THE SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT
FlemishUSA v. League Commissioner
ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE COUCH POTATOES UNITE FANTASY BASEBALL LEAGUE
Decided October 24, 2010
Cite as 2 F.J. 35 (October 2010)
The plaintiff, FlemishUSA, is a participant in a fantasy baseball league called The Couch Potatoes Unite (hereinafter referred to as “CPU”). CPU is a fantasy league based on the Major League Baseball playoffs and is hosted on website located at www.fantasypostseason.com. The complaint is devoid of the following information: number of teams in the league, point scoring system, structure and style of the league, roster limitations, rules and guidelines, and names and contact information of the other members of the league.
The plaintiff alleges that during the league’s draft, the Commissioner manually re-set the draft order on several occasions. This has been confirmed by the website’s administrator who provided testimony stating that the league’s Commissioner did in fact make such changes, including giving himself the last pick of the first round. The plaintiff asserts that the Commissioner was able to draft several prolific players, including many of the upper-tier pitchers that were available.
After the draft was completed, the plaintiff and other members of the league realized what had happened, and as a result, they attempted to make some trades to balance out the league. The plaintiff admits that some of these proposed trades made little sense and were not fair or even. The Commissioner blocked some of these proposed trades which were nonsensical and uneven. However, after the Commissioner was made aware that the team owners suspected foul play in the management of the league, the Commissioner began approving trades with less scrutiny.
Prior to the start of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series between the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies on October 23, 2010, FlemishUSA made changes to his lineup including the placement of all New York Yankees onto his bench. He subsequently inserted Ryan Howard (1B-PHI), Chase Utley (2B-PHI), and Mike Sweeney (1B-PHI) into his starting lineup. However, after the game had started, FlemishUSA checked his lineup and noticed that Howard, Utley and Sweeney were all on his bench. Plaintiff did not provide any documentation or proof of his lineup submission.
Plaintiff claims that the Commissioner intervened and changed his lineup based on his allegedly suspicious actions during the draft and his self-serving, arbitrary decisions regarding trades.
The site administrator for www.fantasypostseason.com provided testimony regarding the plaintiff’s allegations with respect to the issues with FlemishUSA’s lineup:
“With respect to specifically the issues with your bench. On our site, league commissioners cannot influence which players are on your bench. However if you made a recent trade or free agent changes the site may have adjusted your lineup to maintain a valid legitimate roster. So whereas Yahoo puts all acquired players on the bench our site finds a valid combination of players and sets a lineup. Now while we thought this was a good thing, it turns out that it has confused some of our members and we are going to change that behavior as soon as the mlb playoffs end. In any case, we can get you points for the players that were benched for yesterday’s game. Can’t say for certain that you got bit by an auto-adjustment situation but we can address that. Not an issue.”
(1) Should Flemish USA be awarded points for Ryan Howard and Chase Utley?
(2) What, if any, action should be taken against the league Commissioner for changing the league’s draft order?
1. SHOULD FlemishUSA BE AWARDED POINTS FOR RYAN HOWARD AND CHASE UTLEY?
Based on the site administrator’s response to the issue of players being placed on a team’s bench after making free agent acquisitions or trades, the Court will defer to the owner of the website to handle the issue. The site administrator offered an explanation for what likely happened and has also offered to resolve the issue by providing the points requested for by the plaintiff. The Court will not intervene with such a resolution, especially because there is no tangible proof that the league Commissioner did in fact alter the plaintiff’s lineup.
2. What, if any, action should be taken against the league Commissioner for changing the league’s draft order?
The Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment advocates for league Commissioners to have a certain amount of authority and autonomy to run and administer fantasy sports leagues. This is because being the Commissioner of a fantasy league is a thankless job that invites drama, controversy, and second-guessing. On the other hand, the Court also reciprocally expects league Commissioners to honor these respected positions by utilizing, enforcing, and adhering to rules and etiquette that govern the league. Even in a league where there are no written rules or guidelines, there are general competition standards which are assumed and expected to be honored.
When conducting a fantasy sports league draft, the order of the draft is either announced before the day of the draft or immediately before its start. Unless there are rules permitting the trading of draft picks between teams, the draft order is set as it was picked (either randomly or based on the previous season’s results) and should not be changed. The site administrator provided confirmation that the league Commissioner did in fact alter the draft order on three occasions. However, he ended up giving himself the last pick of the draft. Since the plaintiff did not provide the draft results or the rosters of each team, the Court will not speculate as to the strengths or weaknesses of the draft positions that each team had. Additionally, the Court will not make any judgment as to the benefits or detriments to drafting last in the first round because no evidence has been offered regarding the specific rules or scoring system of the league.
The Court strongly frowns upon league Commissioners arbitrarily making decisions that do not benefit the league as a whole. To modify the draft order without consulting the other league members or offering any explanations is the antithesis of what is considered in the best interests of the league. However, the draft has been completed and the league has been well underway since then. If the league members did not protest at the time or make any demands for reimbursement in exchange for remedying the issue, than the plaintiff and other league members have waived their rights to bring these allegations and obtain some sort of compensation or injunction. The Court recommends that the plaintiff and other league members reconsider joining a league where this particular Commissioner is running it. No matter what league the plaintiff joins in the future, he should make sure there is a governing document which outlines all of the league’s rules, and there should also be a process of checks and balances to prevent a Commissioner from having unlimited autonomy in his decision-making authority.
The Court hereby decides that site administrator’s handling of the lineup submission issue will be upheld, and that no action should be taken against the Commissioner for modifying the draft order.
IT IS SO ORDERED.