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Daily blurbs from the Guru
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Go forward to more recent blurbs.

4/30 - A.J. Burnett was the latest beneficiary of getting to pitch against the most fantasy friendly team for opposing starters, working eight 3-hit shutout innings in Baltimore. Surprisingly, this is the first time in his career he has started a season with a 3-0 record, although it’s taken him five starts to get there.

While we didn’t quite get through April with no rainouts, we might get out of the month with every postponed game having been made up already. So far, the two April rainouts were both played the following day. Today’s weather looks reasonably benign for all but one game, where thunderstorms and strong winds are predicted in St. Louis. So Pujols might get back-to-back days off.

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4/29 - Déjà vu all over again!

In the team’s playoff history (which dates back only to 1983), the Washington Capitals have now lost seven playoff series in which they held either a 3-1 lead, or a 2-0 lead. It’s been written that D.C. stands for “Dogs Choking”. Last night’s latest collapse was particularly painful, as the Caps entered the playoffs with the best regular season record in the NHL, while their opponent, Montreal, had the worst regular season record of the 16 playoff teams. Imagine if the Red Sox or Cubs had that type of playoff history!

In GuruGolf, Charles Howell III is the most popular GuruGolfer this week, on roughly 30% of all active foursomes. 129 different golfers are represented on at least one team, so diversity is again the watchword this week. Tiger Woods appears on just 3%.

Once again, there are several early afternoon MLB games today. React accordingly.

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4/28 - Two Minnesota pitchers added to their impressive opening month last night. Francisco Liriano pitched 8 shutout innings in a win over Detroit, lowering both his season ERA and WHIP to under 1.00, while Jon Rauch notched his 7th save. Both are the types of guys that can really propel a roto team toward a strong season, as neither was likely a high draft pick. For example, in the RIBC and related qualifying leagues, Liriano was a consensus 14th round pick. Rauch went as high as the 11th round in one draft, but was also taken in the 14th round on average. Of course, one good month does not a season make – but if you nabbed either of these guys in the mid-to-late rounds of your draft, you’ve got to be feeling pretty good about it so far.

The Quail Hollow Championship tees off tomorrow morning. Tiger Woods is once again in the field, and while his high price and limited schedule typically make him a problematic pickup for most GuruGolf teams, he is expected to play in back-to-back tournaments with The Players Championship up next – so one of those impediments isn’t in place this time around.

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4/27 - I had a “perfect storm” of issues to deal with this morning – server tech support, personal, home repair, etc. – and just never had a chance to compose a blurb – or even surf around to see what I might comment about. It’s now early afternoon, and the dog wants to be walked, and my stomach wants to be fed – so I’m just going to drop back 10 years and punt for today.

Back tomorrow.

4/26 - LeBron’s quote today reminds me of a quote attributed to Walt Whitman (and paraphrased many times since), “If you done it, it ain’t bragging.” And if you watched any of yesterday’s Cavs game, you saw him “done it.”

Congrats to No Snowmen for posting the top best ball score (-51) in GuruGolf this weekend. Worst ball honors belonged to Goldputters (+47). Each had a comfortable 2-stroke cushion over the closest contender – reminiscent of tournament winner Jason Bohn.

Supposedly, RotoHog released a new pricing formula in last night’s Salary Cap repricing. If so, they shouldn’t have bothered, because I can’t detect any difference. My guess is that the change didn’t happen yet.

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4/23 - Just a week ago, I launched a beta version of a new “live stats” tool that provides updated player stats in real time in a format that is “friendly” not only to computers, but also PDAs and cell phones. In the past week, many significant enhancements have been added - in listed stats, in format, in user-specified options, and in output mode. While I’m still declaring this to be in beta mode, I think much of the first-stage development is now complete. If you haven’t recently checked out, you should see what it can do now. (Scroll to the bottom to see a list of options.) Thanks to many of you who made helpful suggestions, both at the baseball forum and in emails. Your ideas and thoughts have prompted and inspired many of the newer features.

This is only the beginning, though, and not the end. I plan to add some player filtering capabilities, so that users can select to view a user-specified subset of players. I also hope to add some automated emailing capabilities. And I’m sure features will be added that I haven’t even contemplated yet. At this point, I consider the current version to be the basic engine. Stay tuned for future developments.

Speaking of future developments, RotoHog has announced a change in their player repricing formula for their Salary Cap games, effective Sunday. While details are unavailable, it will apparently place greater emphasis on daily trade flows, rather than ownership levels. I don’t know if this means that it will more closely resemble the old TSN formula or not. We’ll have to figure that out next week. Meanwhile, a great many teams have already passed the $100 million value mark (and many will be over $110m by Sunday), so it remains to be seen whether a change in the formula will have much impact. Frankly, I’m never very keen on mid-season changes in rules and practices. Still, I guess they had to try something different before getting to football season, as the current hyper-inflationary approach effectively neutered the salary cap-ness of the game.

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4/22 - Roy Halladay was a stud even when pitching in the difficult A.L. East. Move him to the N.L., and many (including me) expected a reincarnation of Sandy Koufax. In four starts for Phillies, he’s 4-0 with an ERA of 0.82 and a WHIP of 0.88. Sounds Koufaxian so far.

K.J. Choi is the popular favorite in GuruGolf this week, on about 35% of all active foursomes. Charles Howell III is second (30%), and none of the other 102 selected GuruGolfers appears on as many as 20%, so diversity is in play this week.

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4/21 - Still no baseball rainouts. I wonder what the record is for the maximum number of days to start a MLB season before a postponement occurs?

Mike Pelfrey is off to a nice start. After 7 shutout innings last night, he now has 3 wins and a save, with a 0.86 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. He’s only allowed 2 earned runs in 21 IP, and both of those runs were allowed in just the second inning of his first start. As a 26 year old, is he finally reaching his potential, or is this just an early-season tease? He was undrafted in the RIBC – but as you can imagine, he’s been rostered since then.

GuruGolf moves to New Orleans tomorrow for the Zurich Classic (or is to Zurich for the New Orleans Classic? … No, I got it right the first time.) If you are hoping to conserve trades, the list of early commitments for next week’s Quail Hollow Championship is available here (with the usual caveat that some players will pull out before it becomes official – and some will pull out after that.)

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4/20 - April is a month often stuffed with postponed baseball games – due to rain, sleet, even snow. Remember Cleveland losing an entire series due to snow several years ago? But so far this month, every game has been played. All 30 teams are scheduled tonight (no afternoon games). Now watch – I probably just jinxed it.

I heard an interesting NBA stat on the radio this morning. LeBron James led the league in 4th quarter scoring this year. And not only did he lead, but his 4th quarter average was almost 25% higher than that of the second best players, Kobe and Dirk. Last night, King James poured in 15 in the final frame (including 11 straight) to put away the Bulls.

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4/19 - If you have Mike Pelfrey on your roto team, I hope he wasn’t on your bench on Saturday – as often happens with starting pitchers between starts. If so, you missed a rare save from a starting pitcher!

The new stats recap tool (launched last Friday) has undergone a number of improvements over the weekend, and there are more enhancements that I plan to add this week. Thanks to those of you who provided feedback. You’ve clearly helped me to improve it.

This is Patriots’ Day in Boston, which means that the Red Sox play at 11:05am ET. Think fast if your entire lineup locks at that time.

In GuruGolf, Under100 took the best ball honors with a -51, while worst ball honors went to Bob’s eagles (+47). On the player front, although Furyk won, I have him ranked as only the 15th most valuable golfer in the GuruGolf scoring format for this weekend. He garnered only 18 birdies, offset by 5 bogeys. The most valuable golfer was Ricky Barnes, who carded 21 birdies and an eagle, followed closely by Kris Blanks with 22 birdies. This explains why the latter two were the top GuruGolf price gainers, in spite of Furyk’s victory. It’s all about maximizing the below-par holes, and also considers the relative difficulty of each holes. A birdie on a tough par 3 or 4 is much more valuable than a birdie on an easy par 5.

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4/16 - When scanning through the MLB scoreboard page at ESPN this morning, the recap link for the Texas-Cleveland game said “Huff, Choo help Indians top Rangers, snap skid” My first reaction was to respond, “Gesundheit!”

If the blurb page looks a bit different today, it’s because I resequenced the menu items on the left panel, moving baseball up, and dropping hoops to the bottom.

But today’s developments are not merely cosmetic. I’m also announcing the release of a new tool that I think will eventually develop into one of the most popular and versatile RotoGuru “inventions.” This is a program that displays a listing of all player’s stats – updated in real time – for the day. Players are listed alphabetically, so every player who has appeared in a game or lineup will be shown – along with his stats for the day – in one convenient, concise page. The format is designed to be compact enough to be useful for those who access it via PDA or cell phone as well. Currently, this program is considered in “beta version,” which means I’m pretty sure minor glitches will crop up, and additional enhancements will be added. For the URL, more details, and an opportunity to provide feedback, please visit this thread at the baseball forum.

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4/15 - The final night of the NBA season is always problematic, with uncertainty about which players will even suit up, and which will play a full game. So why not have two triple doubles from rather unlikely sources- Steve Blake and Trevor Ariza? If you were in search of a last minute flyer, though, Golden State was probably a good place to go, as four of their starters logged the full 48 minutes. Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, and Anthony Tolliver each played the whole game and produced a total of 162 TSNP. The fourth GSW “full timer”, Reggie Williams, isn’t even listed in the TSN game. He did, however, play more than 40 minutes in each of the Warriors’ last seven games.

Kudos to Gurupie Mike D, who cruised to the top spot in the 2009-10 RIHC, leading the league from start to finish. The 2nd-8th place finishers were all tightly bunched for the last several months. Sadly, I was not among them, suffering my worst finish since 2005. Ugh.

In GuruGolf, Ricky Barnes is the most widely owned golfer for the Verizon Heritage tournament, appearing on about 30% of all foursomes.

In baseball, I’ve been working on a new tool that I think many of you will find useful. Stay tuned - maybe tomorrow, if testing goes well today. Certainly no later than Monday.

Now go pay your taxes.

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4/14 - Final day for the NBA regular season, and for fantasy hoops as well – unless you are playing in a playoff format. Not me. I’ve had enough.

GuruGolf tees off tomorrow morning in Hilton Head. In all likelihood, your foursomes will require a lot of turnover if you want to keep four active golfers in play. Several of my teams needed a complete overhaul. If you want to conserve some trades going forward, here’s the preliminary list of commitments for next week’s Zurich Classic. It’s not foolproof, because players sometimes pre-commit and then back out, but it’s a good general indicator.

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4/13 - I teased you yesterday that I’d comment on the RotoHog Salary Cap games today. So I will.

While the game format is generally the same as the previous TSN Salary Cap games – in scoring, trade capacity, roster size, etc. – the one major change is the mechanics of the daily price change formula. I’ll focus on the premier game in this discussion, which corresponds to the TSN Ultimate game – but the comments are generally applicable to the basic game as well.

First, some background. The TSN daily price change formula depended on a day’s trading activity. If a player enjoyed net buys, his price would rise, and vice versa. The amount of the change depended on the percentage of buys and sells that a player received vs the overall total for all players for that day. The formula was not linear, and the biggest gainers and losers on any given day generally topped out at a price change of around $200K. And there were very few players each day with a change anywhere close to that.

A consequence of that formula is that team roster values tended to inflate, but only at a rate of several hundred $thousands per day. A big day of gainers produced a roster gain of a $million or so, but those magnitudes would typically not persist for long. All teams started the season with a value of $50mil. By the end of April, the wealthiest teams might have appreciated into the low $60 million range. By the All Star break, the richest teams were in the mid-$80s, and some teams might be touching $90m. With a 14 player roster, then the richest teams could support an average player price of about $4.5m in early May, and $6m in July. The most expensive players were priced around or above $10m.

After about a week this season, the vast majority of teams already have a team value in the mid $70s, and most teams are gaining close to $3m per day. At this rate, teams will crossing though the $100m threshold by the end of next week. And by then, the most expensive players may have dropped below $10m. (Pujols is currently priced at $10.9m, and is dropping $.24 mil each day.)

Wha’ happened?

It seems likely that team values will grow so large, so fast, that pretty soon, this will no longer be a salary cap format, since player price will not longer be a limiting factor. But rather than speculating on the future of the game, I want to instead discuss the mechanics of the RotoHog price change approach, since understanding that is necessary to understand how to manage a team today, next week, and next month.

Rather than filling up space on this blurb page, I’m going to continue this discussion in the baseball forum. If you’re interested, click on the “comment” link to be transported there.

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4/12 - It’s tough not to feel good about Phil Mickelson winning the Masters. And it was nice that he really went out and won it, rather than being the one left standing after everyone else lost it. When Phil’s driver went haywire, he still managed to avoid a single bogey. Even Tiger’s 3-putt from close range on #14 wasn’t going to make the difference.

On the other hand, imagine if Phil’s shot through the tree gap had landed a few feet shorter and splashed. The whole story would have changed at that pivotal point.

Congrats to louky 4, whose -48 was four strokes better than the next best GuruGolf team. The winning worst ball score went to BlueCrew with a +62, for a three stroke win. I guess you could say that both teams finished ahead of their competition by “Mickelsonian” margins.

I want to call your attention once again to’s affiliated site, We’ve been adding features to that site over the past week, and have even more ideas to introduce over the coming weeks. Most of the data presented there is available elsewhere, but you’ll be hard pressed to find any site that presents it in a format as easy to assimilate.

Speaking of Assimilating, the baseball Assimilator now has the capability to copy in any team roster directly from the RotoHog Salary Cap game site. I’ll have more comments on recent developments in those games, but I’ll hold off until tomorrow’s blurb for that.

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4/9 - Tough break if you had LeBron on your roster last night. After reports earlier in the day that he would play in Chicago, he ended up in street clothes. This is symptomatic of the endgame in almost all fantasy sports – when key players sit out games to rest for the playoffs. Déjà vu all over again, so to speak.

The low scores at The Masters may have implications for the cut. At the Masters, the threshold is the top 44 plus ties, plus anyone within 10 strokes of the leader. With this many golfers shooting a low opening round, it’s likely that someone will post a low total through two rounds.

I added Fanduel to the list of covered games in the sortable stats. If you haven’t checked out that daily contest site yet, I encourage you to do so. Just click on the large banner above.

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4/8 - I am really looking forward to the end of the NBA regular season. Make that really. Keeping up with the production of stats and the management of the endgame is tough to fit into the start of baseball processing and the need to pay attention to emerging opportunities at the beginning of the season. (Yeah, I know… life’s so tough…)

And then the Masters gets thrown in, just in case I get bored. Ernie Els is the GuruGolf favorite, on about 25% of all foursomes. Five teams found a way to squeeze in Tiger Woods and his hefty price tag. We’ll see whether that’s money well spent.

I came very close to drafting Vernon Wells in the RIBC, but decided to pass, concerned about a declining power trend. Looks like I over-thought that one, as Wells now has three dingers in his first two games.

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4/7 - The Masters tees off tomorrow morning. Get your GuruGolf rosters set! Meanwhile, I turned on the mulligan feature for GuruGolf scoring. This throws out the worst result (excluding Majors) for the season. For most of the leading teams, that was the Transitions Championship – but you can see what week is tossed for each team by hovering your mouse over that team’s score for the season.

RotoHog Salary Cap price changes continue to be outsized (vs. prior years) and unreconcilable. Thus far, there is no evidence that anyone at RotoHog understands (or even acknowledges) the problem, but if we proceed for much longer with these changes, the game will no longer be a salary cap game, as all players will be affordable by all teams. If you’re not playing (or paying attention), you can see the nature of the problem in the sortable stats (check out both the gains and losses).

There are a couple of afternoon baseball games today, so make sure you get your lineups set before it’s too late.

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4/6 - Congrats to the winners of the 2010 Market Madness Contest. The grand prize goes to Honeybunches, with a score of G$585, more than G$100 over the runner up. The prize for the top entry excluding basket units goes to Costanza1, with G$285. You may notice that this entry does include basket units, but those have been zeroed out for the purpose of this prize. The Best Possible Score was G$1011.

Prize winners will be notified by email later this week – or maybe next. This is a busy week.

The baseball season is now in full swing. The RotoHog Salary Cap games are going through some turmoil already, however, as players were repriced (and dramatically so) last night, even though the rules state that the first repricing will be tonight. Oops. A lot players showed max gains and losses. I don’t know if/how RotoHog will sort it out. For now, the new prices apparently stand. There are some scoring errors as well. Notably, many pitchers are being allocated the incorrect number of walks. In addition, holds are being ignored, even though the scoring formula in the rules includes them. It wouldn’t surprise me if they simply decide to revise the scoring formula to exclude holds, as relief pitchers are essentially irrelevant in this game format anyway.

Be that as it may, I do have the sortable stats, the Assimilator, and player pages all updated. I do not yet have the page of yesterday’s points posted, but should have that setup in the next day or so.

Notably, the team standings for the Premier game (formerly called Ultimate) lists only 883 teams. Not a good showing. The basic game only has about twice as many teams. Of course, the launch was very late, and there was no cross marketing by TSN, so I’m sure a lot of people who played the TSN games last year have no idea that these games even exist.

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4/5 - And they’re off! One game down, 2,429 to go.

I’m still working out the kinks in baseball stats processing. I should have the various pages (sortable stats, Assimilator, player pages, etc.) updated and updating soon. At this point, I am commiting to run stats for the RotoHog Salary Cap games, the RotoHog Stock Exchange game, and Fan Duel. I may add others as the season progresses, although these will be a good start.

My affiliated site, is up and running. As you may recall, this site caters specifically to the information needs of those who participate in daily baseball contests. The Weather Dashboard, the daily Batter vs. Pitcher matchup stats, and the Lineup Dashboard are all functional (although some may still have a minor glitch or two). The Bullpen Usage system is not yet activated, but I hope to have that ready later this week.

Kudos to the weekend GuruGolf winner, With a little draw (-49), who claimed the best ball honors by three strokes. Three teams tied for the top worst ball score. The opening “March to the Masters” bestball contest was won by bhutan yaks with a comfortable 11 stroke cushion, while the corresponding worst ball contest was won by Golf Maui III by a six stroke margin.

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4/2 - The baseball season is about to open. Time to “get off the pot”, so to speak.

Decent game from Dwight Howard last night. Everybody else? - Not so much. Those who have Howard are probably most relieved that he avoid his 16th technical foul, which would bring an automatic one-game suspension.

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4/1 - Tyreke Evans seems to have recovered nicely from his concussion. But before going out to pick him up, be aware that the Kings play only twice in the next week.

The Shell Houston Open teed off this morning, and Alex Prugh retains the honors as the most widely owned GuruGolfer. Meanwhile, returning champ Paul Casey played a mean trick on 16 GuruGolf managers, withdrawing this morning due to a shoulder injury.

It was pointed out to me this morning that the scoring formula for the RotoHog Salary Cap game was revised sometime after the initial launch. Originally, all scoring points were exactly halved from the TSN formula of recent years. But after that, the points for saves were cut in half again. RotoHog’s rationale for that seems to be flawed relative to the structure of the game, but then, no one asked me. The consequence is that most closers become irrelevant, since all pitching spots are available for any pitcher, and closer prices were never readjusted to compensate for the formula change. The highest ranking closer in total points for 2009 was Broxton, but that now ranks behind about 35 starting pitchers. So it really makes no sense to own a closer unless you find one that is grossly underpriced. And since all pitchers are grossly underpriced to begin with, it is inefficient to go dirt cheap on pitching.

RotoHog may be able to manage the software elements efficiently, but they lost a lot of institutional memory and understanding related to game design when they took over the game without any support from TSN. Too bad.

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2010: March . . . February . . . January

2009: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2008: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2007: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2006: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2005: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2004: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2003: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2002: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2001: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2000: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

1999: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

1998: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March

RotoGuru is produced by Dave Hall (a.k.a. the Guru), an avid fantasy sports player. He is neither employed by nor compensated by any of the fantasy sports games discussed within this site, and all opinions expressed are solely his own. Questions or comments are welcome, and should be emailed to Guru<>.

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