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

7/30 - Stats for Thursday's games are up. Price changes for Echelon's games won't be posted until tonight.

7/29 - Mike Hampton started the day with the largest SW price gain, then ended it with a 3-4 hitting night in Coor's Field, including a triple, a run scored, and 2 RBIs. As a hitter, that would have been good for 39 SWP and 41 BPP, a very nice tally. Unfortunately, Mike only gets points for his mound work, and it's a good thing the rest of his team hit well, because if he hadn't gotten the win, his pitching scores would have been less than his hitting totals.

Expos' 23-year-old (in fact, he just turned 23 last Sunday) Javier Vazquez was the pitching star last night, with 225 SWP and 187 BPP, in spite of a meaningless 9th inning dinger by Sosa. That's his second consecutive strong pitching start, and his outing before that wasn't so bad either; he was on the losing side of Cone's perfect game, when he really had only one bad inning (the 5-run second inning).

Meanwhile, Kenny Rogers and Todd Ritchie hooked up in a noontime pitcher's duel. The two of them combined for 13 IP, 5 hits, and 2 ER allowed. Neither got the win, though, as Dennis Cook blew the save in the top of the 8th, then nabbed the undeserved win when the Mets rocked the Pirate bullpen for 7 runs in the bottom of the same inning.

Butch Huskey had his second good night at DH for the Red Sox, where he is 5-9 in his first 2 games, with 6 RBIs and 2 home runs (and it really should be 3 HRs, since the umps blew a HR call on Tuesday night). Manny Ramirez showed no lingering effects from being hit by a pitch earlier in the week, knocking in 4 runs with 2 doubles and a HR. And Jeff Bagwell, while not quite outhitting Hampton, did outproduce him with 3 runs and 4 RBI (incl. his 33rd HR).

Yesterday's SW repricing returned to relative normalcy (aside from some lingering confusion about when trades between last Wednesday's and Saturday's repricing were counted.) At least price sensitivities were back to their pre-All-Star levels. Frankly, though, we're getting to that point in the season when price gains are of secondary importance to many teams, and pitching rotations dominate the trade flows. In fact, 71% of all trades last week were pitching trades. As has been extensively discussed in the message forum, this heavy pitcher rotation activity results in a sustained downward price trend for the most popularly rotated pitchers. Although they do get a boost during weeks with 2 starts, the overall trend is negative, due to the discounting of buys - as a simple buy/sell rotation trade produces a marginally negative price impact. So even if your roster value seems to have plateaued, you can still benefit as the best pitchers gradually get cheaper and cheaper.

Team rankings for all versions of the SW/CNN games were posted last evening. Although I can access a worldwide ranking value for the SW midseason teams, it is clear that these rankings are flawed - which is probably why they're excluded from the manager's statement at the SW midseason site. So I just blotted them out.

Tonight, my family hitches up the wagons once again and begins the westward journey toward Buckeye land. We'll be on the road most of Friday and Saturday, since we're making a few college campus visits in eastern PA along the way (Lehigh, Lafayette, and Bucknell). Thus, some of the stat updates the next two days won't be posted until evening. I'll try to wake up early enough to get "Yesterday's points" and the Assimilator posted prior to hitting the road, but that schedule is also dependent on having correct stats to work with - which is anything but a certainty. By Sunday, I'll be stationary on the Marblehead peninsula, and the update schedule should be fairly normal for most of the ensuing two weeks (as long as lightning doesn't fry my modem again this year).

There is one job for which I could use some Gurupie assistance during the next two weeks. In order to prepare the team rankings, I have to download approximately 1000 pages of data. At home, the speed of my cable modem makes this feasible. But I'll be restricted to a 53K phone modem connection for the next few weeks, rendering this exercise inefficient. If I could recruit someone with a high speed connection (a cable modem at minimum, but a direct line - perhaps through your office hookup - would be even faster) to periodically capture team data and email it to me, I'd be much obliged. Other than a fast connection, all you would need is Excel 97. I can send you my spreadsheet with macros, and virtually all you'd need to do is push a button, wait, and then email the resulting spreadsheet to me. It would be nice to rerun the team rankings at least after each repricing. If you can help, send me an email and I'll provide the details.

On the road again...

7/28 - On paper, it looked like a reasonably good pitching duel: Wells vs. Saberhagen. But each surrendered 7 earned runs, and neither lasted until the 5th inning. Mike Mussina fared only slightly better, giving up 6 ER in 4-2/3 IP. Depending in the scoring system, the "stud-of-the-day" award belonged to either Kirk Reuter or Kris Benson, with Joe Mays and Kevin Millwood close behind.

Brady Anderson was the only hitter to top 80 pts. under both scoring formulas, but his 2 HRs and 4 ribbies weren't enough for Mussina.

I hope to post the first midseason team rankings after today's SW repricing, so if you want to be included, send me your team info ASAP. See the bottom of the full season SW or CNN rankings pages for instructions.

A few of you have emailed me to say the poll server still seems to be down. While it certainly is erratic, it is up periodically, and as of this morning there are 182 votes cast, so some people are getting through. If you want to vote, you'll just need to be patient, I guess.

7/27 - Russ Ortiz certainly dodged a bullet last night. After a throwing error prolonged the second inning last night, seven runs scored while Ortiz issued the following: walk, HR, walk, walk, single, error, single, 3rd (5th) out. Admittedly, when you give a team 5 outs in an inning, they ought to score a few. But by virtue of the early error, all of the runs were unearned, and Ortiz escaped with a single-digit positive outing. The opposing starter, Jose Jiminez wasn't so fortunate, as only one of the seven runs he surrendered were unearned, producing a -50 SWP debacle, and continuing his Jekyll and Hyde season.

Bobby Witt was the surprise stud of the night, tossing a 4 hit shutout against pathetic Anaheim. Greg Maddux was right behind, though, waiting until the 9th inning to surrender his only run against the Brewers.

The hitting stars for Monday were Fred McGriff and Matt Mieske, both who homered twice. Craig Biggio only went yard once, but added 2 doubles and a single to finish a close third in the hitting sweepstakes.

There must still be some lingering problems at Echelon Sports, as stats and prices haven't been updated for either baseball game as of 11 am EST today. They are usually posted like clockwork shortly after 10:00. Hope this is just a minor hiccup.

Smallworld launched its 1999 football game yesterday. I haven't had the chance to thoroughly review the rules, but I did quickly notice the following changes from last season:

  • A new roster slot has been added for kick returners, and punt and kick return points have been added to the scoring formula.
  • Field goal points now differentiate by the length of the FG made or missed.
  • Team defense scoring has been reconfigured to produce positive points, so that holding a bye-week defense will not be attractive.
  • I don't see any mention of a weekly price change limit, but they may have just forgotten to list it.
Aside from the rule changes, the site layout has been completely redesigned, and will take some getting used to. I am disappointed that the top section consumes so much screen space, leaving a "working area" that is much more cramped than before. In particular, it don't see why the word "Football" needs to be so oversized. Obviously, this is not a big deal, but as a web site developer, I am particularly attentive to design inefficiencies like this.

While I will certainly provide full football coverage this fall, I don't expect to have anything for 1999 posted until at least the 3rd week of August. The first week of the regular season isn't until September 12th, and it seems ridiculous to even consider drafting a team at this juncture. (Besides, I don't see why I should devote any of my early August family vacation to producing football stats!) Last year's stats are still available, but with the '99 scoring changes, they'll be of limited usefulness. I'll eventually work up 1998 points using the 1999 formula; kickers and defenses will be a tedious exercise, though, since they'll need to be done kick-by-kick and/or week-by-week. In fact, if any of you football Gurupies want to give me an assist, why don't you work up '98 scoring totals for kickers and defenses, and send me the results. Hopefully, I'll get responses from more than one Gurupie, which will act as a cross-check control mechanism. This should definitely help me get a jump start once I return from my vacation on August 16th.

For those of you who just can't stand to wait until then, you can download a complete set of 1998 player stats from Yahoo!, and crunch through the formulas yourselves. For preseason talk, there's already an active football section at the message forum, and you can also use the "League Formation" section to recruit your own divisions, if you wish.

7/26 - Today's blurb will be devoted to a post mortem of the weekend SW price correction, and the announced voiding of points in Echelon's Ball Park Dreams game. If you only want to focus on "on-field" news, then come back tomorrow, because after today, I plan to put all of this stuff behind us.

First, the SW price correction looks technically correct in most aspects. However, there are several irregularities which warrant my commentary, not for the purpose of embarrassing Smallworld, but because these issues have significant pricing ramifications in the next several weeks, and you should be aware of these ramifications.

  1. First, there were 13 recent IPOs whose original draft prices have been inexplicably increased. Nine of the players had their prices bumped up by an even $1 million. The only two of the 13 that are likely to have any relevance to anyone are Ramon Hernandez and Chris Singleton. Hernandez got a $1 million bump, as his initial draft price was restated from $1 million to up $2 million. Since he just went on the disabled list today, if you owned him, you'd better drop him like a hot potato! Singleton only "suffered" a $180,000 price boost, which gave him a price increase of $540,000 when the formula should have only produced $360,000. If you were surprised by all of the "no name" players who appreciated by a full million, now you know why. I don't know whether these will be corrected at some point or not.

  2. There is evidence in the posted trade flows which strongly suggests that the impact of trades after 7/21 have been included in the new prices. Pitchers who started on 7/21, like Maddux and Mussina, don't show the normal net buys that we've come to expect for Wednesday starters. Similarly, Friday starters like Schilling and Hampton do show significant net buys, which suggests that trades through Friday were considered. Additionally, three players who were injured after the 7/21 repricing show sell activity that almost certainly occurred on Thursday and Friday, including Lieberthal, Rolen, and Jones. While this selling activity wasn't severe enough to materially influence their prices, it does suggest that the trade window was open for part of the current "trade week", and this may have significant implications in anticipating the trade flows for next Wednesday.

  3. Finally, although the application of the traditional price model seems to have been technically correct (aside from the issues noted above), I think SW should have compensated for the two week period by doubling the price sensitivity per trade. In the SW formula, price sensitivity is a factor of total trade volume during the period. When there are more trades, the value of each individual trade is proportionately reduced. The reported trades for the repricing showed 1,006,409 buys and 645,588 sells. This is almost triple the number of trades in recent weeks. With the heavy discounting of buys related to the drafting of midseason teams, a buy transaction turned out to have about one-fourth of its normal potency.

    To illustrate, consider Russ Ortiz, who was the most heavily bought. He had net buys of 23,000. If this had been spread out over recent weeks, he would have enjoyed total gains of $3 to 4 million (ignoring the weekly price change caps). However, his price only rose by $610,000. In the next few weeks, if he were to be sold 23,000 times, his price will probably drop by $4 million. Other players who experienced heavy net buys have the same type of prospective price risk, though the order of magnitude will be somewhat less severe.

    The best advice I can give is to be wary of these players. If they continue to produce, you're probably relatively safe. But their prices are now hyper-vulnerable to future selling.

I have provided my analysis to Smallworld. Any further adjustments and or announcements are up to them. I don't advocate any further retroactive changes, although it would be helpful if they could clarify the trade period covered by the last price change. But you should be very alert to the future implications of the issues I've raised here.

Moving on to Echelon's Ball Park Dreams game, due to server outages last weeks, they have announced that points earned on 7/21-22 will be eliminated for all teams. Evidently, some users were able to make trades during this period, but many others were not. Echelon's position is that, since some managers could not make trades during this period, all points will be voided for those two days.

Frankly, I don't see this as a good resolution at all (even though it seems to have advantaged my team ranking by roughly 40 spots!). Clearly, managers who couldn't trade sustained a disadvantage relative to those who could trade. But this solution puts those who could trade at a decided disadvantage. Not only do they lose points for pitchers added during those two days, but those pitchers then produced nothing during the next several days, while managers who were previously unable to trade gained pitching starts. In fact, any team that had more than the average number of pitching starts over that two day period has been disadvantaged by this decision - which is probably about half of all teams. It seems to me that one disadvantaged class has been traded for another, potentially larger group.

I've relayed my concerns to Echelon, as I know many of you have. I don't think there is a simple resolution which doesn't screw some teams. But it seems to me like the solution chosen does nothing to promote greater fairness. It just shuffles the winners vs. losers from a "do nothing" position.

My bottom line, as usual, is that once you've made your complaints, you have to get over it and move on. It's unfortunate that this may have significant competitive ramifications among even the worldwide leaders. But Echelon ultimately has to make their own decisions, and they have to live with the ramifications of those decisions. In support of Echelon, their games have been notably free of technical problems in the past, and while this is an unfortunate situation, they probably deserve some slack given their track record. But I do understand that if your team got royally screwed, this is pretty tough to accept. (If you feel a need to continue to vent, feel free to use the message forum. I'm sure you'll have company.)

Once again, my posture is that I've relayed my concerns, and it is up to Echelon to deal with it from here. I'm not going to belabor this issue any longer.

At least the poll server seems to have recovered, although I had to restart the most recent poll from the start, so if you already voted, you'll need to do so again.

With any luck, tomorrow I'll just have baseball to deal with again.

7/24 - If you've been paying attention, then you probably spent some time Friday night trying to figure out how to best take advantage of today's special SW repricing. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go read the main page at the SW site, then hurry up and figure out what to do before noon EST today (Saturday). If you're looking for hints, check the message forum. It's loaded. But if you're not reading this until after noon on Saturday, then never mind.

As I understand it, today's repricing will effectively restate prices to what should have happened on Wednesday. Trading activity since Wednesday will not be reflected in today's changes. If you've not made any trades since the repricing and you do nothing, you'll be right back where you belong. If you've made some trades in the meantime, then it depends. But regardless of your situation, there are some opportunities for today's repricing that you should consider.

I updated the SW and CNN team rankings yesterday afternoon. I'll do it again after the price change, although the posting may not happen until Sunday.

David Cone couldn't repeat his weekend magic against the Tribe last night, although from a fantasy perspective, he was "fortunate" to surrender an "unearned grand slam", which Robby Alomar popped after Knoblauch graciously provided a fourth out. Ironically, the best game of the night was tossed by Cone's previous victim, Javier Vazquez, a 4 hit, 0 ER complete game win over Pittsburgh.

The best hitting performance came from Jermaine Dye, whose 2 doubles and a triple produced 2 runs scored and 3 RBIs. The Royals had a very balanced hitting attack in scoring 12 runs last night, as every starter had at least one hit, all but one scored, and all but one (a different one) had an RBI. In fact, Chad Kreuter was the only Royals starter with less than two combined runs and RBIs.

7/23 - Let's start off with the on-the-field reporting.

The top pitching effort of the day belonged to Joe Mays, a 23-year-old rookie righthander for the Twins who tossed 8-1/3 shutout innings against the ChiSox. It was the 2nd consecutive 200+ SWP outing for Mays, who I guess warrants some attention now.

Other notable pitching performances included Scott Erickson and Hideo Nomo, both who seemed to have solidly rebounded from their early season difficulties. Jose Lima also pitched well enough to deserve a better fate, but his teammates couldn't push more than one run across while leaving the bases loaded three times.

The best SW hitting day was enjoyed by Alex Rodriguez, who aptly demonstrated that he can hit even in Safeco Field. KC's Johnny Damon posted the best point total under the Echelon scoring system.

In addition to the subject of today's quote, another unusual thing occurred at Jacobs Field last night, when the wrong lineup was provided to the umpires, resulting in Cleveland losing the DH for the game. Charles Nagy ended up batting seventh, when the lineup card had the Manny Ramirez at DH and Alex Ramirez in RF, rather than the other way around. Although the name issue probably contributed to the confusion, it's not clear that was the sole culprit. If you want the full story, check out this morning's Akron Beacon Journal.

In internet land, the variety of recent technical problems seem to be working themselves out. Smallworld is trying to figure out the best remedy for this week's pricing problem, and has promised more details by noon today. Echelon's two baseball sites returned to life this morning, with promises to have all scoring up-to-date by Sunday. And the poll server is starting to respond again, too, although it's still not yet ready for prime time. I'll definitely update the Smallworld and CNN team rankings sometime over the weekend as well. The choice of day will partly depend on the nature of the pricing resolution. Sorry for taking so long to update these, but with the recent series of snafus, it always seemed like it was better to wait for normalcy to be restored.

I hope to begin providing Midseason rankings for the SW and CNN games next week. In preparation, if you want your midseason team(s) listed, please send me the user_id, team name, and site. Instructions for doing this are at the bottom of the regular season team rankings pages.

7/22 - I'm sure many of you are looking for my explanation of yesterday's SW price changes. All I can tell you is that I have discovered that the related trade data does not reflect the trading activity from the last week, or the last two weeks. It is mostly based on activity from 3 weeks ago, modified in a way that clearly demonstrates it is bogus. Smallworld has been aware of the irregularity since shortly after prices were released, and so far, I have received no explanation.

Until I get an explanation from Smallworld, I am going to withhold commenting further. While it is undeniable that the trade data and resulting price changes are inconsistent with recent trading activity, I need to understand whether Smallworld was the perpetrator or the victim. Stay tuned as the story unfolds.

To compound the frustration, Echelon's two baseball sites have been down for the last 15-16 hours as well.

And to further add to my morning aggravation, today's stats source was missing the NL Central teams, so I had to use backup sources for that data. I think the posted data is pretty good now, but I haven't yet gone through my full quality control process, so there may be some slight changes to come. Let me know if you see anything that looks off.

On the field, the most remarkable game was the duel between Villone and Jiminez. Each of them must have thought they were facing Randy Johnson. I'll let you look up the details.

I'll post an update if and when I learn anything more.

7/21 - Today's quote related to Randy Johnson probably should have come from Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz: "There's no place like home." Returning to the city (albeit a different ballpark) where he gained notoriety, he finally got some run support - and one run would have sufficed this time.

The Big Unit held the top spot in pitching yesterday, but there were a number of "close behind" pitching outings as well. I'll let you look them up yourselves. On the hitting side, no one had what I'd consider a real "bust out" game worth of comment.

Today we get new SW prices after a 2 week hiatus. With the probable strong influence of the midseason draft, today's results will be interesting to evaluate. Tune in tomorrow for my take on the situation. Or, check out the message forum this afternoon. Repricing generally stimulates plenty of action over there.

I had to take the poll offline for the time being, as the poll server seems to have gone on the fritz. I'll restore it when it works again.

7/20 - Pitchers didn't fare as well last night. Then again, it was the fifth day of games following the ASB, so many teams had their 5th starter going. Rookie Octavio Dotel had the best effort of the bunch. But if you had a more established name inserted into your rotation last night, you were probably underwhelmed.

On the other hand, a number of hitters had distinguishing performances. Scott Rolen led the parade with a double, 2 HRs, 3 R, and 4 RBI, anchoring a 16 run Philly outburst. Brad Fullmer took out Montreal's no-hit frustrations with a 4 hit (2 doubles, 1 HR), 3 RBI bombast. All told, seven teams scored in double digits last night.

With the exception of SW and CNN team rankings, I think the site is up to date now. In particular, I added several tools for Echelon's Baseball Market game (see new menu items at left). Stats are integrated into the regular sortable stats program (as a third game choice). Individual player pages have several extra columns for players who are listed in that game. And I added a separate Assimilator, which uses the Ballpark Dreams "slots" to hold Baseball Market data. (It's not a particularly elegant solution, but it will do, at least for now.) Note that where prices are expressed in thousands, so are dividends. Hopefully, this will help our understanding of the game - although there are still some mysterious price movements. For example, check out the most recent price change for David Wells.

7/19 - 'Twas certainly a day of extremes!

By now, the superlatives and coincidences surrounding David Cone's perfect game have been chronicled over and over, so I won't add to the repetition. I listened to the entire game while driving home from the NJ shore - the first time I've heard every pitch of a perfecto. The Yankee announcers were talking about the possibility of a perfect game as early as the 3rd inning - so it was clearly in the mindset throughout most of the game.

At the other extreme, Pedro Martinez suffered through the worst start of his career, at the hands of the Marlins, no less. At the cheaper end of the pitching spectrum, John Halama came back to earth after more than a month of superb starts, demonstrating that Safeco field isn't always going to be a pitcher's haven. Curiously, Halama had done well in the Kingdome.

Off the field, I understand that the Smallworld server was acting up yesterday, disallowing player buys in the morning, resulting in a lot of invalid rosters at freeze time. I presume SW will allow points for invalid rosters, even though that isn't what's been done so far this morning. If you're really lucky, maybe the server glitch kept you from rotating into Pedro. In any event, you might as well calm down until the situation is addressed. No sense getting apoplectic over something you can't control. If you want to commiserate with others, the message forum is filled with tales of woe.

Changing sports, the British open also seemed to follow the extreme theme, with the leader blowing a three shot lead on the last hole, in a fashion that I'm sure many of us duffers easily recognized.

Now that I'm home again, it will take a day or two to get the site fully up to date again. Given yesterday's SW snafu, I think I'll wait until after Wednesday's price change to update the SW team rankings, but everything else should be fully restored within the next 24 hours or so. I also hope to have some preliminary stats for the new Baseball Market game, which I must confess is still somewhat of a mystery. Hopefully, sortable stats tables will begin to shed some light. Stay tuned.

And finally, thanks to Rich Paganelli for very ably providing blurbs during the past week. He did a great job, and it was nice to have the site maintain that "lived in" feel.

(During my vacation [7/10-18], daily blurbs are being guest written by RotoGuru Hall-of-Famer Rich Paganelli. Thanks, Rich!)

7/17 - I am pleased to report I am ranked #1 worldwide in Smallworld baseball, but only 4th in my division. I guess everyone was ranked #1 for a little while yesterday, leaving us to say, "it certainly was a nice dream, if only for a little while." At least we had no trouble logging into our teams yesterday.

I think we should start with hitting performances today, as I'm not sure we want to talk about our stud pichers' performances. Is it time to grab Mark McGwire? After hitting a pair of 3 run homers, perhaps I should have suggested that yesterday! True to form, the Cardinals lost the game 9-8. Mike Piazza continued on his torrid pace going 3 for 4 and 2 RBI, he is now 12 for 24 with 3 homers and 11 RBI over his last 6 games. Harold Baines showed a 40 yr. old can still play this game, going 4 for 5, hitting his 20th home run of the season. Since May 12th Baines is 59 for 147(.401) and 39 RBI's. Why don't I have this guy on my SW team? A guy who I'm sure is on many more of our teams, Slammin' Sammy, kept pace hitting his 34th dinger and going 4 for 5 in the game. The Cubs won, too. Magglio Ordonez, another of our popular holdings, made us happy with a double, homer and 4 RBI.

Do I have to mention pitchers? OK, let's get the worst over with first. Greg Maddux hurt us bad. A negative outing, OUCH! If you made the swap from Randy Johnson to Mike Mussina instead, congratulations. However I suspect because many of us had Maddux before the break on Sunday, we just held him, thinking we were so smart, essentially getting 2 starts in 3 days. Not just any 2 starts either, Greg Maddux starts no less. I honestly didn't like Maddux at Yankee stadium, especially after Glavine shut down the Yankees yesterday, but what could we do? Even the Guru would have frowned on swapping a pitcher ON their pitching day. I did manage to avoid Maddux in the Mid-season game. Russ Ortiz continued to leave us wondering which Russ Ortiz would show up on any given day. Perhaps you had Steve Woodard or Mike Mussina, then you feel a little better. Safeco Field is indeed proving to be a pitchers park, as San Diego's Sterling Hitchcock out dueled Jeff Fassero 2-1. Seattle, who leads the majors with 151 home runs, failed again to go deep. In fact, they have only hit the wall once in those 2 games. Maybe it is time for Griffey owners to make a trade.

7/16 - The Diamondbacks score, the Diamondbacks score again. Uh oh, Texas scores 3 times and Randy Johnson sees another beautiful pitching performance wasted. I doubt Buck Showalter is at the top of any of us RotoGurupies' favorite person list. What was that guy thinking? I heard Randy Johnson say he wanted to go back to Seattle, but then he watched the 9th inning of the Seattle vs. San Diego game and decided maybe that wasn't the answer either.

Last night was definitely NOT the night to go to sleep early, as many teams posted come from behind victories. St. Louis was awarded a tie goes to the runner call in the bottom of the ninth, which knotted their game at 2-2. Ironically Frank Thomas(who got tossed for arguing the call)watched his replacement, Greg Norton make the costly throwing error in the bottom of the 13th inning to give St. Louis the victory. I guess the umpires can't retire soon enough for the White Sox. Houston made Larry Dierker's return a happy one, coming from behind to win 8-6. Florida, NY Mets, and Oakland also posted come from behind victories.

After some late night and early morning server problems, Smallworld finally got their site back up and running, just in time for us last minute managers to do some final tinkering with our Mid-season rosters. Hopefully everyone got their changes done on time. Smallworld's server problems seemed to be very contagious, taking down part of our beloved RotoGuru site for a while also. Let us hope all server problems are behind us.

I am having extreme difficulty understanding the logic behind the new Echelon Baseball Market game. In case any of you didn't read the rules thoroughly, the players salaries are NOT market driven, instead they are performance based. This would be OK, except that after following the prices since the game was 1st posted, players salary price increases/decreases don't seem to match their performance. Perhaps after another week or so things will become more clear. The RotoGuru himself will be back from vacation by then, and it will be his problem to worry about. That's what we pay him the big bucks for!

7/12 - The allstar break is here, and we Gurupies can finally take a well deserved break! 3 days off, with nothing to do. Oh wait a minute, that's right we have these 2 mid-season games to keep us busy. No rest for the weary. However with all the lively discussion in the message forum, the timely printing of "Optimal SW rosters" by Victor Davis,and all the statistics provided by "The Guru", picking our rosters should only take us about 15 minutes. I'm sure everyone has learned from their 1st half season of mistakes, and now chants the familiar spring battle cry, "this will be our year". Optimism is a great thing. Seriously, I do expect competition to be very strong(especially among us Gurupies), as I know I have learned so much from reading Guru's columns, the message boards, and my own dumb mistakes. My biggest question, is whether the full season SW game, and mid-season game rankings will be kept separately. I will be extremely disappointed in SW if they pool all the entries together. We'll keep our fingers crossed.

Yesterday's action saw a beautiful complete game pitching performance turned in by Beanie Baby hero, David Wells. His effort was good for 247 SW points, but I doubt many people had him on their rosters. Greg Maddux on the hand, certainly had more fantasy implications, and also pleased his owners, by throwing 8 inning 1 run ball(181 SW points). I'm sure a few of you(myself included) were extremely disappointed that he didn't get to pitch the complete game. How greedy we have become, 2 months ago we would have been jumping for joy with Maddux's outing. Jose Lima seems like he has regained his top form, and Todd Ritchie did not disappoint either. Overall, another good day for most of the popular holdings in the starting pitching department.

On the hitting side of things, probably the biggest news of the day was Jose Canseco's back surgey, that will sideline him a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks. The biggest hit of the day was Jay Bell's grand slam, in more ways than one. A lucky fan won 1 million dollars as a result of it. The rules to the contest you ask? First you had to win the radio call in contest. Secondly, you than had to pick the correct Dbacks player. Then you had to pick the inning in which the grand slam would be hit. That's all there was to it. Amazing! One other quick note, We have an answer to my probabilty question posed yesterday. Do I even need to tell you who submitted the answer? Victor Davis, of course. The odds of having 4 consecutive 225 SW pitching performances is 40,000,000 to 1. Randy Johnson was pleased when I told him he had beaten extremely long odds. I also told him not to worry, the odds of that happening a 5th time were...?

7/11 - I don't know about anyone else, but I'm still shaking my head over Randy Johnson's incredible run of bad luck. I guess you could say, if he didn't have a "run of bad luck", he wouldn't have any runs at all. Kidding aside, the following statistics bear that fact out. All statistical data was provided by Victor Davis (Madman). Thank You Victor! In the last 4 Randy Johnson starts, in which the Diamondbacks have provided zero offensive support, the opposing pitcher has scored in SW points, 254(Jimenez no-no), 228(Villone), 253(Jimenez), 231(Hudson). Games in which pitchers have produced 225 SW points or better are a rare occurence indeed. There have only been 30 all year. Assuming all 30 teams have played 80 games, translates into 2400 pitching starts. Meaning the odds of selecting a pitcher that produces that total are 1.25%. Those odds go up to 100% in the last 4 opposing Randy Johnson starts. Anybody want to guess what the probability of that happening are? What makes this even more amazing is these pitchers previous start before facing Johnson, and their next start afterwards. Jimenez scored 23 SW points before Johnson, -8 points after. Villone actually did well (good thing yesterday's performance didn't figure into this) scoring 195 points before, 147 after. Jimenez 2nd game -8 before, 101 yesterday. Tim Hudson 171 points before, ??? after. We won't even talk about how much each of those pitchers cost in SmallWorld's game. On the bright side, I know I am alot happier with Randy Johnson's point totals in those last 4 games, than Randy is.

There were plenty of decent pitching performances turned in last nite(Ortiz, Hudson, R Johnson, Glavine, Jimenez, Halama, Mussina, Appier, Hampton, Lieber and even Kevin who?, er... Brown) and I suspect a few of you did very well yesterday. However due to a server problem at SmallWorld, no points will be given for games played on 7/10. Just joking!

I awoke early yesterday and was determined to watch The Women's World Cup Consolation game, and the Championship game, but got sleepy on the couch. I fell asleep with the score in the consolation game 0-0. I slept for what I thought was nearly 2 hours, but when I awoke the game was still 0-0, so back to sleep I went. Figuring I had slept only a few more minutes, it looked like 2 different teams were playing, but the score was still 0-0. When I later awoke, the news was on, saying there had been some kind of shoot-out, and the USA had been declared the winner of a 0-0 game. Must be the home field advantage? I dunno know, but I guess I should offer my congratulations to the USA Women's Soccer Team. I promise never to mention them again.

7/10 - Interleague play is upon us again, as bragging rights for cities, states, and in the case of Montreal and Toronto, entire countries are at stake. The Cubbies continued their losing ways against the White Sox, as only the Cubs could, losing the game in the bottom of the 9th. In New York, the 2nd biggest ovation of the night was given to Jeff Van Gundy, who threw out the 1st pitch. Topped only by Mike Piazza, who hit the game-winning 3 run homer off of Roger Clemens. Piazza is now 5 for 9 against Clemens, including 2 home runs, with last month's dinger breaking up Clemen's AL record streak of 20 consecutive winning decisions. The best pitching performance was turned in by none other than Curt Schilling, but not before he gave us Schilling owners a good scare in the 9th inning. I started having flashbacks of the Philly Vs. Mets game on 5/23, when the Mets came back and scored 5 times to win the game and hand Schilling the loss. Yes, I owned him for that game too. Fine performances were also turned in by Al Leiter (8 innings & 2 runs), and Ismael Valdes (7 innings & 0 runs). Are Dodger fans saying "Kevin who" yet?

On the SmallWorld Midseason baseball front, I continue to see unresolved issues. I don't know quite what to make out of being able to log in with my full season team at the Mid-season site. I also am unsure whether the rankings will be independent of the full season game, but I have to believe that they will be, otherwise what's the point? I also feel confident that some of the concerns raised in the message forums will be addressed and answered before the actual start of the game. Let's hope so.

One other brief note: Although it has nothing to do with us fantasy-wise, I thought it would be unfair NOT to mention that today is the Women's World Cup Soccer final, between USA (like you didn't know) and China. The crowd (90,000) will be the largest ever to see a women's sporting event in the U.S. President Clinton will be attending, but that's a different story. I'm hoping we can finally put Mia and the whole soccer thing away after today. I'm sick and tired of Mia and the gang interrupting my Sportscenter highlights with their commercials.

7/9 - This may be my last blurb for awhile. I'm leaving tomorrow for a week's vacation on Long Beach Island in NJ.

Before you panic, I am taking along my laptop, and I will continue to update stats each day. But I'll be scaling back to the "lite" version of RotoGuru - reduced (or no) blurbs, and possibly later-than-usual stat updates. I won't be updating the team rankings during the next week, either (though I'll try to update them later today). The All-Star break comes at a convenient time, since that means there will be three days with no stats to update - though I'll have to complete my midseason drafting during that time. I'll also have a lower profile on the message forum next week, but with a half dozen recently deputized moderators, I'm sure the forum will stay active and sanitized. So overall, even though I won't be as active next week, I'm sure the RotoGuru fishbowl will keep revolving.

I did make one adjustment to the Assimilator this morning. I replaced the YTD point average with the last 30-day point average in the stats table. This will provide a more current snapshot of player productivity. When putting my midseason rosters together yesterday, I noticed that the YTD average for some players seemed to dramatically misrepresent their recent production, which is why I made the change.

I noticed this morning that Kevin Millwood has quietly been moving up the leaderboard, and after last night's strong outing he's ranked #5 in total points (both games). Over the past 30 days, he's ranked 3rd in total SWP, behind only Pedro Martinez and (get this) Sterling Hitchcock!

7/8 - Since the evidence suggests that so many of the competitive SW teams own Pedro for each of his starts, I'm not sure that his on-field performance matters that much. His $1 million price gain yesterday was widely predicted as early as two weeks ago. In fact, without the $1 million weekly price cap, Pedro's price would have risen by $1,450,000. I thought the biggest surprise in yesterday's SW repricing was at catcher. With Jason Kendall's injury, there was sure to be a flurry of activity, which I figured would lead to gains for Piazza, Lieberthal, and Mike Sweeney. But instead, it appears that Sweeney was taking not only most of the Kendall trades, but he was also attracting swaps out of Piazza and Lieberthal. I guess that demonstrates the power of national notoriety, since Sweeney's consecutive game RBI streak got daily attention during most of the week.

Total trading activity for the past week was almost identical with each of the two previous weeks, with about 300,000 buys vs. 270,000 sells. The "buy discount factor" was again 10%, and the price sensitivity was a $100,000 gain per 575 adjusted net buys.

So now we enter a two-week SW repricing cycle, with a bunch of new midseason teams thrown into the fray. Assuming the repricing formula will continue to be applied in a consistent manner, this should help the lower priced players, and hurt the stud pitchers who are most likely to be involved in pitcher rotations. The reason for the "stud trouble" is that, rather than specifically eliminating draft buys from the repricing formula, all buys are equally factored down by enough to produce total adjusted buys equal to total sells for the period. Since pitcher rotations generate a large number of offsetting buys and sells, those buys will be reduced by a significant factor this time, which mean that the pricing formula will treat them as though they had significant net sells. This is why pitchers like Pedro, Johnson, & Schilling have sustained material losses during some weeks in which they were "off cycle" when Wednesday rolled around. If this is confusing, you might review the article I wrote awhile back about the repricing formula, called Peeking Behind the Pricing Curtain. There's also a reasonably good discussion thread about this at the message forum, titled "SW Pricing Clarified".

A few notes about the two midseason games I mentioned yesterday:

  • Smallworld's game (and there is also a midseason CNN game) seems to be highly integrated with the regular season game. In fact, trades already seem to be deducted during the draft period (which is contrary to the SW norm), so be careful if you decide to draft early. There are a few other oddities as well, which I won't mention at this point. I have passed my concerns on to SW, and hopefully the apparent glitches will be resolved quickly.

  • Echelon's Baseball Market game does have an indirect relationship with the current Ball Park Dream game, in that the dividend formula for the new game is exactly $200 x the point formula of the current game. This means I already have a daily history of pro-forma dividends, which will facilitate development of stats tables. The prices for the new game seem to be completely distinct, although I do expect they will move in a manner consistent with the current game.

7/7 - It looks like you can stay busy right through the All Star break. Both covered game sponsors are offering new mid-season games.

Smallworld's game will be a clone of the existing game, with new teams starting with a fresh $50 million and (of course) no points. Pricing will be consolidated with their existing games, so there won't be any new data to assimilate - just a new perspective, since most of you have gotten used to having more funds to work with. So, here's your chance to avoid the early season mistakes that have put you in a hole so far.

Fortunately, none of the regular SW stats pages will require any retooling, so you can hit the ground running in terms of traditional RotoGuru analytical support. Also, I will produce a separate team rankings for the mid-season SW game, but don't send in your user_id's just yet.

Meanwhile, Echelon has just announced a new baseball game, The Baseball Market. This is not a clone of the existing BallPark Dreams game, but a complete redesign, with new prices, formulas, and objectives. Developed to be more of a stock market game, the object is to accumulate the most wealth. Player "stocks" will pay dividends, with prices rising and falling according to performance. So, the objective will emphasize "buy low, sell high", rather than the current game's emphasis on "buy low and hold on". I haven't had a chance to reflect on all of the nuances, but it looks quite interesting.

Unfortunately, with a new design, new formulas, and new prices, providing full statistical coverage will be more problematic - especially in the early going. Initially, you should plan on "going it alone". I suspect I can retool my sortable stats reports to accommodate the new data, but it won't be available initially, and I won't be backtracking to build up historical daily stats. I may also be able to develop a separate Assimilator for this game. I won't integrate it into the existing program, since that is already getting a bit unwieldy in size. Individual player stats pages also present some programming difficulties. Suffice it to say that to the extent I am able to provide statistical support, it will be phased in over a period of weeks. But, I will definitely be entering a team, and I recommend that you try it out as well.

Today will be the last SW repricing for the next two weeks, and will determine the draft prices for the midseason game. There have been a number of "threads" on the message forum about leagues and strategies for the midseason game, and I recommend that you all spend some time there to take advantage of the collective Gurupie insight and wisdom.

7/6 - Yesterday's big story was clearly the afternoon, nationally televised rematch of Jose Jiminez vs. Randy Johnson. All of the superlatives and anomalies were addressed ad nauseum last night, so I won't belabor any of the points. Meanwhile, Russ Ortiz spun his second straight gem last night, the first time he's produced back-to-back triple digit games since early May. Jeff Fassero also threw a masterpiece, but I doubt if it has any fantasy implications... after all, who would have had him? I'm sure the postponement of Mike Hampton's start had a much bigger impact. (No, I don't know for sure when his next start will be. I've heard rumors of both Wednesday and Thursday. I think the answer is "it depends...").

In addition to the 2-hitter by Jiminez, Ron Villone was the other cheap starter to pick up a big score. His next start is against Cleveland at the Jake, so take that into account when formulating your trading plans.

RotoNews has initiated a new page for probable starting pitchers which runs on a Thursday-Wednesday cycle. You might find this helpful when planning your SW pitching rotations. Just be aware that for the first few days after the All Star break, pitching forecasts (regardless of source) are often inaccurate.

Today marks the enshrinement of the next inductee to the RotoGuru Hall of Fame. Congratulation to Brent Wolf, who finished 1st in the RotoGuru Team Rankings for the Smallworld Hoops Playoff game.

7/5 - I slept in this morning, and then discovered that my stats update was completely empty, so putting out yesterday's point updates took an extra couple of hours. Bummer. I think they're in pretty good shape now, although there are always a few glitches when shifting from one stats source to another, so be alert.

Last night I posted a new Base Advances article, "Optimal Smallworld Rosters", written by Victor Davis. Victor uses computerized optimization routines to develop the "efficient frontier" for rosters, and uses this analysis to address some relevant questions about long strategy. While the underlying data changes from day to day (so don't expect that today's "optimal roster" will look the same as yesterday's - certainly some names will continually change), I think any SW manager can gain useful insights from this type of analysis. Thanks, Victor!

Stay cool.

7/2 - Among the day's pitching highlights, Hideki Irabu continued his dominance over the Tigers. Tom Glavine pitched his best game of the year, looking more like the "Glavine of old", rather than an "old Glavine". Scott Williamson just keeps on cranking out points like a machine. Todd Ritchie and Matt Clement had the best performances among the pitchers with 6-digit prices.

On the hitting side, it was a good day for Valentin family, with Jose clubbing two home runs to lead all shortstops, while Javier headed the list of catchers for the day. (They are brothers, aren't they?)

Today is Pedro day again. It's the day when you can look around at just about any roster and find him. So, if you're looking for an opportunity to gain on virtually the entire field, all you need to do is pick up the non-Pedro starter who will do better than Pedro today - assuming there is one. No problem, right?

7/1 - Randy Johnson has averaged more than 15 K's and less than 2 ER in his last two starts, but it hasn't been enough to avoid two losses, last week against the no-hitter of Jose Jiminez, and last night against 8 innings of one-hit shutout ball pitched by Ron Villone. Randy's next start? Jiminez again. Hmmm....

After reviewing yesterday's SW repricing results, it looks like it was more important to know who to sell than who to buy, as three players dropped the max, while no one went up the full million. Although pitchers comprised two-thirds of all trades, three of the top five gainers were hitters. Total sales activity was up 2% over the prior week, which suggests that either the population of active teams has stabilized, or that teams used more trades (on average) this week vs. last week, perhaps in week-long pitching rotations. Or both. Total buys exceeded total sells by roughly 10%, so adjusted net trades were based on a buy factor of 90%. A $100,000 gain then required about 581 adjusted net buys, up very slightly from last week's 571/$100,000.

Randy Johnson was the most heavily bought player last week, but Pedro was again the most heavily traded. Larry Walker, the leading price gainer, was only the 15th most actively traded, with 5788 buys and 231 sells. I wonder what those 231 sellers were thinking of?

Jiminez turned out to be a disappointment to his buyers, I'm sure. With a gain of only $440,000 and an on-field output of -8 SWP last night, he's not looking like next week's big kahuna. Of course, he does face Randy Johnson next time out.

All of the pricing-related data has now been updated, including price changes, trade counts, and team rankings.

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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<>.