Commissioner’s Corner: The Veto

After so many years playing this game, one is bound to see all sorts of things that honestly should never happen. People drop elite players; people leave injured players in their active roster, commissioners make back-dated roster moves to help themselves; the list goes on and on.

What is a commissioner to do? Well, the role of the Commissioner is only to sit back, receive acclamation, and reap the financial benefits. Oh, if it were true!

The Commissioner’s job is to ensure the smooth operation of the league, from enforcing rules to maintaining activity from each and every owner. The object, of course, is the long-lasting league that is run fairly with each owner having opportunities over time to win.

The Commissioner’s Corner series will try to address the common and not-so-common issues that commissioners face as well as lend itself to conflict resolution for those out there that need a place to voice their concerns. It is a thankless job, one that I often wonder myself why I bother performing.

Today’s topic: THE VETO

This topic is a pretty easy one – or is it? Most people agree that in keeper/dynasty leagues, owners should have the ultimate right to build their teams as they see fit. Trades may look lopsided at times, especially with some teams rebuilding and others going all-in. Often the deals that look the worst turn out pretty good a year or two down the road. It’s impossible to know the outcome of trades the moment they are agreed upon, so let the owners do what they feel is in the best interest of their goals. Simple right? Case closed. Any questions?

The notion of collusion is usually the single sticking point in this clear-cut answer, but how does one prove it?

In one league this year it was easy. I had complaints about two teams that were trading a little too often, where one was consistently getting the better end of the stick. One complaint questioned whether there was, in fact, two separate owners even. An investigation into their trade history confirmed there was an issue. I sent an email to the league site which confirmed both teams were using the same IP address.

The lesson learned here: do not blindly approve deals based on the principle of letting teams trade as they see fit. It’s important to monitor trades and assess trends. It took 15 months to catch these two (one). Fortunately they didn’t win the championship.

But what if you can’t prove collusion?

This is not easy. In fact, it’s painfully difficult for commissioners. The rule of thumb is “if you are willing to veto a trade based on collusion, you must be willing to remove both owners from the league”. And nobody wants to do that without evidence.

In the case above, if there was really two different owners (I believe there was at one point, and then one just left his team to the other) and no IP address proof, should you continue to allow one team to feed another?

At what point do you say enough is enough and not allow another trade through?

Is an email warning a better approach than vetoing? I think it is.

Dear [Insert Owners Names],

Please be advised that I have been monitoring your trades and have some concerns about a history of inequality. Be advised that if you would like to continue trading together I will need to see more equity before any deals are approved.

Your friendly neighborhood commissioner.

So, with monitoring trades and warning owners, one should never have to veto a trade. Oh, but we’re just 600 words in – it couldn’t be that simple.

“Hi, my name is Paul and I vetoed a trade. I had been on the no-veto wagon my whole life but fell off this week. “

“Hi Paul.”

I won’t bore you with the details, but I learned this week that doing the right thing for the league is sometimes more important than your principles. Did I handle it perfectly? Of course not. Did I get some great advice from some industry leaders? Absolutely (thank you). The point is that as commissioner you can not allow a trade that is so egregious to jeopardize the league.

In a redraft league, a bad trade hurts everyone for maybe 4 months. In a deep keeper or dynasty, the affect could last years. Is it worth it, simply to save your no-veto ideal? I learned this week that it wasn’t.

Was it collusion? I have no proof so I can not say. But I couldn’t allow it in good conscience. Twenty-eight other owners put in good money with the promise of a fair league. The deal would have jeopardized all of that.

So, commissioners, the tips for handling the veto:

1. Do not blindly accept every trade that comes across. In the race to put deals through quickly for everyone, the extra 5 minutes to really look at it won’t hurt.

2. Monitor trade history and track who is trading together most often.

3. Send email warnings when there are concerns.

4. Get good advice. I’m grateful to those that assisted me. It is not something a commissioner should do without confirmation from reputable sources.

5. Don’t be married to the “never veto” policy. One day you might need to be open-minded enough to consider vetoing.

6. Have a co-commissioner that you trust completely and never go against them on important matters like this.

Missing a step here could come back to really haunt you. I missed #3 in the first case, and really wish I hadn’t. It would have probably prevented the problem. Don’t be like me.

If you are a commissioner looking for a topic or issue to be discussed, send an email to and you might just find some help posted here.


Paul Hartman

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Fantasy Baseball player since 1987. Creator of Fantasy Assembly, yet just fortunate enough to be a part of it.