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

9/29 - After a one day hiatus, the St. Louis meltdown resumed. And even Cincy is not yet out of the picture. For example, if Cards finish 1-3, the Astros 1-2, and Cincy wins all 3 weekend games, all three teams will finish 82-80. (All 3 teams could also finish 81-81, although that’s less likely.) SF would have played a rainout makeup game on Monday at St. Louis, so the required tiebreaker games would need to be played on Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s not yet determined what the sequence or sites of those Tuesday & Wednesday games would be, as the Reds would have a choice to make. Here’s a link to the tiebreaker scenarios for this potential 3-way tie. (Warning: may induce a brain cramp.) One interesting fallout is that Roger Clemens could conceivably get a start on Wednesday if the Astros have to play on both Tuesday and Wednesday. I know it’s an unlikely scenario, but if you have Roger Clemens on your roster today, it’s not necessarily safe to drop him tomorrow.

The published attendance at last night’s Phillies-Nationals game was 18,324. I wonder how many of them actually were still around for the first pitch, let alone the last. The start of the scheduled 7:05pm game was delayed by 4½ hours. And I wonder if the team will do (or has done) the sporting thing and give those who left early (and also those who stayed) a rain check for a weekend game?

For those with no interest in the finish of the MLB regular season, TSN Salary Cap Hoops has been launched, and I’ve already posted the player prices in the sortable stats and the Assimilator. Both the Ultimate and Basic (free) games use the same opening prices, so one size fits all for now in the sortable stats. Also, if you are interested in the free game but don’t like to ability to buy extra trades, you can level the playing field by signing up through the salary cap fantasy link at I’ve already set up a division for that game. See this thread for details.

9/28 - The Cards and ‘Stros both won. I suppose that means there is no change in the NL Central division race, although the passage of time (with no change) favors the Cardinals. Meanwhile, Philly and L.A. closed the gap on San Diego. The Phillies and Astros each needed a lot of extra innings (14 & 15), which certainly doesn’t help their bullpens, although maybe with expanded rosters that’s not such a big deal. Of course, how much do you want your season to ride on the arms of AAA callups?

In GuruGolf, the popular golfers are Fred Funk and Bo Van Pelt, each on approximately half of all rosters. Of course, the most popular golfers are paying in England. But, since there is no cut in the WGC event, I went for the low budget event with more teeth.

Here’s hoping for a T.O.-free news day. (Like that’s gonna happen!)

9/27 - As I was recounting the remaining races for baseball playoff berths last week, the Cardinals never really crossed my stream of consciousness, other than to note that they hadn’t mathematically clinched yet. With an 8.5 game lead and (presumably) 12 games remaining, it looked like a foregone conclusion.

Seven days later, that 8.5 game lead is down to 1.5. Amazing. This team has the potential to eclipse the 1964 Phillies, which is generally regarded as the poster team for late-season collapses. The Phillies only blew a 6.5 game lead with 12 games to go, losing 10 straight in the process.

From a fantasy perspective, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • There is the potential of a make-up game on Monday, San Fran at St. Louis. The game was postponed on September 17, and it was decided to replay it only if it has post-season relevance. At the time, that seemed highly unlikely. But now, you have to factor it in to your planning, as it would be considered a regular season game for most fantasy leagues.
  • If Houston and St. Louis are tied after that game, they would need to face each other in a one game playoff, which I presume would be played next Tuesday, and Roy Oswalt would probably face Jason Marquis. That would also be considered a regular season game.
Switching to golf, the Southern Farm Bureau Classic tees off tomorrow morning at 8:15am ET. The top golfers in the world will be playing in the WGC event in England, so the SFB field will not be stacked. It is the final tournament in the “September Swing” Contest, with best- and worst-ball prizes up for grabs.

9/26 - It was a nice script for the Saints last night. Next week they travel to Carolina, and we get to see whether they appear to be contenders or pretenders.

Perhaps the biggest football news yesterday – certainly from a fantasy perspective – was the broken foot of Shaun Alexander. The Madden curse lives on!

Football Pickoff scores were developing reasonably well until the final two night games, both won by underdogs. Congrats to Goldcoach, who managed the top score with 12 wins in spite of missing the Monday night game. Negative scores were slightly more prevalent than positives, as road teams once again dominated, winning 10 out of 14. After three weeks, home teams have a winning percentage of only 46%. If you’d have picked all home teams this year, your cumulative score of -485 would rank in the bottom 10% of all scores.

For those who have lost interest in baseball and need something to tide them over until football resumes on the weekend, I updated the NBA 2006-07 schedules over the past weekend. Links are in the usual place, in the NBA Schedule section of the menu at the left. NBA preseason actions starts in less than two weeks, and fantasy hoops draft activity will start to command center stage as early as next week.

9/25 - If you watched any of the Ryder Cup over the weekend, you didn’t see a U.S. loss – you saw a complete beatdown of the American team. The Europeans showed more skill, more teamwork, more enthusiasm, and more mojo. Amazingly, the match featured 2 hole-in-ones, including a “walk-off ace” by Paul Casey on Saturday. Maybe there were technically 3, since I think the Europeans conceded an ace to the US team after Casey’s shot sealed the win.

Meanwhile, on this side of the ocean, who is Eric Axley? No GuruGolf team found that diamond in the rough this weekend.

A few random football observations from yesterday:

  • The top QB of the day was none other than Brett Favre, with 25/36 for 340 yards, 3 TDs, and no picks. There was a time when that wouldn’t have been news. But not recently.
  • Last week, two of the top 3 RBs came from the San Diego backfield, combining for 696 TSNP. This week, 2 Redskin RBs are in the top 5, Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts, combining for a monstrous 820 TSNP.
  • Adam Vinateiri didn’t play this weekend, but still did better that his replacement on the Patriots, Stephen Gostkowski, whose only FG attempt was blocked (from 37 yards). The Patriots showed so much confidence in him that they opted to eschew a late game attempt, instead failing on a 4th and 1 from the Denver 20 with 1:07 remaining when they needed both a FG and TD to tie the game.
  • Baltimore eked out a 15-14 win in Cleveland, which must have been gut-wreching for Browns fans, who certainly have no soft spot in their hearts for the Ravens. The game winning FG of 52 yards was kicked by Matt Stover, the only player who remains on the team since its days in Cleveland.
In baseball, the Padres, Dodgers, and Phillies all keep winning, setting up a final week race to the finish. The Phillies and Padres both play tonight, while the Dodgers travel to Colorado to begin a three-game “hit-fest” starting tomorrow.

9/22 - The pitching triumvirate of Santana, Carpenter, and Webb was common across the TSN baseball landscape last night. And, as often happens when big points are anticipated, the three combined for 69 TSNP (and three losses). The best that can be said is that all three posted a positive result. But the best of the three, Webb, was outscored by 20 other players- 10 starters, 5 relievers, and 5 hitters.

The baseball races were all pretty much unchanged last night. All three AL Central contenders (if the White Sox still qualify for that label) lost, and both the Dodgers and Padres won.

Santana’s loss last night pretty much assures that no pitcher will reach 20 wins this year. Unless the White Sox make a charge and the Twins collapse, Santana is likely to get only one more start this year, and he’s currently stuck on 18 wins. No other pitcher has won more than 17, and the top National League pitchers have only 16. Santana still seems like a lock to win the A.L. Cy Young Award, but the N.L. award is less certain. I suppose Chris Carpenter is the current front runner, but if Brandon Webb gets two more starts and finishes strong, he could be the NL leader in both wins and ERA, which should at least make it a contest.

9/21 - The baseball toaster was overheating last night. Boston was officially scorched, although the smoke had been billowing out of their slot for several weeks. But the White Sox also appear to have popped up well-browned, after dropping 2-of-3 to Detroit. Even if they run the table for their final ten games, they are going to need either the Tigers or Twins to play losing baseball. Unlikely.

While the A.L. playoff teams are all but settled, the N.L. situation is really tight. The most likely scenario is that two of the Padres, Dodgers, and Phillies will advance, as those three teams are only separated by ½ game. Seven other teams are still mathematically alive, but even the closest of them, San Francisco (3½ back), is going to need a lot of help.

Speaking of close races, the top two spots in TSN Ultimate baseball are separated by a single point this morning. While a few other teams could conceivably overtake them, it looks like a two team shootout that may go down to the final day. I’m not going to comment further, because jinxes are a big part of baseball, and I don’t want to contribute in that regard. But if you are playing that game, it’s worth following.

In GuruGolf, Justin Rose is the prohibitive favorite, on well over half of all active rosters. He’s on almost twice as many rosters as the next most popular golfers, Flesch (75) and Funk (74). Most of the golfing world will focus on the Ryder Cup this weekend, but a lot of GuruGolf managers will be in a Funk if we see a wilting Rose in Texas or a Flesch wound.

9/20 - Earlier this year, Coors Field was playing more like Dodger Stadium, with shutouts commonplace and hitting very pedestrian. That seems so long ago. While it hasn’t quite reclaimed its typical status as the most scoring-friendly park (for the entire season), it’s very close to the top now. Witness the last two games, with Colorado scoring 32 runs. The Giants have averaged 6 runs per game and have been blown out twice. In the last ten games at Coors, the winning teams have scored 110 runs, an average of 11 per game. Now that’s the Coors Field we have come to know and love! And, from a pitching perspective, to fear and respect!

The golf world will be focused on the Ryder Cup this weekend. But more than 150 GuruGolf managers need to focus on the Valero Texas Open sometime before tomorrow’s tee off time (8:30am ET). As of this moment, only 100 teams have four active golfers on their roster, and in a typical week, about 250 teams arrive at the starting gate fully loaded. Gotta keep grinding!

9/19 - In a battle for the NL West division lead, the Dodgers and Padres combined for more scoring after the 8th inning than Pittsburgh and Jacksonville produced in their entire Monday Night Football game. The four consecutive homers by the Dodgers was just the 4th time it has happened in major league history. I’ll bet none of the other instances occurred in the 9th inning with the team trailing by 4 runs to open the inning.

Meanwhile, in Jacksonville, we had not only the lowest scoring game in MNF history, but also the 4th shutout of this season. As I mentioned last week, there were only six NFL shutouts last season. I don’t know whether that was a normal total or not. But I’m pretty certain this is not normal. In any event, I hope your weekly fantasy football fortunes weren’t tied to any offensive players last night. Because there weren’t any. (or, maybe I should say “because they all were!”)

This was a kinder, gentler week for Football Pickoff scoring, with a median score of +63, and two-thirds of all active slates posting positive results. The top point total came from parson37, who missed only the SF win over St. Louis. One other slate had 15 correct picks as well, but that one missed the more costly Buffalo win in Miami.

If you haven’t yet signed up for Football Pickoff, it’s not too late. And, by entering with a total score of zero, you start out ranked right in the middle of the pack. Go for it!

9/18 - Monday mornings in autumn. That means tons of stats to review.

Start with football. A few odds and ends from yesterday, using TSNP as the measuring stick:

  • Aside from the Baltimore defense, the top five producers were all QBs: 2 Mannings, Grossman, McNabb, and Favre.
  • Although Rudi Johnson was the top RB, San Diego produced both #2 and #3, as Tomlinson and Turner combined for almost 700 TSNP in a blowout win over Tennessee.
  • Atlanta rookie kicker Michael Koenen was 0-4 on FG attempts. Here is his NFL gamebook summary line:
    M.Koenen 30WR 36WL 30B 40WL     Yikes!
    [Note: the gamebook doesn’t actually say “Yikes!”, but it probably should.]
In GuruGolf, kudos to Philly Busters 2 for posting the top score of the week, -54. Worst ball scoring honors go to Bunkers with a +53. Bunkers had only 3 golfers make the cut, but the one who missed was Lee Janzen, who contributed a unique +12 strokes to the team effort in the first 2 rounds.

In baseball, the Padres overtook the Dodgers for 1st place in the division, with a final head-to-head meeting tonight. And the Phillies are now only one game behind L.A. in the wild card chase. In the A.L., Minnesota is only one game behind Detroit for the Central division lead, while the White Sox are in danger of disappearing after being swept in Oakland over the weekend. Tonight they return home for a 3-game series with Detroit. It looks like that series will either be a barn-burner or a back-breaker.

9/15 - The wild card races are getting interesting. In the National League, both the Mets and Cardinals appear to have their divisions well in hand, but the Dodger and Padres are only separated by a half game now. Assuming that one of those two teams wins the division (not a foregone conclusion, but likely), the loser has three teams within four games to worry about, and if one of those teams (Philly, Florida, or SF) gets hot down the stretch, it could be a barnburner. Cincy and Houston aren’t out of it either, but they are certainly the long shots at this point. A few other teams are still mathematically in the mix, but I think you can stick a fork in them now.

In the AL, the race is in the Central division, where it appears that two of Detroit, Minnesota, and the ChiSox will advance. The schedule favors Detroit, who plays KC 6 times, Baltimore 4, and the White Sox in a 3 game series next week. That three game series shapes up to be critical. Other than those three games, the only other head-to-head series is the White Sox vs. Minnesota for the final three games of the season. That series could be the determinant, or it could be over by then.

It looks like only about half of the Football Pickoff picks have been made for week 2. Don’t forget! Or are some of you hoping for an above-median score of zero?

9/14 - The return of Francisco Liriano was a troubling one, and comparisons with Mark Prior and Kerry Wood are disturbing and inevitable. If you have him on a single season roto team, you can cut him loose. If you have him on a keeper league team (as the Minnesota Twins do!), you have to cross your fingers and hope this isn’t a precursor of the next several years.

Liriano’s outing was disappointing, but there were six shutouts yesterday, plus a few near misses. On the other hand, nine teams scored 7 runs or more, so while it was a good day to load up on pitchers, you had to choose wisely.

In GuruGolf, Vijay Singh is again the popular favorite, no doubt as a holdover from the past few weeks. He appears on roughly 40% of active rosters this week, with second favorites Steve Stricker and Bo Van Pelt each appearing on about 25%. The weather forecast for today is iffy, but after today there should be no weather problems.

TSN added a boatload of new players – more than 100 - to its football games yesterday. I’ll work on adding them to my database this afternoon.

9/13 - The Mets’ magic number is down to three today, and it looks like they will clinch the division title in the next few days. If you have Reyes, Beltran, Delgado, Wright, or any other Mets starter, that’s not particularly good news, as it’s a good bet that those players will get more rest than usual over the final two weeks. It’s just one of the hazards of fantasy baseball, when the interests of your team are not fully aligned with the interests of your players’ real teams.

Francisco Liriano returns to action for Minnesota this afternoon. His last healthy outing was on July 28th, and since that time, the Twins have managed pretty well, going 26-17. That’s slightly better than their season-long winning percentage, so it’s not like they’ve been languishing while he was absent. But if the Twins can make it to the playoffs – they’re 2½ ahead of the White Sox in the wild card race, but only 1½ behind Detroit for the division lead – a playoff rotation featuring Santana and Liriano has to be pretty discouranging to any opponent. So it will be interesting to see if and when Liriano can regain his pre-August form.

The 84 Lumber Classic tees off at 7:15am tomorrow morning. This event has been deluged with withdrawals – 13 golfers in the original field have already decided to pull out (almost 10% of the total field) – so if you set your lineup early, you may have some tinkering left to do.

9/12 - Sometimes, home cookin’ just isn’t enough. Last season, NFL home teams won 60.5% of the time during the regular season, including 9-6 for the opening weekend. But this year, they managed to go only 5-11. Adding insult to injury, three home teams were shut out. Last year, there were only six shutouts over the entire regular season..

Four slates in Football Pickoff had 13 games picked correctly, but the top scorer was TD3, who went only 10-6, but correctly picked five of the visiting underdogs, and doubled the St. Louis home win over Denver. Only 35% of all slates posted positive scores, and the median result for the week was -76. It’s a cruel game!

9/11 - As I look over my fantasy football results this morning, I see plenty of Gore. Of my three traditional teams, one had Frank Gore and the other two had to face him. My TSN team had him as well. And with 170 total yards and 2 TDs, he certainly made an impact wherever he appeared.

Condolences if you started any of the following players yesterday:

  • Jake Plummer: 138 passing yards, 3 interceptions, 1 fumble, no TDs.
  • Chris Simms: 133 passing yards, 3 interceptions, no TDs.
  • Shaun Alexander: 52 total yards, 1 fumble, no TDs.
  • Mike Nugent: missed one extra point and 2 FGS from 30 and 34 yards. (He did make 2 XPs and an 18 yard FG to avoid a total bust.)
After last night’s “Manning Bowl”, I have a pretty good idea of what Peyton was doing during the entire offseason. He was making commercials! There were stretches during that game when it seemed that every commercial featured at least one Manning, always including Peyton, but often including Eli or Archie as well.

In GuruGolf, congrats to fork 2, who turned in the best team score of -50, doing it without Canadian Open winner Jim Furyk. The top worst ball score was a +43 from rabbit10.

9/8 - All fantasy football teams owners who had Heath Miller playing last night should send a thank you gift to Nick Saban this morning. Saban’s failure to get the attention of the officials to challenge Miller’s TD run probably had little bearing on the outcome of the game – but certainly had a significant favorable result for Heath Miller’s fantasy points.

I won’t be updating the sortable stats for last night’s football game until after the weekend games. Gives me a few days to get the process worked out, and there’s nothing you can do with the updated values until next week anyway. If you’re curious, look at the TSN game site.

In Football Pickoff, I also don’t post scores of early games until the final freeze for the week. Those who picked Pittsburgh will earn 45 points, and Dolphin pickers will lose 45. Preliminary standings will be posted after 1pm Sunday.

9/7 - There are all sorts of things to think about today. A no-hitter in baseball. The start of a Canadian Open golf tournament.

And, of course, the start of the NFL season. Oh yeah.

The Steelers get to open the season at home, minus two key ingredients from last year’s Super Bowl winner: Roethlisberger and Bettis. The retirement of Bettis is no surprise. But Roethlisberger has certainly had a summer of ups and downs. So, enter Charlie Batch. And let the games begin!

Baseball had some remarkable pitching results yesterday. The obvious extreme is the no-hitter by Anibal Sanchez. But the 5-hit shutout by Oliver Perez seems similarly improbable. And how about a vintage performance from Randy Johnson (7 innings, 1 hit, no runs, 8 Ks). It may have been against Kansas City, but the Royals have made a habit of pinning inferior outings on a lot of marquis pitchers this season. But not this time.

Remember, if you’re going to submit a pick for tonight’s opener in Football Pickoff, you have to have it done by kickoff time (8:30pm ET). You can wait until 1pm Sunday to pick the remaining games.

In GuruGolf, Vijay Singh is the popular favorite in GuruGolf this week. He’s not off to a blazing start this morning, going +1 for his opening nine.

9/6 - From a fantasy perspective, it was a good night to have loaded up on starting pitchers. Even most losing pitchers had respectable outings. Johan Santana was the biggest kahuna, but with seven shutouts and two more losing teams scoring only twice, team ERA’s were treated kindly. For example, my RIBC team had a team ERA of less than 0.90, very unusual for a night with four starters going and 30+ innings pitched.

The NFL season starts tomorrow. Football Pickoff registrations picked up a little yesterday, although there are still only about 150 registrants, and only a few more than 100 sets of picks logged so far. Last year, we had a little more than 300 pickers for NFL Week #1.

A lot of GuruGolf rosters still need some attention. That’s partly due to yesterday’s withdrawal of Harrison Frazar, who was last week’s most widely owned golfer. The first round of the Canadian Open tees off at 7:20am ET tomorrow morning, as the PGA returns to a normal Thursday-Sunday schedule.

9/5 - The stormy weather turned out to follow a slightly different path over the weekend, sparing most of the northeastern seaboard, and allowing all scheduled baseball and golf to be completed.

In TSN baseball, fearing a complete weekend washout in Philly, I dumped Ryan Howard to pick up hot hitting Travis Hafner in hot hitting Ameriquest Field. I’d like to personally thank Travis for getting injured in that first game in Texas, prompting me to reverse course and move back to Howard when the Saturday weather looked more promising. Not only did the Phillies manage to play doubleheaders in back-to-back days, but Howard tallied 175 TSNP in the last three days, culminating with a very respectful intentional walk to lead off the bottom of the 9th inning in a tie game.

If there’s anyone in sports hotter than Ryan Howard, it’s Tiger Woods. Starting off yesterday’s final round 3 strokes behind Vijay Singh, he needed only 3 holes to make up those strokes, and then kept going. In GuruGolf, Liters4 and SANFORDORS5 each rode the Woods/Singh tandem to a top scoring -46. On the flip side, SANFORDORS4 found a way to manage a +55 worst ball score, highlighted by a +19 on the final day, which was four strokes better (worse) than any other team score for that round.

Thanks to The Beezer for suggesting today’s quote.

9/1 - Rain may claim a lot of weekend action, as “T.D. Ernesto” (sounds like a football nickname) crawls up the eastern seaboard, threatening weekend baseball in Philly, Washington, New York, and Boston – along with tennis (NYC) and golf (Boston). In particular, Atlanta has 4 games scheduled in Philadelphia this weekend, and after looking at the weather forecast, it’s not clear whether any will be playable.

The Deutsche Bank Championship is underway, and tournament organizers may wish they had started on Thursday. If the storms tracks as predicted, a 4-round tournament seems iffy at best. But today’s first round should be safe.

As far as I know, all football stats and games (i.e., Pickoff) are now up to date, and ready for next week’s start of the season. The final four games of the NFL preseason are tonight. If your baseball team is playing out the string, you’ll soon have a new season to screw up.

Enjoy the long weekend (for those in the U.S.).

2006: August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2005: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

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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