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

9/30 - If you were looking for a sleeper pitching pickup yesterday, Tom Glavine was your man. He’d been pitching pretty well, he was facing Colorado away from their home field, and as a lefty, Todd Helton would probably be sitting. The end result was 182 TSNP, which ties for the third best pitching result of the season, behind 187 for Carpenter in June, and 184 for John Patterson in August. Roy Halladay had the other 182 TSNP game in May. It all seems so logical now, but I’ll confess I didn’t consider him.

A 3-way playoff is still a possibility in the American League. If Cleveland and Boston each win 2 out of 3 this weekend, then the Yankees and Boston will play for the division title on Monday, and the loser will face Cleveland on Tuesday. In any other scenario, two wins (or more) from Cleveland will be enough to get them the wild card slot outright. And if the Tribe wins only 1 out of 3, they will need a sweep by either Boston of New York to have a chance.

Today is the last day to become a GuruPatron if you want to be eligible for GuruPatron prizes in Football Pickoff. So far this year, GuruPatron contributions are down more than $1000 versus the same time last year. I’m not claiming poverty, and I’m not threatening to shut down the site, but I’ll confess that the decline in the primary tangible measure of feedback is a little discouraging. Having said that, I am tremendously grateful to the 79 Gurupies who have contributed something this year, including 25 first time donors. I’ve been doing this gig for a long time, and I realize that it can get stale for many of you (and me) after awhile. Your showings of support are the primary motivation to keep me sufficiently energized to persist.

9/29 - In the NL, only the wild card race is unsettled, and that could be taken care of as early as tomorrow, with Houston currently leading the Phillies by 2½. Houston could clinch a tie today with a win, but Philly is off until tomorrow.

In the AL, the White Sox are on the verge of clinching their division race, and could do so today with a win over Detroit or a Cleveland loss. But the other three contending teams – Boston, New York, and the Indians - seem destined to go the distance. Maybe Sunday will turn out to be anticlimactic, but that still seems like a long way off.

Chris Carpenter closed out a miserable month last night, giving up 6 runs in a no-decision. In his last four starts, his ERA was 9.14, during which time opposing hitters batted well over .350 against him. Not quite the stuff of Cy Young Award winners. It looks like Dontrelle Willis still has a shot.

9/28 - The end of the regular season can be a real headache for fantasy teams that are still in contention. As real teams drop out of contention, players may rest, pitchers are used differently (if at all), and planning is fraught with peril. In football, many fantasy leagues end with week #16, skipping the final weekend, just so that league championships aren’t impacted by NFL teams with limited incentives to play their starters. But in baseball and hoops, living with season-ending volatility is the norm.

Last night was certainly a missed opportunity for many. Although the Angels and Braves wrapped up their division titles, the four AL teams in contention for the other three postseason spots all lost. And when Chris Carpenter appears to be doing everything to hand the NL Cy Young award to Dontrelle Willis, Willis treats it like a hot potato. Carpenter pitches tonight, and Willis is scheduled to start on Sunday, so they each have one more opportunity to seize the moment. Or to seize up.

GuruGolf tees up at 7:30am tomorrow morning. As of this morning, more than half of all GuruGolf rosters still have at least one inactive golfer. Get your rosters set!

9/27 - The weather did its best to foul up the playoff races last night. But only one game succumbed. Boston gets to play two today, and the weather should be fine.

Detroit was supposed to be a pushover for the White Sox this week. But somehow, the Tigers came from behind to win in the bottom of the ninth, and have now won three straight games – although this was the only one against a contender. Meanwhile, the As are officially on life support, and could be eliminated tonight. And Philly managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, giving Houston a little breathing room in the NL wild card race – but just a little.

Here’s something to consider if you are in a close baseball contest. If any of the races require an extra game on Monday, that game is considered a regular season game and the stats are counted in most fantasy games. If you can position your team to benefit from that eventuality, it could pay off.

Football Pickoff results were a little better this week, as almost 60% of the scores were positive. The best result belonged to loki, who missed only two games. Nine different slates had 12 correct picks this week.

9/26 - After a few unusual weeks, we finally have a list of top NFL fantasy producers that looks normal. Top player: LaDainian Tomlinson. Top quarterbacks: Culpepper and Manning.

Oh wait…. Wrong Manning. Never mind.

In baseball, Cleveland lost a tough one when the winning run scored on a ball lost in the sun. Meanwhile, the White Sox now get to play 4 games in Detroit. It is quite possible that the final White Sox-Indians series will be meaningless for Chicago. If they opt to rest their pitchers and Cleveland takes advantage of it, imagine the howling we’ll hear from Boston and New York, who could end up in a “loser goes home” showdown.

It probably won’t happen that way. But it could. Should be an exciting week.

9/23 - The White Sox are gaining national attention, at risk of blowing a 15-game division league. After last night, the gap is only 1.5 games. But their situation isn’t quite as dire as it sounds.

Sure, they could blow the division lead. But perhaps the more important lead is their 3-game lead over Boston for the wild card berth. Assuming that the Western Division runner-up is out of wild card contention (which is not quite a mathematical certainty, but would take quite a remarkable combination of results), then only one of the White Sox, Indians, Yankees, and Red Sox will miss the playoffs. And based on today’s records, the Red Sox are the ones on the bottom. Chicago’s “magic number” to clinch at least a wild card berth is 8 over the Red Sox.

Consider this: Chicago plays the final 3-game series in Cleveland, during which the Yankees finish with 3 in Boston. Although the division titles may very well be decided in those head-to-head matchups, the playoff fates may actually be settled in the alternate park. In other words, the wild card fate of the Cleveland-Chicago loser will probably depend on the results in Boston, and vice versa. It’s enough to give you a brain cramp.

Of course, a lot can happen before those potentially climactic series. If any of those four teams melts down in the next 7 days, then the final weekend would be relatively moot.

Let’s hope not.

9/22 - With about 10 games remaining in the baseball season, only one team has clinched a playoff berth – St. Louis. It’s possible that Atlanta and San Diego could lock up their division titles this weekend. But neither is playing particularly well, and it’s also possible that their races could each go down to the wire, particularly if Barry Bonds keeps jacking them out. And that seems likely, with the Giants headed to Colorado for the weekend. Bonds certainly doesn’t need the thin air, but as you would expect, his career productivity in Coors Field is better than his overall averages (24 career HRs in 63 games), so you have to like his chances. The Giants then head to San Diego for a head-to-head clash, so a showdown series is certainly possible.

For so much of the baseball season, I’ll confess that I get more focused on fantasy baseball implications than the actual standings. But the ending of this season is hard to ignore, especially for this Cleveland fan. Of course, most of my fantasy baseball fortunes are pretty well decided at this point - for better or worse - so it’s not too disconcerting to shift my focus. But lately, I’m finding myself more inclined to root for (or against) teams rather than individual players. What a concept!

9/21 - Bats were booming last night. Colorado scored 15 in the first three innings and coasted to a 20-1 over San Diego in a game that saw 36 different players in action. Matt Holliday generated 108 TSNP in the blowout, with some of those points coming from a home run hit off a 75 mph “fastball” from “reliever” Sean Burroughs. The Red Sox scored 15 runs in a blowout over Tampa Bay, as David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez each topped 80 TSNP, combining for 8 hits, 4 HRs, 8 runs, and 7 RBIs. . The Yankees scored 12, and needed most of them to overcome 9 runs on 18 hits by the Orioles.

The classic game of the night was probably the showdown in Chicago, where the White Sox finally slowed down the Indians, although not without plenty of anxiety for both teams in a game with multiple lead changes over 10 innings.

And in the “it doesn’t get much worse than this” category, Detroit dropped both games of a doubleheader in Kansas City. The Royals need to win out the season in order to avoid losing 100 games this season. Last night was a good start.

The Valero Texas Open tees it up in San Antonio tomorrow morning, and the weather should be OK for the opening couple of rounds. After that, the path of Hurricane Rita will dictate. San Antonio appears to be slightly west of the projected storm track, but the weekend could still be a wet one. In any event, there is a lot of turnover in the field from last week’s PGA tournament, so you really don’t want to forget to reset your GuruGolf roster this week.

9/20 - You had to stay up late (if you live in the east) to see the surprise finish of the Washington/Dallas MNF game. And if you happened to have Santana Moss on any of your fantasy teams, you really went from rags to riches. Moss was well on his way to a disappointing night when (using my best Madden voice) “Boom, …. Boom”.

Congrats to louky3, who turned in the best week in Football Pickoff with 14 correct picks. In spite of the late turnaround in Dallas, home teams have enjoyed the upper hand thus far, as picking a straight slate of home teams would currently rank above the 90th percentile. For this purpose, I’m considering the Giants the home team in last night’s game, regardless of what the schedule says.

In baseball, as many expected, the top pitching result last night came from the Houston at Pittsburgh matchup. But alas, most bet on the wrong horse. Ian Snell outpointed Roger Clemens by almost 160 TSNP. Go figure. I don’t think Clemens was in serious contention for the CY Young award anyway, but this game likely removes any doubt, even though the Rocket still has a sub-2.00 ERA.

9/19 - Two weeks (almost) gone in the NFL. Two weeks to go in baseball.

Yesterday was a vivid reminder that in football, week #1 results have to be viewed suspiciously. It takes at least few weeks to begin to separate the contenders from the pretenders, not only in the team sense, but also with regard to individual players. For example, I wouldn’t be surprised if Frisman Jackson never gets another mention this season – although on any given Sunday, just about anything can happen. In his case, it already did.

Football Pickoff appears headed for a second rough week, with only about one-third of all slates generating positive points – although we have two games yet to go. For the full season, only 90/311 scores are positive.

In baseball, Johan Santana gets “stud of the weekend” honors, while Dontrelle Willis gets the hard luck award. In spite of his weekend calamity, he probably gained ground on Chris Carpenter in the Cy Young sweepstakes. And, if Houston can hold on to the wild card lead, there is certainly a case to be made for Roger Clemens as well. At worst, he belongs in the same conversation.

9/16 - I was considering a colon-related joke this morning, but it’s just too easy – and therefore, not worth it. Suffice it to say that I was one of the lucky ones to pick up Bartolo Colon on a couple of TSN teams yesterday. Seemed like a good idea at the time. To add insult to injury, this was on teams that had dropped Vladimir Guerrero and Chipper Jones earlier in the week. Suffice it to say that my point avoidance strategy is working perfectly!

Guess I’d better get to work on my weekend football decisions. My baseball teams need to be undermanaged for awhile.

9/15 - There was an interesting situation in the Red Sox game last night. With Gabe Kapler on base, Tony Graffinino homered on a line drive that barely cleared the fence. Kapler started out running hard, and tore his Achille’s tendon after rounding second. At that point, he was unable to finish running the bases. So, Graffanino had to be careful not to pass him while Kapler was carted off the field. The Red Sox were then allowed to insert a pinch runner to complete the circuit. It was unusual because I don’t ever recall seeing a pinch runner inserted into the game while a play is in progress. And props to Graffanino for realizing that he could not pass Kapler without being called out.

It was also an unusual night in baseball because no pitcher posted a 3-digit TSNP score, in spite of a full 15 game slate. That happened for only the second time this season (the first was on August 3). I’ll bet you didn’t hear that one on SportsCenter!

9/14 - I’m getting killed by mental errors!

With all of the frenzy surrounding the opening of the football season, it’s been tough to stay current on baseball. So when I saw on Monday that David Ortiz sat out most of Sunday with a tight back and might sit out Monday’s game as well, I simply decided to punt him off of my TSN teams and pick up Mark Teixeira, who was hitting well and had an upcoming homestand in a hitter-friendly stadium. So, of course, Ortiz proceeded to go deep twice on Monday, and again on Tuesday. Meanwhile, on Tuesday I held on to both Chipper Jones and Albert Pujols, totally oblivious to reports that both were hurt and unlikely to start. They did each appear as a pinch hitter, and I might have decided to hold them even if I had been aware of the situation, but it’s still annoying to be caught by surprise – especially when the TSN price change data suggests that a lot of managers were paying attention.

The inevitable problem with running multiple teams – particularly across multiple formats and in multiple sports – is that brain farts are more likely. The advantage, of course, is that there’s a better chance that one of those teams will be in contention, following that line of thought related to blind squirrels. Maybe even 50+ year old blind squirrels.

The advantage of being 50+, by the way, is that by tomorrow, I’ll probably have forgotten the implications of my minimal attention span.

Now, what was I talking about?

Speaking of remembering, the 84 Lumber Open tees off at 7:15am tomorrow morning. Get your GuruGolf lineups set! In fact, I’d better head off to do that right now.

9/13 - NFL Week 1 is in the rear view mirror, and look who’s at the top of the Football Pickoff standings! And then there’s my pathetic entry just 25 notches above the basement. Oh well, I’m still less than 1200 points out of the top spot.

Speaking of Pickoff, I noticed that the game site was allowing updated picks for week #1 yesterday. Obviously, that was inappropriate, and any tardy picks which were entered have been deleted. It takes awhile for me to remember which switches I have to flip and when to flip them, and I forgot flip one on Sunday. It could happen again (given my growing propensity for senior moments), but rest assured that every pick has a time associated with it, so it is simple to fix things up if late picks are inadvertently permitted.

The top game in the week #2 list at Football Pickoff is the New Orleans at New York Giants game. Although this was originally scheduled to be a home game for the Saints, I put the Giants in the home column. Although Monday games are typically sorted to the bottom of the list, I am leaving it where it is, since the database is happier if the sequence of listed games remains the same since opening day. Suffice it to say that the order of the listing has no bearing on scoring, or on the freeze time, which is still at 1pm Sunday for all games.

Swirve football has released its first repricing. You can find those new prices in the sortable stats. I also updated the RIFC link, in case you want to keep tabs on that league. Suffice to say that I started better there than in Football Pickoff.

Back to baseball. Jeff Weaver completed a vivid demonstration of the difference between Dodger Stadium and Coors Field. Last week, he authored a -34 TSNP result in the rarified air. Last night, he was roughly 200 TSNP better at sea level. ‘Nuff said.

9/12 - Whew!

It’s been a busy morning, getting football data loaded and scrubbed. I think everything is now up to date, functional, and accurate. The sortable stats now reflect 2005 points. The Assimilator now shows points for 2005 games, and once again provides the capability to copy in frozen roster data from the related game sites. (A word of caution: unfrozen players in the TSN games will not be captured, but will show up as vacant slots.) If you notice anything that looks wrong, either data or functionality, please let me know.

So now the post mortem begins. The principal casualty of the day appears to be Javon Walker, who is reportedly out for the year (subject to results of an MRI today). Tough break if you drafted him (and I would have drafted him in the RIFC if someone else hadn’t snatched him just ahead of me. Dodged that bullet!) Mike Anderson is also of some immediate concern, particularly in the salary cap games, where his ownership is undoubtedly wide as a consequence of his bargain price. There are a number of other player casualties, many of uncertain severity. And, as always, there were some players come emerged from out of nowhere – like Frisman Jackson! The standout performance probably belonged to Willie Parker, who certainly gave Pittsburgh less reason to worry about a quick recovery for either Bettis or Staley.

Football Pickoff provided a dose of humility to open the season. If you forgot to submit picks this week, your score of zero ranks you in the top third! Mulligans, anyone?

It was hard to pay attention to baseball yesterday. Randy Johnson was Dr. Jekyll against the Red Sox (or was it Mr. Hyde?) Tonight, McNabb, Vick, and Owens will probably command the center stage of the national sports arena, but tomorrow, baseball will return to the forefront - … maybe.

In GuruGolf, the Canadian Open was remarkable for producing scores resembling a major tournament. Twenty-five GuruGolf rosters produced worstball scores of +50 or higher, while only five teams posted best ball scores of -40 or lower.

9/9 - Good game last night, which (as I predicted yesterday) I failed to witness with my eyes open after the 3rd quarter. I posted the fantasy points for this game (for all three covered scoring formats) in the Weekly Points page. However, I decided not to update the sortable stats or Assimilators yet, since they still contain prior year data. Those will be updated after the Sunday games are in the books.

Meanwhile, Chris Carpenter continued to mow them down last night, posting his 21st win. In spite of Roger Clemens’ Gibson-esque ERA, it would seem that the NL Cy Young Award is a 2-way contest between Carpenter and Dontrelle Willis. I’d surmise that Carpenter has the edge at this point, but each pitcher should have 4 more starts, and you never know…

9/8 - Are you ready for some football? Tonight’s opener includes a little bit of everything, from Rolling Stones to Moss.

The fantasy football season officially enters “hurry up and wait” mode today. Hurry up if you need to take actions related to tonight’s game. But, of course, most teams don’t play until Sunday, so after tonight, we resume pre-season waiting and planning mode.

I’m groggy this morning. For some reason, I started watching the Agassi-Blake tennis match last night, and was still semi-alert when the final set tiebreak ended after 1:00am. Great match. No fantasy sports implications, of course – at least, for me – but a well played, well paced match, in spite of the absurdly late hour for those of us on the east coast. How will I ever manage to stay awake until the end of tonight’s football game? (Answer: although I may be “upright” when the game ends, “alert” will most certainly be out of the question.)

9/7 - The NFL season starts tomorrow, but in most cases, you have a few more days to get your fantasy football ducks in order.

  • One exception is Swirve football. If you are playing that game, you must have your lineup set by noon EDT tomorrow. And if you forget, your season is probably shot, because missing one full week (out of 17) would be virtually impossible to overcome.
  • Most other fantasy games allow you to make your Thursday night choices tomorrow, but to keep your Sunday player slots open until Sunday.
  • Football Pickoff is the same, with tomorrow night’s game locked at kickoff time, but all other picks unfrozen until Sunday at 1pm.
  • The PSC game is unusual in that you can wait until Sunday at 1pm to set your roster, which may include players from Thursday night. So, depending on how the Pats-Raiders game plays out, there may be a “Friday morning quarterback” opportunity.
The best advice I can give you is to read the rules of whatever game you are playing, and make sure you understand the implications of tomorrow night’s game on your first week flexibility.

The Canadian Open tees off tomorrow morning, and at this point, most GuruGolf rosters still have at least one inactive golfer. The first tee time is not until 10:20am EDT, so you have a little time to do this tomorrow morning, but a lot of last week’s golfers are skipping this tournament, so many rosters have multiple slots to be replaced. Don’t forget!

9/6 - Football Pickoff has been launched for 2005. Everything is pretty much the same as for last year. The only scoring difference is that the bonus point formula will now kick in with the 13th correct pick, rather than the 12th (for 16 game weeks). This will make bonus points more difficult to attain. Last year, picking favorites in every game would have netted a season total score of 682 points, of which 500 were bonus points. Using this year’s formula, that strategy would have produced only 150 bonus points.

The first game is Thursday night, so if you want to make a pick for that game, you have until the scheduled kickoff time of that game to do so.

It’s hard for me to understand why, on a national holiday in the U.S., eight MLB teams did not play yesterday. But, I’ve made that same observation every holiday weekend for several years, so I guess I should just shut up. For the next two days, all teams are scheduled.

I’m struggling to find the time to evaluate all of my football roster decisions for the variety of fantasy football teams that I’m running. This season, including salary cap games, head-to-head leagues, and other contests, I’ll have at least eight different teams/entries to stay on top of, and I’m sure that at some time, I’ll make a critical error of omission. The trick this week will be to get every one of those teams off and running without a mental goof. My confidence level is not high. Thanks goodness I don’t have a real job! (Well, a real “paying” job, that is.)

9/2 - This year, it’s not that unusual for the first round of a PGA tournament to be teeing off on a Friday morning. But it is unusual when it’s not the result of a rain delay. And the New England weather is not a problem this week. The Deutsche Bank Championship is simply scheduled for Friday-Monday. And of the 216 GuruGolf teams with four active golfers, almost half have Tiger Woods this week. Either roster values have inflated enough to make his $2000+ price tag more easily accommodated at this stage of the season, or else he has simply become the “gots to have” golfer whenever he appears. Probably some of both.

The top baseball producers for yesterday doesn’t exactly read like a “Who’s Who” list. The best pitching outing came from a Santana, but this time it was Ervin Santana who threw 8 shutout innings in a very meaningful game against Oakland. And the top three hitters were Olerud, Pierzynski, and Barajas. Whatever…

9/1 - Today is the day that ML rosters are expanded, and we start to see a fair number of September call-ups. If you are in a close battle in a roto league, keep your eyes peeled, not only for new faces that might help, but also for current starters who might be seeing more days off, particularly on teams that are out of contention.

The NFL season starts a week from today, so if you haven’t started working on your salary cap teams, you probably ought to get in gear. August tends to be consumed by draft activity for roto leagues, particularly if they are slow drafts. But as we come down to opening day, you need to spend some time ferreting out the bargains in the various salary cap games. I know I’m in that boat. I’ve got the sortable stats all set up for the TSN, Swirve, and PSC games, but I haven’t started to research them.

2005: August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

2004: December. . . November. . . October. . . September. . . August. . . July. . . June. . . May. . . April. . . March . . . February . . . January

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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