“Small or Far Away” Father Dougal on Cows
Round three is the round of random as far as Cow Talk goes. It’s still too soon for projections, but unlike the other weeks there is no obvious theme. Well, to me at least; if you can think of an obvious theme let me know! Anyways, that means for this week, the definition of “cow” is rather expansive.
I have been pondering the impact on our Supercoach play of the psychological factors that all humans are subject to. When I was trying to decide if I should keep or trade Hibberd, I was mostly worried about what was the right thing to do, but at one point I thought “I really don’t want to do the wrong thing and look stupid.”
Ok, that pause was for my imaginary interlocutor to say “Too late” but apparently he has the night off. So, first, too late, but second, what a bad thing to take into account. Probably extra silly for me, since my mistakes get made all public so others can learn from them. Well, so really I hate making them more but get a side benefit. Anyways, that got me thinking. Why else do we do the wrong thing? I could write all about logical fallacies but wikipedia has them all written up, so I don’t see that being to useful aside from pointing out that wikipedia has them all written up. Oh, and kudos to the bloke who mentioned the sunk cost fallacy in the comments recently, and my apologies to him for being too lazy to dig up the comment so I can give proper mention.
Oddly enough, the sunk cost fallacy is not a huge thing in Supercoach. It basically says that we are prone to throwing good money after bad. It is hard to stop following a course of action we are emotionally invested in. In Supercoach, once we have player keeping them is free, it is getting rid of them that has a cost! So, I am sure that sometimes we are slow to get rid of someone, but there’s a good reason. Maybe a good thing to remember when Heath Shaw has spudded up for half the season, and we say to ourselves “he’ll come good” over and over……
I think the thing I can most usefully talk about is something I first heard explicitly from the late, great, Sir Terry Pratchett. “People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.” We do think in stories! We love to generalize, stereotype, and put people/things into comfortable boxes. We look at a player and try to figure out what other players he is like. When we know enough about a player we expect what we know to stay the same. I see the effects of that all over Supercoach, and in some cases have even tried to point out when it is misleading. Let’s looks at some examples and what we can learn from them.
In the distant past, aka 2015, Todd Goldstein was the top ruck by a good margin with an huge average of 128.8. The next pre-season a *lot* of people started with him, dead certain that they had the best scoring ruck for the next year, and that he was worth his huge price because, and this is the important part, he was a 128.8 averaging player. Well, no, he wasn’t. He averaged that for one season. Shockingly, 2016 was not 2015. By round 8 he has lost $100,000 in value. Not that his 108 average was bad, but it wasn’t what was paid for. This happens ever year with other players, especially one that have had a good season, also with ones that have had a bad season. The very same thing happened with Heath Shaw after both 2015 and 2016. I still feel kinda bad about how pushy I was sometimes when trying to point out buying Shaw was not “locking in the top defender.”
The first Supercoach storytelling lesson: “Last season is not this season.”
We know last season, we don’t know next season. But every season, every player gets a year older, and there are changes. Coaching changes, maybe changing teams, or roles. New cows every year. Different schedules. Teams responding to what new strategy worked for the top teams last season. Who is back from injury, who has a new one. It’s freaking overwhelming, so we make it manageable by trying to fit everything into a comfortable story.
An even stronger version of that is with players who have a long history, such as Gary Ablett, who as we all know, is the god of the AFL and Supercoach and our beloved perma-captian. But, Gary stopped being perma-captain as of Round 17, 2014.
I now put on my kevlar, chainmail, and asbestos.
Gary was the very best for six and a half years. He has been very good since then, when not injured. And he is gonna get injured, and he is gonna miss games every season, maybe a lot of them. He has been at best a mediocre Supercoach selection (not player) for four years now. And that sucks! But, as so many people say, “he’s Gary Ablett!” He is, but his story has an arc. All stories have an arc. He was once a baby, a toddler, went to school, was a cow, a budding star, and then a star. Then he became a comeback story, and before too long he’s going to be a former player. A really well respected and liked former player who has had a long awesome career. But, by ignoring the arc of his story, we have been making decisions about him based on who he used to be, not who he is. And I do mean we, I had him in to start 2015 and again at the end of last season. But now we should know his story is that of an injury-prone premium, not that of an dead reliable ultra-premium.
The second Supercoach storytelling lesson: “Everyone’s story changes over time.”
So, now let’s talk about Nat Fyfe, who as we all know is life. And, taking my armor off, he is life again. Well, I am thinking he is. But, he wasn’t himself for a while after he broke his leg. Gosh, what a surprise, a guy who broke his leg might need a good while to get back to full strength! I so did not think about that last season, and thought he would go right back to his 120+ average, which of course he did not. A more careful person would have held off a year because Nat’s story wasn’t really “super-premium is back”, it was “player who is returning not long after breaking his leg.” At the end of last season, it was “player has recovered from broken leg and is back.” That is also his story so far this season, and I am happy to have him. Some of that is going on with Danger now. His story is currently “Guy who just did his hammy for the first time” and not “reliable and essential perma-captain option.”
The third Supercoach storytelling lesson: “Sometimes stories are temporarily supplanted by other stories.”
Of course Danger will probably get over his hammy and then he’ll be back to being “reliable and essential perma-captain option.”…..except there is this Tom Mitchell bloke, who is also a “reliable perma-captain option.” Danger’s Supercoach story will change because of another player. Of course you could argue, that both of them will a “reliable and essential perma-captain option.” I’m still thinking I will want Danger in. But his story is not being told in isolation. He won’t be the *only* reliable and/or essential perma-captain option.
The fourth Supercoach storytelling lesson: “Supercoach has an ensemble cast”
Ok, so, Clayton Oliver, wow, I so did not get him in until way late in the season last year, because no player does what he was busy doing. The valid set of stories, in my head, did not include “second year player averages 111.” Since he was actually doing that, and passed the eye test for how, I was totally wrong in the face of evidence.
The fifth Supercoach storytelling lesson: “Sometimes there will be new stories.”
There are others I’m sure, but my brain hurts now. I’m sure there is a good example of “You can have more than one story happening at once for one player” but I can’t think of it offhand.
There are stories that exist for a reason, and should be thought about. The best ruck one season is almost never the best ruck next season. Very valid? Why is that? There is this “regression to the mean” thing I talked about last week. You have to have a great season to be the top scoring ruck. Odds are he combined luck and skill. Luck tends to even out. Next year it is likely some other ruck will have the great luck added to skill needed to be the top scorer. That does not mean “don’t take last year’s top ruck;” I would have if he wasn’t dealing with an injury before round one. “Most stories have some basis in reality.”
Hmm, how about “The guy who scored well until his mate returned and he went back to scoring badly,” along with “The guy who scored badly until his mate returned and he went back to scoring well.”
Argh, okay one more. “Avoid mid-pricers.” But Coniglio. He is a fallen premium, not a mid pricer. “Be sure you know what story is the real one” Hmm……
I’m gonna close with some wisdom by Terry Pratchett, who said the above much better than I can:
“Supposing an emperor was persuaded to wear a new suit of clothes whose material was so fine that, to the common eye, the clothes weren’t there. And suppose a little boy pointed out this fact in a loud, clear voice…
Then you have The Story of the Emperor Who Had No Clothes.
But if you knew a bit more, it would be The Story of the Boy Who Got a Well-Deserved Thrashing from His Dad for Being Rude to Royalty, and Was Locked Up.
Or The Story of the Whole Crowd Who Were Rounded Up by the Guards and Told ‘This Didn’t Happen, OK? Does Anyone Want to Argue?’
Or it could be a story of how a whole kingdom suddenly saw the benefit of the ‘new clothes’, and developed an enthusiasm for healthy sports in a lively and refreshing atmosphere which got many new adherents every year, and led to a recession caused by the collapse of the conventional clothing industry.
It could even be a story about The Great Pneumonia Epidemic of ’09.
It all depends on how much you know.”
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