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Tuesday 20th Feb 2018

In the wake of more NFL silliness, by virtue of our good friend Roger Goodell, it is that time where the baseball season is winding down, and various leagues have begun discussing rule changes for the coming season.

I have to admit that for the most part, these discussions drive me mad, just as does Goodell suggesting that he no longer wants to be involved in disciplinary actions within the NFL. I mean really, Roger? Then exactly what is your job if you cannot oversee some order and structure as Commissioner?

But, I will leave the last laugh with Tom Brady and his precision ripping apart of the Pittsburgh defense while I focus on my MidWest Strat-O-Matic league, where as the season winds down, issues of player usage has forced the argument.

The MidWest league is a serious keeper league that allows freezing of up to 28 players a season. The catch, though, is that in order to freeze a full complement of hitters and pitchers, we must not overuse players.

Because Strat-O-Matic is a simulation of the previous season, so, we are allowed the same use of the previous season, plus 20%. As an example, I have Zack Greinke on my team. The Dodger hurler knocked out 202.3 innings last year, so in the MidWest League I get him for 242 innings this year.

By invoking this rule, we all get a little extra use of our resources and we don't have to worry about injuries because again, the use we get for a player who missed half of last year is simply the play--at-bats or innings--plus that 20%.

As owners--and the league has 30--it is up to us to monitor the usage of our players, but really, that is not so difficult as the Strat-O-Matic software does indeed track that usage. As I write, I have used Greinke for 182 innings, meaning I have to be careful over the final two months of play to keep his totals under that 242 threshold, or my 28 freezes starts to erode, depending upon how egregious, and many instances of abuse there are.

We have tried other methods of quashing this usage issue, and though this is fairly severe, it is not only the best method because it leaves us, as owners, responsible to monitor and control our teams, and leaves us culpable if we don't.

Overuse might not seem like an overtly big deal, but, in replaying last season, imagine if I simply chose to start Greinke every three days instead of every five? How different would my team be with a stud pitcher going that often, especially against weaker teams (and the truth is, there are always warnings that overuse of a player can skew the results)?

Furthermore, if the idea of playing fantasy and simulations is to give us that chance to simulate real baseball, then it ignores the times that the Aaron Harangs have to take to the hill. Because the reality is, they do.

The problems that have come up though, is with two-thirds of the season gone, teams have hit their limits, and suddenly they have to either scale back the use of their best players (and risk getting clobbered by the better teams) or risk serious penalty.

Now, a couple of years back, when I was in the throes of serious rebuilding, I did not pay enough attention to my reserves. I traded away almost all of my stars for future considerations, but I left my team beyond vulnerable, and overused such that I could only freeze 17 players, which was rugged.

However, it was my job to monitor my players and use and know the rules, and I sucked it up, and now those future picks and trades have given me a contender this year, which is good.

The problem is that there is a complement of owners who want to ease the rule, primarily because they have a hard time both winning and keeping within those usage parameters. 

If you think these rules are harsh, so be it, but, the league is not totally hard hearted, for each team is given four players, two hitters with 250 at-bats, and two pitchers with 150 innings each. Mind you, these guys are terrible. If you play Scoresheet, they are equivalent to the "Triple-A" players that game populates on your team when you have run out of resources.

However, the issue for owners at draft time becomes, do I grab prospect C.J. Cron in the fourth round with his 242 at-bats last year when I need at-bats, or do I take Allen Craig and his crappy 462 at-bats and protect myself against those usage vulnerabilities?

As with most leagues, the owners in MidWest love their prospects, so what they do is indeed pick Cron over Craig, and then run short of innings, and then with this time of year comes, they have a freak-out and suggest the rules need to be changed.

And, that is what sets me off for they knew the rules at the end of last year, and going into the rookie draft, and even through the course of the season.

So, what that tells me is that changing the rules in order to make it easier for them to win or play is more important than living with a tight rule that monitors and penalizes all of us equally and fairly.

To me, the only reason to really consider a rule change is because there is something ambiguous in the verbiage of the rule, or because the rule unfairly takes advantage of some teams and not others.

But, spare me changing them to make the game easier for you. I don't want to hear it. If you cannot deal, find another league. Got that, Roger?

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