Generally speaking, one objective of fantasy baseball is to emulate the real game as much as possible. I am here to suggest that be extended to an area in which Major League Baseball leads all sports – special consideration for time away for personal matters.
Specifically, I am talking about paternity and bereavement leaves.
First, MLB implemented a process to allow players up to seven days of bereavement leave. Dealing with all the necessary affairs following the loss of a close loved one should be more important than any job.
Next to be introduced was up to three days of paternity leave, which was agreed to by players and ownership as part of Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement implemented in late 2011.
A very important part of these leaves was to allow their teams to replace the temporarily inactive player on their 25-man active roster. That way, a club is less disadvantaged competitively and perhaps the affected player can feel less guilty about leaving his teammates while dealing with his personal affairs.
Unfortunately, not everyone gets it. Donald Sterling is not the only Neanderthal currently in professional sports. At the start of this season, Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy was ripped by talk radio jocks Mike Francesa and Boomer Esiason after taking paternity leave to be with his wife as their new child was delivered.
Esiason had to backpedal quickly after saying on air, "Quite frankly, I would've said, 'C-section before the season starts. I need to be at opening day.' "
Hopefully, you are agreeing, but you may also be asking yourself how this relates to fantasy. Stay with me, here.
It is a constitutional matter, or at least it could be.
MLB has also instituted a seven-day concussion disabled list, another leading-edge policy designed to ensure affected players are given adequate time and attention to getting healthy.
Because it is a type of "disabled list," wording to cover the concussion DL is already built into many fantasy league constitutions. That provides guidance for how injured players can be replaced on rosters while disabled.
That is usually not the case for paternity and bereavement leaves, however.
My view is that if a league allows DLed players to be reserved, it should also allow players on these special leaves to be substituted without penalty.
Unfortunately, the default answer from some commissioners is only slightly more satisfying than Esiason's reaction. If it is not specifically mentioned in the constitution, they say, there is nothing that can be done.
This is exactly what happened to me last week, at least initially.
On Monday, the weekly transaction day, the Padres announced second baseman Jedd Gyorko had been granted paternity leave. Coincidentally, that same day, I had planned to release reserve Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney because of another roster addition.
Instead, I proposed that like the Padres, I should be allowed to replace Gyorko while on leave without having to release a player. I had Barney ready to plug in. The non-release point is especially important in this league, one in which there are only four reserve spots.
Because my league's stat site did not recognize Gyorko's status, my first stop was the league SWAT. After not getting a positive answer, I took my case to the league governing board. The initial take there was negative, too, until one member remembered that such an exception had been made in the past.
Now, here is the message for you. The league leaders forgot to update the constitution the first time. Therefore, I could not find any precedent to guide me.
The good news is that they recognized this and have resolved to update the document going forward.
The maneuver did not help my bottom line, nor did it hurt.
While Gyorko was out, Barney went 2-for-8 (.250). However, I lost two days of Gyorko being active upon his return from leave. League rules indicate a mid-week transaction is not effective until the next day, plus I forgot to initiate the move the first day possible. In doing so, I missed 2-for-7 (.286) results from Gyorko.
Despite the fact I ended up releasing Barney anyway, there was always the chance that another player could have been injured during the week, in which case, I might have been able to plug him in elsewhere. Maintaining as much roster flexibility as possible is important, especially in a single-league format.
In closing, my recommendation is to understand ahead of time how your leagues handle paternity and bereavement leaves. File the information away and use it to your advantage if possible.
And, as always, for the benefit of all, make sure your league rules are kept current.
Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league's 16-year history. He also holds the all-time NL Tout single-season records for wins and saves. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.