Kicking Rocks: The Trade Bully

We all know that bullying is a major problem in social circles and the negative impact it has on the psyche of those at the wrong end of the conflict can be devastating at times. It happens everywhere we look and no matter what the circumstances are, it is a problem that needs to be addressed. There’s bullying in schools, there’s bullying at work and you know what…? There’s bullying in fantasy baseball.

That’s right. Ever been on the receiving end of an over-aggressive league mate who browbeats you to the point where the game no longer feels like a game?  Trade negotiations become such a nightmare that you avoid the phone calls or face-to-face conversations to spare yourself the abuse that comes along with them? I’ve seen it happen and I’ve seen many a person drop out of a league because one guy, and in some cases multiple guys, feel that the only way to get what they want is by bulldozing. Well, they say that the only way to deal with a bully is to show strength and stand up to them, so this is me fighting the good fight and telling you trade bullies out there that this is your official notice. You think it’s a harmless tactic to get a deal done? I say it stops right here.

Now some of you might be reading this and thinking that I am exaggerating here. There’s no bullying going on. There are no threats being made. It’s all just harmless talk. Well, I’m sorry to say that those who feel that way are usually the ones who are doing the bullying; not the ones who are on the receiving end. It’s kind of like having body odor or really bad breath. You can’t smell yourself, but those around you are needlessly punished.

If you want to make a deal, just make an offer. You don’t have to give me your fantasy resume or explain to me how you know what my team needs. It’s my team and I will run it how I run it. If you don’t like the way I run it, that’s okay. It’s not your team. If I choose to value pitching more than hitting, that’s my prerogative. I don’t need, nor do I really want, you to tell me how to play this game. The wonderful thing about fantasy baseball is that numerous people have been successful at it using a variety of different strategies. If you’ve been successful in our league using a particular one, that’s great. Congratulations. Mazel tov! It doesn’t mean that I should follow your lead.

If I do not answer your email within two or three days, kindly send me another email. Or call me. Or text. But not all three. We all have lives outside of this game, so if you don’t get a response in a reasonable amount of time, a gentle nudge will suffice. Perhaps I have something serious going on at work or at home. What is a priority for you is not necessarily a priority for me. A barrage of emails every few hours or a string of missed calls on my phone or a deluge of unanswered texts is not going to inspire me to reach back out to you and want to make a deal. And I’m certainly not going to respond to you berating me for not responding to the first message. You have my sincerest apologies with regard to the fact that I am not doing things on your timetable, but sometimes other things need to come first.

If I do not counter your offer, one of two things is in play. Either I am busy at the moment and don’t want to leave you hanging or your offer was ridiculously insulting. Do not come back to me with the exact same deal. Give me just a smidgen of credit here. I’m not saying you have to take no for an answer, but there’s a reason it’s called a trade negotiation. Sending me the same deal over and over again with the hope that maybe I’ll make a mistake or just accept it to get you to leave me alone is kind of a dick move. Either change up the deal or get a hold of me — again email, call OR text — and ask me what I don’t like about it and see if we can negotiate an agreement.

And speaking of negotiation, have you ever looked up the word in the dictionary? Seriously. Have you? I don’t care if we’re five minutes away from the trade deadline, but your attempts to push me into a deal are going to fall on deaf ears from now on. If I say no, I mean no. If I say no and counter, the ball is now in your court. If you don’t like my counter, then fine. Counter back. Don’t counter with the original offer. I already said no. If you don’t want to counter my counter, then we’re done. Have a great night. I’ll see you at work tomorrow. There is no need to latch onto my ear like a terrier on a bone and continue trying to push your stupid deal on me. If you’re not willing to negotiate at all, then we have nothing to discuss further. Go bother someone else.

There are countless ways a trade bully comes at his prey and while it should be up to the victim to take a stand, sometimes the dynamics involved make it difficult. Maybe it’s a work league and the person being victimized feels uncomfortable about telling a colleague or boss that they’re being an a-hole. Maybe there’s family involved and the person on the receiving end doesn’t want to make waves because that brother-in-law act like enough of a schmuck already at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Whatever the case may be, the victim is just that — the victim.

Recognize your behavior, trade bully, and change your tactics. Your days of bulldozing the league are over. If you don’t want to change, that’s fine, but maybe then you should go find another league. We don’t want to deal with you anymore. The ball is now in your court and sorry, this is not a negotiation.

 

 

 




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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com


55 Responses to “Kicking Rocks: The Trade Bully”

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  1. Steve Stein says:

    Stop making excuses. You’re just worthless and weak. I hope I get in a league with you – I’ll kick your ass, you whiner.

    :-)

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  2. JMo37 says:

    In free public leagues I just post the horrible offer and the insane reasoning behind it and hopefully that allows everyone to be aware of particular manager’s tactics. Especially when the trades are so one sided that they are almost laughable.

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    • scotman144 says:

      I like this tactic and a close cousin to it: Responding calmly with why the offer is terrible and then posting the (usually) expletive ridden response received for bothering to explain your reasoning. :)

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    • pepper says:

      I’ve never seen any good come from this tactic. “Shaming” someone generally just makes enemies and always leads to excessive drama. A bully usually enjoys conflict. Why give a gigantic opening for conflict and drama. This is just a game. Just say “no, thanks”. Even a bad offer gives you information that might be usable down the road. I’ll often explain to that person why I didn’t take the offer, but again, keeping the “insults my intelligence” type of response from your explanation is both professional and far more likely to get a trade done later.

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      • SKob says:

        Making enemis with the ‘bully’ on a public site is actually pretty effecive. A few blowups and he doesn’t want to waste his time fighting the whole league about if the offer was remotely fair. Bullies don’t want to explain themselves to everyone.

        I was even successful in getting an arrogant smartass to stop sending me offers at all once. I tried to make nice after a while and now have to deal with long emails about players he likes and why they are not worth anything. so I should make a ‘fair’ offer… where he doesn’t really give up anything! This is stage 1… I shoud have known better. A simple rejection is not an option. I litterally cannot explain myself to this person without getting ridiculed about how off my evaluation is. I get ‘quotey marks’ and sarcasm about players I like a lot on my team because they’re really not as good as think they are and I should give them to him for less than I am actually asking for.

        Why did I make nice?

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      • Billy says:

        I don’t know about the world of fantasy baseball since I don’t play. I come from the fangraphs section of the site and read this because psychology interests me.

        I saw the statement “A bully usually enjoys conflict.”

        That’s partially true, but only when it goes well for them. You have to put up enough of a fight that it was no longer worth their while. Sometimes this means getting beat up or taking one for the team. But most bullies only enjoy bullying if it’s easy for them and allows them to dominate. Even if you lose the fight, making it hard enough usually means the bully won’t come back. Sure, there’s the occasionally bully who has some guts and a vengeful steak, and these individuals are far more dangerous. But most of them are more cowardly.

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    • Cybo says:

      I miss tradebashers for this kind of stuff. Like the dude that sends you a terrible offer then gets offended you didn’t counter. I don’t see this kind of stuff so much as bullying. I think “bully” is the new hot word now days. Anytime anyone asserts themselves someone is usually quick to label them a bully. People need to stop being so sensitive I feel. Wussification of America and all that….

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      • Billy says:

        Ok, so I agree with you that some of this stuff in the article doesn’t sound so much like bullying. Some of it would qualify to me more as pestering than bullying. And I agree that the word is overused these days.

        To me, it crosses the line when it starts to become distinctly unpleasant or the application of pressure or use of power becomes involved. Really, it’s when you start doing things that can have a negative impact on another individual for your own gain. There’s most certainly a difference between asserting ourselves and being a bully. Sometimes people have sensitivities we don’t understand, but that doesn’t mean it’s illegitimate. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn’t. We simply need to care enough to do our best to distinguish between the two and not lazily dismiss it.

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      • Cybo says:

        I totally agree with you. But true “bullying” would be repetitive, systematic degradation for the bully’s amusement or some other personal gain. Dominance or whatever you wanna call it. Just being a jerk doesn’t make you necessarily a bully also. Sometimes people may just be having a bad day and may not realize how they’re coming across. If people are being rude or irrational I just do my best to ignore them and move on. Don’t need to be best buds with all the owners in all my leagues but I do need to trade and negotiate with them on occasion. Expect the respect you give. That’s how I try to live.

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  3. donaldkoch says:

    I don’t think I am a trade bully, but there have been a couple of people over the year that have complained that I explain too much in my offers. I like to explain my reasoning behind an offer to guide the negotiation. What do people think, is this bad?

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    • JMo37 says:

      A simple stat comparison and maybe category comparison for a equal trade , otherwise let the other guy figure it out.

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    • nate says:

      I think this is OK. I usually try to state what type of stats or position I want to improve for my team and what area I thought they might want some improvement in. I figure this at least let’s them know where I’m coming from, and generally seems to increase the odds that their counter-offer at least targets the reasons I wanted a trade in the first place.

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    • rzt101 says:

      It depends. Some people in their explanation write negatively about the very player they are trying acquire from you. For example: “I like him, but I don’t value him as others do”. That’s fine, if you don’t like his value, don’t make an offer for him. Look elsewhere. I am not going to go to a BMW dealership and say “I like Beemers, but don’t want to pay the price everyone else is paying.”

      What I like to here is the difference between Player A and B is covered by player C. Or Something of that ilk. That way you get a sense of the other owner’s values and helps with a counter. I don’t like stats since there is so many out there and can always be cherry-picked.

      Conversely, I hate when I make an offer, the owner rejects but follows with a long dissertation of the state of his team.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        Well your beamer example isn’t the best. That’s an effective negotiating tactic for getting your car price down. Maybe not in that direct a manner, but if the salesman knows that you’ll happily sign with Toyota or Volkswagon if they make the better all-around offer, then you’ll get a better price from him.

        The same goes for fantasy baseball. Let’s say it’s the offseason and I have $22 Bryce Harper on the trade block. I would trade him straight up for $21 Chris Davis, but if I know the owner is deadset on acquiring him, then I’ll also ask for $29 Jose Bautista, $16 Alex Rios, and $11 Greg Holland. And sure, I’ll throw in $36 Justin Upton and $10 Oscar Taveras. This deal actually happened this year (and with a published fantasy guru no less). If he hadn’t said that he was dead set on acquiring Harper from me, I would have settled for much less.

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      • rzt101 says:

        Huh?

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    • Cap'n Scrappy says:

      It’s annoying as heck to me. Either the reasoning is good and I agree with it, so I didn’t need to be read someone else’s explanation or it’s total bs that’s trying to sell me on a bad trade and I get annoyed that someone thinks I can be sold on a crap offer with some used car sales pitch.

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    • Imtheo says:

      I agree with you 100%. I think it makes sense to send a detailed note about your reasoning for making an offer. If nothing else it shows that you put serious thought into the offer and it deserves a thoughtful evaluation of the trade from your fellow owner. When I get a trade offer that has no message or explanation for why the offer was made, I always get the feeling that that owner is just throwing shit against the wall to see what will happen.

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  4. jdbolick says:

    Does this mean I shouldn’t have posted “Please don’t offer me Cody Asche for Buster Posey” as my trading block message after another owner offered me Cody Asche for Buster Posey?

    I am actually fascinated by the psychology of trading but don’t know how you would go about analyzing it empirically. I’ve always been put off by the “start with an insulting low-ball offer in hopes that someone will accept it, then slowly move towards a middle ground if they counter” approach, which seems to be pretty common. I tend to start right from the beginning with what I view as a fair offer, which means I’m easy to trade with for people of similar ilk and viewed as extremely stubborn by the aforementioned low-ballers who prefer back and forth negotiation.

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    • Jason B says:

      That’s the trade approach I strongly prefer also. I won’t offer something that I wouldn’t be willing to accept on either side depending on what my needs are.

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    • TheGrandslamwich says:

      When someone tries to start with an insultingly low-ball offer with me I either tell them to get serious or stop wasting my time, or give them an insultingly low-ball counter offer. It depends on how I’m feeling.

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      • Jason B says:

        Agreed. If I am made a D-level offer, I respond in kind. That was the golden rule as given by Jesus: make good fantasy trade offers to get fantasy trade offers.

        (Maybe paraphrasing A LITTLE. With all the translations, who’s to say?)

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    • Mike says:

      The problem is, those low-ball offers are often rewarded when they are made to the right (i.e., uninformed) person. So if you have a terrible, low-ball offer accepted even once a season, you’re encouraged to continue the practice.

      I used to feel the same way as you about low-ball offers in general. That is, until I started making what I considered to be ludicrously low offers for things in real life (houses, cars) and having them accepted. My personal philosophy now is to make my offers more and more ridiculous.

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  5. TheViper says:

    Next, you need to do a piece about the “Passive-Aggressive” owner.

    This is the owner who simply chooses to ignore your trade offer. And despite the fact that you see him updating his roster regularly and checking on his team, he waits until the trade offer expires, without any counter or explanation.

    He can also be the type of owner who will find a way to deliberately delay you in trade talks at the trade deadline, knowing that he has nothing to lose at this point, but you do.

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    • gbaked says:

      I always find this very frustrating.

      When I send an initial trade offer, I assume its not what the other team wants and is generally favoring me. But I would expect a counter offer (I see you want Player X, and to get him I would need player Y). Or just turn it down and say you are not interested in trading that person at all.

      But when people leave it hanging, and you have no idea what they are thinking is very frustrating.

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      • rzt101 says:

        Leave it hanging is actually a good strategy against bullies, of course once identified. I usually respond to all my trades rather quickly. But if its ‘that guy’, ignoring is an effective tool. Some people feel bolstered by a reaction, however negative.

        But I do know what you mean. usually I cancel my offer within 72 hours. if by chance they were on vacation or occupied, they do have a notification in their email.

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    • Jovins says:

      He’s hoping one of the players you asked for gets hurt, in which case he can quickly accept.

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      Y’all are probably trade bullies :)

      I find that a minority of owners just want to manage their team. Another subset are afraid to expose their lack of knowledge and/or don’t want to be ripped off. If somebody ignores your offers and you know they are fair, then just cross them off your trade partner list.

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  6. Freddy T says:

    Bender is the Lorax of fantasy baseball

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  7. scotman144 says:

    Amen brother. I think the “trade bully” can also show himself in any league rules/rulings discussions. He’ll be the one with an angry wall of text ready for your inbox/the league chatbox etc. every time anything may not favor his team.

    I often wonder if this type is so afraid to lose that they actually would rather have a less fun/competitive league just for a higher chance of winning….

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    • stonepie says:

      there’s a guy like this in my league. wanted me out because most of my trades ended up benefiting me much more than the other guys. just about everyone else in the league said they were fair enough.

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      • Jason B says:

        If you’re the one reaping huge benefits from lopsided trades, he (and maybe the rest of the league!) may think the bully is…you?

        Not saying you are, but he may view you through the same prism that you view him. And it can be frustrating when you’re holding onto a lead in a league when another team catches up to you by trading 70 cents for a dollar, over and over again.

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  8. Eric says:

    It is ridiculous that someone can feel insulted by a bad fantasy baseball trade offer.

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  9. Emcee Peepants says:

    The version my league is this guy that sends multiple variations at once of a (one-sided) trade at once in the hopes of annoying you into submission. At one point this off-season I had 7 different offers from him for Bogaerts all sent within 20 minutes of each other. If you don’t respond within in a couple hours, he will withdraw them all and resend new ones. He follows up with emails and texts. None of the trades are anything a sane person would ever accept. I wish he was dead.

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  10. Cap'n Scrappy says:

    I think the biggest problem with being a person who proposes lopsided trades is on that person’s end. I might get a little annoyed, sure, but I’ll get over it. The problem for the other guy is that I’m far less likely to look to him as a trade partner in the future.

    If I know someone has offered me really lopsided trades in the past, especially if they’ve done it more than once, is that I’m far less likely to propose something reasonable to him. If you offer one lopsided deal, that’s fine, but if you do it again or just reject my counter-offer with no reply, then I start to think that you are really only interested in a trade that’s a slam dunk win for you. If you won’t even make an effort to give something to get something, I’ll look to all the other teams in the league before I come back to yours.

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    • jdbolick says:

      I would argue that the biggest problem with proposing lopsided trades is that sometimes they’re successful, especially with the owners that regularly finish toward the bottom of the league and don’t care. That swings races, creates bad feelings, and encourages the offender to keep sending more lopsided proposals.

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  11. Dave says:

    You sound worse than whatever bully you play with.

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    • Cap'n Scrappy says:

      It’s not out of spite. If you do it once, I’ll think you’re just starting at an extreme and I’ll try to bring you down. But if you do it a bunch of times, I’ll think your evaluations of the players are off and you actually think you are offering reasonable trades and I’ll stop trying to trade with you because our values are way out of line.

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  12. Jacks says:

    Try being in a league that started in our early high school years 30 plus years ago. There’s so much history, so many decades long memories and grudges it’s damn near impossible to have a rational trade discussion with anyone. You screwed me 9 years ago on this trade for a forgotten player so I’ll never engage with you on a serious level again.

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  13. scotman144 says:

    Remember when Bill Simmons used to end his mailbags with:

    “yup….these are my readers”?

    I recently had an owner flip out and call another an [expletive deleted] because he was CC’d on an e-mail he didn’t want to be CC’d on…..

    “yup….these are the owners in my league”

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  14. James says:

    Two tips:

    1. Run every trade proposal or trade idea before you make it by other people not in your league (join a forum or something). This helps you get perspective and relieves some of the pressure to make a deal.

    2. Give people a reason to trade with you. Last year, I was in 4th (last playoff spot) and traded midseason with the 5th place team even though we were rivals (Jones for Cain). The reasoning I gave him? “The 3rd place manager is an idiot who has gotten lucky despite mismanaging his team. We deserve to make the playoffs more than that piece of shit.” (This guy was also not well liked for his trade bullying.) I finished in first and the other team squeaked into the playoffs in 4th. The other guy finished 5th.

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  15. daniel says:

    In my keeper league (14 teams, 9 keepers), I traded last night @ the deadline Jansen, Samardjzia, Napoli, and a pick downgrade of only 2 picks (15th overall for 17th overall) for Carlos Gomez.

    Napoli and JS were not being kept by me, as I have at worst the 2nd best keeper base in our league. So I basically traded Jansen and a 2 pick downgrade for Mike Trout Lite.

    Was it being a bully? Or, to quote Rounders, “its immoral to let a sucker keep his money”. This guy last year traded Mike Trout in a more lopsided deal (not to me) — and in our league we have no limit on how long to keep a player!!! So he gave away 2 of the top 7 6-cat monsters in about 6 months.

    It’s actually not THAT a bad a trade for him since his team is lost and needs lots of parts, it’s just that on my end, it is highway robbery. 6 cat h2h monster for a closer (we have AVG and OPS).

    My point is a lot of times people in my league claim “Bully!” but the truth is there are 3-4 guys who always make smart moves and 3-4 who are clueless…I proposed, he countered, a re-countered, he agreed. No long sermons by me on why he HAD to make it. And yet, today, I get emails from managers saying “Daniel up to his old tricks again”. Anyone else could have fleeced him if they wanted to.

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  16. Bill says:

    “If I do not counter your offer, one of two things is in play. Either I am busy at the moment and don’t want to leave you hanging or your offer was ridiculously insulting.”

    Personally I believe that all offers should at least be replied to. Perhaps especially “ridiculously insulting” ones.

    First of all it keeps league communication moving, and is at the very least (IMO) discourteous to ignore anyone in a league you willingly joined. If you joined a league expecting to interact with other people, I think that everyone needs to meet certain minimum requirements on that front. Replying to all inquiries and offers, eventually… – even if not a full counter – I would say is that minimum.

    Secondly, as it pertains to the topic, it is important to assert yourself where others treat you as weak. If you want to play Sun Tzu headgames and tender this perception, have at it, though I am not sure how that helps you in trades. You don’t need to rationalize your answer, but you need to call out the behavior you feel needs correction.

    Finally, an “insulting offer” very often comes from the other person’s ignorance – not rudeness – and even if you don’t want to educate them on the finer details, a simple “sorry, no, you’re way off” can bear fruit in the future.

    I have in the past countered terrible offers with equally terrible offers, but that doesn’t get anyone anywhere. Ignoring the terrible offer guy has, at best, resulted in that person being isolated in the trade world. This doesn’t strike me as good for a fun league.

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  17. Bob's your uncle says:

    As a commissioner of a long standing keeper league, while I do not believe we have any bullies (luckily), I find people like to complain about other people’s trades, and it is mostly due to differing valuation. I have before had two managers complain to me about the same trade, each claiming one side totally screwed over the other. In my league seeing others completed trades generally changes my perception of who to trade with more than any offers I might receive.

    As for the question of explaining an offer, I generally go silent on their player, other than that I want him. Talking him down won’t work (everyone can see through that) and talking him up is dumb. That said I do try to provided a very brief explanation as to why I thought my players might help their team so they see I am not just throwing stuff at the wall, hoping it sticks.

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  18. rjspears says:

    I have a guy in my league who thinks everyone is trying to take advantage of him and is snarky and aggressive when given a deal. I engaged him this pre-season and he didn’t like my offer and came back with a snarky comment. I didn’t come back offended. I explained my position and said that negotiations usually start with an advantageous position and work down from there.

    When it came down to bargaining, he wasn’t willing do make a deal that was good for me, so I went to another team and made a deal. Then he came back at me and was offended that I didn’t make a deal with him — like I was obligated to make a trade with him because we had started negotiations. I just let it go, but it did frustrate me.

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  19. Jay says:

    Here os the way fantasy trading should be conducted. If you are made an offer and don’t think it will help you, repsond with a “thanks for the offer, but no. Feel free to get back to me with another offer. Good Luck.” Or you could counter. I hate the geeks who have to explain why the offer was substandard. We all know the players. We all know who is good and who is not. Owners who go into this long statistical breakdown of the deal and the reasons why I should or shouldn’t take an offer drive me nuts. I am in a several leagues, some for over 20 years and they are 20 team, 18 etc. Very competitive. Everyone knows the players, non players and prospects. Why an owner thinks he has to educate me or tell me the error of my thought process is extremely annoying and counterproductive. There are owners I refuse to deal with or even respond to.

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  20. James R. says:

    What ticks me off about a offer is that the other team doesn’t even consider what you need and could possibly go for. They just offer whatever garbage they want to get rid of for quality. Then they take that same stuff and find another team that accepts his ( quantity over quality) crap and he ends up being rewarded. And the same stuff goes on and on, year after year.

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