Hello and welcome to the first edition of Commissioner’s Corner on Prospects1500. The goal of this column will be to address the wide range of issues that face dynasty baseball commissioners. Running a dynasty league is an exercise in people management. Like any other endeavour that involves bringing people together, personalities and opinions will clash. The ultimate test of a dynasty commish is keeping the league healthy indefinitely with the minimum amount of GM turnover. I have been running dynasty leagues for over ten years and I’ve had my share of successes and failures. I will be sharing my lessons learned and tips for making your dynasty league a success for the long haul.
With that intro out of the way, let’s start at the very beginning. In this first article I will be starting a series on launching a successful dynasty league from scratch. I know what you’re probably thinking…”We’re only a couple of weeks away from the season starting. Isn’t this article a bit late?” That brings me to my first point:
It’s never too early to start planning for your next dynasty league.
I have found that the best dynasty leagues are often hatched during the baseball season. The offseason is typically the busiest period for dynasty leagues. Commissioners are busy getting their leagues set up and ready for the season. GMs are focused on improving their teams and making moves. Once the season starts things calm down a bit and most people go into a sort of maintenance mode with their teams. If you’re going to launch a dynasty league for 2022, the baseball season is a great time to start strategizing and getting your plans down on paper. Planning and launching a dynasty league is also a lot of work. Spreading that work out over a longer period of time will help you in making the best decisions and bringing in the best GMs.
Before you launch a dynasty league, ask yourself the tough questions.
How committed are you to running a dynasty league?
The answer to this question won’t just tell you whether or not you should launch a dynasty league, it will also tell you how complex your league should be. The more complex the league, the more time you’ll likely need to commit to maintaining the league. I tend to be drawn to more complex setups with player salaries and contracts. I spend about 3 hours a week per league maintaining roster spreadsheets and processing transactions. I also spend a full weekend in the offseason archiving each league. That experience is on the high end of the spectrum. Less complex dynasty leagues that run on a single website can be a much less time consuming option.
The point is that you should be real with yourself about how much time you can commit and only launch a league that you can maintain. Remember, it’s not just your time that is invested. You will be asking others to join in and invest their time in their teams. When a league fails everyone loses the time they’ve invested. It is a truly awful feeling to be the commish of a league that folds. Set yourself up for success by being realistic from the start.
Why do you want to launch this league?
I’ve launched leagues for many different reasons. For instance, I’ve been a GM in leagues that had great concepts but were poorly run and had too many inactive GMs. Taking a concept you’re familiar with, making a few changes based on your experience and launching a league of your own is a solid motivation. I’ve also launched leagues to test a completely new concept. This is a much harder undertaking. It can be very difficult to see the flaws in what you’re doing before launching the league if you don’t have prior experience. If no one ever launched a new concept the world of dynasty baseball would be stagnant, but it’s important to understand that the chance of failure is higher with something you haven’t done before. Understanding your own motivation and goals before you start will put you in the best position to succeed.
Do you have a core group of GMs to start with?
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but launching a dynasty league by yourself with all new GMs is a steep hill to climb. Most good leagues have a decent social element and GMs tend to befriend each other. If you’re thinking about launching a dynasty league, who are those three to seven people you really want to bring over from your other leagues? If you don’t have that group, think about holding off on launching a league and work on building those relationships. If you’re not in a league with those social dynamics, seek one out and join up. Better to wait to launch your league in order to launch it with great people than to roll the dice with a group of complete strangers.
Know when to listen and when to insist on your own way.
Leaning on relationships is a great way to find the gaps and flaws in your ideas. Having a group of invested GMs participate in planning the league will often result in a better league. The last league that I launched was based on a confluence of different rules I had gathered from different leagues. When I was done writing the rule set I was convinced that it represented my “perfect league.” Then my friends got involved and they came up with some great concepts that really enhanced the rule set. They also had a few ideas I just wasn’t open to and that was ok. In the end the commissioner is going to spend the most time and effort on the league. When your setup is finalized, make sure it’s something you’re completely happy with and don’t leave anything in or out to appease anyone else. You must be bought in to every part of the rule set. Because, if you’re unhappy you’re eventually going to lose interest and either hand off the league or fold it up. Create a league that you really dig and trust me, other people will dig it too.
That’s it for Part 1. In Part 2 we will look at creating your rule set. I’ll talk about each of the basic concepts that your rule set should address and some of the common things commissioners omit that can come back to cause issues.
I hope to answer reader questions here in the “Mailbag” portion of the column. Whether you are a commissioner or GM, I want to hear from you about dynasty league management and I’ll answer your questions in future editions of Commissioner’s Corner. Send your questions to me below in the Comments, on Twitter @ChappyisClutch or to my actual mailbag ChappyisClutch@gmail.com.