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Problems Commissioners Face

Serving as commissioner of a fantasy baseball league can be a thankless job.  I've never had big problems doing it, but I've heard the horror stories.  With your help, let's try to list common problems commissioners face and potential solutions.

  • Keeping the league competitive.  It can be difficult to find 12+ knowledgable baseball fans, and to keep most of them engaged for a six month season.  I recommend a buy-in of at least $20, the higher the better.  With nothing invested, people will justify quitting more easily.  Structure the payout so that the top three or four teams get something.  Also, in our RotoAuthority league, we tried the idea of kicking out the bottom four clubs for the following year.  It was tough to part with four quality owners, but it did keep the battle for eighth place raging.
  • Collecting the money.  It sucks to have to hit up your friends or coworkers repeatedly for fantasy league dues, but there are always a few stragglers.  We tried Leaguesafe last year and managed to get all the money in without issue before the draft.  It's nice to let them be the bad guy and employ the "auto-nag" feature to email deadbeats daily.  Leaguesafe also allows people to pay with a credit card, which can be helpful.  Consider telling people upfront that you will replace them if they don't pay by a certain date.
  • Scheduling the draft.  I like to draft between March 15-30 each year.  If you have a core group who will definitely be in the league, ask them which dates and times don't work for them and record those dates in a spreadsheet.  Give people a week to get that info in, and then just pick an available day and time and schedule the draft with your provider (before March).  It seems silly for anyone to complain after you gave them a chance to supply their bad dates.  I prefer Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday at 8 or 9pm - the kids are probably in bed and the person is less likely to be out doing something.  They can stay up late for one night.
  • Complaints over trade vetoes or approvals.  My solution: auto-approve all trades and have them hit rosters the following day.  I believe that having the commissioner approve each trade or having the league vote causes more problems than it solves.  League members will have varying opinions over whether trades are fair, but as long as they were done in good spirit they should stand.  If you must, give the commissioner sole veto power for truly absurd trades - ie, Pujols and Braun for Brandon Duckworth.
  • Disagreement over league rules and settings.  In one of my leagues we've started a Winter Meetings tradition, where we meet for lunch in January and hash out rules and settings.  This way we don't waste time doing it on draft day.  It's also a chance for people to make trades in a keeper league.  You might have to put rule changes to a vote.  Once rules are set, do not change anything until the following Winter Meetings. 

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