Besides having some personal medical issues this week (no worries – everything is fine now), it was not a good 7 days to be a fan of the sports teams that I root for. I have become immune and accustomed to disappointment when it comes to my sports allegiances (outside of a couple Giants’ Super Bowl victories over the last couple decades). But generally speaking, I normally don’t have much to root for in terms of my teams’ successes.
Starting last Monday, the news broke that Cliff Lee signed with his “mystery team”, the Philadelphia Phillies. Of course, this was bittersweet since at first I was elated when I heard the Yankees were out of the running for him. Like many others, I assumed this meant that Lee decided to re-sign with the Texas Rangers. But not only did he turn down the two known offers that were made, he actually approached the Phillies and ended up signing with them giving Philadelphia arguably the deepest and most talented starting rotation in baseball. All this means is that any chance the Mets had of winning 5 games against the Phillies in 2011 pretty much went out the window. The Mets were not going to compete for anything this season anyway, especially when the biggest news they have made is signing Ronny Paulino and D.J. Carrasco. But knowing that the already dominant Phillies just added another Cy Young Award winner to their staff for the next 5 years is pretty demoralizing. Every other team in the NL East has made moves and gotten better. The Mets have stood still with their hands in their empty pockets and now may be looking up at the Nationals from the cellar of the division.
So also last Monday, the Giants did win a Monday Night game against the Vikings in Detroit. That was very positive as it put them into a 1st place tie with the Eagles setting up the showdown this past weekend. I think we all know where this is going as the Giants pulled off a monumental, epic, titanic and catastrophic collapse against the Eagles by allowing 28 points in the last 8 minutes of the game. This is easily the worst loss in the Giants’ regular season history. From the breakdowns on offense, defense, special teams, and coaching, it was a team effort to allow the Eagles back into the game and let alone able to win it in regulation. Rookie punter Matt Dodge should be sent out of Dodge after the way he has performed this season and specifically at the end of this game. How and why he kicked the ball in bounds to DeSean Jackson is beyond anyone’s comprehension. But regardless of all that, the Giants still do control their own destiny for the playoffs as they can lock up the wild card by winning their own games. However, how will a collapse like this effect their performance and focus for the next couple weeks? This is where Tom Coughlin’s true grit, guts and value as a coach will shine through. He has to focus his team on next week and forget about what happened against the Eagles. Irrespective of whether the players can do that, the fans probably cannot do so that easily. I was laying in a hospital bed watching that debacle and nearly suffered from cardiac arrest from it. It was painful to watch as the Giants simply shut themselves down in all facets of the game. The sad thing is that in the back of my cynical mind, I still had a bad feeling about the game, even at 31-10 with 8 minutes left. I could just taste it in my mouth that something was going to go wrong, and it sure did.
Besides the Mets and Giants woes, I had to endure a mixed bag of emotions with the Knicks this past week as well. After defeating Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets last Sunday, the Knicks had themselves an 8-game winning streak heading into the biggest home games in a decade against Boston and Miami. The hype was all there as ESPN was prominently featuring the Knicks all week during their renaissance. So last Wednesday night, the Knicks were in control of the Celtics the entire game until the very last few seconds when Paul Pierce pierced the hearts of Knicks’ fans with his beautiful jump shot with .4 seconds left on the clock. As if that wasn’t enough, Amar’e Stoudamire then hit a 3-pointer just after the buzzer went off teasing us all. No matter what the result was, the overall consensus was that the Knicks had arrived and could hang with any team. They played their hearts out and provided one of the best NBA games in recent history. This all led towards the further hype of the game against Miami where LeBron James would make his MSG debut as a member of the Heat. After a wild and passionate first half, the Knicks found themselves tied with Miami at 57-57 and looking like they were going to be competitive all night. Then the 2nd half started and the Knicks proved to be no match for the Heat. Miami pulled away in the 3rd quarter and went on to a blowout victory. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the next night the Knicks went to Cleveland to the play LeBron’s former team and still couldn’t beat the Cavaliers. So after an 8-game winning streak and riding high, the Knicks now lost three in a row in heart-breaking and crushing fashion.
Sports is all about momentum – riding the high’s and surviving the low’s. It is the same for the players who play the games and the fans who cheer for them. This week was definitely a severe low for me personally with my sports allegiances. But after being used to such disappointment, this too will pass. It was just kind of amazing that there was a perfect storm of suck-titude between the Mets, Giants and Knicks. Oh yeah, I was also eliminated from the playoffs in both my fantasy football leagues. When it rains, it pours. Let’s just hope it doesn’t collapse the foam roof on top of my house.
THE SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT
Get Shorty & Iceman v. Joker’s Wild
ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN
Decided October 17, 2010
Cite as 2 F.J. 28 (October 2010)
A fantasy football league called the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (hereinafter referred to as “LOEG”) is comprised of ten (10) teams who compete against each other on a weekly basis during the National Football League (“NFL”) season using the statistics of professional players as a basis for accumulating points in head-to-head competition with opponents to determine which fantasy team won or lost. The LOEG is hosted on the CBSSports fantasy football platform. The league rules regarding setting a starting lineup are delineated in the LOEG Constitution under the Section 3 entitled “Regular Season.” The following is the language of the rule within the LOEG Constitution:
3.4 If an owner fails to set up a legal starting lineup, the CBS recommendations will be used to set it.
At 1:05 PM on October 17, 2010, Get Shorty visited the LOEG website on CBSSports and turned on the “Live Scoring” function to view his opponent’s lineup. He noticed that there was a note from the league stating that his opponent (Joker’s Wild) had an illegal lineup.
At 1:06 PM on October 17, 2010, Get Shorty sent a text message to the owner of team George, who happens to be the father of the team owner of Joker’s Wild. Get Shorty inquired with George as to what was going on since there was apparently an illegal lineup.
At 1:13 PM on October 17, 2010, Iceman visited the LOEG website on CBSSports and also noticed it said Joker’s Wild had 0 points due to an illegal lineup. Iceman noted that one of the bench players on Joker’s Wild’s roster was incorrectly listed as a Flex player instead of a WR (Brandon Lloyd-DEN).
By 1:30 PM, Joker’s Wild changed Brandon Lloyd’s position from Flex to WR, thus making his roster legal. CBSSports allowed Joker’s Wild to make this change without the need for Commissioner override. Iceman speculated that within minutes of George being made aware of his son’s illegal lineup, George called Joker’s Wild and notified him to correct it. Iceman insinuates that this is indicative of potentially ongoing collaboration between George and Joker’s Wild.
In the event Joker’s Wild had an illegal starting lineup, the rules state that the CBS recommendations would be used based on the projected number of points each player had. Coming into the week, Brandon Lloyd was projected to have 10.1 points for the week while DeSean Jackson was projected for 6.6 points. In the case of an illegal starting lineup, Lloyd would be the default option by CBSSports because he was projected to have more points than Jackson.
Under the rules of the LOEG and CBSSports, players can be moved in and out of starting lineups as long as those players’ NFL games have not begun for the week.
The plaintiffs, Iceman and Get Shorty, have filed this complaint arguing that Joker’s Wild had an illegal lineup from the start of the week and should not have been permitted to change his lineup after the 1:00 PM games began. Plaintiffs cited Section 3.4 of the LOEG Constitution as the basis for their complaint. In the complaint sent by the LOEG Commissioner to the Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment on behalf of the plaintiffs, Get Shorty refers to Section 3.4 and recites the language as following:
3.4 If an owner fails to set up a legal starting lineup, the CBS recommendations will be used to set it.
The plaintiffs have conceded that Joker’s Wild, and any other team in the LOEG, can make changes to their respective lineups after the 1:00 PM games have started. The concession is with regard to players whose games have not started yet by the time lineups are amended. Plaintiffs contend that Joker’s Wild’s lineup was illegal from the start and the CBS recommendations should dictate who is in Joker’s Wild’s starting lineup.
The LOEG Commissioner’s official ruling was, in pertinent part:
“It was only a bench player listed as Flex instead of WR that made his lineup illegal. CBS allowed him to fix it on his own without Commissioner override. He had DeSean as the starter prior to gametime. If the move was illegal, CBS would not have permitted it. The official ruling is that Joker’s Wild can play DeSean Jackson today.”
(1) Should the LOEG Commissioner’s decision to permit Joker’s Wild to correct his illegal lineup and keep DeSean Jackson as a starter be upheld?
(2) Is there collusion between George and Joker’s Wild?
The Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment is a strong advocate for having written Constitutions that govern fantasy sports leagues. There are a myriad of reasons why the Court believes having a Constitution in place is the best way to run and maintain a fantasy league. One of the primary reasons behind this rationale is that all league members are aware of the rules and guidelines in place that govern the administration and function of the fantasy league. When a league Commissioner writes out the rules and distributes them to the league, it shifts the burden onto the league members to read, understand, and adhere to the rules that are delineated. If a league member has an issue, question or challenge to one of the rules in the Constitution, they are welcome to raise this with the Commissioner before signing it or agreeing to its codification.
Here, the LOEG Constitution clearly states the rule regarding the consequences of having an illegal starting lineup. As cited before, Section 3.4 of the LOEG Constitution states that “if an owner fails to set up a legal starting lineup, the CBS recommendations will be used to set it.” There is no ambiguity behind the meaning or interpretation of this rule.
In the complaint filed with this Court, plaintiff Get Shorty cited Section 3.4 but misquoted the exact language of the rule. Get Shorty omitted the word “starting” when referring to a legal lineup in his complaint. This omission is crucial in the Court’s decision. Because the language of the rule is clearly stated in the LOEG Constitution, the Court will accept that language of the rule as true and exact. As a result, Get Shorty’s misstatement of the rule will be deemed an error. The issue at hand has to do with a player on Joker’s Wild’s bench being categorized incorrectly as a Flex instead of a WR. There is no dispute that the starting lineup propounded by Joker’s Wild was accurate and proper.
When Joker’s Wild was made aware of this predicament, he went into CBSSports and was able to make the necessary changes to his roster without the need for assistance or approval from the LOEG Commissioner. This took place at some point between 1:15 – 1:30 PM on October 17, 2010 – either way, it was after that day’s games had already started. The fact that the players at issue who were either changed or modified were players whose games had not yet begun when Joker’s Wild made the changes.
The mere fact that the league rule explicitly refers to an illegal starting lineup and there is no dispute as to whether Joker’s Wild’s starters were correct and proper at the time, the Court will easily affirm the LOEG Commissioner’s overall decision. There was no harm or prejudice to either of the plaintiffs because Joker’s Wild’s intent was to start DeSean Jackson, and that is what he did. There was nothing remotely illegal about his starting lineup. If there was an issue with the positional denotation of his bench players, then that issue was resolved when Joker’s Wild went into his roster and made the changes that he was allowed and entitled to make.
A far more critical issue is one that this Court has previously addressed regarding the alleged collusion between George and Joker’s Wild. There have been two prior cases heard by this Court regarding challenges to trades made between George and Joker’s Wild. The nexus of these complaints has been the fact that George is the father of Joker’s Wild. As stated in Jetnuts v. George, et al., the fact that two team owners who are related made a trade is perfectly within the rules as well. That being said, George, as the LOEG Commissioner, must make decisions that are in the best interest of the league and not himself or his son. The fact that the subject issue involved his son and he made his decision which favored his son has led to continued and ongoing allegations of collusion.
As stated in prior litigation involving George and Joker’s Wild:
“the Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment is an advocate for all things that are fantasy sports, and we especially encourage participation in fantasy sports amongst family members, including generational participation. The fact that a father and son are in a league together should not cause or create any additional skepticism unless such skepticism is truly warranted and deserved.”
There have been two prior trades between George and Joker’s Wild that the Court approved due to the fact that the trades were fair and there was no perception of collusion or any other under-the-table dealings between the teams. This complaint further alleges that George gave his son notice of the alleged illegal lineup which allowed him to make the necessary changes before the bench players could not be changed due to the 4:00 PM games starting. There is no concrete or definitive proof that George did in fact provide this notice with such intent. However, the inference can be made. The Court will not go so far as to conclude that there is some form of collusion between George and Joker’s Wild. However, the Court strongly reiterates its prior recommendation to the LOEG Commissioner to deal with this issue publicly so as to maintain the integrity of the league and avoid a complete loss of control.
The Commissioner’s decision to permit Joker’s Wild to keep DeSean Jackson in his starting lineup is affirmed because there was nothing illegal about his starting lineup. Based on the evidence presented, this decision was not made based on a collusive effort between the teams. However, the Court’s concerns and recommendations are noted above.
IT IS SO ORDERED.