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Tuesday 27th Jun 2017

Especially early in the season, when drafting activity is heavy and many players are active in a number of different leagues and formats, it is easy to forget the rules nuances in any particular league.

Couple that with an unusual dual Opening Day in 2012, consisting of a pair of American League games in Japan the week before the “traditional opener” in the USA (if that is what you call the first game in Marlins Park), and there are bound to be questions about what can be done when in your league.

When these factors come together, chaos can ensue in any fantasy setting, even an industry one. So it was this past weekend across Tout Wars.

A misinterpretation of the rules by one of the league leaders led to the expectation of FAAB transactions on April 2. This was eagerly anticipated by a number of owners who wanted to move injured players to the disabled list and acquire immediate replacements as quickly as possible.

A major implementation problem raised its head when it became clear that most major league clubs did not set their Opening Day rosters by the Monday morning, April 2 Tout deadline for the week. Further, teams also did not yet declare their back-dated disabled list players and were not required by MLB rules to do so until 5 P.M. ET Wednesday. (Note the fact that most DLed players went on retroactive to March 26, potentially making them available sooner than 15 days into the season.)

As a result, there were many players known to be injured and “surely” DL-bound that had not yet been officially designated by MLB. To buy time for more of these transactions to come to light, several anxious Tout owners pushed for a special accommodation – a one-time 24-hour delay in the deadline for this week only.

However, because of MLB’s target for roster setting not being until Wednesday afternoon, moving out the Tout date would not accomplish its desired objective.

The owner of the league’s stat site (also a Tout participant) had decided independently to make a call on each injured player, designating a group of them as being on the site’s DL for fantasy purposes this week – before the real MLB moves occurred.

For a period of time over the weekend, Tout members were encouraged to nominate players for addition to this list. That led to a literal flood of emails before the league leaders realized the slippery slope upon which they were preparing to embark.

A return to the Tout Wars constitution provided the answers, which had been there waiting for us all along.

There are two important passages. First:

DEADLINES

Transactions may be made beginning the second Monday after draft day.

April 2 is the second Monday following draft day. However, the constitution does NOT say that FAAB will occur at that time. The first week’s transactions are intended to be activation-deactivation moves only.

To be honest, the document can be a bit confusing. Immediately following the above passage, a detailed explanation of the FAAB process is provided. It seems out of place, implying a connection that is not intended.

Here is the second relevant section of the constitution:

FREE AGENCY

Beginning with the second transaction period following the conclusion of the draft, through the end of the regular season, free agents in the free agent pool may be signed, without limit, in the following manner…

This seems to reinforce that the first transaction period is for roster moves only, with no FAAB bidding. It is implied that the first transaction period occurs between the draft and the first games, though that is unstated.

Ultimately, after a lot of thrashing, the Tout leaders came around to the ruling that is supported by the constitution – to allow activations-deactivations on April 2, but hold off on FAAB transactions until April 9. By then, all season-opening DL moves across MLB will have become very clear. In fact, the first group of MLB players to come off the DL should be almost ready.

The bottom line is an old, tired message here. Make sure you follow your constitution to the letter and if it is vague, clarify the gray areas in writing. You can’t make changes in-season, but there is nothing to stop you from taking the appropriate notes to facilitate the formal changes this fall.

Alternatively, if you make rules tweaks or one-off interpretations on the fly, expect trouble will follow. Good intentions alone aren’t enough. Make sure you don’t weaken your constitution by conflicting with it, even unintentionally. Keep it living, active and strong.

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 14-year history. Though he is the only one to remember or care, he also finished second in each of the two subsequent seasons. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com and in-season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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