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Daily blurbs from the Guru
If this is your first visit to this site, you should first stop by my home page to find out what this site is all about. And please support this site's advertisers. They make free sites like this one possible.

Go forward to more recent blurbs.

7/29 - The MLB trade deadline looms this weekend, and there has already been a fair amount of player movement. If you’re in a roto league, cross you fingers that one of your closers doesn’t suddenly end up as a setup man on a different team. If you’re playing daily contests, be wary of starting players who might be “in play”. And if you typically play in weekly contests – well, maybe you should just wait until Monday.

And if baseball player movement isn’t enough to keep your head spinning, move over to the NFL, where there’s all sorts of pent up activity. I’m hardly paying attention there for now – instead waiting for the dust to settle (which may take awhile.)

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7/28 - Home again, home again, jiggety jog.

The NFL labor issues have been resolved, and football activities – including fantasy football preparations - have ramped up. RotoGuru Invitational Football Challenge (RIFC) Qualifying Leagues are now being formed. See the football forum for guidelines.

Congrats to last weekend’s GuruGolf winners, gutties (best ball, -41) and Cyberwahoo4 (Worst ball, +59). This week’s Greenbrier Classic is already underway, with Spencer Levin the popular favorite, on almost 30% of active foursomes.

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7/20 - With the MLB trade deadline approaching, both the Indians and Pirates find themselves in a position to be buyers, not sellers. Who would have seen that coming? It’s not clear that either team has the gas to get to the finish line, but I’d certainly be excited to see a Cleveland-Pittsburgh World Series.

Speaking of gas, the PGA Tour is burning a lot of fuel this week, as the venue moves from the British Isles to the west coast of Canada, with the RBC Canadian Open in Vancouver. Most GuruGolf foursomes will need some major reshuffling this week. And with next week’s tournament all the way back in West Virginia, we may be in a stretch of weeks where having some stored trade capacity is very useful.

The NBA released the 2011-12 schedule yesterday. Somehow, at this stage that seems irrelevant. I wonder how many of those games will be played, if any?

I’m heading out tomorrow morning for another week of vacation, this time on Long Beach Island in NJ. Hopefully, by the time I return next week, the NFL situation will be resolved and we can begin planning for the football season in earnest.

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7/19 - Roy Halladay couldn’t “grasp” enough air in hot and humid Chicago. He’d probably have fared better in San Francisco, where the temperature was only 65 – and where Ryan Vogelsong grasped the league lead in ERA (2.02) with 6-2/3 shutout innings against the Dodgers. After 15 starts he is now 7-1 with a BAA of .229. Yeah, we all saw that coming in preseason! Actually, he was undrafted in all five of the RIBC leagues.

Rainouts have certainly dissipated over the past month and a half. The 2011 season total of 35 postponed games is still above average, but only three of those washouts have been since June 1. All of those 35 games have now been rescheduled, so the RotoGuru MLB schedule is once again complete.

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7/18 - I’m back at RotoGuru World Headquarters for a few days, in between vacation jaunts to Ohio and New Jersey (Long Beach Island). I’ve been away from cable TV for the past week, so I missed the home run derby and the entire British Open. Roughing it!

There were some post-ASB scoring formula changes in a couple of the affiliated contest sites. FanDuel reduced the points for a winning pitcher from 7 to 5, and added a point for a batter HBP. Draft$treet added a .75 scoring deduction for a blown save (both weekly and daily formats). I believe I have made the correct adjustments in my reports, but please let me know if you think otherwise. Note that pre-ASB points in the sortable stats were not adjusted – they still reflect the rules in effect at the time of those contests. So trailing histories of points will be a bit of a mixed bag for awhile – although neither scoring adjustment was so material that the trailing averages lose informational value.

In GuruGolf, British Open scoring was tougher this year than last, as the top best ball team was 8 strokes worse than in 2010, and the top worst ball score was 12 strokes higher. Here are the 2011 British Open prize winners:
Larceny (best ball, -38)
Rancid (worst ball, +63)

Since I was away last week, I also need to backtrack and announce the winners of the "Open Faced Sandwich contest":
LAMBES FORE HITS (best ball)
Knights (worst ball)

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7/8 - RotoGuru Hall of Fame Day!

Today, I announce and enshrine the Class of 2010-11. Here the list of new inductees:

  • John Holt, champion, 2010 RotoGuru Invitational Baseball Challenge
  • Dan Girard, champion, 2010 GuruGolf
  • Erik Urban, champion, 2010 RotoGuru Invitational Football Challenge
  • Terence Wilson, champion, 2010 RotoGuru Football Pickoff
  • Rufus Hall, champion, 2011 RotoGuru Market Madness
  • Florian Kirstein, champion, 2010-11 RotoGuru Invitational Hoops Challenge
For more biographical details on these enshrinees (and all past winners), please visit the RotoGuru Hall of Fame.

Remarkably, other than Rufus, all of this year’s class are repeat Hall of Famers, most as repeat champions in the same game, although Dan Girard is now a two-sport HOF-er, having won Football Pickoff in 2005. Congratulations to all of these champions!

As we approach the All Star break, I’m heading out on a family vacation in Ohio, so I’ll suspend blurb production for the next week. You all have my permission to goof off as well.

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7/7 - After opening the season hotter than a pistol, the Indians scuffled a bit in June, going only 10-17. So it’s a hopeful sign for Tribe fans when they can take 2 of 3 from the Yankees at Progressive Field – especially since the Yankees hadn’t lost a series since early June (against the Red Sox.) I don’t know if Cleveland has enough in the toolbox to get through the rest of the summer in playoff position. But the season is much funner when they’re aiming for the postseason rather than dumping players in July. And at this point, they are more likely to be a buyer than a seller.

J.J. Henry continues as the most popular GuruGolfer this week, on roughly 30% of all active foursomes. I don’t know why he’s been such a popular guy to own this year. It’s not that he’s had a monster year, although he has made 17 of 20 cuts, which is mighty fine. But his average of 3.36 birdies per round is nothin’ special, ranking outside the top 100 in the PGA this year. So it’s also got to depend a lot on either price, or schedule – or both.

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7/6 - I’ve been regularly playing a couple of different baseball contest formats over the past month and a half, each with modest (albeit low stakes) success. One is the weekly contest at Draft$treet, and the other is the solo contest format at Daily Joust. Today I want to talk a bit about the latter.

In Daily Joust’s solo contest format, you are not paired against any other contestant. Like blackjack, you are playing against the house, and need only to reach a total of 50 fantasy points to win. Presumably, Daily Joust has figured that this puts the odds slightly in favor of the house over the long haul. But so far, in 18 contests, I’ve hit the 50 point mark eleven times, giving me an 11-7 record, which is good enough to exceed the site’s rake ($5 entry fee to win $9.)

I’ll be the first to admit that 18 games is not a statistically credible sample. If I flipped a balanced coin 18 times, the probability of getting least 11 heads is roughly 25%. If I flipped an unbalanced coin that produced a head only 44% of the time, I’d still have better than a 10% chance of getting 11 or more heads. And four of my wins were close calls (3 52s, and a 51), while only one loss was that close (49).

Nonetheless, so far, so good. I don’t play every day, avoiding those days with a limited number of games, or with a lot of weather uncertainties, or when I simply don’t have time to think about it for at least 15-30 minutes. Strategically, it seems as though pitching should be a critical factor, even though there is only one pitcher on a 9-player roster. The pitcher can cost as much as half of the salary cap, and the production should be commensurate with the cost. So I need to have some conviction about the pitcher’s outlook.

Curiously, in my limited sample of 18 contests, I’ve generally done better when I’ve allocated significant cost toward my pitcher. In my 11 wins, my pitcher has cost an average of $337 (33.7% of the total roster), and those pitchers have produced an average of 19.2 fantasy points (DJP). In my 7 losses, I’ve spent only $240 on pitching, and those cheaper pitchers have produced an average on only 5 DJP. So going cheap on pitching has not worked out. My pitching points have been much worse that the proportionate cheapness would suggest, and the extra funds I have used for hitting have also not been as productive. In my wins, I’ve actually gotten an average of 38 DJP from hitters, vs. just 31 DJP from my hitters in the losses, in spite of spending about 14% more on hitters in those losses.

What’s this tell me? So far, it tells me that I do better when I pay up for a higher quality pitcher, and forage for value among cheaper hitters. As an extreme case in point, yesterday I used Justin Verlander at a cost of $528 – more than half of my entire salary cap. He only generated 20 DJP, suffering a tough 1-0 loss to Dan Haren (who would have been a much better pick at a salary of only $325.) But my hitting – notably Ryan Howard with a monster 22 DJP game - saved the day. My hitters actually produced 41 DJP in total – 22 from Howard, and 19 from everyone else.

Maybe my thinking will shift over the next 18 contests. I really don’t think I’ve been that adept at picking top pitchers. I think the quality pitchers have just cushioned my pitching downside, and I’ve been able to identify enough value in cheap hitters to make up the difference. Whether that’s been skill or luck remains to be seen.

In any event, if you’ve been gun shy about playing at daily contest sites because you fear always getting paired against a “pro”, you might want to give solo contests a try. And so far, Daily Joust is the only site offering this alternative. If you aren’t registered there, be sure to click on the big purple banner above, which should populate “rotoguru” in the appropriate registration referral field. Thanks. (Note – there are no free solo contests offered, but if you want to test out your solo picking capabilities, play a free head-to-head contest. The scoring and salary pricing is the same, and you’ll also get to see who someone else has selected on his or her roster. Just measure your prospective solo contest success using the 50 DJP threshold.)

Don’t forget to set your GuruGolf rosters for tomorrow’s John Deere Classic. More than half of all GuruGolf teams still include inactive golfers as of this morning.

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7/5 - We had two more 1-0 games yesterday, with one of the shutouts by the Phillies – but not from any of the usual suspects. This was seven innings of 2-hit ball pitched by Vance Worley, who was rewarded for his efforts by getting shipped back to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after the outing. That’s reasonable, though, as the Phils don’t need a 5th starter until after the All Star break.

The other 1-0 game featured a pair of compete games by the starting pitchers. Chris Carpenter got the better of Johnny Cueto, who surrendered the game’s only run on a pinch hit infield single with two outs in the eighth. The game was also notable in that Cueto failed to strike out a single batter. I suspect it’s quite unusual for a complete game pitcher to fail to punch out anyone – especially in the N.L.

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7/4 - Cliff Lee may have been out of the U.S., but he still provided a holiday fireworks display for the Toronto fans, giving up 6 earned runs, including three homers in his first July start. Curiously, in his final start in May, he also gave up six earned runs. In between, only one run crossed the plate against him for the entire month of June. His ERA for the season still stands at a very tidy 2.92, but if you exclude the month of June, his ERA rises to a pedestrian 4.22.

This is the time of year that I usually post a rant about having several MLB teams not scheduled to play on a national holiday. But lo and behold, today’s schedule shows all 30 teams in action. My rants must have worked!

In GuruGolf, louky 2 posted a -45 for the top best ball score of the weekend. Cyberwahoo8’s worst ball score of +56 was quite impressive, especially since he got half of those strokes on the weekend after only two of his players made the cut. Goydos and Wi managed to combine for +28 in just two rounds. That’s definitely professional quality worst ball play!

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7/1 - The NBA lockout has begin, and by all indications of those close to the situation, a complete washout of the next season has a better-than-even chance. David Stern is blustering that the owners’ offers will only get worse from here, and player union chief Billy Hunter says, “there's such a gap in terms of the numbers, where they are and where we are, and we just can't find any way to bridge that gap.” Doesn’t sound like any forward progress is on the horizon.

MLB interleague play comes to an end this weekend. The A.L. has continued to hold the upper hand, although the advantage is very slight this year, with A.L. teams winning 107 and N.L. teams winning 103. The A.L. has averaged an annual 33 win advantage over the past five years, although the gap has been narrowing in the past two years (24 game advantage in 2009, 16 in 2010).

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2011: June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2010: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . 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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