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

9/28 - It looked like a night for the Red Sox to clinch the division title. They played most of their regular starters, and had Josh Beckett on the mound. Meanwhile, the Yankees had a mostly AAA lineup on the field, and started a rookie against Scott Kazmir. So of course, Boston’s magic number didn’t change.

For a Red Sox fan, that was probably a bit annoying. But if you are a Mets fan, you must be despondent by now, as they got shut out by Joel Pineiro (with 9th inning help from Isringhausen). But maybe Brewers fans are the most irritated, as they can’t seem to close in on Chicago even though the Cubs have lost three straight. And the Brewers have no wild-card backstop.

So with seven N.L. teams vying for four spots, the season is down to its final 3 days. Or maybe 4 days. Or maybe 5. I’m not even going to try to work out the possibilities at this point. Why risk a brain cramp?

Should be fun to watch – as long as you don’t have a strong rooting interest in any of those teams.

9/27 - Yesterday, all three NL division leaders sported 2 game margins. Today, two of those gaps are down to a single game, and the only reason the other is still at 2 games is because both the Cubs and Brewers lost. Things can change dramatically every day, but it sounds like there may very well be one or more meaningful games on Sunday. And an extra game on Monday isn’t out of the question. There’s even a scenario that would require two extra games if the Padres, Rockies, and Phillies finish in a 3-way tie for the wild card.

If your baseball activities are essentially over, though, you can start thinking about your basketball plans. Last night, I announced the 12 managers who will compete in the upcoming RotoGuru Invititational Hoops Challenge (RIHC). Therefore, AAA and AA qualifying leagues are now forming at the Basketball Forum. To play in a AAA league this year, you must have competed in a qualifying league (or the RIHC) last season and met specified results criteria. But anyone may compete in a AA league. If you are interested, get your dibs in now!

9/26 - If the Mets had come from behind to win last night’s game – they scored 6 in the 9th inning to lose by one – it could have been the one to get them over the hump. As it was, Philly lost too, so they still have a 2 game lead with five to play, and wild card possibilities if that doesn’t work out. But when you’re down by seven and you come up with six, that’s got to sting.

Speaking of 2 game leads, that’s the story in each of the three NL division races. San Diego has the upper hand in the wild card race, but both Colorado and Philly are only one game behind them. So every game is critical, and every day the situation can change dramatically.

Jake Peavy starts tonight (in San Fran), and if the Padres still need to win on Sunday, he’ll start again in Milwaukee with only 3 days rest. If you’re in a race in the TSN game, keep that in mind. Dropping him tomorrow could be suboptimal. And that game could be critical to Milwaukee as well.

9/25 - Before the NFL season began, three of the teams widely projected to advance to the Super Bowl were Chicago, New Orleans, and San Diego. But after three weeks, those teams are collectively 2-7, and one of those wins was internal to the group, San Diego’s win over Chicago. Any one of those teams could still turn it around. But is this a case of the pundits just having no clue, or is this a case of teams putting too much faith in their own press clippings? Or, most likely, is this just another example of parity in the NFL? There’s probably an element of truth to all of those explanations.

The Football Pickoff standings tightened at the top. Positive and negative results were fairly balanced this week. The top result belongs to trrams, with 476 points on 13 correct picks. Only four slates had 13 games right, which is the threshold for earning bonus points.

We now start the bye week portion of the NFL schedule, with four teams sitting out week #4, including last night’s two combatants. Hopefully, your expected bye week replacement didn’t get torpedoed. For example, if you had J.P. Losman waiting in the wings to fill in for Vince Young, then you have some scrambling to do. Then again, it’s always possible that Vince Young would outscore J.P. Losman even if Young wasn’t playing.

9/24 - You’ve got to give Oakland head coach Lane Kiffin credit for being a quick study. After getting beat on a last-nanosecond time out call before an otherwise game winning field goal in Denver last week, this time he duplicated the feat against Cleveland. It’s probably a rule that ought to be looked at. In baseball, umpires don’t have to honor a time out call that comes too late (although most do). And in football, while it’s certainly a legal (and recently effective) tactic, it somehow seems contrary to the “spirit” of the game. On the other hand, when kickers get a mulligan, maybe they just need to learn to make it.

We’re down to the last week of the baseball season. In the A.L., expect a lot of September call-ups to see some action this week. The races are all but decided, and although the honors in the A.L. East are still up for grabs, I don’t think either the Yankees or the Red Sox are inclined to go to extra lengths to shoot for the division crown at the expense of not properly setting up for the postseason. But in the N.L., it’s still wild and woolly. Chicago and Milwaukee are playing for one spot, with the loser on the golf course next week. The Mets, Phillies, Dbacks, Padres, and Rockies are playing for the other three spots. Granted, Colorado is still along shot, but they are only 4 games behind Arizona, and they finish with a 3-game series against them. Mathematically, the Braves are still breathing as well, although they need a lot of help. And if the Dodgers are technically still alive, they probably won’t be by mid-week.

9/21 - The Mets keep finding creative ways to lose. This time, they rallied for 4 runs in the top of the 9th to take a 3-run lead in Florida. But somehow, Billy Wagner was unavailable due to unexpected back spasms when he tried to warm up in the middle innings. Meanwhile, the Phillies keep finding creative ways to win. Down 6-2 after six innings, they scored five times in the 7th and 8th innings while their bullpen was spasm-free. And now you know the rest of the story…

Comment heard on TV earlier this week: “We didn’t learn much after the first week of the NFL season, but we didn’t realize that until after week #2.” I suspect a similar sentiment will be true after this weekend.

At least my RIFC team sure hopes so. With Reggie Bush, Lee Evans, Donovan McNabb, Terry Glenn, and Devery Henderson as five of my first nine picks, I’m reeling. I saw a comment the other day that even Mario Williams has more TDs Reggie Bush so far this season. If these first two weeks foretell of things to come, then, … well, then the fantasy Hoops season can’t arrive soon enough.

9/20 - T-minus 11 days and counting. Or maybe 12, if any of the NL races require an extra game.

We had Santana-like performance last night, with only one earned run and 10 strikeouts over 6-1/3 innings. Unfortunately for the Twins, this one came from Ervin, who has a 1.20 ERA in September, during which time hitters have batted only .154 against him. Those are definitely Santana-like numbers.

I saw a quote yesterday from C.C.Sabathia that gave me the willies. The essence was that he was taking credit for having predicted earlier in the season that Cleveland would win the division. It reminded me of Tracy McGrady’s premature quote several years ago about making it to the second round of the playoffs for the first time. Note to C.C. – don’t declare victory until the math says that you can’t blow it – especially in a game that reveres jinxes as much as baseball does.

No GuruGolf this morning. This is the first GuruGolf-free week since January. I feel an eerie void in my life.

9/19 - When Boston traded for Eric Gagne at the end of July, it was widely hailed as one of those “the rich get richer” moves, one that Boston probably only made so that the Yankees didn’t get him.

It may have been the best thing to happen to the Yankees this summer. Not only did they avoid him, but Boston has gotten these stats from Gagne in his 15 appearances since the trade: 9.00 ERA, 2.14 WHIP, 1 win, 2 losses, 3 blown saves. Opposing hitters are hitting well over .350 against him. And last night was just another Gagne implosion, choking away a 2-1 lead while the Yankees were blowing out the Orioles.

Boston still has the lead, and even if they are caught by the Yankees they almost certainly will make the playoffs (they need only 4 wins to clinch at least a wild card berth). But it looks like they may have trouble going into October with any wind at their backs.

Meanwhile, nothing is even close to being settled in the National League. All three division margins are under 2 games, with the Mets moon walking back into the N.L. East race. None of those teams really has any comfort margin for the wild card either, as all of the wild card “magic numbers” are still in double digits.

From a fantasy baseball perspective, close races are good news, because that means that teams will continue to play their regular starters, rather than resting key players for the post season. Then again, a week from now, the landscape might look dramatically different.

9/18 - In NFL Week #1, favorites generally had their way. This past weekend, underdogs did much better. So it’s impressive that the opening week leader (with 14 correct picks) in Football Pickoff, Sage157, picked 13 games correctly this week. That puts him almost 300 points ahead of the field after two weeks, with 3 more correct picks than any other entrant. Of course, we’ve got 15 weeks to go. How sage can be remain?

The first TSN price changes were processed last night, and the results were pretty much as expected. All football stats have been updated, and we’re good to go for week #3.

For those whose football season has already gone in the tank, I loaded up the 2007-08 NBA schedule yesterday. You can access it in the various RotoGuru formats using the basketball links to the left. I have not yet updated any player data, but will get to that by the end of the month. Patience, grasshoppers!

9/17 - Yeah, we all saw 51 points from Cleveland in our crystal ball. How many of you had the Cincinnati defense this weekend, figuring that the Browns would be offensively dysfunctional?

Dysfunctionality was not the story for Tiger Woods, who not only won the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup, he effectively obliterated everyone. And speaking of obliteration, GuruGolf best ball champion Long Island Ducks not only cruised to a 16 point margin of victory, but he repeated as champion. And he also claimed the prize for the top roster value for the second year in a row. I suspect the two feats aren’t unrelated. But they are impressive. And for those of you who assume that fantasy golf is essentially a random event – the evidence suggests otherwise, at least for the elite teams!

A full listing of all of the final GuruGolf prize winners appears on the news page at the game site. Winners will be notified by email shortly. Thanks to everyone who competed this season.

9/14 - Baseball has a daily grind to it, a constancy that, from a fantasy perspective, requires daily thought, and daily activity. Starting pitcher selections, active/bench considerations, daily matchup opportunities, waiver wire maneuvers, yada-yada-yada. Fall asleep at the switch and you can lose a step.

Football, on the other hand, has a weekly ebb and flow. I’m sure that’s part of the appeal of fantasy football. You can be effective and still restrict yourself to the weekends – at least for much of the season. So the casual fan – the fan who doesn’t want to think about it 24/7 – has a chance to be competitive.

Of course, the weekend’s almost here, so it’s football planning time once again. And if you’re still in the thick of some baseball campaigns, that makes for a hectic time.

And to top it off, TSN has already launched its Ultimate Salary Cap Hoops game. I’ll try to start some of the initial basketball setup next week. At least GuruGolf will be back in mothballs for the next four months.

Speaking of GuruGolf’s final fling, though, the first round was finally completed this morning, and I’ve updated the standings to reflect first round scoring.

Football Pickoff is looking pretty interesting for this weekend. At one point yesterday, there were nine games with the favorites selected on more than 80% of all slates. A couple of those have ticked down to the high 70s, but regardless, that’s a lot of lopsided games. If favorites have a tough weekend, scores could be brutal.

9/13 - The final GuruGolf tournament is now underway. Charles Howell III is the most popular GuruGolfer, which I’m sure is principally attributable to his being the cheapest golfer in the field, rather than any statement on his expected prowess. He’s on well over half of all teams. Meanwhile, Tiger and Phil are each on roughly 10% of all active rosters. And only two teams have them both.

For those of you who are playing TSN Football this season, I’ve reactivated the Assimilator option to copy in a roster directly from the game site.

When he was the pitching coach for the Atlanta Braves, Leo Mazzone was widely known for two facets: (1) that “bobbing” thing he always did while sitting on the bench, and (2) the Braves always seemed to have the elite pitching staff in baseball, and even mediocre pitchers who came to Atlanta seemed to do well.

If he was part of the Atlanta pitching magic, he’s apparently lost his touch. Since Baltimore gave up 30 runs in that notable game about three weeks ago, opponents have put up double digits against them seven more times, including last night’s 18 run rout by the Angels. Over the past 30 days, they’ve sported a team ERA of 7.20, while surrendering more than 5 walks and 11 hits per game. Which means, I suppose, that in the mold of Charlie Weis and Ozzie Guillen, Mazzone is about due for a contract extension!

9/12 - A lot of the attention in the American League races this summer has been focused on the Wild Card sweepstakes, and whether the Yankees could recover from their early troubles. Now, it looks like the Yanks are in solid shape. But for a long time, it also looked like the Red Sox had playoff home field advantage well in hand. Last night, I realized that both the Angels and the Indians have a realistic shot at overtaking the Sox for that honor. I have a hunch that home field advantage is a bit overrated in baseball, but nonetheless, it looks like the closest battle to follow down the stretch, unless one of the division leaders falters enough to make their division battle interesting.

Tomorrow, we tee off for the final tournament in the GuruGolf season. The top spots in both the best ball and worst ball races look reasonably secure, although neither frontrunner has a big enough margin to consider it “clinched” just yet. Meanwhile, the competition for the prizes in the “Final Five” contest is very intense, with many teams still sporting a realistic chance of scoring those coveted RotoGuru golf balls. The opening tee time is later than usual, due to the small field – 11:50AM ET. But you might as well set your roster today and not risk forgetting it tomorrow morning. As of noon today, about half of all active rosters still appear to need some work.

9/11 - With a total of 8 turnovers in the opening MNF game, you’d figure Baltimore would have gotten more than two of them. But it was Cincy that got the lions’,… err…., Bengals’ share. And at the end of the game, it was the Cincy defense that kept the Ravens from scoring on eight consecutive plays after Baltimore had advanced to the Cincy 3 yard line. Or, I suppose you could blame the Ravens offense for failing to score on 8 consecutive plays. Whatever.

In any event, NFL week #1 is in the books, and now we have almost a week to sort out which of the opening performances are predictive, and which are dekes. I have no doubt that there are more of the latter than the former.

While there are still some adjustments to be made here and there, I think I have the football stats pages in pretty good shape this morning. Use the football links along the left side of this page.

If Football Pickoff, three entrants correctly picked 14 winners this week, but the top score was posted by astros44, with “only” 13 correct picks but a beneficial double of Tennessee (over Jax), a game which the 2nd and 3rd place slates both missed. It was one of those weeks when favorites prevailed, winning 13 of 16. Last year, a slate of straight favorites posted a negative score in the first week.

9/10 - For the opening week of your fantasy football team, it’s nice if your players perform well. It’s even better, though, if they simply stay healthy. Just ask owners of Giants RB Brandon Jacobs. Of course, the prognosis for Jacobs is still uncertain. But any owners who handcuffed Reuben Droughns instead of Derrick Ward is probably sweating bullets today.

The sortable stats now have TSN points for yesterday’s games. I haven’t completed all of the detailed checking that I’ll need to do, but they look OK on the surface. By the end of today, I hope to have corresponding data for RotoHog available as well. In fact, I just interrupted my work on that front to pump out this blurb. So on that note, I’m going to cut this short today. Back to the salt mines…

9/7 - If you had Indy players, you probably did pretty well last night. If you had Saints, you were probably disappointed. Either way, we’re off!

I won’t have any updated fantasy football points posted in the sortable stats until next week. I’ll definitely produce TSN points, and perhaps RotoHog points as well. Hopefully, I’ll have something ready on Monday, although the start of any season always brings some processing surprises that have to be worked out.

Football Pickoff scores will be posted on Sunday afternoon, as usual. I don’t post scores prior to the weekend freeze, so you’ll just have to work out your score for last night’s game on your own. Hint: one team scored 25, and the other scored (minus-25). I’ll let you figure out which was which.

Enjoy your weekend. I’m going to be immersed in football stats processing. What fun!

9/6 - Tonight’s NFL opener offers a lot of potential offensive fire-power, so it’s tempting to try to load up the opening fantasy roster with Colts or Saints wherever possible. On the other hand, NFL seasons often open with surprises, so a defensive struggle – or even an error filled game with lots of missed opportunities – shouldn’t be totally surprising. In any event, as of tomorrow morning, a lot of fantasy teams will either be riding high or experiencing the fantasy version of buyers remorse. Or both.

If you are planning to enter Football Pickoff this year, you have to get your pick in for tonight’s game by the scheduled kickoff time. You have until Sunday to make the rest of your picks. As of noon, Indy was almost a 4:1 favorite, with a little more than 150 picks logged.

Lucas Glover once again leads the GuruGolf popularity sweepstakes, although 63 of the 66 golfers in the field have at least one GuruGolf sponsor this week. Justin Rose looks to be the inspired choice so far, birdying 8 of the first 11 holes. But a lot can turn around over 72 holes. And barring any withdrawals, every golfer will get to play all 72 this weekend.

9/5 - It was a good night for New York catchers. The tandem of LoDuca and Posada combined for 4 homers, 6 runs, and 9 RBIs while going 7/9. They totaled 169 TSNP, if you keep score that way.

GuruGolf tees off at 9am ET tomorrow morning, and it looks like the field will number 66, with Mickelson and three others taking a pass. If your GuruGolf team is value-challenged, one viable strategy is to include a minimum priced golfer who’s not in the field – like Richard Zokol – in order to be able to afford three active golfers who are ranked higher. Just a thought.

9/4 - It looks like we might have a repeat winner in GuruGolf this year. Last year’s grand prize winner posted the top score of the weekend, and now looks poised to bring it home again, with an 11 stroke lead and no cuts for the last two tournaments. Some feel that fantasy golf involves quite a bit of luck, but when the same names populate the top of the leaderboard year-after-year, I tend to think that luck is not the most important ingredient.

It’s amazing to realize that Johan Santana is now 0-5 against Cleveland this year. Granted they haven’t exactly lit him up, hitting .242 with a 4.39 ERA. But those are certainly not Santana-like numbers.

9/3 - It’s a national holiday in the U.S., and 9 MLB games are scheduled for this afternoon. If you need to set lineups for the day, or even for the week, “he who hesitates” is going to be out of luck.

The NFL starts playing for keeps on Thursday night, and fantasy rosters are still reacting to last minutes cuts, benchings, and suspensions. Pay attention! You don’t want your season to start out like Michigan’s!

2007: August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2006: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . 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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