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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

Rarely does lightning strike anywhere, let alone the same place twice in a two-week time period. Yet, that is what happened to me recently.

However, the story is not about burn injuries. It is a positive one in which the messages are to understand your league constitution well, pay attention to potential daily moves even in weekly transaction leagues and be persistent when you think you are right.

The essence of the situation is with how in-week replacements are to be handled in one of my weekly transaction leagues.

Originally, replacements were allowed without stipulations for a player who was on his major league’s disabled list, whether the replacement player was active in MLB currently or not.

That had to be altered when a few bad boys used this to stream pitchers contrary to the intent of the original rule. Unfortunately, that fix led to some potentially ambiguous or even conflicting wording between the original intent and the modified intent in the league constitution.

Currently struggling in this league, I preferred to not lose a day of stats from one of my better players, Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer. However, because the first baseman-outfielder was scheduled to come off the disabled list on Friday, May 24, I was going to miss his weekend play - until the Monday transaction deadline would enable me to activate him.

That was before I lost the services of second baseman Chase Utley. The Phillies star was placed on the DL on Thursday, May 23. It seemed to me that I could then swap the two players at my utility position immediately, effective Friday. Even so, it would not have fully neutralized the loss of another top player on my already-thin roster.

What I did not know at the time is that our league software, OnRoto, allows such a pair of moves – but only if executed before first pitch on the day after the official DL transaction.

I had tried to do it the night before, but Utley’s DL move was not yet reflected. Because I thought this transaction would require special handling, I contacted the league SWAT on Thursday to give him a heads up.

His interpretation of the constitution was that I could not activate Cuddyer until Saturday, the day after his real-life activation. I understood what he was reading, but did not agree.

The section I quoted seemed in conflict. I read it to allow Cuddyer to be moved into my active lineup to replace a DLed player at any time – even before Cuddyer was activated by his MLB team.

Ultimately, I escalated the impasse with the agreement of the SWAT. I felt good when the SWAT acknowledged that he could see my point, with his only complaint that my explanation e-mail was too wordy.

My take is that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. To that end, I provided a detailed explanation, including the two areas of potential conflict in the constitution. I explained both sides, but my bottom line focus was on why I believed I was right.

The ruling was made in my favor – but only after the league leaders checked to see if past implementations of similar situations had been consistent. Fortunately, they were. Otherwise, my argument would have shifted to not equating two wrongs to a right.

Further, the league leaders agreed to review the constitution in light of the earlier changes, and differing views of the wording. This would be done in the context of the intent of the league to still prohibit streaming but not penalize owners wanting to make DL moves such as I requested.

It was great news for me. In his first night back, Cuddyer went 2-for-4 with a home run, double, three RBI and two runs scored. Had I accepted the original ruling, I would have taken a night of zero stats from the disabled Utley instead.

Though the occurrence of these types of consecutive-day DL moves on and off seems rare, perhaps they are not, after all. This past Monday, after I had set my lineup for the week, the Dodgers decided Carl Crawford’s hamstring injury was bad enough to DL him.

I knew Washington’s Jayson Werth had been playing in minor league rehab games and was scheduled to be activated by the major league club on Tuesday. That is precisely what happened.

This time, I knew I could simply make the DL-to-DL change myself on Tuesday morning once the status of Crawford was changed to reflect his DL move. The fact that Werth was not reflected as active at that point did not matter. I would receive his six days of his stats starting on Tuesday, rather than five starting on Wednesday.

Still, to be safe, I gave my league SWAT a heads up about what I planned to do. That way, in case of any problem, there was advance proof of my intent. That protected everyone.

Alas, Werth’s return was far less exciting than Cuddyer’s as the Nats’ right fielder went just 1-for-4 with a single on Tuesday. Sadly enough, his .250 batting average is only two points below my team mark to date - but that is a story for another day.

Again, the bottom line is to know your rules, especially in the area of mid-week injury replacements, and stick to your guns if you believe you have a good case. Document your case clearly, as you get only one chance to make your first argument.

If you are like me, you will also make a note to follow up later to ensure constitutional ambiguity is cleared up after the season.

As always, all the best to you in your leagues this season and make sure you use your rules to your advantage.

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. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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