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

Go forward to more recent blurbs.

9/30 - October baseball starts tomorrow. It may not be full-fledged October baseball, but it will feel like it for Oakland, Anaheim, Houston, San Francisco, and the Cubs... and maybe the Padres, who are not mathematically eliminated from the NL Wild Card, but would need everyone else to totally collapse. It's still even possible that we'll need a one-game playoff on Monday to settle one of those races.

The WGC-American Express Championship is underway in Ireland. There are only 68 golfers in the field, and with no cut, it lacks some of the normal anxiety. I could have selected the Southern Farm Bureau Classic as this week's tournament in GuruGolf, but it just seemed like it was more appropriate to go with the top golfers, even without a cut. Next week's tournament will not have a cut until after three rounds, and the final tournament of the season will also be cutless. So the opportunities to differentiate via cut-making are dwindling.

TSN has launched its Ultimate Salary Cap Hoops game, and I have already posted the players and prices in the sortable stats. Preseason games don't start until October 10, and I will post fantasy stats for those games again this year, as I have done for the last few years. Until then, the points are from last year's regular season.

9/29 - If you're scrambling to picks up key stats or points during the final days of your fantasy baseball season, there are now five doubleheaders you can try to exploit. Three are today, after-effects of yesterday's rainy deluge all along the northeastern seaboard. Tomorrow, Tampa plays two in Detroit, and the Red Sox play a pair in Baltimore on Saturday. Baltimore ends up with two twin bills this week, playing 7 games in the final 5 days, weather permitting.

If you're looking for teams that still have something to play for, look westward. Neither Western Division race is yet settled, with critical head-to-head series in each league this weekend. In the NL, you can add Houston and Chicago to the stew, as they are still in the thick of the Wild Card chase. San Diego was eliminated last night. And Texas is on life support, as the best they can hope for is a tie, and that requires them to win out, while neither Oakland nor Anaheim wins more than two - and that's a tall order when those two teams face each other three times this week. Possible, but unlikely.

9/28 - Hopefully, you didn't lose your fantasy football matchup this weekend by a potential John Hall field goal. The final Washington drive ended on the Dallas 21 when Rod Gardner was unable to get out of bounds to set up a tying FG. I'm sure all of the collective groans out there didn't necessarily come from Redskins fans.

I thought this was a difficult week for Football Pickoff (as my -321 will attest to). But it wasn't as bad as it could have been, as the median score was only -7. In spite of some costly upsets, 10/14 favorites won, so simply going with favorites was a positive strategy. Going with away teams was even better, as that approach racked up 204 points. Eight entrants managed to get 12 games correct, headed by erichao, who capitalized on a double of Houston.

9/27 - It seemed like a good idea at the time. The Miami defense would be facing a rookie QB making his first NFL start, and a hurricane would have passed through just hours earlier. It sounded like a good recipe for low scoring and high turnovers. But the Fins managed only a median defensive TSNP result. Even Ben Roethlisberger outpointed them. And so, combined with a stellar 21 TSNP game from Quentin Griffin, it's once again time for me to acknowledge that TSN football is simply not my forte, and start planning for Hoops.

Over the weekend, I finally responded to the one glaring deficiency in GuruGolf reporting. Now you can see a page of GuruGolf price and performance history for each golfer. For example, here is the page for Vijay Singh. You can access each player's page by clicking on his linked price change from within the GuruGolf game.

9/23 - I went into last night's baseball action with two opposing starters on my TSN roster. I had been holding Oliver Perez for awhile, and planned to hold him to the bitter end, since his normal schedule will still give him two more starts. But I thought that Carlos Zambrano offered the best opportunity for a good outing. So I was rooting for a 1-0 game. And lo and behold, that's what happened, as the two combined for 199 TSNP. I'll take it! Too bad I couldn't get that kind of support early in the season.

We're down to the last 11 games, and today's pitchers are probably the last ones who have a shot at 3 starts. Some of those will depend on the developing playoff races. So when mapping out your last few pitching trades, it's a good idea to look at the rest of the season. It may not make sense to trade out of a pitcher with 2 more starts in order to pick up a pitcher with 2 more starts. Or it may, depending on matchups, your competitors' rosters, and your supply of remaining trades.

I have an appointment tomorrow morning (the 18-hole variety) that will keep me away from the office for a good bit of the day, so I may not post a blurb. Some of you guys worry when I fail to post a weekday blurb, so this is your early notice to rest at ease. I trust you to manage just fine without me.

Thanks again to Gurupie Ref for scrounging up his second consecutive good quote.

9/22 - It's unusual when the top pitcher of the day doesn't even get the win, but Curt Schilling managed to rack up 144 TSNP without the 30 points for the W, thanks to a not-so-stellar relief outing by Keith Foulke, who blew the save, and then pilfered the victory for himself. If ever there was a case to be made for giving the official scorer some discretion to override the normal rule, this was a classic example.

Obviously, Johan Santana has been the top pitcher over the past month (probably the last 4 months) by just about any measurement standard. He's averaged 144 TSNP per start over his last 6 outings. Schilling has averaged 108 TSNP/start over the same period, and Roger Clemens is close to a 3-digit average with almost 98/start. But Schilling ranks only 3rd, and Clemens is 4th. Do you know who the second most productive pitcher has been over the last month?

Amazingly, it's Brett Tomko, who has averaged 118 TSNP per start, including last night's 126 TSNP win at home over Houston. Tomko was probably available on most roto-league free agent lists until very recently. I picked him up in the RIBC on September 4, thinking I would hold him only for his impending starts against Arizona. Fortunately, I still have him. It was too little too late for my season, although he has kept me in the race for 14th place. (ugh.) Tomko's last two starts will be against the Dodgers, and they could very well be important games with post-season implications.

Just a heads up: If you set your GuruGolf roster for this week's 84 Lumber Classic based on the preliminary field, you'd probably better recheck it. Eleven golfers have already withdrawn, and the names are mostly recognizable (like Tiger Woods). No reason to get caught short-handed.

By the way, I ran a quick correlation of the GuruGolf standings vs. the cumulative number of golfers who have survived the cut for each team. The correlation coefficient is 98%. Even for only the top 100 teams, the correlation coefficient is 77%. It's not hard to see visually, either, if you simply scan down the standings page. Having golfers who survive the cut doesn't guarantee you the best result, but it sure has a strong influence.

And if you're looking for a reason that the top team is so far ahead of the pack, I think there is one critical stat. lockhart1 has never had less than 3 golfers make the cut. I can't find any other team with that success rate. In fact, most of the other teams in the top 10 have at least two weeks with only 2 golfers surviving. Impressive.

Thanks to Gurupie Ref for suggesting today's quote.

9/21 - This was a tough week for Football Pickoff, as only 42% of the slates posted positive scores. Kudos to Aydin, who was the only person to get 14 games correct, and whose score of 737 was almost 200 better than the runner-up for the week. Year-to-date, the median Football Pickoff score is slightly negative, so if you'd like to start late, you'll immediately be in the middle of the pack!

This morning, I added the GuruPatron asterisk * in the Football Pickoff Standings. As you may recall, most of the prizes for this game are reserved for GuruPatrons (including members of their immediate families). I've attempted to identify these entries using registration names and email addresses, but I suspect there are some errors. If your entry is incorrectly denoted, send me an email. And for those who are not GuruPatrons, you have until October 1st to join the 371 current GuruPatrons. Through the first nine months of last year, GuruPatron donations totaled $5215, so we're currently running about 15% behind last year. For information on how to become a GuruPatron, see the information page.

Football injuries may have been the biggest story (from a fantasy perspective) of NFL Week #2. This thread mentions the most notable of them. My RIFC team has at least two problems (Heap, Cowart), and another of my roto teams has Deuce McAllister and Kellen Winslow, so I have some scrambling to do in advance of next weekend. I'll bet a lot of you do, too. Better get to work!

9/20 - I got a lot of surprises yesterday. For example, I never expected...

  • that Curtis Martin would be the top running back in TSNP for each of the first two weeks,
  • that Brad Johnson would be scuffling for his starting job by week 2,
  • that David Terrell would be the lowest producing WR in week 2, with -75 TSNP (I didn't expect him to repeat his first week, but this was a bit ridiculous),
  • that if one defense in the Washington-Giants game forced seven turnovers, it would be the Giants
  • I'm sure the list goes on, but frankly, I haven't had a chance to digest all of yesterday's food for thought. And I suspect I'm not the only one with some indigestion this morning.

    9/17 - The Red Sox go to Yankee Stadium tonight, but it looks like neither team is likely to come out on top, as a rainout seems like the most probable outcome. Since the two teams have no more common off days, a weekend doubleheader (probably a day-nighter on Sunday) is inevitable.

    Pittsburgh and Philly also look like tentative sites. If they are washed out, Monday is available for both makeup games, although twin bills are also possible. Cleveland and Cincinnati both look like they'll clear up by tonight.

    So much for the weather. We're closing in on week #2 in the NFL, so it's time to figure out your football roster moves. Frankly, I haven't spent much time this week thinking about my various salary cap teams, so I'll need to buckle down during the next 48 hours. I'm really struggling to stay appropriately focused on 6 fantasy baseball teams, a couple of GuruGolf squads, a Football Pickoff slate, and 6 fantasy football teams. And I can't wait much longer before I start to plan for basketball drafts. Aye carumba!

    9/16 - If you are still a contender in fantasy baseball, you once again need to heed the weatherman, as Hurricane Ivan (or now, Tropical Storm Ivan) moves inland. Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cincy, and New York all have heavy rains in the forecast. Keep at least one eye on the radar.

    Randy Johnson notched back-to-back wins with a strong home outing against the Rockies last night. It's the first time since June that he's won consecutive starts, although he's been pitching pretty well throughout. His next start will be in Colorado. He is 5-3 lifetime at Coors Field, with a 4.15 ERA and a .250 BA against. Those don't compare well vs. his career ERA of 3.08 and BAA of .213, but they aren't scary numbers either. If you have him on a roto roster, you probably start him without question. But in a game like TSN, do you own him for that start or not? Tough call.

    The Ryder Cup matches start tomorrow, and although it has no GuruGolf implications, it will undoubtedly usurp center stage from this week's PGA (and GuruGolf) event, the Valero Texas Open. <commercial>The GuruGolf season still has 7 more events after this week, ending with The Tour Championship in early November, overlapping the first few days of the NBA season. In fact, you'll be able to make your final GuruGolf roster moves the day before the NBA season opens. With baseball winding down, and a probable void in hockey, you are welcome to give GuruGolf a late season tryout. Next year's season will probably start in January, so it's not like you'd forget everything you learned during the offseason, and a few weeks of "practice" can't hurt. Up to you. But a lot of people who have never tried fantasy golf before seem to like it. It's fairly low maintenance. And it's free. </commercial>

    9/15 - I was hoping that this weekend's Yankees/Red Sox series would have the division title riding on it, but if the Sox bats continue to be silenced and the Yankees regain some pitching competence, that may not come to pass. Maybe the Red Sox had better just focus on the Wild Card race, which they currently lead by 5 games (in the loss column), but which ain't over yet. And there certainly have been worse collapses. It's not likely, although Boston seems to have a flair for the unlikely, so stay tuned.

    I updated the football Assimilators so that you can now directly copy frozen roster data from the three related game sites. I think they are all working, but if you find any glitches, I hope you'll let me know. This enhancement has already been added to the Hoops and Baseball Assimilators, and it can be a real time saver, not only in keeping your own team rosters current, but also in importing rosters from your primary competitors, if you're motivated to do so.

    9/14 - The two primary casualties of NFL Week #1 appear to be Steve Smith (broken leg) and Charles Rogers (broken collarbone). Rogers is already officially out for the year, and while the word on Smith is still forthcoming, it can't be pretty. Both probably went reasonably high in your roto drafts; if you have either one, get busy working the waiver/free agent wires.

    Two Football Pickoff slates went 14-2 this week. Congrats to scoobies, who outpointed his closest rival by 138 points. None of the purely formulaic approaches worked very well this week, with the best of them - Vegas Favorites - finishing 140th, with 55 points. Scores were quite balanced overall, with the median score just slightly above zero. Game registrations are down about 15% vs last year, but it's not too late to get started. In fact, a current score of zero already puts you ahead of 164 competitors!

    One week down, 16 to go.

    9/13 - September Sundays and Monday mornings are as hectic as traffic on the way to an Eagles game. I need to process a full slate of baseball games, a full slate of football games, and the finish of a golf tournament. The first NFL weekend is particularly harried, as there are inevitably some unexpected processing issues at the start of a new season - and this was no exception. However, it's not quite noon on Monday, and I think I have everything sorted out.

    So, unless I had an undiscovered senior moment, all of the RotoGuru football pages with fantasy points are now updated, and presumably correct. My TSNP tallies for five team defenses don't match with those reported at the TSN site (apparently they are not properly compensating for the new adjustment in defensive points allowed), but I've alerted them, and I expect them to be fixed shortly.

    The statistical oddity of the day must be Jerome Bettis, who scored 3 rushing TD's on a game total of one yard rushing. I don't think I've ever seen that before! That must really irritate Duce Staley's owners, as Duce rushed for 91 yards to set the table for three slam dunks from Bettis.

    I did make two significant updates over the weekend:

    1. In GuruGolf, I added a cumulative tally of recent price changes on the "Manage Roster" page. The player listing now shows the cumulative price changes for each golfer over the past "x" weeks, and over his past "y" starts. You get to specify the values of x and y. This should be a big help in identifying those golfers who have been on hot streaks. (It has already pointed out a few to me who I was not aware of.)
    2. I loaded the 2004-05 NBA schedule. Check the basketball links on the left for a full schedule (which also includes a link to a spreadsheet version) as week as the Schedule Generator. Those of you without enough on your fantasy plates can now start working ahead.
    As always, please send me an email if anything looks out of whack.

    9/10 - The weather threatened, but in the end, only Golf took a partial hit. All of the baseball games were completed, and the weather really wasn't a factor for the NFL game (Vanderjagt notwithstanding).

    I posted yesterday's football points this morning, and also updated the football Assimilators. However, I've decided to leave the sortable stats alone until after Sunday, just to keep a consistent set of stats there as you work out your final rosters.

    Speaking of rosters, PSC has decided to keep rosters unfrozen until Sunday (excluding players from last night's teams, of course). They must have had a lot of no-shows. I wish they'd implement that approach for all weeks.

    By now, you've probably heard that the Tennessee-Miami NFL game has been advanced to Saturday afternoon. For Football Pickoff, that game will obviously lock at 1pm on Saturday.

    Speaking of Pickoff, my standard practice has always been to restrict the ability to see the actual picks of other entrants until all picks are frozen on Sunday. A consequence of this is that your scoring recap page will not be updated until after the Sunday freeze. So, if you want to know how you did last night, you'll have to work out the math in your head. Suffice it to say that if you are one of the 173 who picked New England, you earned +40, and if you went with the 114 Indy backers, you start at -40. If you doubled the game, then your points are +80 or -80. Simple enough, eh?

    9/9 - It doesn't seem that long ago that Houston appeared headed for the scrap heap, and a pitching matchup vs. the Astros looked attractive for almost any opposing starter. What a difference a month makes!

    As of yesterday morning, the MLB schedule was full, with no unscheduled postponements left. What a difference a day makes! Four were washed out yesterday, and today's weather map suggests that the Yankees could still have problems getting in a game, let alone two. The weather in Pittsburgh, where another doubleheader is scheduled, is also iffy. Contingency plans are a good idea.

    Baseball isn't the only sport being impacted by adverse weather. This week's PGA tour event, the Bell Canadian Open, is already 5 hours delayed, and it's a cinch that the first round won't be completed today, even if it starts. Also, rain is a possibility tonight in Foxboro, where the Patriots open the NFL season against the Colts.

    If you were planning to play Swirve football this year, I hope you entered your roster already. If not, wait until next year, because it's too late for week #1, and missing a full weekend - which represents 1/17th of the season - is pretty tough to overcome. You do still have until 9pm to get your PSC roster entered. And you have the same amount of time to make your Football Pickoff pick for tonight's game. You can wait until Sunday for the rest of the week #1 slate, but Pickoff picks for tonight's game will be frozen at 9pm.

    9/8 - For most of August, my football focus was on preparing for various roto drafts. This week, I've turned to the various salary cap games. While most of the underlying data is the same, the analysis and conclusions can be quite different. The running back who you have ranked 20th overall becomes much more valuable if he is priced as though he is 90th overall. And in any salary cap game, you can usually find those situations.

    If you are playing the Swirve or PSC games, the clock is ticking. Your Swirve roster for week #1 must be set by noon EDT tomorrow! For PSC, you have an extra 9 hours. In both cases, you won't have the benefit of waiting for late breaking news. So focus on those games first. You have extra time to sort out your TSN roster, and probably to manage your roto teams as well.

    Meanwhile, the baseball calendar is getting thick. There are two doubleheaders scheduled for today, and one for each of the next two days. In September, that isn't necessarily as beneficial, since rosters are expanded and teams have less need to put the same guys on the field for both games. But for teams in the thick of postseason contention, that may not matter.

    9/7 - If you dropped an inactive third baseman (like Beltre, for instance) to pick up one from the Yankee Stadium twin bill, I hope it was ARod and not Aubrey Huff. Huff was left behind in soggy Tampa, while the rest of the team managed to arrive in time for only one game. I haven't yet heard whether the league will force the Yankees to schedule the makeup game this week (or if they even have the power force that).

    Speaking of scheduling, I've added a makeup Cubs/Marlins doubleheader for Sept 20th, even though that has not yet been made official. It seems pretty likely, and I figured I'd jump the gun, just to keep it in view for those of you who are looking ahead. It sounds like the third makeup game might be in Wrigley this weekend (perhaps Friday), with the Fish batting last to simulate a home game.

    The Tiger-Vijay showdown was entertaining yesterday, at least until the last few holes when Vijay stomped on Tiger's throat. GuruGolf players were quickly repriced after the tournament finish, and you now have an abbreviated period to set rosters, as the PGA returns to a normal Thursday start.

    I did a major cleanup of team affiliations for all NFL players yesterday, based upon current listings. Hopefully, all active players are now correctly listed in the RotoGuru database. If you see an error, please report it.

    9/6 - Today is Labor Day, a national holiday in the states. That explains why today's sports schedule is unusual for a Monday. Eight MLB games are in the afternoon. And the final round of the weekend PGA golf tournament is today, which offers some additional drama as a showdown between Tiger and Vijay for the top world ranking.

    Football Pickoff suffered a couple of weekend glitches. For openers, I forgot to tell the system that yesterday was not a game day, so it dutifully applied the Sunday 1pm freeze, prohibiting entrants from entering picks yesterday afternoon (until I fixed it). There have also been a couple of reported registration glitches, where registration info was apparently not saved by the system. I can't explain those. But if you register and then cannot log in, you might try to register again. If you try to register a name which has already been successfully registered, the system will tell you, so there's little risk in trying. For the most part, everything seems to be working fine, but that registration glitch may be a tough one to diagnose if it continues to happen. Let me know if you experience anything like that.

    9/3 - Hopefully you don't have a precision pitching rotation plan involving either the Marlins or the Cubs. The hurricane makes their weekend series speculative at best.

    I wonder what's up with Jason Schmidt? In July, he handled the Rockies well in Coors Field. Last night, he couldn't do the job at home, posting his second consecutive negative TSNP game. Next week, he returns to pitch in Coors. Anyone brave enough to start him in that one?

    Football Pickoff has been launched for 2004. After considering a range of scoring alternatives, I decided to make only one change in the bonus point formula. Previously, you could earn 50 bonus points for each correct pick in excess of 9. For 16 game weeks, that meant you could earn a bonus for getting 10/16, which didn't seem like much of a hurdle - backed up by the fact that more than 30% of all entries earned a bonus for those weeks last year. This year, you'll need to get at least 12 picks right to earn a bonus - although 10 will still be sufficient for those weeks with only 14 games. The bonus will continue to be 50 points per correct pick in excess of the threshold.

    So you can now register and start logging your picks. I had hoped to make some enhancements to the game site functionality, but just didn't get it done. Perhaps I can add a few things on the fly this year. Ultimately, I'd like to set up a common registration database for all RotoGuru games, but for the time being, it was simplest and safest to go with what has worked before. Let me know if anything appears to be miscoded or working improperly.

    9/2 - The NFL season opens one week from tonight!

    I'm playing in 3 HTH leagues this year, the last of which drafts live tonight. Then I'll have to start working on my various salary cap league teams. Based on feedback at the football forum, many of you are punting on salary cap play this year, preferring the draft-and-trade style. I wonder if TSN and other salary cap game providers are feeling the pinch - or if that's simply a Gurupie phenomenon? In fact, we still have only 8 teams in the GuruPatron division for the TSN game. I imagine we'll crawl up to a prize quorum by next week, but if you are a GuruPatron looking for a smaller than average league to conquer, this might be the one.

    Yesterday, 57 MLB players were called up for the month of September. That made for a busy morning of baseball processing for me, because I enter all MLB roster moves manually. What fun!

    9/1 - There were 4 shutouts last night, settled by a composite margin of 43 runs. Cleveland got 22 of them, but that still left a very ample 21 for Florida, Houston, Montreal to collectively work with.

    Today is the first of September, which means that baseball rosters can now be expanded. For most of the season, only 750 players can be active at any time. For the next month, that number will probably balloon to more than 900. From a fantasy perspective, that creates opportunities and risks. Everyday players won't necessarily play everyday - especially if post-season implications are missing. But it does provide a chance to get a sustained look at some players who might be poised to make an impact next year.

    In GuruGolf, this week's tournament doesn't start until Friday, so there is no need to finalize your roster until tomorrow. The freeze will be at 7am Friday morning.

    Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

    2004: August. . . July. . . June. . . May. . . April. . . March . . . February . . . January

    2003: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

    2002: December. . . November. . . October. . . September. . . August. . . July. . . June. . . May. . . April. . . March . . . February . . . January

    2001: December . . . . . November . . . . . October . . . . . September . . . . . August . . . . . July . . . . . June . . . . . May . . . . . April . . . . . March . . . . . February . . . . . January

    2000: December . . . . . November . . . . . October . . . . . September . . . . . August . . . . . July . . . . . June . . . . . May . . . . . April . . . . . March . . . . . February . . . . . January

    1999: December . . . . . November . . . . . October . . . . . September . . . . . August . . . . . July . . . . . June . . . . . May . . . . . April . . . . . March . . . . . February . . . . . January

    1998: December . . . . . November . . . . . October . . . . . September . . . . August . . . . . July . . . . . June . . . . . May . . . . . April . . . . . March

    RotoGuru is produced by Dave Hall (a.k.a. the Guru), an avid fantasy sports player. He is neither employed by nor compensated by any of the fantasy sports games discussed within this site, and all opinions expressed are solely his own. Questions or comments are welcome, and should be emailed to Guru<>.

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