September 7, 2017
Rules of the Road
The League of Alternative Baseball Reality, more commonly known as LABR, came into being in 1994. It is universally considered the first “expert” league (some bristle at the idea of “expert” leagues, so I’ll use the term “analyst” going forward). Other analyst leagues have been created since that time, most notably Tout Wars, but also include CBS and Yahoo’s Friends & Family.
“Home” leagues predate expert leagues by at least 14 years, with the founding of the original Rotisserie Baseball League in 1980. I am in one of these home leagues that predates LABR. The Billy Almon Brown Graduate league was founded in 1987 by a group of Brown University students who named the league after Bill Almon because he is the only player from Brown since 1941 to play in the majors. If WAR had existed in 1987, it might be the Bump Hadley Brown Graduate or Fred Tenney Brown Graduate league instead, which both sound cooler.
I am not one of the founding members. I joined the league in 1996.
As often happens in home leagues, the membership has changed dramatically since its inception. Only two of the original members remain. The league had a Boston/Washington DC flavor for a few years, then gradually became a Philadelphia-based league after most of the founding members left.
I have also been in a few home leagues that weren’t very good and/or did not survive. In some cases, the main reason leagues don’t make it is because the adolescents and young adults who played fantasy baseball do not have the spare time or choose to use what spare time they have more wisely. But the most common reason I have seen leagues fail is because the league’s rules don’t work.
It is easy enough in 2017 to sign up with a website like CBS or ESPN and use their rules template with little or no tinkering. However, if you view fantasy baseball as more than merely a casual hobby (and if you are reading this, you most likely do), it is vital not only to have a basic template for rules but to also have a constitution that will ensure the long-term survival of your league.