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There are two types of absentee owners in fantasy baseball. The one who signed up on a whim, then realized shortly after that he or she isn’t that interested but is too nervous to back out. This person may not even pay their league dues.
The other type is someone who didn’t understand all the intricacies associated with fantasy baseball, realizing two weeks into the season that it’s not for them. Regardless of the reason, commissioners may need help navigating through this noise to keep the league fun, competitive, and fully financed.
Did they pay or not pay, that is the question
If the league drafted and that player still had not paid their dues, shame on you. You will likely have to replace the owner and find a way to incentivize the new owner to take on an existing team. This is easier in dynasty leagues since you can give them the first overall pick next year and they can craft the existing team to their liking.
In a redraft league without future years to compromise on, this gets tougher. Your fellow owners may be required to chip in a few extra dollars to cover the cost of the new owner, as he or she probably doesn’t want to pay the full price for a team he or she didn’t draft. The lesson learned here is to ensure that all dues are paid prior to the draft.
If the league has drafted and the owner paid his or her dues but has vanished early on in the season, contacting them is the first step.
Reach out — within reason
The absentee owner deserves the chance to keep their spot in the league, especially if they paid their dues. First, send them a private message on your league’s platform. If they don’t answer, you more than likely have their email address, so email them next. If they don’t respond to your email, here’s a handy chart for the next steps.
If they are in your fantasy league, chances are they are on social media in some capacity. Looking for their profiles on Twitter or Facebook are the go-to ways to contact them. Proceed to Instagram thereafter. If you still can’t get their info, you should be able to find them on LinkedIn with their first and last name. Once you get ahold of them in some fashion through one of these platforms, wait a few days before following up. Just keep in mind that crossing personal boundaries does not make for great optics.
Don’t be afraid to follow up several times, as you want to maintain the integrity of the league. If they are unable to contact you because they’re on vacation, and they come back to find that they’ve been removed from the league, they’ll be heated. So it’s in your best interest to do all you can as commissioner to get to the bottom of the situation.
Finally, and this might be controversial, but give them a way out when you contact them. It’s better to hear from that absentee owner that they aren’t able to play in the league this year, rather than have them continually ghosting you. It doesn’t matter if it’s due to finances, time commitments, or sheer laziness. You want the league to be the best it can be, and that’s impossible when you don’t have a committed owner. It’s best to frame your message/email as follows:
I haven’t heard from you in my recent emails/messages, so I wanted to follow up to make sure that you are okay. [Insert sentence here on them missing the deadline to pay dues, if that indeed happened.] If you are unable to continue in the league, please let me know as soon as possible so we can find a replacement owner. If you are still interested in playing, please also let me know ASAP and fix your starting lineup — Carlos Correa injured his rib banging a trash can and is out six weeks!
Find a replacement owner
The next steps are so clear that we don’t need a tree chart to describe them. If the owner gets back to you and is still interested, you’re hopefully in the clear! If the owner hasn’t gotten back to you, it’s time to jump ship.
In my experience with handling this, I’m thankful that the social media platforms have notifications for when the person on the other end of your conversation has “read” or “seen” your message. That way, if they never get back to you, you can rest in peace knowing that they are too nervous to tell you that they don’t want to be in the league anymore, not that something has happened to them.
If the owner has paid but won’t get back to you, it’s not a bad idea to keep the money. It will help find a new owner faster since they won’t have to pay an entry fee. However, if that owner has come on economic hardship, you better give back that money!
So, who do you reach out to? I typically start with notifying the league that an owner has disappeared from the league. At least one or two of your league-mates will probably chime to say that they have a friend who is interested in playing. On the rare occasion that nobody reaches out, take to Twitter and look for people still looking for leagues. You can even search “fantasy baseball league” to find people who are interested. Finally, you can also reach out to message boards on subscriber-only websites to find someone willing to play.