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

9/30 - With just four days left in the regular season, three teams are left vying for the final two playoff spots. Curiously enough, all three of those teams control their own destiny, since the Padres and Giants face off against each other. Just win and you’re in. Atlanta seems particularly well positioned, since they know that both SF and SD can’t win out.

If your fantasy baseball race is as tight as the “NL Weast”, you probably want to stay away from the Mil @ NYM game today. Rain probabilities range from 90%-100% with wind gusts to 60mph. Looking at the very colorful radar map, I can’t imagine it will even get started, nor will it be made up. (I was hoping to go golfing this afternoon, but the same storm is going to wash me out as well. Sigh…)

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9/29 - Three foregone conclusions were mathematically locked up last night, as the Yankees, Rays, and Reds clinched playoff spots. And the “NL Weast” race shrunk by one team, as the Rockies polished off their late season collapse. The other three teams (SF, SD, and Atl) are separated by only 2 games, and with a SD-SF matchup this weekend, that race could still go down to the wire.

Today’s MLB action features two doubleheaders and 7 afternoon starts. If you are still competing, plan accordingly. If not, signups for RIHC (Hoops) leagues continue at the Hoops Forum. It would be good to get those spots filled up by early next week. Sign up in one of the AAA or AA league threads, as appropriate.

Emails were sent to all GuruGolf prize winners this morning. If you think you qualified for a prize in one of this season’s contests, check your emailbox.

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9/28 - If you paid up for Roy Halladay this season, you got your money’s worth. Last night, he pitched Philly into the playoffs with a shutout over Washington. His final stats for 2010 are 21-10, 219 Ks, 2.44 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 9 CG. Yeah, regardless of scoring format, that’ll do.

It was another tough week for Football Pickoff, as only 36% of slates produced a positive score. Congrats to tzuu, whose score of +591 (13 correct picks) was tops for the weekend.

By the way, if you haven’t yet signed up for Football Pickoff, there’s probably not a better time. If you start out now with a total score of zero, you will rank 81st overall, which is the 67th percentile!

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9/27 - The endgame for the PGA Tour went almost unnoticed. Jim Furyk won the tournament and the FedEx Cup – which made for a nice story, after he was DQ’d for the first FexExCup event for oversleeping the Pro-Am. But with a Tigerless field, a week off in advance, several MLB pennant races, and a full slate of NFL game, it was kind of hard to pay attention.

The endgame for GuruGolf was just about as anticlimactic, as both champs took advantage of built-up cushions to glide across the finish lane. Congratulations to the two full season champs in GuruGolf:
Best ball champion: moe eagles
Worst ball champion: SANFORDORS2

For the FedEx Cup Contest, these were the GuruGolf contest winners:
Best ball: Liters4
Worst ball: BlueSky

Finally, the best results for the final weekend belonged to stymies (-44) and Knights 3 (+55)

GuruGolf now goes into mothballs for the next four months. Prize determinations for the season will be resolved and emails will be sent to all winners sometime in the next week. Thanks to everyone who participated.

In the NFL, the big story so far has to be Michael Vick. I note that he went undrafted in all of the RIFC drafts. And that’s a good demonstration as to why it’s never impossible to recover from a sub-par draft.

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9/24 - I saw last night that ESPN has redefined the remaining NL playoff race as the “NL Weast”. Of the four teams in contention – San Fran, Atlanta, San Diego, and Colorado – the top two will advance to the playoffs. It’s as simple as that.

This weekend, the Giants invade Coors Field. The Giants have now gone 17 straight games without surrendering more than three runs, while Coors Field remains the ballpark with the most runs scored. The irresistible force vs. the immovable object, so to speak.

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9/23 - If you are a Phillies fan, your biggest worry now is that the team may be peaking too soon. On a 10-game winning streak, with a 6-game division lead, and a pitching rotation that leads with Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt, it’s hard to see the downside. But playoffs can go in unexpected directions.

Altanta just got smacked by the Phils, but they still have the wild card lead, albeit very slight. To their benefit, the NL West teams are beating each other up – and the Braves don’t have to beat out the best in the West; they only have to beat the second best. Their final series against Philly may have no implications for the NL East, but big implications for the wild card race. And Philly will probably be resting their starters. If that series matters for the Phillies, the starters could be Hamels-Halladay-Oswalt. But I wouldn’t bet on that now.

It’s hard to know how many GuruGolf teams are still competing this week. Only 112 teams have four active golfers, but many others have picked up a cheap inactive golfer in order to field a decent active threesome. Regardless, Ryan Palmer appears on 120 foursomes, which is certainly more than 50% of all active teams. All 30 tournament golfers are represented in GuruGolf action this week. The two least popular golfers are Nick Watney and Bo Van Pelt, each appearing on only two teams.

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9/22 - Breaking news! The Washington Nationals won their 63rd game of the season last night. With only 162 games on their schedule, this assures that they cannot lose 100 or more. That hasn’t happened since 2007, and it’s never happened in their current stadium, Nationals Park, which they moved into in 2008.

After a one-week hiatus, GuruGolf resumes action tomorrow with The Tour Championship. This is the last event in the GuruGolf season, and some teams will be unable to afford four active golfers this week. If that applies to you, do not leave one spot vacant, as that will result in an invalid lineup and a score of zero. Instead, you should pull up the “Price list” page and pick up an inactive golfer for a cost of $500. (You’ll find more than 400 alternatives to pick from.) This should then allow you to afford three active golfers in the other three slots. And it’s possible that, even if you can afford four actives, you might want to pick up an inactive guy just to get three better active golfers. If you stick with four of the cheapest active golfers, it’s going to be hard to differentiate your team from many others.

With golf and baseball winding down, it must be time to start thinking about basketball. Yesterday I announced the twelve managers in the 2010-11 RotoGuru Invitational Hoops Challenge (RIHC), which means it’s now time to sign up for one of the AAA or AA qualifying leagues. I’m also looking for a few volunteers to commish one of those leagues. The NBA season starts five weeks from yesterday, so we’ll need to get organized post haste.

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9/21 - The first RotoHog Salary Cap price change went through last night, and at first blush, nothing looks out of line. Michael Vick and Arian Foster were the top gainers, up $690M and $650M in the premier game and $900M each in the Basic game. We also now have the first ownership data for those games. In the premier game, Foster tops that list by a wide margin, on 69% of all teams – more than twice as many as Vick. If Foster ever falters, watch out below!

The top Football Pickoff score this weekend was by Mike208, with 11 correct picks for 460 points. The Random Dart also posted one of its best weeks ever, with 11 correct picks for 367 points, which would have ranked #5 overall. That slate is a computer generated set of picks, giving each team a 50% chance of being selected. Sometimes the blind squirrel finds a lot of acorns.

Hopefully, all of the various football stats reports are correctly updated this morning. It’s likely that something, somewhere, is screwed up, however; please let me know if you see something that looks off. It’s much easier to fix things early in the season, before errors propagate from week to week.

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9/20 - A few random observations on yesterday’s action:

Brett Favre might just have come back one year too many. Then again, it’s only week #2.

It’s hard to imagine the season getting off to a much worse start for Kevin Kolb. Even if he retains the starting QB job once he returns, Michael Vick has ensured that Kolb’s leash is going to be much, much shorter. (Is “leash” a bad metaphor to use with Vick?)

Sometimes, a last-second timeout to “ice” the kicker backfires. I actually like it when that happens. But Houston head coach Gary Kubiak had the magic working yesterday. First, he kept Neil Rackers on the sidelines, eschewing a potential game-winning 52-yard FG attempt on the Texans’ first overtime series. Then, when Washington marched back to try their own 52-yard game winner, Kubiak’s last-second TO negated a good attempt by Skins’ kicker Graham Gano. The second attempt was wide right. Houston then won a few plays later on a Rackers 35 yarder.

Speaking of kickers, Mike Nugent apparently just needs to be kicking in Ohio. His five FG’s in Cincy yesterday were two more than he has kicked in the previous two seasons combined. Nugent was once a prodigious kicker for Ohio State, even winning the team’s MVP award in 2004. Who needs Batman and Robin?

Hakeem Nicks owners got a surprise gift at the end of last night’s game. With two minutes remaining in the game, Nicks had caught only one pass (7 yds), and even that didn’t occur until 4:18 to go in the 4th quarter. All Indy needed to do was run out the clock. But rather than simply taking a knee several times, Peyton Manning handed off to rookie RB Devin Moore – presumably to give him a few rushing reps with the game safely in hand. Moore fumbled it away, giving the Giants one last chance. And on the next play, Eli Manning found Nicks in the end zone for a 31-yard TD catch. Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky. I’ll bet some fantasy football game results were reversed based on that serendipitous ending.

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9/17 - Just a month ago, San Diego had the best winning percentage in the NL, San Francisco was 5 games back, and the Rockies were 10 behind. I don’t know how people in the San Diego area regard the Padres, but I do know that if the Padres and Red Sox had switched places this year, Bostonians would be slitting their wrists about now. The Giants overtook the Padres last night, and based on recent trends, Colorado could pass them as well – probably within a week.

It’s now time to make your final football plans for week #2, not only setting your various rosters, but making your picks in Football Pickoff as well. Don’t forget – although sometimes, getting a zero in Football Pickoff isn’t such a bad result.

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9/16 - We got a vivid reminder last night that baseball is not like golf – from an ethics standpoint. In the Yankees-Rays game, the umpire ruled that Derek Jeter was hit by a pitch, as Jeter stood doubled over while receiving attention from a trainer. Rays manager Joe Maddon unsuccessfully argued that the pitch hit Jeter’s bat – ultimately getting Maddon ejected form the game.

After the game, Jeter confessed that the ball did hit his bat, saying “[The umpire] told me to go to first base. I’m not going to tell him I’m not going to first, you know.” Maddon actually praised Jeter, saying, “If our guys had [done] it, I would have applauded that. It's a great performance on his part.”

I’m not saying it’s right or wrong. It’s just baseball. Apparently, it’s good baseball.

Of course, even though Jeter eventually scored, the Yankees still lost by a run. Maybe the baseball gods were not amused.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for GuruGolf scores today, you’re in for a long wait. This is a “bye week” for the PGA tour. The Tour Championship starts next Thursday.

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9/15 - The San Francisco Giants are in the thick of a division race, and managed to throw a one-hitter against the Dodgers last night. Unfortunately, not good enough, as the Dodgers scored the game’s only (unearned) run. Meanwhile, San Diego won 7-6 in Colorado. It’s possible that two of the three contending NL West teams will advance to the playoffs, although Atlanta still has a slight advantage in the wild card race in spite of their recent scuffling. With the AL playoff teams all but locked up (barring a late meltdown), it’s fun to have some tension in the senior circuit.

I now have the football sortable stats updated through NFL week #1 for the RotoHog Salary Cap games, RotoHog Stock Exchange, and FanDuel football. When using them, please review everything critically, as there are probably some latent errors. Trust, but verify.

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9/14 - My various salary cap football teams did fairly well this past weekend. Thank you Jay Cutler. Thank you Arian Foster.

My traditional roto teams? Not so much. Hopefully, just an off week, although the injury to Ryan Grant does not sound promising. I do have Brandon Jackson – but that’s not likely to be a good long term solution. Regardless, that’s the hand I dealt myself. Now I’ve got to figure out how to play it.

The weekly points pages are now updated, showing points and prices for RotoHog Salary Cap, RotoHog Stock Exchange, and Fan Duel. These points are based on my own independent calculations, so in some cases they may differ from the points shown at the related game site. If you notice a discrepancy and you think my point total is incorrect, please send me an email and I’ll look into it.

The Assimilator is also updated, but that only applies to the RotoHog Salary Cap game. And the Sortable Stats are not yet updated – but those should be up sometime this afternoon.

In Football Pickoff, the best result was posted by Tosh, who picked a complete slate of home teams and doubled the optimum one (Seattle). Overall, 58% of all slates posted negative scores this week, so if you forgot to enter in week #1, you can start now and your score of zero is already above the median! Why not?

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9/13 - Lots of football stats to digest today. I hope to have my various stats pages updated by tomorrow, although it may take a few extra days to work out some glitches here and there. And then the trick becomes to sort out the stats that have meaning from those that are simply random noise. That’s always the challenge at the beginning of any season, in any sport.

Meanwhile, congrats to Proud Bobbers, the top best ball foursome in last weekend’s GuruGolf tournament. Worst ball honors went to Cyberwahoo6, whose +63 was five strokes better than any other team. Now, with only one event left in the GuruGolf season, we get a Super-Bowlian one week gap before the Tour Championship. Even so, you might want to get your roster positioned now. “Set it, and forget it,” so to speak.

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9/10 - One NFL game is in the books. 266 to go. If you had only watched the opening drive by the Saints, you’d have expected a shootout – or at least a blowout. But neither developed – in part helped by two missed FGs by Saints kicker Garrett Hartley, who was at or near the top of many preseason cheat sheets for kickers. Go figure.

In baseball, the National League looks to be the place where most of the September drama will take place. Last night, the Giants and Padres started an important head-to-head 4-game series with a Giants win, narrowing San Diego’s lead to 1 game in the NL West. On the other coast, Philly and Atlanta appear to be heading toward a showdown as well, with only one game separating the two teams, and six head-to-head games still on the schedule – including the final three of the season.

Football Pickoff picked up a fair number of registrations late yesterday, but even though last night’s game is now locked out, it’s not too late to register and get started. With a starting score of zero, you’ll already be ahead of 53 slates that now have either -28 or -56 points. Registration is free, and you can submit up two three different entries. Have at it!

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9/9 - Are you ready for some football?

When Cole Hamels emerged on the MLB scene several years ago, he was a perennial “gots to have” pitcher in all fantasy formats. Coming off a 2008 season with 14 wins, a 3.09 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP, he seemed to be poised to move to the elite level. In the 2009 RIBC drafts, he was the consensus 4th starting pitcher drafted. But he took a step back in 2009 (10 wins, 4.32 ERA, 1.29 WHIP), and was only the 18th pitcher drafted in the RIBC drafts last spring.

It looks like 2009 may have been the aberration. Laboring in the shadows of Roy Halladay this season, he’s putting together a 2008-like season once again, with a 3.06 ERA, a WHIP of 1.16, and a strikeout per inning. (His post-ASB record is even more dominant – 2.01 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and a .200 BAA.) His 10-10 W-L record is disappointing (and only 3-3 since the break), but that’s mostly a result of a lack of run support. Last night, the Phillies reversed course and staked him to a 10-0 lead through seven innings. He needed most of those runs, too, as the bullpen came in to allow 6 runs in the 8th.

Ryan Palmer is the popular favorite in GuruGolf this week, owing as much to his lower-than-average price as to his recent prowess. These final two GuruGolf events will not offer a cut after the 2nd round, but they will favor those teams who have amassed enough funds to be able to afford some higher priced golfers – unless, of course, the cheaper golfers dominate.

Oh yeah, there’s also an NFL game tonight. Prepare accordingly!

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9/8 - From the perspective of east coast bias, Mat Latos has been very quietly fashioning a monster season, with a major league leading ERA of 2.21, a 0.96 WHIP, and a BAA south of the Mendoza line, while striking out more than a batter per inning. You don’t usually find a starting pitcher with a K/IP ratio higher than his WHIP. He was only a 20th round pick in last spring’s RIBC draft, but he’s probably been a top-five pitcher in a variety of fantasy formats this season, hampered modestly by a win total of only 14. If the Pads don’t make it to post season play, don’t blame him!

The BMW Championship tees off at 9am ET tomorrow. This is the next-to-last GuruGolf tournament, and the final two events do not have a second round cut, which may make it harder to gain ground on the leaders. Make sure you have four active golfers. And if you can’t afford 4 active golfers, you can include a min-priced inactive golfer to fill your foursome. Whatever you do, don’t leave a slot vacant!

The RotoHog Stock Exchange game started live trading yesterday. Even if you aren’t playing that format, you might find the first day price changes to be instructive.

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9/7 - The NFL season opens in just two more days, with a big game on Thursday night. If you’re not yet prepared – get shakin’.

FanDuel has launched its football contests, with a range of contest options (price and number of competitors) each week – including a weekly $10 contest for which the weekly winners from each of the first ten weeks will earn a trip to Las Vegas on the December 5th weekend to compete for a $25,000 grand prize. I’ll be providing sortable stats for FanDuel football this year, although I have nothing posted for that yet, and may not have those up until next week. Since each weekend offers contests that are independent of any other week, this offers a great chance at a fresh start each week, especially for those who think they excel at picking weekly matchups.

In GuruGolf, two teams tied for the top bestball score of -52, including the full season leader, who lengthened his lead going into the final two weeks. Three teams tied for the worst ball honors with a +46, including the full season leader, who lengthened his lead going into the final two weeks. Although neither of those two teams has an insurmountable lead, there is much work to be done!

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9/2 - All of the RIFC league drafts are now complete, and I’ve compiled a summary of consolidated draft results. Use it at your own risk. Remember that the RIFC leagues use IDPs and expanded scoring, including points for punt returns and kick returns, so this listing may not be directly applicable to your own league.

If you’re looking for live GuruGolf scores today, you won’t find them. This week’s PGA Tour event starts on Friday, and ends on Labor Day. So you still have a day to adjust your foursome, if you wish.

Football Pickoff has been launched for the 2010 season. Go ahead and register up to three entries and make your picks. As always, no cost to play.

I’m heading off later today for a weekend road trip to Ann Arbor to see the UConn-Michigan football game. No blurb tomorrow or Monday. Back on Tuesday.

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9/1 - After fashioning a very solid 2009 season, Wandy Rodriguez was a highly sought pitcher in fantasy baseball drafts this spring. He was the 22nd starting pitcher taken in the 2010 RIBC draft (round 7), coming off a 3.02 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 14 wins. But then things didn’t go so well. Prior to the All Star break, Wandy posted a 4.97 ERA and a WHIP of 1.52. Not so good.

But wait, there’s more! Since the ASB, he’s been one of the top pitchers in baseball, sporting an ERA of 1.61, and a WHIP of 0.93, while opposing hitters are batting only .203 against him – almost 90 points lower than in the first half. If you drafted him and held on, you’re finally getting a nice payoff. If you claimed him off the free agent scrap heap, even better. His full season stats are now respectable (3.71 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) – but it’s been a real Jekyll and Hyde situation. Last night he continued the trend, outdueling Chris Carpenter over 7 IP in a 3-0 shutout over the slumping Cards.

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2010: August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2009: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2008: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2007: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . 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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