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Kicking Rocks: The C Word

They say that a person’s true colors are often revealed during high-pressure situations and with both the MLB and your league’s trade deadlines rapidly approaching, this is about as high-pressure as it gets for fantasy owners during the season. The haves and the have-nots have separated within the standings and those who are in contention for their league title are caught in a seemingly high-stressed dogfight with some fierce competitors. Trade talk is abundant and the days can be filled with boatloads of anxiety, especially when your competition makes a deal that could either vault them past you in the standings or extend the lead they may already have over you. And while many of you are more than capable of rolling with the punches, there are numerous who are exposed as both petty and immature, no better than a petulant child who takes his ball and goes home when things don’t go his way during the game.

How many times have you received that ridiculous phone call or email from that guy in your league who freaks out whenever a competitor makes a trade that could hurt him in the standings? His diatribe is as aggravating as it is whiny and all too often it spurs on an email war that floods your inbox with an annoying back-and-forth verbal assault that easily finds its way to going too far. He deems every trade made during the year, save for his own of course, as moronic, egregiously lopsided or worse…collusive. It’s one thing to lobby against a trade based solely on its merits, but when you start throwing around the word collusion…the dirtiest nine-letter word in fantasy sports…it takes things to a whole different level; a level that has no place in what is supposed to be just a game.

By definition, the word collusion means, “a secret agreement, especially for fraudulent or treacherous purposes,” and by accusing someone in your league of it, your are flat-out calling them a cheat. That’s a pretty serious claim and one that should never be taken lightly. The problem, however, is that the accusation is as overused as it is inflammatory and in nearly every case, it is both unfounded and untrue.

If you’re in a keeper league and the guy in third place trades Billy Hamilton, Michael Pineda and an eighth-round pick to the guy in last for an overpriced Matt Moore and Kevin Gregg, you may not like it as the second place team, but at face-value, it is a fair deal. Your opinion of a player’s worth might be different, but Hamilton is still considered the top speed prospect out there, Pineda has strong potential in 2014, Moore probably won’t be kept because of cost constraints and Gregg is….well…..Gregg. The deal works for both parties and seems to be 100-percent fair based solely on its merits. By crying collusion, you’re saying that these two league owners have a secret deal working where future monies or favors will be given in exchange for participating in the current deal which is a pretty serious accusation.

Overreacting to deals with cries of collusion is, sadly, something we see all the time. Maybe not in leagues with bragging rights at stake, but any league where there is some type of monetary incentive, you somehow always end up with one guy who flies off the deep end because he is blinded by the money. Maybe the entrance fee is actually too high for him. Maybe he thought he was going to win and spent the money before he actually had it. Whatever the case may be, his behavior tends to live on the irrational side and a once fun and enjoyable fantasy league turns into a heated argument where friendships end up being lost.

If you truly believe that there are people in your league who would so overtly cheat to win, well then you need to get out of that league immediately. If they’re people you don’t personally know, then shame on you for putting in money in an uncontrolled situation as league rules and an honor system don’t work unless you or someone in your league can personally vouch for each member. Learn your lesson and move on.

If these are friends of yours, and you believe them to be cheating, then you either need to raise your standards for whom you believe to be a friend or realize that you may actually be the problem and not them. Busting out an accusation of collusion is a very serious thing and when it comes to friends, you better be a thousand percent sure that it’s true before you go dragging their name through the mud. It is not something you are going to be able to take back so you better be sure. If you’re right, well then you’ve exposed a person for the [choose your own expletive for here] that they are and probably helped out several others in your league. But if you’re wrong, well then you’re just the lonely crybaby in search of a new group of friends.