An interesting scenario has developed in a league I administer. I think it’s important to note that while the person in charge of a league is referred to as the commissioner, my belief is their role should be as administrator and not to govern. The rules should run the league. The commissioner just makes sure everything is adhered to, along with setting things up, etc. In essence, once the first pitch is thrown, football is kicked off, puck is dropped or basketball is tipped off, the league runs itself.
The league in question is a 15-team mixed high stakes keeper league, run as a private satellite by the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. The entry is $1150, so I’m extremely sensitive to making sure everything is done by the book. There’s no trading, which means the opportunities for a lesser squad to rebuild are limited.
One way to play for the future is to not activate a minor league player and wait until you’re contending. Once active, you control the player for three years, so this way you’re not burning a season of eligibility while you’re out of the money.
Another means of focusing on next season is we use our FAAB budget to bid for draft spots – for both the regular and farm draft. The person with the first pick in the regular draft goes last in the Minors portion and vice versa. We auction off each spot with the winning bid subtracted from the original $1000 units. We’ve had owners bid as much as $950 for the first overall pick and almost that for the first minor league selection. The idea is you don’t care about this season, so having the full boat of FAAB doesn’t mean as much as securing a top keeper or prospect.
The catch to this bidding is the four teams that cashed the previous season are excluded from the slot auction. After the other 11 teams have bought their spot, we go in reverse order of finish to pick the remaining spots. Furthermore, the four teams lose FAAB equal to the average of the 11 winning bids. This number is usually between 200 and 300 units.
I didn’t set up this rule. I took over the league from the original commissioner. The intent is more from the commissioner’s perspective than from that of the player. It’s supposed to help prevent lesser teams from leaving as well as being a factor if we do need a replacement. The idea is the top teams are hindered since they don’t get to decide if they want to pay for their desired spot along with being saddled with less FAAB.
After last season, a long-time owner asked that we vote on this rule, wanting to eliminate the penalty of exclusion from the slot auction. So we’ve put it up to a vote.
Arguments have been stated both ways. We’re in fact in the process of tallying up the votes.
Here’s my conundrum. As an owner in the league, I’m not sure the rule is fair. When I cash, why should I be penalized? We can only keep players three years. More often than not, the better keepers on a cashing team are on expiring contracts, so their freeze list isn’t all that strong.
On the other hand, have you ever tried to recruit an owner to take over a crappy team? Now ask that owner to send you 1000 jellybeans. Yeah, it sucks.
This vote came up four years ago when I wasn’t running things. Back then, while I didn’t initiate the vote, I was fairly vocal backing it. And I still feel that way. I don’t believe the top teams should be penalized for their success.
I don’t want to come off as a mensch here, but my philosophy when it comes to running a league is the by-laws should be for the good of the league and not for the ease of administering. The rule is obviously doing its job as cashing teams feel penalized and others feel that’s a good thing. If it passed, as commissioner, I’m accepting the responsibility of finding alternate means to prevent teams from leaving and/or enticing new owners to join. It comes with the territory.
Tied into the vote is the rule would not go into effect this season. If it passes, winning teams would be part of the auction in 2016. I had a few teams contact me privately and confide that while they are in favor of the rule change, they are adamant that we delay its implantation until 2016, contending decisions were made with the present rule in place.
Obviously, this is standard protocol. That said, I had trouble believing major decisions were based on this rule and asked a couple to reconsider their positions. But they all insisted they made moves based on the rule being in place. Harkening back to my sensitivity that a league with an entry over 1000 clams needs to be run by-the-book, I made it clear that if the rule passed, we’d begin using it a year from now and not the impending slot auction.
I’m writing this because I suspect many leagues are in the process of gathering the band back together with the likelihood of having their own rules discussion and I thought it may be helpful to share how a long-standing high stakes league operates. Rules discussions are often tedious if not frustrating - but they're necessary. Inevitably, votes are cast for the good of the owner and not necessarily for the good of the league.
Everything is contextual, but it’s up to the commissioner to marry the two. I personally find eliminating the factor of making my job easier helps get to the meeting point quicker.
If the sole purpose of the rule is to make the commissioner’s job easier, then you need a new rule. Or, a new commissioner.