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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

As another roto season winds to its close, it seems fitting to bring this column back around to its foundation – a discussion of league rules. More appropriately perhaps would be to say the discussion of league rules process.

Sometimes, it is cool to share with others specific new and innovative approaches deployed in our leagues, backed up by supporting rules, of course. Yet many times, these new ideas do not fit the league structure or format or even tastes of other owners who are reading this.

Instead, this is going to be a very basic column with just one key message - consider any adjustments to your league rules now.

Let’s start with the timing question.

No doubt that many have already checked out of baseball and are deep into the football season. I don’t understand those who can only juggle one ball at a time, but that is a discussion for another day.

You are likely not among those who have left baseball behind, however. After all, you are reading this fantasy baseball column in early October.

The 2015 season for your leagues will never be fresher in your mind than right now. Start by writing down those areas of contention that popped up during the season. (In the leagues I run, all year long, I maintain a simple list of such items that is stored on my computer. This helps the recollection process considerably.)

Whether you have an existing list or need to start a new one, your next step should be to review the items. The first question should be whether the issue is real. Many are not. Like any of this, it is a judgment call, though, so if it was important to someone in the league, it should probably get a fair hearing.

Next question is to consider the potential actions to be taken as a result. Is it a simple item such as moving a key deadline or is it a topic that would lead to substantial change and require considerable discussion among the league members? An example of the latter might be going from batting average to on-base percentage or migrating from 4x4 to 5x5.

Unless your league is a dictatorship, the next step is to decide how to elicit opinions from the league members.

My advice is to write an explanation of each proposed change in simple terms and include how the league constitution would change as a result. That way, everyone is starting from the same point.

If for some reason, your league does not have written rules, change that ASAP. Find a comparable constitution from another league and modify it to fit. No need to reinvent the wheel.

Now, how do you have the discussion? E-mail is often the fastest and most convenient for many. It also helps frame the evaluation process. Unfortunately, e-mail can also be the most chaotic.

In one of my leagues, a 15-teamer, any league discussion via e-mail is like open mic night at the local comedy club located at the Holiday Inn. There are so many clever comments made that sometimes the issue gets lost.

If your league software has a private message exchange or forum capability, use it. Having a documented history of the dialogue could prove invaluable later. It is much preferred to wading through what could be dozens of e-mails, with potentially different comments on different discussion threads, as replies are invariably not made to the most recent remark. Let your system help you here.

However you do it, do it now. Do not wait until next spring. Sure, the discussion will be a lot shorter, since few will remember the issues. The downside of waiting is that it will be likely that the same problems will be encountered again next year.

Instead, discuss potential changes and decide on them now, update your constitution and look forward to a smoother and more enjoyable league operation next season as a result.


Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 17-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.

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