Imagine your fantasy baseball league is getting ready to start its draft, but one of the teams isn’t in the draft room. Phone calls, text messages, emails, tweets, and Facebook posts all go unanswered. What should the commissioner do? This was precisely the scenario of a recent case that was submitted to Fantasy Judgment where a GM no-showed the draft because he was called into work at the last second.
The draft had been scheduled almost two months ago and everyone agreed to the date and time. Eleven of the twelve teams were ready to start, except one – A Puig of His Own (“Puig”). The commissioner waited over 20 minutes before making the executive decision to put Puig on auto draft. Everyone was fine with that, except for Puig.
When Puig complained about this after the draft, the commissioner rationally told him that he should have let someone know he was going into work, made arrangements for someone else to draft for him, or pre-set his rankings. All valid arguments. That didn’t stop Puig from appealing to the Court arguing that the commissioner’s actions were improper.
Commissioners are 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). They are 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.
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 draft which meant he would be awarded the highest ranked player remaining at the time of each of his picks. 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 was 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 (and no, the Court was not made aware of what type of work Puig was called away to do). 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 deemed appropriate and fair, and Puig’s appeal was denied.
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