Taking time to give thanks

On this final day of the 2011 fantasy baseball season, I first want to take the opportunity to thank our brilliant, devoted, and wonderfully engaging readers and social media friends and followers. I know that I, for one, am not always able to be as active in our ongoing dialogues as I wish to be, but know that your engagement is valued and appreciated.

And of course, best of luck to all of you whose pursuit of a 2011 championship has come down to the final day of the season. It is all any participant—”expert” or lay drafter—can ask to be in it to the end with a legitimate chance at glory. Make sure you pretreat any stainable items before giving yourself the Yoo-Hoo shower.

Also, please remember—there is no offseason at THT Fantasy. We’ll be back at it with plenty of keeper talk, player evaluation, draft strategy, and league design advice throughout in preparation for next season. So, don’t be a stranger!

Since I’m in a thankful mood today, I’d like to share an experience I had and decision I made that I hope can be an example to our readers—in spirit at least. As I’ve often stated here, and anybody who reads Michael Stein’s “Fantasy Judgment” columns knows well, being the commissioner of your league is all too often a thankless job. Being commish confers no unique benefits or competitive advantages in a league, but it does position you as susceptible to the projection of angst from those having disappointing seasons and as the arbiter of disputes—a role, which by definition will upset some. Earlier this week, I did a nice deed for my commish, and while in no am I implying you should do something akin, sending some recognition the way of the commish, even a simple thanks for running this thing email, is a polite, sensitive, and classy gesture.

This season has not been one of my all-around most successful, but I did have a run of dominance in one league that would go down as either my best or second best season I’ve ever had in any league, of any format. This was in my roto-H2H hybrid league that I pioneered design-wise, but of which I did not act as commissioner. That league almost collapsed before it ever got off the ground. Being H2H based, it required an even number of teams. Just a few days before the draft, we saw one of our owners drop out, endangering the very existence of the league. Our commish scurried to find a replacement—to a medium stakes league with an experimental scoring format that also used a mix of traditional and non-traditional categories. He pulled a replacement out of his hat at the last possible moment. I went on to dominate this league mercilessly, taking the most weekly payouts, winning all but two regular season match-ups, and finishing more than 30 games ahead of the second place team—the commish’s team. I am now matched up with him in the finals.

During the semis we were out together putting a few back and he offered me a proposition. We were both under the assumption that the tiebreaker this league would be one random category, so he asked me how I felt about how making an agreement that if we were to meet in the finals and tie, we’d split the money regardless of the arbitrary default criteria. We didn’t exactly shake on it because we got drunk and forgot about it, but the seed was planted.

Coming into Tuesday, we were tied and the match-up was set up in a way that many of the categories weren’t likely to be flipped, but pursuing the ones that were put more at risk. So, I was deciding whether to play for the draw or go for the win. At that point, I decided to look up the tiebreaker, knowing we hadn’t actually made any agreement regarding a tie. I thought HR was going to be the deciding category, as that’s what it had been in a few previous leagues. I was getting crushed in homers this week. But, to my surprise, Yahoo! had changed the default and the tiebreaker was head to head record during the season. This means that a tie would be a win for me. I’m sure the commish didn’t know this when we originally talked about it—he would not try to pull a fantasy-related fast one on me, and since the tiebreaker was set as the default, I doubt he even paid attention to it when setting up the league.

So, we spoke again today about splitting the prize in the case of a tie. I was tempted to agree to this, despite firmly holding the tiebreaker. The one thing that gave me pause, though, was a worry about the way it would impact our incentives. The rules say that he is currently losing, and it benefits me if he plays that way. He’s the one on the ropes now, and I do not want him to be able to play for a draw—I deserve that advantage, and the increased likelihood he goes belly up and loses outright (our pitching rate stats are both stellar. He’d have to pitch more to flip the one he needs, but is more likely to give up one he has if he tries). So, I told him today, simply, “play to win.”

I have however, made the decision that if we do end up tied, after playing to win (well him playing to win, I may play for the draw now), then I will split the winnings from the finals with him.

This does seem a bit more generous than it actually is. Our league is built to capitalize on the excitement of H2H but minimize its randomness, so this series is only worth about 10 percent of the total point total (half was given to weekly roto winners and most of the rest to regular season champ and runner up).

One other reason I was tempted to be generous here is that the replacement he found had a year that would make him an honorary Lohan on the personal side of things. This owner stiffed our commish on dues. Normally I’d be furious, but this guy had some really bad luck, made some really bad decisions, and his team became inactive for the last weeks of the season because he checked into rehab. Yikes—tough situation.

So, after heroically saving the league, our commish was rewarded by inheriting a debt. Normally, I’m fairly stoic when commishes complain about deadbeats; collecting entry fees is part of the job, thus non-payments are dual failures. However, given the circumstances I’ve outlined here, and the fact that I’ve already won several times my entry fee, I figured why not throw the commish a bone, since nobody ever appreciates commishes properly.

The irony here is that our commish is kind of abrasive—perhaps no more of a pretentious know-it-all than I am, but perhaps a less tactful one—and I’m not sure he’d do the same for me. But, maybe that’s what makes appreciation genuine. And, perhaps I’ll just beat him outright and laugh as he strolls to the poor house anyway.

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  1. Jules said...

    Thank you Derek, Jeffrey, et al, for all your brilliant and thought-provoking columns throughout the year. You have been fundamental in my 10 x 10 OPS league ‘fourpeat’.

  2. Brad Johnson said...

    Over the offseason, can we work on strongly implying that it’s courteous and proper to send your commish a good bottle of wine or a nice sixer at the end of the season?

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