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5/29 - In some ways, last night's NBA win by the Cavs was amazing basketball, especially the fourth quarter exploits by LeBron. And in some ways, it wasn't even very good basketball, especially the fourth quarter exploits of LeBron. Watching LeBron dribble in place at the top of the key for a few seconds, then drive into the lane, and then either shoot or dish doesn't seem like a particularly interesting or effective tactic to use on every play. But it was enough last night, and that makes it all the more remarkable. Still, it seems as though the Cavs would be better off if they could play their first quarter style after the first quarter. But in five games so far, that hasn't happened.
In baseball, yesterday was essentially a pitchers day. In five games, four teams scored only one run, and three more scored only two. The Atlanta-Arizona game was the slugfest of the day, with a 5-2 score. Unless you had Luke Scott or Jason Varitek, your team hitting probably sucked.
I forgot to mention yesterday that Charlie Hoffman is the popular favorite in GuruGolf for the third consecutive week, on 92 of 222 active foursomes. And that's 92 managers who wished they had jumped off this week, after Hoffman carded a +3 for the first round. It could have been worse, as earlier in the day he was at +5, dead last at the time. Through 8 holes today he's at +1 for the day, +4 overall. It looks like the cut could go into red numbers, so Hoffman will need a rip snortin' back nine to avoid a restful weekend.
5/28 - Some hitters just OWN certain pitchers. One such apparent instance is Cleveland's Ben Francisco's domination of Tampa Bay pitcher Andy Sonnanstine. Francisco's 2nd inning homer was his fourth straight dinger against Sonnanstine, boosting his career batter-vs-pitcher mark to 8-for-9 (plus a walk), with 5 home runs and 12 RBIs. Admittedly, 10 plate appearances is a small sample, but the next time Francisco faces Sonnanstine, I want him in my lineup. And fortunately, the last two times they've met, he has been in my DraftBug lineup for the day. If only my other DraftBug decisions were so productive...
Speaking of productive, the Mets have been involved in five "home run replay" incidents this season, including four in the past five games. And although only two of the on-field rulings were reversed, all five decisions went in favor of the Mets. Last night's reversal was useful, giving the Mets a 2-run bomb (that really shouldn't have been a close call at all) from Dan Murphy, helping to cement a 7-4 win for Johan Santana, whose uncharacteristic wildness (or as he described it, "getting squeezed") resulted in 6 walks.
5/27 - As one who grew up in Ohio, I'm intimately familiar with the chronic "close but no cigar" fate of Cleveland's sports teams. I actually do (barely) remember the last NFL championship by the Browns - in 1962. I also remember countless other occasions when the Browns, Cavs, and Indians got close, but couldn't close. Just getting to the final game/series is tough enough. So even though I haven't lived in Ohio since the mid-70s, I can still empathize with the angst of Northeast Ohioans seeing the Cavaliers steamrolling their way to the NBA Finals this spring, only to get flattened at the last moment. Of course, the fat lady hasn't sung yet. But it's looking pretty inevitable now.
After wondering how many baseball rainouts we'd get yesterday, all games managed to get completed, although the Pirates/Cubs game only went 5 innings. Curiously, the one game that almost didn't start - NY at Texas, which started after a 2:24 rain delay - wasn't even one of the games that looked iffy based on forecasts earlier in the day. Go figure.
There are seven afternoon games on today's MLB docket, so set your lineups early. And then you can check your GuruGolf lineup(s). As the third consecutive PGA tournament in Texas, this field is once again fairly similar to those of the last two weeks, so you probably don't need to make many changes.
5/26 - From all outward appearances, the weather for baseball on Memorial Day was pretty respectable from coast to coast. But today's forecast suggests a different story. Rain probabilities are forecast at 50% or higher at six home cities today - although none look like sure washouts, and it's certainly possible that all will get played. Still, if you're trying to make play/bench decisions based on today's weather outlook, good luck. Or perhaps "flip a coin" is the best approach du jour.
The Dodgers have barely missed a beat since Manny began his unpaid vacation. After losing a quick 4-of-5 immediately after the suspension, they quickly rebounded to win 9 of the next 12, and their YTD record still puts them at least seven games better than any other MLB team. It doesn't hurt that Juan Pierre has hit almost .400 since then, with an OPS in excess of 1.000 and 8 steals. Manny who?
5/25 - Special thanks to Alex Zelvin of The Waiver Wire for contributing today's "guest" blurb:
Playing Match-ups in Daily Fantasy Baseball Contests
One of the great things about daily fantasy baseball contests like Draftbug is that there are a so many different angles that can impact your strategy. Not only are you trying to figure out who the best players are, which games provide favorable situations to one team, and which players are priced attractively, but there are situations where some players match up particularly well against their opponent.
One of those situations is good base stealers against starting pitchers who are easy to steal against. The first thing to understand about this is that while both pitcher and catcher impact the difficulty of stealing bases, the influence of the pitcher is greater. Because of that (and to keep things simple), when I evaluate these match ups, I look at who the pitcher is, and ignore the catcher. 'Stolen bases against' data tends to show very good consistency from year to year, so it's definitely something with good predictive value.
Here are the "leaders" from 2008. If you're looking for a good player to pick in Draftbug, see whether any good base stealers are opposing anyone on this list:
Others who would have made the list quite easily if they had started more games include:
A player like Juan Pierre could be a good play against almost anyone on this list. Not only can he exploit their inability to prevent stolen bases, but he'll rarely strike out against anyone, neutralize a large part of the edge that most good pitchers have. And he doesn't rely on home runs, so ground ball pitchers like Webb also lose the advantage they gain from that edge. And at a price of only 84 in Draftbug, he's a steal...
5/22 - Memorial Day weekend brings the first series of interleague play. The following AL teams will lose their DH's for the weekend: Anaheim, Baltimore, Cleveland, KC, Tampa Bay, Texas, and Toronto. We'll have to see whether Andy Sonnanstine gets to bat third once again. Hey, ... it worked the last time! In any event, plan accordingly.
So far, every NBA Conference Championship series game has gone down to the wire. It looks like you can pretty much disregard anything that happens in the first 40 minutes or so. Take a nap, so you can wake up for crunch time.
5/21 - The Cavs were rested, Orlando was not. The Cavs had run the table in the first two series. The Cavs had lost only one meaningful game at home this year. So I guess it stands to reason that they would lose the home opener. Clearly, this series is far from over, as both teams have been able to win on the road in the playoffs. And clearly, the Cavs are going to need to sweat a bit in this series. Ditto for the Lakers vs. Denver. Both look like good ones for fans.
I'm a little late getting to the blurb today, since there are some early baseball games that forced me to work through my daily lineup decisions earlier that usual.
Charley Hoffman is again the popular GuruGolf favorite, as expected. So far, he's not off to a stellar start, going bogey-bogey-par-birdie-double bogey. Last year, the cut for this tournament was +4, although the course has undergone some design changes.
5/20 - If last night was a preview, the Lakers-Nuggets series will be a barnburner. In light of the intense physical style of play, maybe Vince McMahon should simply book the game as one bout in next week's "Monday Night Raw" event, which currently has the Nuggets' home arena booked for the same night that game 4 is supposed to be played. Stay tuned...
Dontrelle Willis threw a nice game last night, holding Texas to only one hit over 6-1/3 IP. Then again, the Rangers couldn't hit any of four Tiger relievers either. Still, the top outing of the night was probably by Joel Pineiro, who blanked the Cubs for a complete game 3-hit shutout on only 92 pitches, frustrating all of Ryan Franklin's fantasy managers (including me) who were hoping for a save opportunity in a 3-0 game.
The HP Byron Nelson Championship (who knew that Byron's first name was really HP?) tees off tomorrow morning. As the second of three consecutive Texas events, it's not surprising that the field is relatively similar to last week's, suggesting that GuruGolf managers will get to exercise some trade conservation this week - and maybe next. Regardless, if you need to tweak - or at least check - your lineup, do so before tomorrow morning.
5/19 - Hopefully, you haven't been over-reliant on Arizona DBack players lately. They suffered their second straight rainout last night (Sunday in Atlanta, Monday in Miami), and the forecast for the next couple of days isn't particularly promising. To add insult to injury, Dan Haren threw three innings (56 pitches) last night, so he effectively lost a start.
I was happy to see Tony Kornheiser step down from Monday Night Football. It's not that I disliked him in the booth. It's just that his talents weren't particularly suited to that format, and I thought he was wasted in that role. Frankly, I think his best format is talk radio, where he can devote more time to musings on a variety of topics - including sports, but also well beyond. Here's hoping he decides to return to radio - and somewhere that broadcasts over the web.
5/18 - If Nick Swisher can be the Yankees top pitcher, why can't Andy Sonnanstine be the Rays top hitter? After a lineup card snafu forced Sonnanstine to bat third in the Tampa Bay order, he doubled in a run in the 4th inning, helping to nail down his own victory. And although he was only 1-for-3 at the plate, that was a better relative result than his pitching line, which shows 5 earned runs allowed in 5-2/3 innings. Probably just too amped up about getting to bat. Of course, in the N.L., pitchers hit all the time - but not usually from the #3 slot.
Neither of the NBA game 7s was particularly tense yesterday - although Orlando's beatdown of Boston in Beantown was somewhat surprising. And in spite of the extra waiting, Cleveland still has to chill until Wednesday to start the next series. Regardless, it still looks like the playoffs should end before July. Probably even before June 20th.
Zach Johnson was the third most owned GuruGolfer this weekend. And although he did win the tournament, he wasn't the most valuable GuruGolfer - not by a long shot. He carded only 17 birdies and an eagle, while five golfers had 20 or more birdies. Using my ranking system, which also takes into account the relative difficulty of each hole, Johnson only ranked 17th for the week, which suggests that his birdies tended to come on relatively easy holes. If you owned him, I'm sure you're not complaining. But if you wonder why his price gain was so meager, that's why.
In any event, the top best ball score was posted by Liters3 (-51), while Paladins (+43) had the top worst ball result. Curiously, each had a Johnson on their team - but neither was named Zach. And before I get into a dialogue about who had the most valuable Johnson, I think I'd better just stop now.
5/15 - Denver and Cleveland will have to wait a bit longer to start their respective NBA Conference Finals series. Neither Boston nor the Lakers could close out their current series on the road. Both series will end on Sunday, so we have two off days to snooze.
There were a fair number of quality starts yesterday, and a fair number of bullpen blowups. Tough break if you had Felix Hernandez, Billingsley, or Verlander, as the trio collectively allowed only 3 runs in 20 IP and don't have a single win to show for it. Sometimes it's better not to know...
5/14 - On ESPN's PTI show yesterday, Mike and Tony were assessing the odds that Ryan Zimmerman could extend his 30-game hitting streak to at least 40 games. Wilbon noted that the only person to have accomplished that feat in the last 40 years was Pete Rose. Still, one of them gave Zimmerman a 15% chance, while the other estimated 20%. At the time, I thought those probabilities were probably high. And of course, he did go hitless yesterday.
But after putting some arithmetic to it, maybe they were reasonable estimates after all, if not even a tad low. Consider this: Going into yesterday, Zimmerman had 51 hits in 151 plate appearances. Plate appearances is the relevant base in this analysis, since a walk counts as a non-hit. If Zimmerman could continue hitting at that pace, and if he could get 5 PA's per game, then the odds of going "0-fer" in a single game are 12.7%, and generating a hitting streak of at least 10 games works out to be about a 25% proposition (.87310). Of course, this analysis fails to consider variabilities due to batter/pitcher matchups, weather, ballpark factors, and the stress of the chase. But still, I found it surprising that a hitter with his hitting ratios would essentially have a 1-in-4 chance of a 10+ game hitting streak. (RotoGeeks are welcome to check my math and my logic.)
After at least 19 golfers withdrawing from the Valero Texas Open, we still managed to field 202 GuruGolf teams with 4 active golfers. Charley Hoffman is this week's popular favorite, on about 37% of all foursomes. Hoffman doesn't tee off until this afternoon, so we'll have to wait awhile longer before assessing the implications of that choice.
Meanwhile, three baseball games will start before Hoffman gets to the first tee, and another four games are scheduled for this afternoon. So once again, don't wait until late afternoon to consider your daily lineup decisions. Get busy now! Work can wait!
5/13 - Before the season began, the Yankees were thought to have assembled a solid starting rotation, with free agents Sabathia & Burnett joining Pettitte, Wang, and Chamberlain. But 32 games into the season (almost 20%), they sport a team ERA of 5.78, which ranks dead last in the majors. The only Yankee with an ERA under 3.29 is Nick Swisher! Starters have a collective ERA of 5.65, while the bullpen weighs in at 6.01. It's impressive that the team has won 15 of those 32 games.
There are several early baseball games today. If your lineups lock with the first game, be prepared!
The Valero Texas Open tees off tomorrow morning. A lot of last week's golfers aren't entered this week, so it would be a devastating week to forget to reset your foursome. I had to replace all four golfers on several of my teams.
5/12 - Baseball, as life, is not always fair. Johan Santana allowed no earned runs in 6-1/3 IP, but still ended up as the losing pitcher. Meanwhile, the winning pitchers from all four of last night's games had a combined ERA (for the night) of 5.40. Occasionally, a pitcher is persistently plagued with a lack of run support, and that seems to be Santana's fate this season, as he's only won four of his seven starts despite an ERA of 0.78. And those four wins were by scores of 1-0, 1-0, 2-1, and 4-3. Evidently he's not getting fielding support either, as this was the second time he suffered a loss while allowing zero earned runs.
Alert: If you set your GuruGolf lineup(s) early this week, you'd better recheck them. Fifteen golfers have already withdrawn from this week's tournament. The tournament is in San Antonio; maybe the "Swine Flu" is causing Santa Anna's retreat.
5/11 - It's a light day for baseball, with only 4 games on the docket. The NBA has half as many as that, including the Cavaliers attempting to finish its second sweep.
The Lakers are apparently not going to coast to the Finals. Yesterday's loss to the Rockets was not nearly as close as the final 12-point margin suggests, since L.A. closed the gap by 17 points in the fourth quarter. If this is how well Houston can play without McGrady and Yao, just think of how dominant they might be without Artest too! Maybe that should be the strategy.
It was another tough week for a lot of GuruGolf teams, especially with popular favorites Charles Howell III and Nick Watney both failing to make the cut. The top score of the weekend was posted by former GuruGolf champion Long Island Spuds (-47), while worst ball honors went to Mastersman, who at least got some benefit from Nick Watney, who uniquely contributed a full eight strokes to the team score in his first two rounds.
5/8 - It seems to be feast or famine for Giants catcher Ben Molina. In his last 13 games, nine have resulted in 4 TSNP or less (including 5 negative games), while the other four have generated 49 or more (49, 50, 61, & 71). Yesterday's bombast included 2 HRs and 4 RBIs. In investment terms, he performs like an out of the money option in a volatile market - but he's probably priced (in whatever format) as though volatility is only moderate. (Sorry - my investment management background sometimes causes me to view things from an uncommon perspective.) If you own someone who performs like Molina over the long haul, then the daily volatility isn't particularly relevant. But in a daily contest, he could be a valuable commodity, since those outsized spikes can be difference-makers. Food for thought.
Yesterday's big news was off-the-field, as Manny Ramirez began an unscheduled, unpaid vacation. Depending on when you drafted your roto team, you may have gotten him at a modest discount if he wasn't yet signed at that time. But probably not at a 50-day discount. So suffice it to say that if you have him, it sucks. The Dodgers may be able to hold on OK, especially with a strong start in a relatively weak division. But even if the Dodgers suffer no long-term damage, Manny's roto teams may not be as resilient.
5/7 - Zack Greinke has been getting most of the notoriety this season, but if you drafted Johan Santana early in your draft, you can't be disappointed. After blanking the Phillies over 7 IP last night, he has matching ratios (ERA and WHIP) of 0.91, and 54 Ks in just under 40 IP.
In yesterday's "Blogger Invitational Contest" at Draft Bug, I deferred on Santana due to his premium price, and ended up choosing Peavy over Halladay. My biggest mistake (though it's not clear to me whether it was due to carelessness, stupidity, or just bad luck) was taking Derrek Lee instead of Jorge Cantu. Had I gone with Halladay and Cantu, I'd have finished third. But instead, I ended up in 9th place. For a complete analysis of all my choices, see posts 31 & 33 of this thread in the baseball forum. Kudos to Dan Williams of "The Inside Pitch" who found a way to afford Santata, Pujols, and Manny, and still had enough left over to take the top spot.
GuruGolf tees off this morning with 230 active foursomes, the most we've had this season. Charles Howell III, Nick Watney, and Woody Austin continue as the three most widely owned golfers, in spite of CH3 and Austin both missing last week's cut. David Toms, on just under 10% of rosters, has the early lead at -6 thru 11 holes. But as Tiger demonstrated last week, the early lead means nothing.
5/6 - As I mentioned yesterday, I'm participating in a "Blogger Invitational" contest at Draft Bug today. The purpose is primarily to promote the game site, and to give all of the marketing affiliates some extra exposure. Here is the tentative list of participants, along with their Draft Bug username and their own sites:
Alex Zelvin, 'waiver wire', The Waiver Wire
Since we all know about each others' sites, and since rosters don't lock until this evening, I don't want to publicly tip my hand too much in advance, so I'll save my specific thoughts about player selection until later. Check the Draft Bug thread in the baseball forum tonight for updates.
Meanwhile, get your GuruGolf rosters set for the PLAYERS Championship, which tees off at 7:20am tomorrow.
5/5 - I've been playing TSN baseball for at least 12 years, maybe longer. Since long before it was TSN baseball. But I've got to confess, I've been pretty much going through the motions with my TSN teams so far this season. And my middling results show it. I've just been much more focused on my three roto teams, and my entries in the two new games I'm following this year, Draft Bug and playSPEX. Judging from the lack of buzz over the TSN game at the forum, I'm not alone.
My early results at playSPEX have been promising. I managed to win $5,100 so far, including the April contest which paid $5,000. I've also banked several hundred dollars in trading gains - and those are real dollars, not fantasy money. The game is still very much in its infancy, and whether or not it will be able to achieve long-term critical mass is not yet evident. But a limited customer base and a somewhat buggy site still combine to present tremendous opportunities for anyone willing to figure it out and stick with it. In May, they are offering weekly contests with $1,500 in total prizes each week (including a top weekly prize of $750), so if you are willing to invest some time and money, most Gurupies certainly have the skills to capitalize. (If you do register for playSPEX, please provide my referrer code: 6342366).
I've also been reasonably active in daily contests at Draft Bug, where I'm generally playing $1 contests. It's nice to be able to pick and choose the days to participate, the contests to enter, and the players I want - all without regard to what I played yesterday, or what players I've used in the past. It hasn't been as personally lucrative as playSPEX, although I have won more than I've ventured. Tomorrow, I'll be participating in a showcase contest for a bunch of bloggers who are Draft Bug affiliates. I'll comment more on that in tomorrow's blurb, although if you want to coach me in my player selections, feel free to comment in the Draft Bug thread at the baseball forum. (And if you do register for Draft Bug, please provide my promotional code: guru).
Many of the analytical skills honed over years of TSN activity are directly transferrable to these other formats, and I also provide sortable stats for all of these games in a consistent format. So if you're burning out on the TSN game, there are plenty of other similar avenues to explore. And as more of you get involved in these new formats, I'll try to provide and develop new analytical tools tailored to give you the RotoGuru edge that served so many so well for so many years of TSN activity.
And this is not to say that I'm planning to end my analytical support for TSN. It's just clear that I need to diversify - both in my personal exploits, and in the resources available at this site. So please, don't think that if you're not playing TSN any more, this site has nothing of relevance.
5/4 - Although some of the NBA first round series were in doubt, all but one went to the better seed, with only San Antonio failing to capitalize on its home court advantage. It'll be interesting to see how Boston enters its next matchup against Orlando, which starts tonight. Dwight Howard should certainly be rested. But how will the Celtics respond after a draining 7-game series vs. Chicago?
Three baseball games were washed out yesterday, so at least six teams will have their starting rotations adjusted. Make sure you review your fantasy lineups to avoid any starters on the bench - because if it does happen, you can be sure that starter will toss a shutout!
Tiger Woods started out the Quail Hollow Championship looking like he was primed to lap the field. But after Thursday's -7, he managed to go only -2 for the last three rounds combined. Based on my hole-by-hole ranking method (which is the basis for price changes in GuruGolf), Tiger ranked only 20th for the weekend. Bubba Watson actually ranked on top, followed by Ian Poulter and then tournament winner Sean O'Hair.
Congrats to Uncle Buck, who carded the top score of -47 for the weekend. This was one of only 9 teams to have all four golfers survive the cut - and only about 20% of active teams had as many as three golfers still playing on the weekend. Liters4 was the worst ball medalist, with a +45.
5/1 - The Celtics and the Boston fans may be missing Kevin Garnett, but the rest of the country is benefiting from a riveting playoff series vs. the Bulls, with four of the first six games going in to overtime, and a total of 7 overtime periods played - so far. Who could bet against Saturday's series finale going into overtime? It'll almost be disappointing if it doesn't.
Meanwhile, Tracy McGrady finally led his team into the second round of the playoffs. Turned out that all he had to do sit out the games.
Tiger Woods started out the Quail Hollow Championship like a man on a mission. I tried to find a way to fit him into at least one of my foursomes, but his high pricetag made the tradeoffs unpalatable. Sixteen GuruGolf teams found a way to shoehorn him in, though, and so far it looks like it might have been worth it, especially if the cheaper teammates perform reasonably.
The Red Sox feasted on Yankee pitching last weekend, and then continued at a decent pace of six runs/game in Cleveland. But they apparently had nothing left in the tank last night, as Matt Garza torched them last night, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning, and finishing with a one-hit, 10 K effort over 7-2/3 IP. Meanwhile, the Rays touched Josh Beckett for 7 runs in less than 5 IP, en route to a 13-0 drubbing. At least, Boston fans didn't have to worry about clicking back and forth between the Celtics and Red Sox games. The NESN telecast of the baseball game had to be one of the lowest rated local sports programs in years, especially from the 4th inning on.
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
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 toGuru<firstname.lastname@example.org>.
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