A Puig of His Own vs. League Commissioner – 6 F.J. 18 (March 18, 2014) – Fantasy Baseball Draft Dispute

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

A Puig of His Own vs. League Commissioner

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS LEAGUE

Decided March 18, 2014
Cite as 6 F.J. 18 (March 2014)

Factual Background

A fantasy baseball league called the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels League (hereinafter referred to as “DRSL”) is comprised of 14 teams and has been in existence since 2011.  The DRSL is a mixed AL/NL redraft league with a standard 5×5 Rotisserie scoring format.  Statistics are cumulative throughout the course of the season and there are no head to head games

The DRSL’s snake draft was scheduled for Sunday, March 16, 2014 at 10:00 AM EST.  All teams were to draft within the league’s draft room on the host website.  According to the DRSL commissioner, the draft date and time was announced on January 27, 2014.  All GM’s confirmed their acceptance of this date and time and no one expressed any concerns about potential conflicts.

On the day of the draft, the team known as A Puig of His Own (hereinafter referred to as “Puig”) did not log into the draft room by 10:00 AM.  The commissioner and other league members attempted to contact Puig via phone calls, text messages, emails and tweets.   These communicative efforts went unanswered, so the commissioner proceeded with starting the draft at 10:20 AM and set Puig’s team to auto pick.

Procedural History

After the draft concluded at 1:45 PM, Puig contacted the commissioner and informed him that he was called into work at the last minute and was unable to attend the draft.  Puig expressed his displeasure that the commissioner not only went through with the draft, but that he set his team on auto pick which ended up selecting a roster Puig was not satisfied with.

The commissioner informed Puig that he should have reached out to someone beforehand to let the league know he was unable to draft.  In the alternative, the commissioner told Puig that he should have set his own pre-draft rankings if there was a possibility he could get called into work due to the nature of his occupation.

Puig rejected this rationale and has contacted the Court seeking an opinion on whether the commissioner overstepped his authority in handling this situation.

Issue Presented

(1)   Did the commissioner act appropriately setting an absent team on auto pick during the draft?

Decision

The DRSL is not governed by a constitution or written set of rules outside of what is established in the league settings.  As such, there is no policy or procedure in place with respect to handling an issue such as the one presented to the Court.  It is then up to the commissioner to make a decision on how to proceed with the draft given the circumstances.

The commissioner is empowered with many administrative tasks including creating the league’s rules, settings, and guidelines.  Bryan LaHair Club For Men vs. League Commissioner, 4 F.J. 26, 28 (April 2012).  He is also responsible for the unenviable task of scheduling the draft which may not accommodate all league members.  He must do his best to make it work for a majority of the league.  Romophobia vs. The Waterboyz, 4 F.J. 216, 217 (August 2012) (holding that a commissioner should be allowed to honor a league member’s request that he draft for him if that member is unable to participate himself).

The draft is the most important event in any fantasy league and it should be treated with sanctity, fairness, and equity.  It is imperative that any decisions made surrounding the draft be intelligent, objective, and for the benefit of the entire league.  See Mayor Goldie Wilson vs. Balloon Knots, 3 F.J. 164, 166 (September 2011).  While GM’s can modify their rosters during the season through free agent acquisitions and trades, the draft is truly each GM’s best opportunity to lay the foundation for their team through execution of a pre-planned strategy or via impromptu reactions while it is ongoing.

The DRSL commissioner announced the draft date on January 27, 2014 which gave all GM’s plenty of notice.  In the almost two months before the draft, all GM’s, including Puig, had ample opportunity to make contingency plans if there was a possibility that a non-emergent situation could arise.  The Court is unaware of what Puig’s occupation is which required his last minute attention, but it cannot be ignored that Puig failed to alert anyone as soon as he was aware of the conflict.  This responsibility falls on Puig.  Romophobia vs. The Waterboyz, 4 F.J. at 218 (holding that commissioners should have a reasonable expectation that league members will alert them of any possible issues in a timely manner).

It was not fair to the commissioner or the rest of the league that the draft was essentially held hostage by Puig for an extended amount of time.  Puig’s fellow league members gave him the courtesy of multiple calls, texts, emails and tweets to alert him about the draft.  They were under no obligation to do so as each individual GM should be responsible for honoring their commitments and obligations.

After 20 minutes had elapsed with no response from Puig, the commissioner was well within his right to make a decision on how to proceed.  There was no precedent for something like this, nor were there any rules in place to dictate the proper course of action.  That is understandable because commissioners cannot reasonably foresee every possible issue or situation that can arise.  Holding them to such a standard would be unfair.  See Z Wolves, et al. vs. League Commissioner, 3 F.J. 212, 216 (November 2011).

It was ultimately decided that Puig’s team would be set to auto pick which meant he would be awarded the highest ranked player remaining at the time of each of his picks.  This would resolve the problem while allowing the draft to proceed.  The solution proposed by the commissioner was objective, timely and decisive, all of which personify effective leadership in the overall administration of the league.  Fair and Balanced vs. League Commissioner, 5 F.J. 1, 3 (January 2013) (holding that a commissioner’s decision will typically be upheld so long as it is in the best interests of the league overall and absent any self-serving motivation).

It is irresponsible and selfish for Puig to claim he was harmed or prejudiced by the commissioner’s actions.  Of course there are circumstances and scenarios which would justify someone’s unannounced absence from the draft.  But here, being called in to work at the last minute does not satisfy that criteria.  Puig could have alerted someone of his predicament and perhaps gotten the commissioner or someone else to draft for him with his permission.  He could have also set his own rankings on the league’s website if he knew there was a chance he could be called into work.  It was Puig’s responsibility to make these arrangements and he failed to so at his own detriment.  Based on the foregoing, the commissioner’s actions in handling Puig’s team at the draft were appropriate and fair.  Puig’s appeal is denied.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

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