Since 1999, the overall structure of the Old Bridge Fantasy Baseball League has remained the same. It has never been a keeper league, so there has been a fresh draft with a random order selected each and every year. The most drastic structural change the league has ever undergone was expanding from 16 to 18 teams in 2000, the league’s 2nd year. With 16 teams, there were 4 divisions of 4 teams where all division winners and two wild cards from each league made the playoffs. In 2000, I expanded the league to 18 teams and formed 6 divisions of 3 teams each where all division winners and only 1 wild card from each league made the playoffs. It has operated this way since then.
Of course, as with any league that exists over such a long time, there have been changes made to the rules, point values, schedule, roster requirements, finances, hosting websites, etc. I used TQ Stats from 1999-2008 to host my league, and for the most part, it was a great experience. Once TQ Stats was sold to Fanball and the league was transferred onto their server, all hell broke loose. In retrospect, I probably panicked a bit too quickly as Fanball was still working its kinks out. Regardless, after getting an overwhelmingly negative response from my fellow league members, I decided to switch my league over to CBS Sportsline during the 2nd week of the 2008 season. Needless to say, this was a logistical pain in the ass. However, it was a great move because I am very pleased with the services that CBS provides (except they don’t accommodate league formats with 6 divisions, so I have to keep manual standings).
Many rules and procedures that I put in place in 1999 still exist today – either exactly the same or modified over time. One particular rule I always had was that I was the sole authority to approve or disapprove a trade between two teams in the league. Any trade I was involved in would be evaluated and approved/disapproved by my Co-Commissioner. Any trade between me and the Co-Commissioner would be sent to an outside third-party for approval/disapproval. This has not changed, and in fact was modified back in 2000 to include specific criteria in evaluating the trade’s fairness and validity. Another rule that existed since Day 1 was that teams would submit their add/drop preferences to me, and I would sort them all out. If two teams claimed the same free agent, the team with a worse record or that lost the tie-breaker would have priority on the transaction. The rationale behind this was to allow the worse teams to improve themselves to be competitive. After a decade of spending hours every Sunday night sorting out which team got which player, I decided it was necessary to change with the times and embrace the extent of services that CBS offered. Starting in 2009, no longer was I responsible for sorting, entering and distributing weekly transactions. I removed myself from the equation and utilized CBS’ transaction waiver service where it would sort out the priority order and allocate the transactions based on every teams’ electronic submissions. This made my life a LOT easier. So while this system of submitting transactions and allowing teams with the worse records the most priority for free agents, I decided to change things up a bit for the 2010 season. The new process for adding free agents is the Free Agent Auction Bidding where every team is allocated a fantasy budget to be used to bid on free agents. If you have the highest bid, regardless of your record, then you are awarded that free agent. I thought this was something new, fresh and required strategic planning. It adds a spicier element to the process of adding free agents. I also felt it was time to shake things up a bit, and this is as good a way to do it since everyone makes transactions at some point or another (Juan Dixon Your Mouth barely counts for that).
As much as I like to keep things fresh, interesting and innovative, I am also a sucker for history and continuity. While the cast of characters in the OBFBL has changed over the years, the principles and structure of the league have remained the same. There are a dozen people in the league that have been in it for several years. It is just as important to maintain consistency as it is to keep things fresh, which I aim to do every year.
The DL Substitution Rule, which allows teams to sub in a bench player mid-week if a starter goes on the MLB disabled list, has been the subject of controversy and ambiguity several times since its inception in 2008. However, after enduring two years of questions and issues of first impression, I have amended the language in the OBFBL Constitution to hopefully address any and all questions, concerns or issues that may arise. For example, the first two years of this rule only allowed a bench player who is eligible at the same position as the injured player to be substituted. So if you didn’t have a reserve player that qualified at that position, you were sh** out of luck. For the upcoming 2010 season, I have modified this rule to allow teams the flexibility to switch starting players at other positions they qualify and substitute a different bench player.
The point of all of this is that if you are going to be a league commissioner and successfully keep people interested, you need to think outside the box and change with the times. There needs to be rules in place to handle just about any and all circumstances, but you can be creative with those rules to make your league more intriguing. And if not, you can always rely on trash-talking, posting inappropriate pictures on the league website, or snorting cocaine with Ron Washington.