Thursday, May 22, 2008

On collusion and the vetoing of trades

You will hear this refrain shouted from fantasy baseball message boards, blogs, and owners all the time: "Trades should only be vetoed if the owners are colluding."

Well, I tend to agree. But what about horrendous, lopsided trades that destroy league balance, but in which the owners aren't necessarily in cahoots? Can they be vetoed without violating the notion that owners can manage their team as they wish?

When people think of collusion in the fantasy-baseball setting, they think of owners agreeing to benefit one team while intentionally hurting the other -- i.e. a tanking owner helps out his brother, friend, etc. That is certainly collusion. However, I think in fantasy baseball we have to expand the term "collusion" beyond active, intentional shenanigans.

Here's the dictionary definition:

secret or illegal agreement or cooperation

Seems clear enough. Well, as an attorney, my goal in life is to complicate simple matters. Over the years I've become familiar with the notion that parties may be held liable for "constructive" versus "actual" occurrences. For example, actual fraud involves an affirmative misrepresentation -- person "A" tells an untruth to person "B." Constructive fraud, however, occurs when person "A" knows that person "B" has a mistaken belief, but nevertheless does nothing to correct that brief. "Where's the lie?" people ask? Well, it's a lie by omission, which is (in the eyes of the Court and my wife) just as bad.

Another example: "Actual" notice is when it can be proven that a person saw an event with their own eyes or heard it with their own ears. "Constructive" notice is when a person reasonably should have known about that same event and thus will not be allowed to plead ignorance.

The idea behind "constructive" rules of law is that a party should not be allowed to unreasonably remain ignorant when they have a responsibility to other people. Members in a league have a responsibility not to involve themselves in obviously one-sided and ridiculous trades. I'm talking about deals like Brandon Webb for Randy Johnson, which I saw posted online a few weeks ago.

Even if you can't prove collusion when a preposterously lopsided trade occurs, I posit to you that "constructive collusion" is actually occurring. The owners may not have physically come together and agreed to allow one to rip off the other, but the league can presume that the victimized owner is at the very least willfully and intentionally remaining ignorant about the basic facts of the game he's playing. He has a duty to the rest of the league to avoid such fecklessness, and if he doesn't, the trade should be vetoed.

Summary: You don't need a smoking gun email or personal relationship between owners to prove that an owner is willingly allowing himself to be victimized -- which, to me, qualifies as collusion.


Patttttt said...


I've been reading your posts regularly for the last couple weeks but haven't posted yet. Just wanted to let you know you're doing a bang up job.

Don't forget that I went out on top.


Mike Bock said...


Mike Bock said...

Congrats on the wedding.

Anonymous said...

I'm studying for the bar course right now and I came here to escape all that. Thank you for contributing to the destruction of life as I know it (not really, but I'm truly sick of studying)

Big Cat said...

Thanks Mike. Sounds like you've got some hardware on the ring finger as well, so congrats indeed. Maybe I can get back into the league next year after my sabbatical.

Mike Bock said...

The hardware has grown dusty, but the crying baby is still shiny and new.