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Daily blurbs from the Guru
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Go forward to more recent blurbs.
9/28 - Randy Johnson got most of the pitching headlines last night, striking out 16 en route to his 20th win. But he gave up 5 earned runs in 6-2/3 innings, so his SWP total of 83 wasn't stellar - although there aren't many pitcher who can leave a game in the 7th inning with 5 runs surrendered and still earn 83 SWP! The top pitcher of the night - and the only one to work a complete game - was Cory Lidle. Since the All Star break, Lidle is 10-2 with a 2.79 ERA. No wonder the A's are thinking about using a 4-man rotation in the postseason.
Phil Nevin was the top hitter, with 93 SWP and 103 SvP in Coors Field. Nevin had a really hot stretch during the middle of the season, but his name hasn't popped up much lately. I guess that's what Coors Field can do for you. And one of the hottest hitters this week - Jeromy Burnitz, with 5 HRs in his last 10 AB - heads into Colorado for the weekend. (Now watch him fizzle.)
Less than half of the Football Pickoff entrants have logged their picks so far. Don't forget! Last weekend I sent out a reminder to anyone who hadn't made picks by Saturday noon, but that was because of the long layoff and the possibility that some were having trouble connecting to the site. No reminders this weekend. You're on your own.
Speaking of Pickoff, I'm going to be out on Sunday afternoon, so I won't have the percentages finalized and the scores updated until sometime Sunday evening. If it appears that picks are still being accepted after the freeze, have no fear - I'll void out any late picks when I get home.
Enjoy the weekend.
9/27 - Randy Wolf couldn't have picked a better time to regain his competence. Two of his last three starts have been complete game shutouts, including last night's 1-hitter against the Reds, good for 179 SWP and 204 SvP.
Nine hitters topped 50 SWP, although no one had more than Gabe Kapler's 64 (2 HRs). Only four runs were scored in Colorado, however, after 41 were scored in the previous two games.
Someone pointed out to me that my sortable stats for the TSN playoff baseball game show some odd positions for infielders. This is because the game itself combines first and third basemen into a single roster slot, and 2B and SS also share one slot. To consolidate these positions into a common listing, I've simply coded all first and third baseman as 1B, and all middle infielders as 2B. I know it looks a little odd to see Chipper Jones listed at 1B, but it was the simplest way to accomplish the objective.
9/26 - Although Michael Jordan's return may have dominated the sports news yesterday, baseball reclaimed center stage for on-the-field activity, with a full slate of 15 games. Kevin Appier and Woody Williams were head and shoulders above all other pitchers, with two complete games helping to further their respective teams' playoff aspirations. The top hitters may have fostered postseason implications as well, but not for their own team, as Richie Sexson and Jeromy Burnitz each clubbed 3 dingers to propel the Brewers over Arizona, thereby preserving a tighter race in the NL West.
I updated the Swirve Football Rankings yesterday afternoon. I captured the roster values as of Sunday afternoon (shortly after the freeze), and point totals after the Week #2 update. I received several more team submissions last night, and they will be added to next week's update (since I can no longer go back and capture Sunday's roster values for inclusion in this week's list). If you want to add your team to the rankings, follow the instructions at the bottom of the table. If I get your team ID by Sunday morning, I'll be able to include it in the next weekly update.
And by the way, don't get fooled by my apparent lofty Swirve ranking. Without those 4000 bonus points, I'd be dogmeat.
As promised, I did post the analysis of the first two weeks of doubling activity for Football Pickoff. See the Pickoff News page for the data.
9/25 - Stats are now updated for both baseball and football, and that includes new Swirve prices for football. Have at 'em! (Updated Swirve team rankings will be posted later this afternoon.)
Among the unique football stats that I track are points by opposing defense, which can help you identify which offenses have been the most favorable to oppose. So far, Washington and Detroit are in a close battle for the top,... er,... bottom spot, allowing the opposing defenses to average better than 400 TSNP per game. I realize that two games is not a very meaningful sample, but this is a table worth reviewing from week to week.
After two weeks of Football Pickoff, entrant dgreds has taken the early lead, mostly on the strength of his stellar first week. The top pickers for week #2 were jmsoares and NJ Mob, each with 12 wins and 567 points on an identical set of picks.
Frontrunner "dgreds" suggested that I post a recap of the doubled picks each week, which seemed like an interesting exercise. I'll post a complete table on the Pickoff news page later today. The quick uptake is that of 376 entrants this week, 149 doubled a winner, while 183 doubled a loser, and 44 opted not to double. Doubled winners provided a total of 6445 points, while the losers cost themselves -6845 points. The most popular double was (gulp!) Washington over Green Bay (doubled by 22 players), while the least popular double was San Diego (3 players).
9/24 - Whew! Monday mornings sure are busy at RotoGuru World Headquarters when baseball and football are both in season. It's 2:20pm, and I'm just now starting today's blurb.
First, a couple of unrelated baseball notes:
She also had a big week in Football Pickoff, with 11 wins and 427 points, good for 6th overall so far this weekend. And while she's only ranked 50th YTD, I do note that Mrs. Sludge is currently ranked #3 overall, while her better half is not yet visible in the top 50. Good thing for the hubbies that it's a long season!
In spite of several big upsets (see Minnesota's first two games), picking favorites has been a winning Pickoff strategy so far this year. If you went with favorites in every game, you be ranked in the top 20 at this point. Whether that will hold up remains to be seen, however. Last year, a full slate of picking favorites would have netted you negative points, while the best simple formula approach was to go with the betting underdogs each week, earning a 16th place finish for the full season. Go figure.
TSN has announced its playoff baseball game. Similar to last year, it will offer a 7-slot roster, no price changes, and 4 trades per week (2 pitcher, 2 hitter). The cost is very reasonable: $4.95 for one team, or $6.95 for two. October can be a rather slow month for fantasy sports (unless you play hockey), as football is only a weekly event, and hoops is still in preseason. So while the playoff game is certainly not as intense as the regular season game, it beats raking leaves!
NFL schedule update: Dallas and Oakland shifted their bye week. They were originally scheduled to play in Oakland on 10/21 (week 7), but the shifting of the baseball postseason created a potential stadium conflict on that date. So they will instead play the game on 10/7 (week 5). I've adjusted the schedule grid, Assimilator, and Football Pickoff to reflect this change. (I still haven't added the rescheduled week #2 at the end of the season, but there's plenty of time for that.)
Finally, there seems to be a temporary problem with the domain name server for the rotoguru.com domain. If you're reading this page, then you've probably already solved the problem. But if you have a problem accessing any rotoguru.com page, if you replace rotoguru.com with rotoguru2.com in the URL, you should be in business.
9/20 - As the season marches on, the American League seems to be winding down, while the National League is winding up.
In the AL, the playoff berths are all but set. Seattle has clinched, and the Yankees, Cleveland, and Oakland are on cruise control. The closest remaining race is in the AL Central, where Cleveland's magic number to clinch is now at 10. Even if Minnesota can sweep their remaining six head-to-head games with Cleveland, they'll need some outside help.
In the NL, though, the largest lead is Houston's 4.5 game advantage over the surging Cardinals. Even the Mets are now only 5 games out of first. While the Mets are still a long shot - especially since they are chasing two teams - they're in better shape than Minnesota. (Maybe Matt Lawton doesn't feel so badly about that trade now! Who knew?) No fewer than nine NL teams still have a non-trivial shot at the postseason. And no team is safe yet. Should be fun to watch.
Strong pitching was evident again yesterday, as 8 hurlers topped 100 SWP. Some were likely candidates, and some were not. Kerry Wood's dominant outing has to be rejuvenating for Cubs fans, although Chicago is still probably the longest-shot of the NL playoff hopefuls.
If you've had football on your back burner, it's probably a good day to begin thinking about the week's upcoming matchups. And while you're at it, don't forget about Football Pickoff. Almost 400 people registered picks for Week #1. So far, only about one-third of them have logged selections for the coming week. My approach is usually to make a preliminary set of picks by mid-week, just in case there are last minute technical snafus. Then, on Saturday (or Sunday morning), review and fine tune. There's no penalty for changing your picks right up until gametime. And with the internet traffic problems created by the spreading Nimda worm, weekend web navigation could certainly be interrupted, even if the target server is up and running fine. Forewarned is forearmed!
9/19 - The "no brainer" cheap pitchers are dropping like flies.
Yesterday, Javier Vazquez was diagnosed with a fractured eye socket, and he's done for the year. Then rookie phenom Roy Oswalt left last night's game after two innings with a strained groin. Although there is no definitive word on his outlook, Larry's Dierker's postgame comments were not optimistic. ("It sounds like at least another start, maybe more.") It's getting harder and harder to find the automatic pitching choices.
Pitching vs. hitting results were mixed last night. Seven pitchers reached 3-digit SWP scores, headed by Freddy Garcia's complete game win (157 SWP, 195 SvP). Curt Schilling had a rough outing in Coors Field, and a lot more teams held him than would usually be the case, myself included. I wasn't keen on his prospects, but I just hate to drop a quality pitcher immediately before a start, and was just hoping for a positive contribution. I guess the good news is that it was only -14 SWP.
There were also some good hitting performances. Leading the pack was Todd Helton's 84 SWP, 86 SvP effort. Nine other hitters topped 50 SWP.
TSN announced six IPOs in football yesterday. Check out the game site for the details.
Speaking of TSN, they've asked for feedback on new game ideas for basketball at the hoops message forum. Here's your chance to provide some feedback before the 2001-02 version(s) are released.
9/18 - In a light night of activity, the pitchers generally seemed to have the upper hand. It's not surprising that the layoff might have impacted hitters more, who rely on consistent activity to maintain their timing. But there are also exceptions, as Scott Rolen aptly demonstrated with 2 longs balls off of Greg Maddux (who otherwise pitched quite well - but of course, "otherwise" doesn't count for anything!)
Bud Smith was the dominant pitcher of the night, even though it had been a full two weeks since his previous outing. Robert Person was the only other hurler to post a 3-digit SWP tally. Javier Vazquez was on target for another big night, but that got short circuited when Ryan Dempster beaned him in the bottom of the 5th.
Baltimore announced a shift in their rescheduled games which will end their season on Saturday, Oct. 6, rather than the following day. I've updated my schedule pages to adjust for this.
9/17 - I won't insult you by declaring a return to normalcy. It still feels anything but normal to me. But we're unquestionably moving forward, and for most of us, that's a welcome turn.
I used some of the downtime to update some site programs. Here's a summary:
9/13 - In deference to the triviality of fantasy sports in relation to recent world events, I have not published any daily blurbs for the past two days. I realized yesterday that some Gurupies were concerned that this inactivity might be a result of personal misfortune. So I thought a brief update today would be helpful to assure you of my personal safety (in fact, I live in the Hartford, CT area, and not NYC as some of you mistakenly surmised).
I usually update the daily quote with each new blurb. But I found Monday's quote from Jeff Fisher to be eerily prophetic, and decided to leave it.
Until MLB and the NFL announce their plans and resume normal activity, it is difficult to assess the likely ramifications on fantasy sports team management. We'll just have to wait and see. For updated information, I encourage you to follow the message forums, where posting activity is beginning to return its focus toward sports, even though many of us still find it difficult to actively engage in sports analysis. Clearly, some will use fantasy sports as an opportunity to escape from the troubling world situation, and those who might feel that any discussion of sports disrespects the somberness of the moment should understand that others believe it is important to begin to move forward toward normalcy. At times like this, we need to be sensitive to a variety of personal responses to what has clearly been a difficult psychological episode for all of us.
I hope that all of you are physically safe, as are your loved ones. I'm also sure that some of you have lost family, friends, and/or acquaintances, and we all grieve for your losses. Others are still dealing with uncertainties, and that may be even more tormenting. I wish you all Godspeed in your personal journeys toward restoration.
9/10 - Football stats are now posted for all three covered fantasy point systems - TSN, Swirve, and PSC. I've reconciled my points against those posted at the TSN site, and the only discrepancies are for the Minnesota and Carolina defenses. According to my stats, each should have one more fumble recovery.
Of course, I can't reconcile the points for the other two games, since those game sites have not yet posted their own stats. Swirve will update tomorrow morning, and you may want to make some roster moves before that repricing takes place. I don't know when to expect stats at the PSC site, but there really isn't any need to make roster adjustments there until the end of the week.
If you want to see how your own roster performed, you can use the Assimilator. This can be particularly useful for your Swirve and PSC teams, since there is not yet another source available to see how your own roster performed.
Individual player pages still reflect last season's data. Those will be reprogrammed later this week. And the weekly point page has not yet been updated. For now, the sortable stats provide the same information, since YTD stats are currently the same as week #1 stats. By next week, I'll have the weekly point pages set up.
9/7 - Two more days to get your football rosters in order. If you're like me, you've still got a lot of research to do in the next 48 hours. The football message forum is a good place to start if you need a crash course, but there are a wide variety of other resources available as well.
I added a Progressive Sports Challenge option to the football Assimilator yesterday. PSC offers three football game alternatives. The pricing is common across all three games, but the price, prizes, and trade restrictions differ. Their free game has more than 500 entries already. But if you are willing to invest a few shekels, their other two games offer tremendous prizes and are very lightly subscribed thus far. Here's a snippet from a recent PSC email:
Our Progressive Football Contest is paying out over $10,000.00 in cash and prizes, and it grows as the season goes on. The One-Price Football Contest is paying out over $4,000.00 in cash and prizes. These contests will not be cancelled, and the prizes will not be reduced. Just click! on the banner above to sign up now to take advantage of our misfortune.
For an initial outlay of $25 or $35, you're unlikely to ever find a more attractive investment. As of midday Thursday, only 13 teams were registered for the "One Price" game, and 23 for the "Progressive" game. If you are looking for one more game to play, these look like attractive options.
The day after the opening NFL games is always a busy one for me. Football stats are notoriously messy to compile, and I've also got some reprogramming to do for the first output of the 2001 season. As such, I don't know if I'll have a blurb on Monday morning, nor can I commit to having stats posted in the morning. I will have something posted sometime on Monday, but I'll need your patience. TSN won't be repricing until the second Sunday, so you have plenty of time to digest the first week's results before decisions are required for their games. Swirve managers will probably want to make some player moves prior to Tuesday morning's repricing, though, locking in some early cheapies before their prices start to climb. So I'll do my best to get some stats posted by no later than early Monday afternoon.
Are you ready for some football?
9/6 - Woody Williams strung together his second consecutive pitching gem, a complete game shutout over slumping San Diego. While Williams must certainly get some of the credit, the recent futility of the Padres is hard to ignore. Over the past week, opposing starters have averaged 114 SWP against them, including Bud Smith's no hitter.
Meanwhile, Todd Ritchie continued his recent Jekyll & Hyde impersonation, this time fashioning a complete game over Milwaukee for 164 SWP. Looking backward, his last four games have been +164, -79, +100, -102. If the pattern continues, the next outing is one to Hyde from.
And although the points weren't quite as high, Curt Schilling became the season's first 20 game winner with 146 SWP with 8 solid innings at Pac Bell.
For Football Pickoff, I worked up a tabular summary of last season's results. The purpose was to see how well the selection percentages reflected the actual winnings percentages. I only considered the picks for weeks in which the selection percentages were revealed in advance, since I think that feedback is an important factor in calibrating many people's choices. The results are shown on the opening news page at the Pickoff site.
With three lopsided games setting up this week, I was particularly interested in seeing how those types of games fared last year. As it turns out, only seven times were the odds at 86/14 or greater, and the favorites won each of those seven games. However, favorites with 81-85% of the selections didn't do nearly as well, with underdogs winning almost 25% of the time. Especially this early in the season, those types of odds certainly give me pause.
9/5 - If you had a few pitching trades to burn, the past couple of weeks would probably have been a good time to rotate through some starters. There have been a lot of really good outings lately - although don't tell Andy Pettitte, who was on the lousy end of a 14-0 score. Seven starters tossed 3-digit SWP outings yesterday, headed by Pettitte's opponent, Chris Carpenter, whose complete game shutout included 12 Ks and no walks, amounting to a whopping 171 SWP and 203 SvP.
Five hitters reached the SWP 60s, headed by Jim Thome's 67 on the strength of 2 long balls against the increasingly dysfunctional Red Sox.
Registrations for Football Pickoff were heavy yesterday, and more than 100 entrants have already logged in their picks for this week. Several games are shaping up as rather lopsided, and you may want to rethink your strategy if you picked the heaviest favorites. For example, Baltimore is currently an 86/14 choice over the Bears. Now, I'm not suggesting that the Ravens won't win. But the risk/reward tradeoff is pretty dicey; if these are the final percentages, a Baltimore win will only garner 14 points, while a Bear upset will cost the Ravens -86 points. It doesn't take too many upsets to kill a weekly score.
9/4 - I want to devote today's blurb mostly to football, so I'll dispense with most of the baseball chatter, other than to say it was generally a good weekend to load up on pitching. And you didn't need to own Bud Smith, either. (It did help to avoid Dave Burba, however.)
Football Pickoff is up and open for business. For those who have not played this game in the past, it is an NFL "pick the winners" format that rewards you for picking underdogs that win, and penalizes you for picking favorites that lose. The rules are very simple: you pick the projected winner of each game. If your pick wins, you gain; if it loses, you lose. The points awarded are based on the percentage of Pickoff entrants who chose each team. See the complete rules for a detailed description, and check out the football message forum for discussion and strategy analysis. The game is free, and you may submit up to three entries. And if you get off to a slow start, there's still a midseason prize which ignores the results from the first 8 weeks.
By the way, last year I did not include the game results from NFL week #1, largely because it was my first week on a new server and I just wasn't sure what screwups were going to occur. But this year, all weeks count! So get your registrations in, and make your picks before gametime on Sunday.
With football swinging into stride this week, I want to take the opportunity to recap the financial support system for RotoGuru.com. As most of you know, internet advertising revenue opportunities have fallen dramatically over the past year. RotoGuru.com was once solely supported by advertising revenue. But today, ad fees aren't even sufficient to cover a daily cup of coffee.
An additional source of revenue is from the sale of RotoGuru merchandise, offered through a partnership with CafePress.com. Recently, caps, hats, boxer shorts, and a tote bag were added to the previous offerings of T-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, and mousepads. I realize the prices are not cheap, but the quality is good, and a portion of each sale goes to support RotoGuru.com.
The foundation of the RotoGuru support system, though, is the GuruPatron voluntary contribution system. Many Gurupies have already contributed generously to this program, and their support has been a critical part of keeping this site alive. Some of you have been contributing on a recurring basis, and this would be a good time to refresh that commitment. And many of you have not yet stepped up. I realize that some of you are not in a financial position to contribute, and I am only asking for support from those Gurupies with the financial means to do so. The suggested guideline is $5 per month for each month you use the site, or $50/year for year-round users. That works out to well less than the cost of a cup of coffee per day. (More like a cup per week!) But many have given much more, and many have given less, and all donations are gratefully accepted and acknowledged. I have not made a concerted appeal since the beginning of the baseball season, but with football looming, I thought it appropriate to raise awareness once again. I'm particularly hopefully of accumulating a bit of a reserve this fall, because if a baseball strike occurs next spring, it could significantly hamper fundraising potential next year. And if you want the site to be around for football in 2002, I first have to get through another long summer. So consider the value of this site in your daily activities, and contribute accordingly if you can. For details on how to contribute, check out the GuruPatron information page. Thanks.
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