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Fantasy Baseball Guidelines

- by Chris Purdon

   The following are some guidelines and ideas for running your own Fantasy Baseball League. These, however, are only suggestions and are by no means gospel. They are taken from my personal experiences as both a member and 'commissioner' of several leagues.

    I believe the first season for a fantasy league should be limited to no more than 10 teams. This will allow you to pull together close friends who you know, trust, and love baseball. Leagues that start with 15 to 20 teams will find it is difficult to agree on a set of rules and will generally lose teams during the first year. Your first season will also be quite an eye-opener. Your rules will be tested for the first time, and you will find that not all meet the expectations of every member. If everyone knows each other, there will be less of a chance of someone pulling out mid-season. This can and will happen.

    Having a set of rules is very important to the survival of any league. It sets the guidelines of how a league will be run, right down to how prize money (if any) will be divided. At the beginning of each season, you need to allow for some time to obtain member input on the rules. They will offer insight as to what they feel has and has not worked in the past. The worst thing you can be is a dictator. Every rule change should be voted on prior to the draft. I like to do this on draft day because that is when you have everyone together at the same time. Also, by letting the rules change year to year, you allow the other members to personalize the league to everyone's tastes and desires. They will feel that they have some influence over the affairs of the league and that the commissioner is not the sole voice of reason. It is important for the other members of the league to be heard, even if their ideas are not sound.

    A great way to solve disputes that arise throughout the year is to set up a committee of members. You should have 2 or 3 members on this committee. It's up to you as commissioner if you are to be on this committee. The members should all have prior fantasy baseball experience and/or be very knowledgeable in the sport of baseball.

    The committee is presented with individual problems if and as they arise. Each problem is then discussed until an agreeable solution is reached. All committee members should commit to the decision, as it will be binding on all other members. The decision can then be discussed at the beginning of the next season and possibly be incorporated into the rules.

    There are several styles of fantasy baseball. Don't be afraid to mix and match different styles. Making your league unique will keep members interest and compel commitment. Anyone can join a league out of a magazine or newspaper. There is no reason why you can't be unique. The league I currently run uses a point system, much like most magazine and newspaper leagues. The differences that make it unique are sole ownership of players, monthly free-agent drafts, and multiple position qualifications. The most unique feature, however, is allowing each member to set their lineup for the previous months points. We have 25 man rosters, but only 15 of those players will earn you points for the month. At the end of each month I receive a 15 player list from each member that includes a first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, shortstop, catcher, 3 outfielders, designated hitter, 5 starting pitchers, and a closer. This has added a little realism to our league and has made our league quite competitive.   We are currently contemplating simulating games against one another to add more realism to our league.

    There are many leagues that only use American or National League players.  Usually owners who enjoy one league over the other will join such a league.  This system works well in smaller leagues where the league does not want every team to be overloaded with star players.  A problem can arise when a player is traded to the other league.  Do they still count for your league?  Or are they treated as if they signed in a foreign league?  Again, the owners must agree on the format for how these players are to treated with.

    The above ideas are just a few thoughts for starting up a league. The more creative you can be, the more likely you will retain your members and set an example for other leagues to follow. Remember, realism and fairness is what I feel everyone strives for.