You get a paperback that has three sets of published rotisserie rules (Rotisserie, Rotisserie Ultra, and Rotisserie Lite). They'll cover everything from roster construction, the auction, reserve and minor league draft, in-season free agent budgets, transactions, and so on...
The RBLA was the first rotisserie league ever and their rules are the origin of the $260 cap that is standard in most all auction leagues. Rotisserie Baseball gets it's name from the New York french restaurant where the RBLA held the first ever roto draft (auction), La Rotisserie. The restaurant no longer exists, but the name has stuck.
Basically, pages 18-51 provide complete constitutions for all three versions (Regular, Ultra, and Lite), and then the rest of the book contains the same stuff you'd get in a shelf magazine (alphabetical player run downs, last year's dollar values, projected dollar values, ect.).
The rules haven't changed in a few years, so picking up an older edition, if you want to save a few bucks and don't care about a bunch of rankings published in January (although the 2005 second half dollar values are kind of neat), isn't a bad idea.
Find someone that has a photocopier at work, run off copies for your league members, and you're all set. The rules have been published annually since 1984, so you have 20+ years worth of ironing out loopholes and getting the proper wording.
Their one page summary of the regular constitution (not Ultra or Lite) reads as follows:
1. Rotisserie League teams are made up of real, live major league baseball players, selected at an auction draft that takes place at the begining of the season (typically on the first weekend following opening day).
2. Each team in a Rotisserie League is composed of 25 players taken from the active rosters of the National League or 23 players from American League teams. A Rotisserie League drawn from National League or American League players should have 12 teams. You can, however, have fewer teams.
3. A team consists of five outfielders, two catchers, one second baseman, one shortstop, one middle infielder (either 2B or SS), one first baseman, one third baseman, one corner man (1B or 3B), one utility man (NL) or designated hitter (AL), and nine pitchers. National League rosters have two utility men and ten pitchers since 1998.
4. Players are purchased at an open auction. Spending is limited to $260 per team for the American League, or $280 per team for the National League. (If you don't want to use money, call them units or pocorobas or whatever. The points is resource allocation.) Teams may spend less. The first bidder opens the auction with a minimum bid of $1 for any player. The bidding then proceeds around the room (at minimum increments of $1) until only one bidder is left. The process is repeated, with successive owners introducing players to be hid on, until every team has a complement of 23 players from the American League or 25 players from the National League.
5. A player is eligible to be drafted for any position at which he appeared in 20 or more games the preceding year. If he did not appear in 20 games at any one position, he is eligible for the position at which he appeared the most times. Once the season starts, a player qualifies for a position by playing it once. Multiple eligibility is okay.
6. Trading is permissible from Auction Draft Day until midnight August 31st. After every trade, both teams must be whole-that is, they must have the same number of active players at each position that they had before the trade.
7. If a major league player is put on the disabled list, sent to the minors, traded to the other league, or released, he may be replaced from the free agent pool of unowned talent. Replacement must be made by position. The original player may either be released or placed on his Rotisserie team's reserve list. A team may not release, reserve, or waive a player without replacing him with another active player.
8. Cumulative team performance is tabulated in five offensive and five pitching categories:
- Composite batting average (BA)
- Total home runs (HR)
- Total runs scored (R)
- Total runs batted in (RBI)
- Total stolen bases (SB)
- Composite earned run average (ERA)
- Total wins (W)
- Total innings pitched (IP)
- Total saves (SV)
- Composite ratio: walks (BB) + hits (H), divided by innings pitched (IP), also know as baserunners per inning, (BPI or B/I, or walks and hits per inning pitched (WHIP).
9. Teams are ranked from first to last in each of the eight categories. For example, the first-place team receives 12 points, the second-place team 11 points, on down to one point for last place. The team with the most points wins the pennant.
10. Prize money in distributed as follows: 50% for first place, 20% for second, 15% for third, 10$ for fourth, and 5% for fifth. Even more important, the owner of the winning team receives a bottle of Yoo-Hoo - poured over his or her head.
The Yoo-Hoo stuff is odd, and the scoring categories a bit dated, but it's not like you can't take care of that with a ball point pen and a xerox machine. The AL-only league made up of members of the local SABR chapter I'm in uses the ultra rules, and they work great. We've made adjustments (R, HR, RBI, SB, OPS, W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP for the scoring, among others), but the general constitution is a solid one.