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Thursday 23rd Mar 2017

Last week, my partner Brian Walton channeled Leslie Gore in his It's My Team and I'll Dump if I Need To article, as he charted the woes in the Xperts Fantasy League (XFL) as owners debated rule changes for the coming Halloween draft (to be conducted as part of First Pitch Arizona).

A myriad of thoughts and arguments were presented on how to achieve better parity within the league, ideally so the playing field was a little more even season to season going into said auction.

Mind you, the XFL is mostly an industry league, save arguably the best and most successful pair of owners, Don Drooker and Jeff Winick, who have won four out of the last five titles.

To me one of the reasons I actually run from the moniker "fantasy expert" is that: I can indeed play the game pretty well, and I can write pretty well too which is really how I solidified a spot in the industry. But I am well aware that there are a lot of folks out there who can draft and strategize better than I.

But, I also find there always seems to be a subtext to harping on about rule changes, and that is the change is not so much about parity as it is "but I am having a hard time winning under the existing rules."

I have to confess I have absolutely no patience with that, in this league or in any other.

Sure, owners cheat and that should be dealt with swiftly, and I believe harshly. And, truly, rules can be tricky things for each one actually screams for scrutiny and an angle begging owners to outsmart them.

But, essentially the game is simply the game, just as is baseball on the diamond.

Injuries can kill a squad just as a bad hop or bad trade can. Furthermore, we can pursue the likes of Brandon Wood at all costs, and sometimes Brandon becomes Mike Trout, but more often than not such players turn out to be something between Marlon Byrd and, uh, Brandon Wood.

But, trying to adjust rules in order to somehow account for these pitfalls is just dumb in my opinion for a couple of reasons.

First, baseball, despite its gorgeous body of statistics, is still as unpredictable as those same bad hops. To me, dealing with and adjusting around those bumps is just part of the game. (It is also a metaphor for life, to me.)

Second, the paradox is that old "every solution presents a new problem" conundrum, for surely every time a rule is changed, the possibilities to exploit that solution in a new way--be it good or bad--exists.

Add to that as rules become more layered, they become not just convoluted, but as often at odds with existing rules.

Personally, part of what gets me going in playing in leagues is indeed in watching what the other teams do, for there is usually a sort of mainstream path to success, and then deconstructing said path and trying to figure out a different road to a title by reconfiguring the puzzle pieces that point to victory.

Truth is, I really love doing this, and though as often as not the attempts fail majestically, sometimes there is indeed a blind spot no one saw coming, and ideally the force that drives it is my team.

The bottom line is if we play--especially at a competitive level--we know what it takes to win, and most of the time winning falls within good drafting and management within the construct of the rules.

Regarding the discussion over dump trades, for example, which are business as usual in most leagues, for two years I lived by them working to rebuild, and as my team, which has easily been the worst over the past decade in the XFL, I traded some of my cheap buys shoring up in what I hope is a serious pennant run for the next few years.

I do think keeping rules simple is a solid path, and similarly, when playing any game, changing the rules in order to offset what seems to be an imbalance simply creates more problems and chaos than such a path fixes much of anything.

I truly think the best and most satisfying road to victory is to simply understand the rules as they exist and build the best team you can to succeed within that framework.

Everything else just seems like whining.

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