The Verdict: and the winner is…

Over the past few years, the Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment has been presented with a myriad of cases that range from mundane trade disputes to contentious allegations of collusion. While they all have some affect on the league overall, very rarely do they affect the actual outcome of the league in terms of who wins the championship. However, we recently received a case where the Court’s decision would have directly decided the winner of a fantasy baseball league.

The issue presented before the Court involved a 12-team rotisserie keeper league with a dispute over the statistics accumulated and tabulated at the conclusion of the MLB regular season on Wednesday night, October 3, 2012. It should be noted up front that all teams involved in this issue closely watched all of that day’s games and statistics that were accumulated. On October 3, 2012, C-Train hit two homeruns giving him a total of 195 which yielded eight (8) points for that category. This fell one homerun short of 196 which would have tied him with the Road Runners who hit one homerun on October 3.

At the conclusion of games on October 3, C-Train and the Knights ended up tied for first place with 98 points. This meant the league’s tie-breaker system would be applied putting the two teams head to head in each of the ten scoring categories. The Knights won five of the categories, C-Train won four of the categories, and they were tied in the final category. As a result, the tie-breaker went to the Knights to win the championship.

However, at some point after 2:00 AM on October 4, 2012, C-Train was awarded an additional home run which gave him a total of 196 and awarded him a tie in that category. As a result, he was given another .5 points which gave him the championship. By all accounts, C-Train’s team did not hit three home runs on the final day as the games, statistics and players were all monitored extensively by all members of the league. Even C-Train admitted that he had no idea where the additional home run came from.

When the league commissioner and other members tried investigating, they understandably could not come up with an accurate snapshot of each team and its statistics for the days prior which could have accounted for a retroactive stat adjustment. The commissioner did in fact reach out to CBSSports.com’s help and support which did not lead to any concrete determination.

So on October 4, 2012, the final overall standings now read that C-Train finished in sole possession of first place with 98.5 points and the Knights finished in second place with 98 points.

In trying to discern how this could have happened, the league commissioner provided me with some possible scenarios. They are as follows:

1. It was a statistical error that lasted all season long and was ultimately corrected after the season concluded.

2. The numbers were manipulated through the use of tools that leave no trace. Examples include:

a. Non-tracked transactions which were done all season long for such things as corrections including one team accidentally free agent auction bidding on two players for the same position and it was corrected without a transactional record.

b. There can be a direct adjustment to the stats without there being a record of it.

c. There are ways within such tools to manipulate players’ service times which can theoretically include an extra home run for a player who either comes off the disabled list or is called up from the minor leagues.

d. Individual transactions can be eliminated from the record

3. It was a legitimate statistical error by Stats, Inc. which awarded an additional home run to a player.

However, without sensitive data from CBS, it would be all but impossible to determine whether that player was on C-Train’s team at the time the homerun was allegedly hit.

Another important fact provided by the league commissioner was that multiple league members had commissioner access at various points of the season due to work travel, weddings and honeymoons. The commissioner does not believe that anyone manipulated the system, but he could not rule it out. He had no evidence or reason to suspect anyone did this, so normally the Court would not make such presumptions.

As stated previously, there was corroborating testimony from other members of the league, including C-Train, regarding the overall surprise and lack of understanding about how he was awarded with an additional homerun after the season ended.

I was asked to determine how this should play out and who should be awarded the championship. Because this was such a sensitive issue with literally everything on the line, I had several conversations with the commissioner about this issue and gave him an idea of where I was leaning. I wanted to give the league members every opportunity to figure this out for themselves because of what was at stake.

Before I began writing the decision on this case, the commissioner contacted me and informed me that the league collectively came to an agreement on how to handle the situation. The two teams that were vying for the championship also have been friends nearly 30 years and were able to reach a “gentlemen’s agreement.” They agreed to be co-champions of the most competitive, best year in their league’s long history. They also agreed to pool the prizes for first and second place and split it 50/50, as well as agreeing to split the league’s lunch tradition (the league champion always buys lunch at the next year’s draft day).

I created Fantasy Judgment to help leagues resolve conflicts just like this. However, it is always best when people can compromise and work things out on their own just like this league did. For the record, I would have ruled that without concrete proof or a likely inference that the statistics were fraudulently manipulated, the final standings as distributed by CBS on October 4, 2012 should be honored. I understand that people saw the way the statistics were tracked the night before, but scores, points and statistics do tend to get updated and finalized overnight in between scoring periods. There simply wasn’t enough evidence to disregard CBS’s standings.

In the end, the league amicably came to a resolution that worked for them. Justice was served.

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Comments

  1. Derek Ambrosino said...

    I would have done the exact same thing, Michael.

    I would have said that if you force me to make a decision, I’d have to honor the system’s final tallies. But, I would encourage the two team’s to agree to split the winnings and accolades, settling out of court.

    Todd,

    You statement doesn’t hold at all, BTW. First of all, the two teams could just as easily be in a tie for the week instead of the year (more likely even) and the phantom homer problem would manifest the same way.

    Or, EVEN WORSE, the phantom HR could have actually affected a previous week a long time ago that would have swung the standings in such a way that everything that subsequently happened, including playoff seeding, match-ups, and/or outcome of earlier playoff rounds were tainted and a team could have been potentially wrongfully eliminate in a previous round and the improper teams are even playing in the finals in the first place. That would be quite the larger train wreck.

    So, this is actually another point for Roto because this is pretty much the worst case scenario. The corresponding worst case for H2H is way worse in impact and basically not solve-able.

  2. Kevin said...

    This was the best issue of Fantasy Judgement that I have read yet.

    I have only played on ESPN, not CBS, but given what I know, I find it hard to believe that figuring this out manually was impossible, as the league members stated.

    It no doubt would have been time consuming, but the commissioner needed to get this right, and he should have went day by day and tallied each team’s HRs by hand.

    With that said, if they did not want to do this, I agree with the decision made by the league mates. While we must trust our stat providers, a phantom HR would never pass the smell test. The year would be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

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