked choice as I furiously click all the buttons to avoid an auto-pick. Of course, this is because I’m a neurotic and indecisive mess as seconds tick down and you all shouldn’t have to suffer my anxiety. But if you’re like me, and I’m sorry if you are, you get it. Understandable, however, most drafts simply cannot take two weeks to complete.

So if it cannot be slow, I much prefer having at least two minutes to make any decision, especially if my queue has just been annihilated with a bunch of quick picks behind me. I want to be able to take my time if I need it. Also, I hate it when somebody takes their full two minutes. Is this a bit hypocritical, you ask? Perhaps. But I stand by it.

I moved into my house about seven years ago (stay with me here) in a quiet part of southwestern Connecticut. The road is pretty narrow to the point that two cars passing by in opposite directions need to slow down to not scrape against each other. Sometimes people drove by at appropriate speeds. Sometimes not so much. I discovered that, within me, there is a fine line between, “Hey! Slow the fork down!” and “Okay, weirdo, nothing to see here. Keep it moving creep!” The point is, nobody wants speeders on their roads, but they also don’t want lurkers. I feel the same way about draft rooms.

In the aforementioned slow drafts, this is especially deadly. When somebody takes the full two or four hours to make a pick it feels like it should be investigated by the government as cruel and unusual punishment; a league-wide violation of the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment (don’t worry, that’s the right one). Also, those of you that complain non-stop about a slow draft being slow, the this-slow-draft-is-too-slow-guys, you know what you signed up for.

Then there are the connection issue managers who hold things up in a different way. The “I’m drafting on my phone” and “I have bad internet” guys that can grind an otherwise perfectly pleasant draft to a halt. Despite the high demand, and years each platform has had to create an ideal app, it seems all providers have gotten together and colluded to make sure that they all suck in some way, most especially for drafting. “Draft on our mobile app!” they’ll advertise even with the knowledge that it won’t actually work, twirling their 1840s villain mustaches and drinking unicorn tears. So why do our league-mates still believe they can rely on them? PSA: you can’t. Stop trying. Stop. It.

Internet problems are a way of life, I suppose, and it’s hard to get mad at people for it. It has happened to me. It has happened to you. It’s the worst when it turns you into the “Hey, I didn’t want that guy” guy, but we’ve all been there. It does get suspicious, though, when the internet always seems to conk out right at about the 10-second mark for the same manager with regularity. Let’s call that “Internet Scapegoating” and make it punishable by getting the last pick in each round for the remainder of the draft. This should be a thing.


The Multi-Tasking Guy


We all live very busy lives these days, but if you commit to a league, you should be able to carve out a few hours and be able to devote at least 80% of your attention to it, no? “Hey, sorry everybody, I’m also trying to write a paper” or “I’m also trying to do my taxes” or “I’m at work and these planes aren’t going to land themselves!” can just be downright irritating. Hey, friend, we all made time for this thing, you think you’re better than us?! Do you think your time is more valuable than mine?! Fine, you’re probably right, but you don’t have to parade it around in front of me like this.

There’s also the “I’m in two drafts at the same time right now” guy which is just an indictment of their organizational and time-telling abilities, in my opinion. I realize that there are draft addicts and people who simply can’t say no to another league, but a little coordination and scheduling is in order. Your phone will literally do the work for you. Alexa can help. So can Siri. Hey Google, set an appointment. Give it a shot.

The worst is when multi-taskers become hold-up-the-drafters or internet-scapegoaters to cover for their inadequate executive functioning skills. Multi-tasking is mostly a myth anyway. It’s something people say to convince themselves that they can be more productive than they really can; that they are doing two things at once and not switching back and forth between doing one thing at a time until two things are finished (and probably not as well as if they’d just been done one at a time).

Make time for your drafts; if they’ve become more an obligation than a joy, Marie Kondo a few of them.


The Unprepared Guy


This is the nemesis of “The Overprepared Guy” and one will inevitably annoy the other to no end. Habits of the unprepared are easily spotted in the wilds of the draft room: asking people for their rankings, joining the league right before the draft begins, not knowing who Mike Trout is…

This type of manager usually enters with an announcement like: “I haven’t even looked at ranks yet, hahahahahaha” or “I’ve done nothing to prepare for this draft” which is admittedly a bit on the nose. Inevitably, this is the person who will take all of your sleepers because they “sound good” and will say things like “what the hell, I’ll just take…” right before they break your heart. And if you’re also overprepared-guy, your head will explode right where you sit, still crossing names off of your list and refusing to budge on ADP because my propriety formula says so.

The best version of unprepared guy is the one who thinks he is but isn’t. The moment that they realize they have made some sort of grave miscalculation is priceless. It sounds something like this: “Wait, this is a QUALITY STARTS LEAGUE?!” Hilarious. Thanks for your donation.


The Overconfident Guy


“Hey everybody, I”m gonna kill this draft! Just give me the trophy now. Hahaha. Just kidding. But, seriously, I’m winning this league.” We all know this one; maybe this is YOU. Funny thing is, most of the people that squawk and chirp the loudest are coming in with the ESPN top 300 for a Yahoo points league and aren’t as ready to kick some undercarriage as they think. The appropriately confident player is usually much quieter about it, lest they reveal their secrets and customized ranks, tiers, and values, and wear you down ninja-style.

Captain overconfident is oftentimes also the loudest “Trash Talk” guy and “Crap on Everybody Else’s Team” guy. And listen, it’s fine if you want to do that, and it might even just be the character you feel like everybody expects you to play, just make sure you don’t have a thin skin later on when your team doesn’t win every matchup or finishes last in a roto category; because you WILL hear about it. And everybody will be gunning for you throughout the season, too. So you can do this, but don’t also be the “Makes Excuses” or “Nobody Wants to Trade With Me” guy mid-season either.


The I Always Hate My Pick Guy


We could call this one the Eeyore manager, the one who makes a pick and then immediately dumps on their own choice. They don’t seem to enjoy drafting at all, yet there they are, year after year, perhaps doing self-penance for some bad act in a previous life.

I will admit that I have been this drafter, though it’s usually limited to a handful of picks rather than an entire draft. When it happens to me, it’s usually because the clock ticked down and I had no idea what I wanted to do, anxiety building from my stomach to my throat, tick, tick, tick—and then I click on some dude to avoid getting auto-picked and it turns out auto-pick might have been a better play. This is also how I wind up reaching three rounds sometimes too. Oops.

If you leave a draft and honestly hate your team, it goes without saying that you are doing it wrong so I went ahead and said it anyway. Hating your team doesn’t necessarily mean you did a bad job, but if you don’t like your players, then what the heck are you doing? Is it a lack of preparation? Is it a lack of adaptability? Is it mind-numbing anxiety? Whatever it is, cut it out, because people don’t want to hear it (though if your team really does stink, they love to see it).


The Constant Overbidder


Speaking of auctions, of which we were not speaking, the bids-too-much-for-everybody manager can really screw things up. They don’t last long because they run out of cash really quickly, but can really wreak some havoc while they’re in the mix. It could be taking the stud you built your plan around or driving up the price on mid-level value, but whatever it is, it’s frustrating.

It is especially problematic if you have a few in your league because while there will likely be a ton of value later once their bankrolls are reduced, they can make it really hard to get your guys. And what are they thinking? Why pay so much more than you have to? What kind of a team does it give you? It’s one thing to spend a lot on elite players and try and build around that strategy, but paying elite prices for less than elite players is silly and annoying.

Sometimes these are the price-chasers too; they aren’t quite sure what to bid, so they tag along with somebody who seems to know what they’re doing and just add an extra buck. They wind up overpaying not because they really want the player, but because they don’t really know what they’re doing. This is entertaining to watch from the sideline, but infuriating if it’s you they shadow.

Do people in your league want you to cut it out? Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup!


The Price Enforcer


This isn’t always a bad thing for the group, but it is so frustrating when it happens to you. About to get a steal on an $8 bid? Going once, going twice, sol- entrance music plays and smoke fills the room Out of the mist a league mate stands up and announces: “Ten dollars!” Fine, you’ll go $11. They go $12 and not because they want the player, but because they just want you to pay as much of the $14 on the Fangraphs sheet as possible. So you spend $13 instead of $8 and that stinks. These are like the people who drive the speed limit in the left lane on the highway because they have appointed themselves the speed police. Just get out of the way!

There is the obvious risk for the price enforcer, however, in that they wind up paying for somebody they don’t want. Personally, I love it when this happens as it serves them right for messing with a good buy AND it takes money off the table. Dropping an unwanted player on the price enforcer is glorious.

“Don’t mess with the bull, young man. You’ll get the horns.”


The Bomb Bidder


If you’ve ever played auctioneer, this manager drives you absolutely crazy. The bid goes back and forth between a few people, one drops out and it’s down to two. A bid hangs in the air for a moment, then two and it’s time. You say, “Going once,” and pause. “Going twice,” and pause again. You open your mouth to say “Sold!” and somebody drops a bomb bid. The whole process starts all over again. You get to the end and… another bomb bid. It is brutal.

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but when you make bids it is not required that you wait until the last second. As a matter of fact, you are encouraged not to. Of course, it will happen from time to time and that’s fine, but if this is just how you do it, maybe because you mistakenly think it’s funny, stick to snake drafts, you cotton-headed ninny muggins.

I’m sorry I had to go there.


The Stasher


This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does seem that there are certain kinds of players who do this. They either want all of the injured players they can snag as a way of expanding their roster a bit by using the IL immediately, or their bench is filled with “the next best thing” minor leaguers so when they get called up that manager has them and you can’t have them.

Interestingly, you don’t tend to see the same manager be both of these, but rather they pick a lane and stick to it. I have absolutely been the prospect stasher in fantasy leagues, not wanting to miss out on a call-up because I happened to be busy when the news broke. This is a good reason to use FAAB and not open waivers; people will feel less of a need to stash the rookies if it’s not a contest of who happens to be paying attention when they do make it to The Show.

I have been so entrenched in being a prospect stasher that I have dropped talent to avoid having to give up the shiny new toy and let me tell you, it’s not a good strategy. I still fight this impulse and, much like my life-long battle with things like cake and Taco Bell, do better some days than others in suppressing those urges. It’s a process.


The Sniper


There is no real way to know who other managers want in a moment, but there really does always seem to be the one person who takes everybody you want right before you’re about to pull the trigger. I don’t know where this sixth sense comes from, but some people just got it. And if you are picking in between two smart players, it’s bound to happen on both sides of the snake. It does not feel good when it happens, and if it’s one of those drafts where it seems to happen a lot, I bet there will be flashes of the Eeyore manager.

There’s also the drafter who cries snipe any time somebody picks a guy they like. If you just picked, and the next player drafted was somebody you wanted, you didn’t get sniped, that manager just made a good pick. If a guy doesn’t drop to you two rounds after his ADP and it’s nowhere near your turn, you didn’t get sniped there either. If, however, you are about to reach a round for a guy and the manager right behind you takes him, THAT is a snipe, and it STINKS.

Conversely, it always makes me super happy when I snipe somebody. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because I like upsetting other people, it’s just validating to know that I made a solid choice.

Okay, sometimes it’s because I like to needle people, too.


The Gotta Get My Guys Guy


Now, look, if you have players that are your guys, and you will have less fun without them, then please, by all means, go and get them. But if you are doing crazy things to make it happen, you are doing yourself an enormous disservice, and your league-mates notice. And they will laugh at you. A lot.

The worst version of this isn’t just being in love with certain players, but being in love with the players mostly from your own favorite team. This is The Homer Guy; Superfan 99 who just can’t live without the utility guy for the Kansas City Royals. Just a note: it doesn’t make you a homer to take good players at appropriate times in a draft who happen to be on your favorite team, but if you’re an Orioles fan and draft any of them before the 12th, then you might just be a Homer (note: this is a cheap shot at Orioles fan and should not be construed as actual draft advice).


In Conclusion

The end.


Featured image by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)

Matt Goodwin

Husband. Dad. Teacher. Writer. Podcaster. Baseball Fan. Quippy. Makes up words. FSWA. IBWAA.

2 responses to “The “Guys” in the Draft Room”

  1. ShriveledGrapes says:

    I enjoyed this. The analogy to the road in Connecticut was great.

  2. Chris says:

    Last season the Dodger homer finally struck gold and won the league, he had 12+ dodgers in a 26 man roster.

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