"Matthew?" the text read. "Matt Holliday gave me your number. I hope it's OK I reached out. But I have a quick request for you. Can we talk at some point soon?"
Matt Holliday, yes, the seven-time All-Star and 2011 World Series champion, is a longtime friend and hard-core fantasy player. Back in the day, Matt even gave me a blurb to help promote my book "Fantasy Life." So any friend of Matt's is a friend of mine. So I said sure, of course.
Turns out the text was from the assistant general manager of a Major League Baseball team, and he had a request.
"We want you to be our judge."
He explained that this particular baseball team had a fantasy football league. (Every MLB team has a fantasy football league among its players, FYI.) The catch here was that they played for significant stakes and, well, over the years there had been some heated disputes. The guys in the league decided they wanted an impartial judge to help rule on league matters and it had to be someone not affiliated with the team. So, the guy wondered, would I be willing to do it?
I said yes, happy to help any friend of Matt's. Kinda fun to be a judge for a baseball team, especially because this is an area I know well. And I've dealt with some version of it since I started playing fantasy as a teenager.
Before I joined ESPN, I had my own website/blog called Talented Mr. Roto (dot com!). And on that site, which had a great community, we got so many disputes that we started a weekly column called "The Commish's Court," where my friend and the very first fantasy football commissioner I ever had, AJ Mass, would hear readers' disputes in their leagues and pass judgment. It carried on when I got to ESPN, where during the Fantasy Focus podcast, back when it was me and my old partner Nate Ravitz, we would do a weekly segment called "Hard Justice!" where we would rule with iron fists and way too much gavel-pounding.
We ended up stopping the segment after a number of years, as the same type of disputes kept coming up, but still, the disputes come my way. On Twitter, from emails and, yes, from at least one very popular Major League Baseball team. If I tried to answer every dispute, I would have time for nothing else. But I thought this week I would address a few that have been emailed to me recently because I think you'll see a consistent kind of logic in my responses that hopefully will guide you when disputes come up in your league. Note that I've edited all of these emails for length and clarity.