The three of us play a lot of fantasy sports. Fantasy baseball is obviously our bread and butter, but we’re plenty active in other sports all throughout the year and have been for a while. So, it’s very rare for a situation to present itself that we haven’t really seen before. Rare, but not impossible. In a head-to-head league that Nash and I play in and run, we encountered an extremely odd scenario.
Now that the whole situation has played itself out, I want to present it to you readers to ask you a few things.
- Have you ever encountered anything similar to this? Obviously, baseball is our primary focus, but really if you’ve seen it in any sport (with the possible exception of football), we want to know.
- In your opinion, was everything handled the right way? I ask that and I want you to know that I come into this with no preconceived notions on whether it was handled well or not. I genuinely want your opinions.
Previously, I laid this scenario out, talking about how non-contenders need to continue to give their best. Fortunately, that was not an issue.
But just as a refresher, take a look at the standings heading into the final week of play, which ran from Monday, September 2 – Sunday, September 9.
|Team 2||127||94||19||.569||– (Same percentage, loss of the tiebreaker)|
I should also say that the owner of Team 2 is me, while Team 3 is owned by Nash. Team 1 is owned by a very good friend of mine, Ben. As the week went on, none of us appeared to be doing as well against our respective opponents as we probably should should have, so the race for the $50 (league regular season champion) and bye week (first and second seed) looked like it would come down to Sunday evening.
It did, actually on the Sunday Night Baseball game that week, the league’s regular season champion was decided by a good game from Angel Pagan. But the night before, all three of us were hit with a bit of a twist.
We looked at the standings on Saturday night, and they looked like this:
|Team 2 (Dixon)||127||94||19||.569||–|
|Team 3 (Nash)||128||96||16||.567||0.5|
|Team 1 (Ben)||125||94||21||.564||1|
They look a little different from before, don’t they? Now, I’d seen scores of matchups change in the past, but usually that was sometime between the Sunday of one matchup and the Monday of the next. Here, we had gone nearly a full week and a full point was changed.
Considering we were in a week with all three teams having similar weeks, getting dropped from first to third with one day of play remaining looked like it would make a big difference. Ben went from tied for the lead with the tiebreaker, to sitting a full game behind first place and a half-game out of the guaranteed bye spot.
In addition to the bye week and a possible $50, there was another difference. If the person who ended up as the number three seed won their first round match, they would face the two seed in the semifinals. With this league’s rules, the team with the higher seed receives the tiebreaker. Considering in this league, the championship match has always ended in a tie, that is not an insignificant mark.
It was also confusing because none of us remembered the specific stats Ben had won/lost originally and we certainly didn’t remember the margins. When I went to the updated scoreboard from the matchup in question, all of Ben’s losses were fairly lopsided. So, it made little to no sense that something that was previously a win could turn into a loss.
Worst of all, we were given no explanation by the site we run through, ESPN. After some research, I think I figured it out.
After receiving an email from ESPN telling me that stats should be considered unofficial until seven days after the games are over, I did a little research. While I have yet to see anything explicitly stating this, it appeared as though Jonathan Papelbon had his ERA changed as a result of something that happened on Sunday, September 2. This is relevant as Papelbon was on Ben’s opponent.
I read this recap from ESPN and found the following excerpt:
Martin Prado’s grounder skipped past third baseman Kevin Frandsen for a two-run double, setting the stage for Jones’ 14th home run.
That recap was written immediately after the game. But in the more up to date Box Score, you’ll see a few things. Martin Prado doesn’t have any hits in that game. Kevin Frandsen was charged with two errors. Papelbon allowed three runs, but none were earned. All of those would have been different had the play quoted above been a double. Also, Papelbon was only charged with one hit, which was the homer allowed to Chipper Jones. If Prado’s play had stood, it would have been two hits.
I also did some math. While I don’t remember what the individual statistical scores were before the change, Ben eventually lost ERA 3.15 to 3.744, which doesn’t appear to be all that close. But when you consider that Ben’s opponent only had 45.2 innings pitched, three runs is pretty significant. Indeed, if you add the three runs that would have been charged to Papelbon, Ben’s opponent would have had an ERA of 3.744.
Also, the game in question happened on Sunday, September 2, while the change came in Saturday. So, it was within the seven days. Everything was right. Still, there’s something awkward about all of this.
Nash won his week 8-4, where Ben and I each won 7-5. So, even if the previous week’s standings were in place, Nash would have been the league’s regular season champ. As a result of the change however, I received a bye week.
During my bye week, I was sure to remember to activate all of my starters, rather than just completely check out of the league for a week. I wanted to see if I would have won had I been the number three seed and Ben had the bye. My conclusion is that I would have, although you could make a case otherwise.
As the stats stood, I would have lost 6-5-1. Still, I failed to match up in counted categories like wins, strikeouts, and quality starts. Also, while I did activate my players, I wasn’t streaming anyone in, which I normally do a lot of. As a point of reference, my scores in those categories from my first playoff matchup were better than my would-be opponents were in his first. Plus, I had the tiebreaker. So, I don’t really doubt that I would have won that matchup as even in the playoffs, I’m a much more active and aware day-to-day owner than my would-be opponent is.
But, Ben actually did beat him, no questions asked. So, indeed the second round matchup pitted me against him, the likely matchup had the point never been changed. My only hope now was that one of us would actually win and make the point controversy moot.
Side Note: I use the word “controversy” there very loosely. Ben did bring the issue to our attention, but never complained or played the victim. When we found out what happened, he accepted it and moved on. He never complained about it or made it seem like this was a conspiracy against him. That’s significant because when the point was changed, it appeared as though both LM’s (Nash and myself) could and probably would benefit. Everything that happened was legitimate and entirely done by ESPN. Ben handled it the exact way you should handle a situation like that which is why he’s not only one of my good friends, but also an excellent person to have in a league. The people who handle every minor setback like it’s a personal conspiracy against them are annoying and need to be quarantined to participate only in leagues with each other. The people who handle serious setbacks like an adult make fantasy sports extremely fun.
My bats were dead in the early week of our playoff matchup, and his came alive. By the end of play Tuesday, it was clear that I was going to have to do very well in pitching, and maybe squeak out one offensive category. In the irony of all ironies, it looked like that was going to be steals.
As the week progressed, I closed the gap and actually did very well in pitching. Late on Saturday, I took the lead. Steals were still a coin toss, but walks (one of that league’s unique fantasy categories), looked like it would be mine. They ended up being the difference.
Ben won the hitting categories 4-1-1, taking runs, homers, average, and RBI by a significant margin, although my team did heat up. He also claimed steals. I took walks.
I the pitching categories 5-0-1, taking strikeouts, wins, quality starts, ERA, and WHIP. Going in to play on Sunday, I only really good leads in ERA and WHIP, which are both categories that can dramatically turn. He tied me in saves.
So, you math wizards out there know that I won 6-5-1. Basically, we were both streaming all week. I had one more move to make on Sunday than he did, and my guys were better on the weekend across the board. I took my own advice and started Kevin Correia on Saturday, and his nine strikeouts made the difference. But even with that, one more save and we would have had a dreaded tie. Fortunately, it didn’t come down to that.
I didn’t make all of you read that for nothing. Just because things worked out about the same doesn’t mean I don’t have some questions.This is where I’m calling on everyone.
While I like Ben’s playoff opponent fine (ironically it’s the same guy who owns Papelbon), my hope is that he wins this matchup and then our showdown ends with a winner, not a tie. That way, the one point wouldn’t have really mattered, other than giving me a mental break.
As soon as the point issue was noticed, I told Ben that I would actually have no problem giving him the point, except that the person who received the point (the person who had Papelbon) was also a playoff team, and I didn’t know if taking the point away would hurt him.
The question is, should I have given Ben the point back? In other words, is it fair to say that Ben might have managed that week a little differently knowing that he was a point behind, instead of ahead? Honestly, I doubt that and he never claimed he would have, but there’s enough doubt in my mind to make me wonder.
I’ll repeat that everything was legit according to the way that ESPN governs its stats, but none of us had ever seen that before so late. Not with ESPN or any other provider. I’ll be completely fair and say that I haven’t always checked as closely or been in situations where one point makes such a big difference, but Nash said that he does check all the time and had never seen that.
Was it handled the right way? Does the fact that an LM benefited from it (or at least very easily could have) sway your opinion one way or the other? Is that just a tough break that can happen to anyone? Whatever you think, we want to hear it.
Also, just as a nice way to cap off another wonderful season of fantasy baseball. What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you in a league? Try to keep it fantasy baseball if possible, but if it’s another sport, have at it.