Storm Troopers vs. One for Altuve – 5 F.J. 15 (March 21, 2013) – Fantasy Baseball Draft Issue

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Storm Troopers vs. One for Altuve

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE KEYSTONE FANTASY BASEBALL LEAGUE

Decided March 21, 2013
Cite as 5 F.J. 15 (March 2013)

Factual Background

A fantasy baseball league called the Keystone Fantasy Baseball League (hereinafter referred to as “KFBL”) is comprised of 12 teams and has been in existence since 2011.  The KFBL is a mixed AL/NL non-keeper roto league.  As with many rotisserie leagues, the TGFBL uses the standard 5×5 scoring categories to determine the standings and prize money.  For offensive players, the five categories are: (1) batting average; (2) homeruns; (3) runs batted in; (4) runs scored; and (5) stolen bases.  For pitchers, the five categories are: (1) wins; (2) earned run average; (3) WHIP (walks+hits/innings pitched); (4) strikeouts; and (5) saves.  Statistics are cumulative throughout the course of the season and there are no head to head games contained within this roto league.

The KFBL’s online draft took place on March 20, 2013.  All 12 teams were present in the draft room.  During Round 6 of the draft, the team known as One for Altuve allowed the 60 second time clock to expire and was automatically given Johnny Cueto (SP-CIN) who was the highest ranked available player remaining at the time.  Immediately after this, One for Altuve wrote a message in the chat box indicating that the draft room froze on him and he did not intend to let the clock expire.  He requested that the commissioner back the draft up and replace Cueto with his desired selection – Paul Goldschmidt (1B-ARZ).   The commissioner complied with this request and awarded One for Altuve with Goldschmidt in lieu of Cueto.

Procedural History

Immediately after the commissioner replaced Cueto with Goldschmidt, the team known as the Storm Troopers asked the commissioner to pause the draft.  The Storm Troopers had the next draft pick after One for Altuve and voiced his displeasure with the commissioner’s decision.  The Storm Troopers indicated that they were going to draft Goldschmidt with the next pick and said that One for Altuve should not have been able to retroactively change his pick.  The commissioner reaffirmed his decision based on the fact that One for Altuve raised the issue before any further draft picks were made.  The Storm Troopers disagreed and have submitted this case to the Court seeking intervention.

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the commissioner’s decision to replace Johnny Cueto with Paul Goldschmidt as One for Altuve’s 6th round pick be upheld?

Decision

The draft is truly the cornerstone of every fantasy sports league.  Mayor Goldie Wilson vs. Balloon Knots, 3 F.J. 164, 166 (September 2011).   Drafts are where people create their rosters after preparing and strategizing in anticipation of the event.  It is common practice for fantasy players to spend an extraordinary amount of time preparing for drafts by studying statistics, compiling rankings and lists, and evaluating all potential players eligible to be drafted.  While people can make trades, transactions, and free agent acquisitions during the season, the draft represents fantasy players with the best and most autonomous opportunity to mold their rosters according to their own preferences.  PrimeTime vs. The Swani, 4 F.J. 220, 222 (August 2012)

Because of how important the draft is to a fantasy league, any issues or disputes that arise before, during or after the draft must be handled delicately.  Romophobia vs. The Waterboyz, 4 F.J. 216, 217 (August 2012).  The present situation is no different.  Here, the Storm Troopers are challenging the validity of the KFBL commissioner’s decision to undo a previous draft pick after the time clock expired.  The Court must analyze whether the commissioner’s actions unduly prejudiced the Storm Troopers in any capacity.

It is unknown whether the KFBL had a written constitution with its rules formally codified.  However, that is irrelevant to this analysis.  The commissioner is empowered with the responsibility of administering the draft and ensuring that it runs smoothly.  When an issue arises, the commissioner must act decisively and expeditiously in order to preserve the integrity of the draft.  Fair and Balanced vs. League Commissioner, 5 F.J. 1, 3 (January 2013).  In this case, One for Altuve alerted the commissioner of his technical problem immediately after it was discovered.  This is important because league commissioners should have a reasonable expectation that their fellow league members will alert them of any possible issues in a timely manner.  Romophobia vs. The Waterboyz, 4 F.J. at 218.

At the time the commissioner was notified of the issue, no further draft picks were made.  The commissioner intelligently paused the draft to address the problem.  This undermines the Storm Troopers argument that he was prejudiced because of his intent to draft Goldschmidt.  No one else knew that.  The fact is that One for Altuve alerted the commissioner of his problem as soon as practicable.  The commissioner had the discretion to either grant or deny his request.  By granting the request, the commissioner did not prejudice any other team by simply remedying a correctable mistake. 

Typically the Court will uphold a commissioner’s decision so long as it is in the best interests of the league overall and absent any self-serving motivation.  See Fair and Balanced vs. League Commissioner, 5 F.J. at 2.  There doesn’t appear to be any inherit benefit or advantage gained by the commissioner for making such a decision.  He has the inherent discretion to either grant or deny the request presented to him by One for Altuve.  While he could have opted to maintain a hard stance and force One for Altuve to be stuck with Cueto, the commissioner recognized that there was a technical issue which prevented One for Altuve from making his desired draft selection.  Had the commissioner been made aware of this issue after subsequent draft picks were made, then that could possibly change the analysis.  Since that is a moot point, there is no need to engage in such an analysis.  Based on the foregoing, the commissioner’s reversion of the draft back for One for Altuve’s selection of Paul Goldschmidt is upheld.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

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