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

9/29 - The playoff picture is still considerably out of focus.

In the AL, we know that the White Sox will have home field advantage throughout. And we know that at least one of Seattle or Oakland will win the AL West. Beyond that, we don't know the teams, or the seeding. We don't even know the starting date of the AL playoffs, as we could still have a couple of makeup games on Monday, and a couple of one game playoffs on Tuesday.

In the NL, we know the four teams. And we know the scheduling of the two NL playoff series. But the matchups and seedings are still up for grabs.

So if you're making plans for your SW Playoff roster, it's definitely "hurry up and wait" time. In the meantime, I recommend a forum thread on SW Playoff Strategy, which includes a good discussion on a number of alternative approaches to roster selection and trade management. Additionally, I've now produced a separate Baseball Playoff Assimilator, configured to the SW Playoff framework.

Bottom line: If you are trying to map out your final fantasy trades with military precision, or get an early start on configuring your playoff roster, you're screwed. But if you like meaningful games in the last weekend of the season, it's a great time to be a baseball fan.

As I mentioned yesterday, there were all sorts of appetizing pitching opportunities yesterday. Unfortunately, it looks like the term "hurlers" was more appropriate. There were some good outings, but not from the likely suspects. The inspired choice would have been Elmer Dessens. But if you went with the more traditional candidates, the best you'd have probably come up with was 85 SWP from Bartolo Colon. In general, if you were looking to hold your current position, then last night probably didn't hurt you - unless you had Clemens and D'Amico while your pursuers had Colon and Kile (which would have produced a 200 SWP swing).

Most of the widely owned hitters had a bad night as well. I'm assuming that few of you had Jay Bell, who banged out 102 SWP.

By the way, if the Yankees continue to collapse, and the Red Sox can keep winning, Pedro may get one more start, either on Sunday at Tampa (an interesting matchup, given his last outing there), or in a one-game playoff vs. the Yankees next Tuesday. Now wouldn't THAT be something!

9/28 - Down to those last few, precious pitching trades. Tonight offers a number of attractive opportunities: Maddux, Brown, D'Amico, Kile, Clemens & Colon are all possibilities. Which ones will live up to the standards set last night by studs like Tony McKnight?

Most of the teams that needed to win, did. The Yankees didn't however. In fact, the Mets clinched their playoff berth before the Yankees this season. I suspect the Yankees will eventually get it done, but they sure aren't looking like a team to be feared heading into the playoffs. Of course, a week is a long time in baseball, and a lot of tides can turn between now and then.

In Football Pickoff, St. Louis is currently a 96-4 favorite over San Diego. That's even more lopsided than Miami over Cincy by 95-5. I wonder how much those odds will come in before Sunday? Not much, I'll bet.

BTW, the first game on Sunday is listed to start at noon EST (Giants at Tennessee). So the Pickoff deadline will be an hour earlier than usual. Don't procrastinate on Sunday morning!

9/27 - In his swan song appearance, Pedro Martinez was vintage Pedro, producing 130 SWP in only 5 innings pitched! Some Gurupies at the message forum were suggesting that Ryan Dempster might be a better option, since he would probably pitch twice this week, while Pedro would work only once. But at this point, Dempster needs 75 SWP on Sunday just to break even with Pedro's short stint.

In general, the teams with playoff hopes still on the line had good outings from their starters. Aaron Sele was the top dog with 140 SWP. Tim Hudson and Chuck Finley also produced 3-digit scores. Each of these guys could also work on Sunday if that game is still meaningful for his team. So if you've got 'em now, you ought to try to hold 'em, just in case.

The top hitter was Brian Giles with 57 SWP, and there were five other hitters close behind, also in the 50s.

Small World Hoops was launched yesterday. The only scoring change I noted was the addition of a 10 point bonus for a triple double. Several years ago they had a 25 point bonus, but that was dropped for the past 2 seasons. Now it's back, but smaller. Trades will be doled out at 4 per week, on Tuesday afternoon. Since the NBA season starts on a Tuesday (10/31), there should be no confusion about the timing of initial trades. Once the season starts, we'll have four trades to work with for the first 7 days. Period.

I've added thread ratings capability to the Hoops message forum. This seems to be working out well on the football forum, where it serves as a means to help users easily identify the threads that have offered the most value to others. I also did some preseason cleaning of the old Hoops threads. I did retain the ones that seemed to have some lasting value, though, as there are some good strategy-related threads that should stand the test of time.

I won't be updating baseball prices until late afternoon today. At this point in the year, I suspect most of your don't care about price changes, anyway.

9/26 - A late blurb today. It's almost 1pm EST, and the new prices have already been posted for both football and baseball. I also had a server glitch to deal with, so it's been a busy morning.

In Football, the best was saved for last, as Peyton Manning produced the top game of the week on Monday night with 617 SWP. If Edgerin James had been able to control that bobbled pass in the end zone, Peyton would have had close to 700!. And James would have been up over 450. But that would have been greedy, I suppose. I had 'em both, and it propelled my SW team to a worldwide rank of 158, which I believe is that highest I've ever been in SW Football. Actually, owning Manning was somewhat lucky, because if Griese hadn't gotten injured, I'd have probably stayed with him. (But then again, maybe Griese would have had a 700 SWP game. Who knows?) Either way, I'm happy to accept any luck that wants to come my way.

Today's SW price changes look pretty healthy, with three players topping $700K. Frankly, this was a pretty simple week to anticipate, with some significant bye-related impacts (up and down), and some very cheap players that stuck out in the top 25 at their positions. I haven't thought much about next week's changes yet, but this is the time to start doing just that. If you can simultaneously position your roster for a good matchup this weekend and a good price move next Tuesday, that's the most efficient way to maneuver through the heavier bye weeks. And we still have 3 byes per week for the next 5 weeks, so you need to keep one eye on the advance schedule.

Football Pickoff is back to "normal" again, with emerging pick percentages visible for week #5. There are four entries with cumulative scores in the 800s, which isn't much above the top score of the opening week. It's tough to string together several good weeks, as many of you are finding out. The top score this weekend was by daveyu (not me - that's for sure), with 13 winners good for 684 points.

My SW baseball team reached its pinnacle for the year, with a WWR of #7 this morning. That may be as high as I can get, because there are some teams behind me with more pitching starts remaining, but I'm happy to have rebounded after a somewhat lackluster July and August. If you've still got some hitting trades left, watch the weather, because we may still get some rainouts and/or doubleheaders. Other than that, all teams now play everyday through Sunday.

9/25 - Some football trends continued. St. Louis continued to be the offensive juggernaut, even though Marshall Faulk wasn't quite up to his usual totals. Cincinnati continued to be pitiful, and has clearly "undertaken" Cleveland's role as the team your defense wants to face. ("Undertaken" is really an appropriate term, isn't it?)

But there were a few surprises, too. Tampa Bay self-destructed at the end of the game. Pittsburgh almost pinned one on Tennessee. Charlie Garner was the top SWP producer of the day (but Torry Holt took the top Swirve honors).

And we've still got a big game tonight, with a lot of key players.

Football Pickoff offered a few interesting twists. It was a good week for underdogs, and an especially good week for away teams, as 10 of the 13 road teams won. Nobody picked all 13 games correctly.

In the Hall household, we've pretty much got the field bracketed now. The top ranked entry in YTD points, Kevin, is my 15 year old son. He'd be way out in front if he hadn't doubled the Tampa Bay game, the only one he missed yesterday, which cost him 166 points. Meanwhile, that's me just one notch from the absolute cellar. Just think,... if I had reversed every pick I've made so far, I'd be ranked #2 overall! Perhaps I should have entered twice, and done just that. Somehow, my kids seem to excel at my games - especially once they learn not to take my advice. Of course, Kevin isn't prize eligible - although he's already lobbying for some sort of side deal, since he remembers that my daughter got a bike for her Market Madness success.

In baseball, today brings the last doubleheader of the season, and the last off days - barring bad weather this week. It's looking like the NL playoff teams will be settled early this week, although seeding may remain up for grabs until the end. The AL, meanwhile, is shaping up as a week-long battle, unless one of Cleveland, Seattle, or Oakland collapses. And remember, there is still the potential for one or two extra games if things aren't decided by Sunday.

Finally, for those who have lost interest in baseball and need something to fill in their week, I updated the NBA schedule tools, both the 4-week schedule generator and the NBA Sched-O-Matic. You can start looking at the early scheduling implications for the various teams.

9/22 - David Wells was the first pitcher to reach 20 wins this season, besting the Yankees with a complete game in Toronto, and keeping the Jays' playoff hopes alive. Surprisingly, this was the first 20-win season for Wells, whose previous best was 18-4 in pinstripes in 1998. And while the Yankees are probably not worried about missing the playoffs, they are at serious risk of losing home field advantage, especially if the next week is anything like the last one.

Wells not only won his 20th, but he easily outpointed the rest of the pitching field last night. All-in-all, it was a much better night for hitters. Eleven hitters topped the 50 SWP mark.

If you're just biding time until the playoffs, I have added the SW Playoff prices to the Sortable Stats. It's admittedly premature to do much planning, since we don't yet know the teams or the schedule, but it may help you think about the art of the possible. (To accommodate the 2B/SS and 1B/3B positions with minimal reprogramming, I have coded them as 2B or 1B.) I'll also be incorporating these prices into the Assimilator, but that won't be ready until next week.

Don't forget to make your Football Pickoff selections for the weekend. A few of you have recently asked why the percentages haven't been updated. If you've been paying attention, you'd know that this week is a "blind" week, with no information posted. Why? Just to see how it goes. Adds a little variety. Next year, I may not do it again. But this year, weeks 4, 8, 12, 16, and the Super Bowl are going to be blind.

Most of you who bother to check the blurbs are probably well aware of the power of some of the other RotoGuru statistical tools. But in case you've gotten lazy, you really ought to be using my sortable stats to do your serious statistical analysis. Why? Here are my Top Ten reasons, plus a few more suggested by others.

Have a good weekend.

9/21 - Neither of yesterday's doubleheaders produced many hitting points. If you maneuvered to get some of those extra games, Kenny Lofton was the best option of the day, with 60 SWP. But you'd have done even better by picking up Paul Konerko or Ray Durham, each who banged out 83 SWP in a single game.

Pitchers had a pretty good day. 10 starters reached triple digit SWP, and three more were right behind with 95. Look 'em up.

I've got 9 holes waiting for me this morning, so I'm going to cut today's blurb short. Gotta strike while the weather's nice!

9/20 - Rain almost got the upper hand last night. At one point, there were at least 3 games being delayed. Ultimately, every game but the Oakland-Baltimore nightcap was finished, and that twin bill will roll over to today, where the weather outlook looks much more agreeable.

Cleveland and Boston start their double-doubleheaders (double2headers?) today, and I suspect a lot of rosters will get shuffled to try to gain the extra games. Cleveland's recently hot bats, as well as their doubleheader next Monday, make their players particularly appealing - although facing Pedro in the first game today may mean that many Tribe batters will head into tonight's game already in the hole for the day (pointwise).

This is the point in the season when some advance trade planning - especially for pitchers - is warranted. Unfortunately, it's also the time of the season when pitching forecasts are rather unreliable. Just when you need precision outlooks, you can't have them.

Consider Oakland's Tim Hudson. Recently, he's been one of the hottest pitchers. And he could get three more starts this year (Thurs-Tues-Sun), making him an attractive alternative for tomorrow. If the A's need to win the final day's game to have a chance for postseason play, then Hudson will certainly start it. But if Oakland has clinched a playoff spot by the last day, then there's no way he will start that game, as they'll save him for the playoff opener. And if Oakland has no chance for the playoffs by then, who knows? Perhaps he'll start, or perhaps they'll start some rookie arm against Texas.

Teams that have clinched playoff berths will be getting their playoff rotations cued up, so the typical rest between starts won't necessarily happen. And teams that are just playing out the string may use this opportunity to look at some minor league arms. So while planning is very important, so is contingency planning.

And there's always the possibility of an extra game (or two) to decide the playoff contenders, particularly in the AL, where Oakland sill has a makeup possibility with Tampa, and where a wildcard tie is still a very real possibility. If there are extra games, those are considered regular season games, and could provide a nice bonus for teams that still have some hitting trades available.

Football repricing occurred without a hitch yesterday (both SW and Swirve), and now it's time to map out your weekend roster moves. A disadvantage of fantasy football is that, with a limited schedule, individual game performances take on heightened importance, and untimely injuries or bad games can really screw up a season.

But the nice thing about fantasy football is that you can play it a more leisurely pace. You have a week to think about you next matchups. You don't need to maneuver each day. And I suspect that's one reason that many people play fantasy football as their only fantasy sport. (That's true for my wife, at least).

So while you're sweating the details in planning the last 12 days of your baseball campaign, I guess you can at least put your football planning on the back burner for a few days. Just don't forget about it entirely, because that back burner is still turned on.

9/19 - So far, we've made it through the season without a no-hitter. That's rare... and Bartolo Colon almost took care of the omission last night. But Luis Polonia slapped one up the middle in the 8th inning, in spite of the fact that Colon was still throwing in the high 90s at the end of the game.

Speaking of rare occurrences, I forgot to mention yesterday that on Sunday, no one was hit by a pitch in the American League. I don't believe that had happened yet this season.

And the other interesting oddity that I've heard chronicled this year is that we haven't had any managers fired during the season. Evidently, Gene Lamont has been told he won't be returning next year, but I'm pretty sure he'll be around next week. Of course, managers can get fired during the last week. And no-hitters can be pitched then, too.

There were plenty of popular pitchers working last night. And if you had a bunch of them, you probably did reasonably well. Mike Hampton was a disappointment, and Clemens could have done better pointwise, if not for the Coloscopy. But in addition to Colon, D'Amico, Maddux, and Brown each pitched well.

It was a good pitching night all around, in fact, as the average pitching SWP per game equaled the hitting points. Vladimir Guerrero led all hitters with 78 SWP, followed closely behind by Miguel Tejada with 75 (who also topped the Swirve list with 80 SvP). But generally, hitters weren't putting up big numbers.

Ditto for the highly touted (and highly paid) Washington defense, which has only managed a three-game total of 415 SWP, good enough for a 16th-place ranking among all defenses. After just three weeks, I notice that Miami and Tampa Bay have already lapped the field, with per-game averages a full 150+ SWP above the 3rd-ranked defense.

Speaking of Washington, they also stuck 79% of this week's Football Pickoff players with -79 points last night (and more if it impacted the bonus or was doubled). After last week, the top score was +788. Now, the top ranked team has +890. Last week's leader earned a -107 this week. Weekly volatility is the norm in this scoring system, and there's plenty of time for a comeback - although my cumulative total of -562 is certainly looking pretty lame.

Remember, this is the first "blind" week for Pickoff, meaning that there will be no advance information on the emerging selection percentages. You'll have to do some guesswork.

I merged the open and select football forums last night. Now it's up to all of you to see whether the new rating system can work. The purpose is to allow each of you a voice in identifying which threads provide the most value, and which threads should be highlighted for those who don't have the time, patience, or energy to wade through everything. I can't make it much more democratic. Those of you who were offended by the Select Forum approach had better exercise your voting rights, or else I'll have to turn to Plan C - once I figure out what that might be.

9/18 - Monday, Monday....

In baseball, weather postponed a game in a domed stadium. To see how everyone did in games that were played, check out yesterday's points. I want to focus on football in today's blurb.

Marshall Faulk was the football stud of the day, with 592 SWP. Teammate Isaac Bruce nosed him out in Swirve scoring, 1584 to 1430. Jacksonville was the top defense (over Cincy), and the top two QBs were surprisingly Elvis Grbac and Tim Couch.

This week, the scoring errors at the Small World site are mostly for defenses. I count 8 teams with incorrect defensive points, seven attributable to the wrong fumble count, and one due to a missed defensive TD. I assume they'll be acknowledged and corrected soon, as they have done in the past two weeks.

In Football Pickoff, it appears that Gurupies are more astute than gamblers. Picking the Vegas favorites in every game would have produced a score of -99, with only 7 correct winners. Picking the consensus Pickoff favorite for each game would have garnered +211 points, with 10 winners. Three entrants have 12 correct picks so far (out of 13 games). 67 entrants beat the Consensus Favorite score. The median score is around +22 this week, and the median cumulative score is very close to zero.

I have added a thread ratings capability to the Select Football message forum. Next, I'll be integrating the ratings into the filter, so that you can screen out threads rated below a certain threshold. After that, I'll merge the select forum threads into the open football forum, apply the ratings to all football threads, and we'll see how that works out.

Finally, I started a team rankings for Swirve Football. I seeded the rankings with all teams I could find in divisions with "RotoGuru" or "Gurupie" in the Division name. If you want to be added to the ranking list, send me your team ID# and team name. As in the past, the top finisher in this ranking will qualify for the RotoGuru Hall of Fame.

9/15 - Cleveland tried to roll out their secret weapon to stop Pedro last night ... - rain - ... but not even the weather would cooperate fully, as the full game was played, albeit somewhat wet at times. I guess the strategy was partially successful, as the Tribe did score 3 runs off of him. The last time they scored against him was last September 15th, a year ago today.

The night's best Pedro impersonation was turned in by Pat Hentgen, who pitched a 3-hit shutout over the Cubs, fanning 9. His 190 SWP and 203 EBP virtually lapped the rest of the pitching field. Y'all had him, right?

The top bat was wielded by Carl Everett, with 78 SWP. The next best hitters were down around the 50 SWP mark, and there weren't many of them.

I see that Small World has launched a new baseball playoff game. I don't ever recall them offering a post-season game in baseball before. The rules are similar, but different. You can read them yourself. I'll plan to continue to provide baseball coverage (sortables, Assimilator, etc.) throughout the playoffs to support this game. I'll try to get the playoff prices set up in the next few days, although there probably isn't much reason to think about your playoff draft until we know which teams will be involved.

Once again, there are two very lopsided games in Football Pickoff, as both St. Louis and Jacksonville are currently 90/10 favorites - although only about half of last week's entrants have logged their picks for this week so far.

By now, your ISP should have the updated IP address for, and you should be able to access both the message forum and Football Pickoff at that domain. I'll leave the alternate links up over the weekend, though, in case some of you are still getting transported to the old server.

9/14 - There were several viable choices if you were looking for a stud pitcher yesterday, including Brown, Hampton, and Maddux. All pitched well, but Maddux pitched the best, with his second consecutive shutout. And if you opted to go cheaper, you also had a decent chance of getting a good outing, as D'Amico, Livan Hernandez, Ankiel, Colon, and Clemens all finished in triple digits.

On the hitting side, it is less likely that you found the top guns. I can't imagine that Todd Hollandsworth found his way onto many rosters. Ditto for Benito Santiago. It does look like Chris Richard has found a little buying action in the last week or so. But if you have a stud-laden hitting roster, then you probably had a lackluster performance on that side of the ledger.

I made a few programming tweaks yesterday:

  • I added a couple of filters to the sortable football stats. You can now screen out players above a certain price level, and you can include or exclude players with zero games played. These are comparable to the filters in the baseball sortables.
  • In Football Pickoff, I added an optional email confirmation of your stored picks. When you get the page which indicates that your picks were saved, you can click on a button at the bottom of the page to have the list of picks emailed to your registered email address. This should be a convenient way to have your selections written down, along with the percentages in effect at the time you made them. And in the event of a server glitch, this would also provide a simple way to verify your selections.
I hope you find these changes to be useful.

9/13 - There are only 19 days left in the baseball season, including today. That assumes that there are no extra make-up games required after October 1st. (It doesn't appear that the Yankees-Marlins game will need to be played; the Cleveland-ChiSox game is still a potential, however.) If you plan to use any of your remaining hitter trades to fill in off-days, be aware that the last scheduled off-day for any team is Monday, Sept. 25. So, it's definitely time to plan ahead, and figure out how you want to manage these last few weeks. If you have a sizable arsenal of hitter trades, there are a number of holes in the schedule over the next 12 days, and also five doubleheaders. If you wait until that last week, you will have trouble figuring out what to do with them - unless Cleveland does have to play Chicago on 10/2, in which case you can stock up on Indians and White Sox for the last day - a speculative plan, but probably lucrative, if that game is required, since it would be considered a regular season game.

You should also be doing some advance planning for the Swirve game. Figure out whether you will have some extra dollars to spend, or whether you are likely to run out of funds before the final day. It may be time to bulk up on stud pitching, or it may be time to prune that marginal hitter from your lineup for the stretch drive, in order to keep your most efficient & productive hitters in the game.

I'll let you look up yesterday's top baseball producers on your own. Too many other things for me to blurb about.

Football: We had the first "normal" SW price changes yesterday, following a full week of trading. (BTW, I hope you got your last minute trading done before noon. Last week, a notice at the SW site said that price changes would be every Tuesday at 1pm EST, but yesterday's occurred an hour earlier than that.) Once again, it is obvious that most trades are done prior to Sunday's games, and the results of the most recent games really don't have much impact. This has been the case for the last several years, and I think is attributable to several reasons:

  • Many teams use all of their trades in advance of the weekend's games, and have no ability to react to any new information (or scheduling quirks) until new trades are doled out after the repricing.
  • Many managers just don't get around to their trading until later in the week. You have to be pretty diligent to evaluate the weekend's results and get your trading done by Tuesday morning.
  • Other managers (like me) - who have the trades available and the research done - realize that the price impact of the prior weekend won't show up immediately, and so they manage their trades to take advantage of this reality.
Some would say that it is irrational to hold a hot player, like David Boston, going into a bye week. But if it looks like he was heavily bought the week before, it is perfectly rational to hold him until after the price change. Ditto for recently injured players like JuJuan Dawson. Now (after the repricing) is the time to dump them. Not sooner. And if you had listened to the advice at the message forum, you would have made the proper decisions yesterday. But I was surprised to hear that even some experienced Gurupies got the timing wrong. (Once again, "experience is what teaches you to recognize your mistakes every time you repeat them.")

In Football Pickoff, if you're already feeling out of it, a bit of historical perspective might restore some optimism. In last year's game, there were a total of 201 games that were eligible to be picked. (The game didn't start until week #5.) Excluding bonus points and doubling, the top ranked entry amassed a season total of 1936 points. That averages out to just under 10 points per eligible game, or about 145 points for a 15-game weekend. That person (Sludge) had 5 negative weeks, starting with -236 in the first week last year. And he finished the season with almost a 500 point advantage over the second place entrant, who averaged just 7.3 pts/game. So it highly improbable that the current leaders will be able to sustain this type of pace. And it is certainly possible to climb out of an early hole. The key will be to have a few big positive weekends.

Of the 201 games last year, underdogs won 74, or about 37%. This year, there will be 244 eligible games (excluding week #1, including the playoffs). If the same pace holds, underdogs will win about 90 of them. Last weekend, we had 5 underdog winners, which is right on the average. 85 to go. Get them right, and you'll cruise to victory. It's as easy as that!

9/12 - What's up with those Oakland arms? Or did someone "Tampa" with the opposing bats?

Either way, if you had the last three Oakland starters - Hudson, Zito , and Appier - you'd have bagged almost 500 SWP in the last three days. In fact, Gurupie Jedman did just that, and leapfrogged to the top of my own division and a WWR ranking of 17. He's a resident of the Oakland area, and I have to wonder whether he might have been the one to "Tampa" with the bats. Someone check for broken ceiling tiles in the visitors locker room!

I dozed off after the 3rd quarter of last night's football game, and it appears I missed most of the game's offense. Oh well. Time to get prepared for the next week. Three bye teams - Indy, Tennessee, and Arizona - all make this an important week to pay attention. In fact, for the next 7 weeks, there are 3 byes each week. If you are going to manage your trades effectively, you have to be looking ahead.

The first "official" week of Football Pickoff is now in the books, and the early leader, delta118, has set a blistering pace out of the chute, missing only the Indy-Oakland game. The median score for the week was -26.

Don't forget the SW football price change at 1pm this afternoon!

9/11 - September Mondays are really hectic at RotoGuru World Headquarters. First, baseball stats are processed and posted. Then, football stats must be processed. Especially this early in the season, I like to do an extensive quality control review to make sure everything looks accurate. This morning, I did a detailed reconciliation of my point calculations vs. those posted at the SW site, and found many discrepancies. Most appear to be a problem with Small World's numbers, and I posted a detailed discussion of a number of errors at the message forum.

Once I'm satisfied with the football stats, I produce the various reporting files and upload everything to the web site. By then, it is late morning, and I have to turn my attention to my baseball team management, getting my trades made before the daily freeze, and making a few late checks for injuries or other player developments.

Next, I process the Swirve baseball rankings, since they should be run between 10-12 in the morning (after points are updated, but before tonight's costs are deducted). While that's happening, I send out the weekly blurb recap email. Along the way, I try to check in at the message forum from time to time just to see whether anything new is brewing.

Finally, it is 11:45am, and I'm just getting around to today's blurb. Unfortunately, I haven't even had much time to think about it at this point. Yesterday's big football producer was Jimmy Smith, with 3 TDs and almost 300 yards receiving. His SWP total was almost 800, and his Swirve points are a monstrous 2568! I think those totals easily surpass the best single games from anyone last year. The Tampa Bay defense also hung 540 SWP on the visiting Bears. For a full listing of yesterday's points, see the sortable stats.

At least I was able to get Football Pickoff processed last night. It was a much tougher weekend for many, with a median score of -46. Underdogs won 5 out of 14 games, and if you didn't get at least some of those right, you probably had a rough day. One entrant missed only one game (so far), but only 15% of the entries have qualified for bonus points this week (by choosing at least 10 correct winners). I feel pretty confident that there will be a lot of weekly volatility, so don't despair if you started off poorly.

Baseball? Barry Zito twirled yesterday's masterpiece, with Javier Vazquez and Al Leiter very close behind. Hitting was spread around, with 9 guys at 50 SWP or better.

Finally, the forum. I added an enhancement to the filter that allows a search of the text of each thread. That seems to be working well, and may help you dredge up that long lost thread. Or even just see who's talking about you in other threads.

I'm also soliciting feedback on ideas for reframing the Select Forum. After a month, while the Select Forum has added a lot of positives, I think there are things that can be improved, and I've tossed out some of my thoughts for your review.

Oops, it's already after noon. Time to process the baseball prices. See ya...

9/8 - When the D-backs picked up Curt Schilling, it seemed that the Johnson/Schilling pitching tandem could make that team virtually unstoppable. But over their last three starts apiece, there is only one quality outing among the six starts combined (alas, the only one I missed out on...). Randy doesn't even rank among the top 50 pitchers over his past 3 starts, and Schilling's last 3 starts have combined for 25 SWP. I think I now know the source of that giant sucking sound that has been coming from my team.

BTW, I dropped Schilling this morning, so he's probably safe for you to pick up again.

Yesterday's top pitcher was Greg Maddux, who needed only 90 pitches (70 strikes) to complete 9 innings against Arizona. Four other pitchers were in the SWP 140s, and Scott Elarton picked up 100 SWP in his 16th win of the season. He's now 16-5 on a team that is 60-80.

Jose Offerman was the top hitter, banging out a pair of solo HRs in Fenway Park.

Football Pickoff odds came in a little bit yesterday, perhaps partly as a result of yesterday's blurb discussion. St. Louis/Seattle is now 85/15 (vs. 90/10 a day ago).

I did get the message forum moved to the new server last night, and so far, so good. Responsiveness seems fine to me. The new server is a less powerful machine, but with much less competition for resources. I think the tradeoff will be beneficial, as I can now begin to add some more resource-intensive features, including an expanded search mechanism.

9/7 - As of this morning, there are four games in Football Pickoff with odds more lopsided than 80/20. One game is even 90/10. I'm not suggesting that these odds are inappropriate, but you need to think about the risk/reward tradeoffs of those games.

As an example, consider the St. Louis at Seattle game. Currently, St. Louis has been picked by 90% of the entrants. If those odds persist, then picking St. Louis will get you 10 points if they win, and -90 if they lose - with a few caveats. First, you could always choose to double that game. But that hardly seems attractive. Second, if you get at least 10 correct picks this week, then each additional correct pick is worth an extra 50 bonus points. So if you're confident about your overall picking prowess, maybe the actual risk/reward tradeoff is +60 vs. -90. In fact, it is those bonus points that might allow the more extreme odds to persist. Last season, only one game was as lopsided as 90/10 (after the first week, which was a blind week). The favorite won that game, by the way.

Regardless, registrations have been slower than I had hoped for. So far, 376 people have registered a total of 443 entries. It only takes a minute to register, and the weekly selection process is very quick. It's not like drafting a Small World team. You can easily log in, make your picks, log out, and click an ad in 60 seconds or less - if that's your objective. Why not give it a whirl? I realize that there are loads of alternative "pick 'em" contests, but I think the scoring system makes this the most interesting one I've seen.

You might also want to adopt Football Pickoff for your weekly office (or college dorm) pool. By setting up your own private division, you can maintain your own segregated standings, while continuing to compete for the overall prizes. Why not?

End of promo.

The top pitcher yesterday was Scott Schoeneweis! I suspect there are some teams that have been dormant for the past 4.5 months that did well last night. "Schoeney" was a hot commodity in mid-April, but hasn't been heard from much since then. Also among the top pitchers was Kip Wells, who was drafted by quite a few Gurupies but never really panned out.

The top hitter was Robbie Alomar, with 85 SWP night - his second 80+ game in the past 2 weeks. For the full season, Alomar ranks only fifth among all second baseman, more than 600 SWP behind Jeff Kent. But in the past month or so, Robbie has been the man, and over the past 2 weeks, he's almost 100 SWP ahead of the rest of the pack at 2B. Interestingly, the second most productive second baseman during the past two weeks has been Todd Walker - mostly on the strength of those two consecutive monster games earlier this week.

I expect to be moving the message forum to my new, dedicated server sometime in the next day or so - maybe even tonight. When I make the switch, I'll be taking down the existing forum for about an hour, in order to transfer the most recent threads before activating the new server. During that outage, you may use the old forum if you really need to be communicating. When the new server is up, the normal links should all automatically forward to the new server. Temporarily, the links will forward to the IP address, but sooner than later, the new server will become I've also set things up so that your current user ID# will automatically forward to the new server. Wish me luck!

9/6 - I'm beginning to wonder whether too much Small World wealth is really a curse.

My top (baseball) team is worth about $108m or so, which means I can afford just about anyone I want. I only need to hold back spending on a few slots, and those slots have recently been guys like Kile, Quinn, & Hammonds. It seems like the right strategy to own stud hitters like Piazza, (fill in your favorite first baseman), Chipper Jones, etc... and then just ride them for the long term. But if you look at the most productive hitters over the past 2 weeks, you don't find many of those names. And you don't find many high prices, either. The top hitters have been Lofton, Lowell, Beltre, Bonds (OK, one stud), Thome, Nevin, Sweeney... Now, if I was more constrained by wealth, I'd be more likely to go for guys like these. But it just doesn't seem right to sell Chipper Jones to buy Mike Lowell - if I can fully afford Chipper.

I'm having flashbacks to the last month of SW Hoops, when the same phenomena seemed to be occurring. The superstuds were not performing at the top, while guys like Anthony Mason were putting up the big numbers. And teams worth $10 million less than mine were cleaning my clock.

Obviously, I could always elect to leave more cash idle and continue to maneuver among the hotter second-tier players. But when I've got one of the bigger franchise values, it just doesn't seem like I should concede that [supposed] advantage. Maybe it all works out OK over time, but right now I feel like I'm falling and I can't get up!

Continuing with this theme, six of the top seven pitchers yesterday had SW prices of $1m or less. Tom Glavine was the only one that required any meaningful bucks, at $7.5 million. The top two starters were Jay Witasick and Julian Tavarez (at Coor's). Go figure.

The top hitter was Todd Walker, who has produced 149 SWP in the last 2 days. Imagine what his price would be doing if this were April! Chipper Jones had a big 2 HR night, but since they were both against Randy, the impact was neutralized on my team. (I never know how to root when that situation occurs.)

Football: Yesterday's repricings seemed to go smoothly for both Small World and Swirve. SW gains seemed somewhat muted, but it is hard to know what trading was actually occurring during such a short window. I think next Tuesday's changes will be more indicative of normal trading patterns.

I noticed that the Swirve points for fumbles reflected only "fumbles lost" this year. That's a welcome change from prior years, when total fumbles were used. It just didn't seem right to penalize a player if he fumbled the ball but then recovered it. It also simplifies my stats tracking, since I can use the same fumble stat for both games.

I now have individual player detail pages set up for the current season. You can drill down for game-by-game point and price histories from any player link in the sortable stats or the Assimilator. In addition to providing the historical detail, this is also a convenient place to check a player's upcoming schedule.

Finally, a note about team rankings. I've delegated the task of producing Smallworld Football team rankings to the Message Forum users once again, and the first week's results are already posted. Some of you have sent me your team ids, but since I'm not doing the processing, you'll need to get on the forum waiting list if you haven't already posted your ID over there. For the Swirve game, I haven't decided whether to do a separate ranking list. If I do, I'll let you know within the next week.

9/5 - And so the first NFL week is now in the books. Let the trading begin.

Actually, if you want to beat the first price changes, you'd better hurry, since they're today. But for Small World, be cautious, because the four trades you now have will have to last you until after next week's price change. That's right. Our next dole of 4 trades will be after the repricing on 9/12. That will certainly heighten the value of a favorable draft.

In Football Pickoff, we had a rare feat - even though it was only "for practice". One entrant - "Irish Red" - ran the table, picking all 15 games correctly. That never happened last year. There were a few weeks when the top entrant only missed one game. But no one ever picked 'em all right.

It was a week when favorites tended to do well. But that shouldn't trivialize the effort to pick all games right. While 12 of the consensus favorites did win, you still had to pick the correct 3 upsets (Jets, Philly, and Buffalo).

I think the scoring system should work well this year. This week's scores ranged from a high of +851 to a low of -330. The median score was around +115. The median number of correct picks was 10, which is high, but that's what will happen when favorites dominate.

I corrected a few bugs in the scoring yesterday (they only impacted a few entries), and I think everything is ready to roll "for real". You can now enter your picks for week #2 (and for any subsequent week, if you want to get a head start). The deadline for this week's picks is 1pm EST Sunday. Go for it!

As of this morning, Small World still hadn't corrected the point calculations for kickers, nor had they publicly acknowledged the problem. (See my blurb on 9/4 for a more complete description.) Hopefully, they'll get that taken care of before the weekend.

With all of the programming associated with the introduction of football, I must confess that my baseball attention span has been pretty short - and the progress of my teams is showing it. The top teams all seem to be very astute, and every lousy pitching pickup seems to be heavily punished. Anyone got a working crystal ball that I can rent for the month?

9/4 - Phew! What a morning.

I've spent the past 3+ hours reconciling my football stats with the points listed at the SW site. (BTW, kudos to SW for having stats up on the first morning!) I finally have a scrubbed set posted in the sortable stats and the football Assimilator, and the SWP agree pretty well with the official ones at the SW site, with a few exceptions, as noted here:

  1. There are several discrepancies in reported fumbles. I've checked several sites, and all seem to list fumbles for Charlie Rogers and Kerry Collins. Small World doesn't show a fumble for Rogers, and they seem to allocate the Giant fumble to Greg Comella, rather than Collins. I don't know which is right. But my points assume that Collins and Rogers fumbled.

  2. Randall Cunningham passed for a two-point conversion, but SW has not included this in his points. Assuming my scoring interpretation is correct, I suspect they will get this fixed - they may just be missing the category altogether (as he was the only one to pass for a conversion.) Players who actually scored two-point conversions are handled correctly.

  3. The most serious SW glitch relates to kickers. SW is mishandling the stats for missed FG (long and short), and this results in bad point totals for 7 kickers, for which SW has inflated totals. If your kicker missed a FG, your listed points are probably too high. Again, I'm sure this is simp[ly a programming error which will be corrected.
For the Swirve game, I have no game site points to compare against, since Swirve doesn't publish points until Tuesday. But, since my stats agree pretty well in the SWP calculation, I'm sure the Swirve point calculations are also pretty good, with one important exception. Both SW and Swirve deduct points for fumbles. But while SW only deducts for lost fumbles, Swirve (in past years) has always used total fumbles, whether lost or recovered. So far, I've not been able to find a good source for "fumbles not lost" by player, but yesterday's team totals show 26 "fumbles not lost". Swirve deducts 30 pts per fumble, so there are -780 Swirve points that have yet to be allocated. This omission isn't likely to produce a major distortion unless some player fumbled multiple times, but if you are planning some early trading analysis for this game, be aware of the issue. Hopefully, I'll get this resolved within the next few days.

Football Pickoff seems to have gone smoothly yesterday, not only in the server transition, but in the scoring. One entrant picked all 14 games correctly! And another six entries have 13 correct winners. Remarkable results! The median score is +88 (with one game still to go). Of course, all scores get erased before next week, since this was the preseason weekend for Pickoff. Tough break to those of you who did quite well.

I'll have more commentary on Football Pickoff later this week. But if you haven't yet registered, it's time. The game is now on a dedicated server, but all existing links should automatically forward you to the right place. Of course, if you discover any apparent bugs, please let me know.

Baseball? Oh yeah, there was that, too. Guess I'd better go process the daily price changes...

9/2 - I don't usually prepare a weekend blurb, but if I'm going to meet your expectations at the beginning of next week, I think I'd better coach you first.

There are a lot of things to be done in conjunction with the first NFL weekend, and until live data is available, it's hard to anticipate what issues will surface. But here is my plan for site updates on Sunday & Monday:

  1. Sometime after 1pm EST Sunday, I will deactivate the Football Pickoff site. Data files will be moved to a new, dedicated server, and the site will be reactivated by sometime Sunday evening, with preliminary scoring posted for completed games. With any luck, the server transition will be transparent to you.

  2. Monday morning, I'll first process the Sunday baseball stats. I realize that many of you will be more interested in football, but the baseball processing doesn't take very long, and I want to get it out of the way first.

  3. Once baseball stats are up, I'll work on producing the fantasy points for Sunday's NFL games. Depending on how things go, these may not be available until Monday afternoon, although I'm hoping for late morning. Expect some early bugs. But by late afternoon, I should at least have the sortable stats and the football Assimilator updated and functional, so that you can do some early trade analysis on Monday night (since both SW and Swirve will be repricing on Tuesday).

  4. Depending on how everything goes, I may or may not write a blurb on Monday morning.

As always, if you notice errors in any of the early football reports, let me know. With your help, I should be able to get this worked out relatively quickly. Thanks for your patience.

9/1 - Thursday did not see a continuation of this week's pitching dominance, as only Mike Mussina (barely) topped the 100 SWP mark. Interestingly, the second best hurler was his pitching opponent, Brian Moehler with 95 SWP, but neither one of them got credit for a decision in that game.

Hitters didn't exactly light it up, however. The big kahuna was Luis ALicea, which I'm sure did a lot of good for a lot of teams (NOT!). The most notable hitter was probably Phil Nevin with 74 SWP. Nevin has not only been the most productive third baseman over the past week, he's been the top hitter at any position. And while I know he's not widely held, he is scattered around out there.

With the beginning of September, ML rosters can now expand to 40 players. If you need a few cheapies, be on the lookout for September call-ups who could get a chance to play and contribute regularly. As I recall, a couple years ago, Shane Spencer put up some impressive September numbers for the Yankees. Last year, Mark Quinn had a good September for KC. Even if you don't need cheap alternatives for your Small World team, these players can be useful pickups in standard roto leagues as well.

Are you ready for some football?

We're coming down to crunch time for getting your rosters fully assembled. Don't wait until the very last minute when server problems can wreak havoc - especially if there are a lot of other procrastinators competing for server time. And in football, with only a 17 game schedule, missing a game is a hefty penalty.

If you're looking for some last minute advice, don't forget the football message forum. You won't find the magic answers there, but there is a lot of sound advice, and you'll also see a variety of names mentioned that might not have caught your attention. For SW managers, be aware of one pricing issue: heavily drafted players start the season with relatively poor price risk. Preseason draft buys do not directly factor into price changes. But subsequent buys and sells do, and players who are widely owned on opening day have a much greater capacity for being sold. If they perform well on the field, they can certainly rally from day one. But even if they perform only average, they are at risk of being sold in favor of some other player with a hot start. It's not always easy to know who those widely drafted players are. But the latest research suggests that guys like Peyton Manning, Ron Dayne, and the Redskins defense are heavy draft favorites. For a broader list, see post #39 in this thread.

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

2000: August . . . . . July . . . . . June . . . . . May . . . . . April . . . . . March . . . . . February . . . . . January

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

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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