maybe I'm being over sensitive...it's never happened to me BTW, but I always feel for the small guy when I see it happen.
Hmmm, I believe the policy have always been that the OP gets dibs on the Front Page. There is no favoritism in this area. Maybe one or two slip by every now and then but I don't think it is a common practice, not intentional anyway.
There is no favoritism when it comes to front page threads. To an extent its user input that determines what makes the front page by using the "recommend" link. There will always be cases where similar threads are posted at similar times. In these cases the thread that has gained traction and has replies will be the preferred choice.