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

Go forward to more recent blurbs.

9/30 - I'm not going to track Smallworld Points for the postseason games, but yesterday would have produced 2 games for the "Best Games" list, as Kevin Brown's effort was worth 221 SWP, while Mo Vaughn's outburst tallied 93 SWP. In fact, the two Vaughn's accounted for roughly one-third of the overall total of yesterday's hitting points!

I may put together a retrospective piece on the Smallworld baseball season. If you have any insightful observations to share, send them to me.

Football trading day. Be careful when trading. When I went to sell one player this morning, I noticed that the confirmation page showed the name of a different team. So I exited without confirming, and logged back in - this time with apparent success. I'm not sure what's up. That may be why two trades I thought I had done last week (for my "second team") weren't there this week. Maybe they went through for some other team? I suspect I actually just forgot to do them, but now I wonder. In any event, not doing them turned out to be the better choice, so I'm not complaining. But be careful.

I'll post an updated team ranking list after prices are reset. Look for it late afternoon or early evening.

9/29 - Good baseball game, but where were San Francisco's bats? Stopped by Steve Trachsel? Also, it was comforting to see Jose Mesa come in and work his special post-season magic once again. I say comforting because this means he won't be pitching for the Tribe this post-season. Tribe fans know what I mean.

Football stats are in process of posting, and should be completely up by noon EST. Several people emailed me yesterday to report that I neglected to charge 325 SWP in the football Assimilator for bye defenses. I know. It's intentional. Without some special programming, to include this charge would also incorporate it into the totals and averages for each team defense, which I don't think is desirable. And I'm not convinced that it's worth programming around this. RotoGuru users should be able to accommodate this in their heads. I also have not included the bye charge in the YTD totals for the sortable summary stats. Same reason. If you want to look at pure per-game averages, there's a column for that. Sort on it.

9/28 - One more regular season game to go. Most leagues, including Smallworld's, include wildcard playoff games, like today's Cubs/Giants game, as a regular season game. So, if you've got Bonds, or Sosa, or Beck, or Nen, then you've still got some potential stats yet to come. Based on one avid reader's personal calculation, "We are Borg" currently stands in 20th place, but could realistically finish anywhere from 17th-22nd. If both Bonds and Sosa do well, I'll (or should it be "we'll") move up. All this in spite of my weak pitching picks for my final three trades. In fact, my last pickup, Matt Morris, cost me 14 SWP yesterday. Ah well....

On the MLM front, I did a reconcilation of pitcher's hitting stats this morning, and found a few errors, which is not surprising since I've basically maintained those stats by hand. So, if you see some delist value popping up today without any apparent stats to back it up, it's just a catchup adjustment. Nothing major - although Mike Gardner picked up a few RBI points, and with his start today against the Cubbies, makes for an interesting buying opportunity.

Football stats for Sunday's games should hopefully be posted by early afternoon.

9/26 - What a great wildcard race! And no matter what happens today, all three contenders will still be alive tomorrow.

"We are Borg" continues to drive toward the top 20 in Perfect Rotation. Through stats of 9/24, they are ranked 26th, and benefited yesterday from the nice outing by Kenny Rogers. Today, we're going with Roger Clemens, Al Leiter and Carlos Perez, with one trade left for tomorrow. Who should I pick up? Hmmm....

Meanwhile, "Species 8472" is unlikely to make it to the top 50 on the Smallworld site, where they currently rank 70th. Still, it's gratifying that both teams have finished strong.

Good luck in your final weekend games, if you're still in contention for some goal of yours.

9/25 - I feel like I've been away for awhile. My cable modem went down from noon until late at night yesterday, and this morning I played 18 holes. Anyway, yesterday's stats are now posted, the Assimilator seems to be working, MLM tables are updated, and - if anyone cares - final Smallworld baseball pricing results will be up later this afternoon.

I'm a bit backlogged in updating the feedback page. I've gotten some good letters in the last couple of days, and I'll try get them posted by tonight. I've also got a few more teams to add to the rankings, and they will be updated later today as well. So much to do....

I suppose that, as a longtime Indians fan, I should point out that the '54 Indians won 111 games in a 154-game season. So it seems as though this year's Yankees ought to have some sort of asterisk. But if this year's Yanks have the same post-season success that the '54 Tribe did, I'll be glad to waive the asterisk!

9/24 - You know the Yankees and Indians are working hard to keep their frontline pitchers out of view when a late September matchup features Jason Jacome vs. Mike Jerzembeck. What a treat!

What's up with Anaheim? Three runs scored in a three game series vs. Texas? Disney should move the franchise to Manila (so they could change the team name to the "Folders").

Football pricing was somewhat interesting. Randall Cunningham was the big gainer, and I'll confess I didn't see that one coming. I figured the action among lower priced quarterbacks would be more evenly split among Cunningham, Trent Green, Charlie Batch, and Neil O'Donnell. In a sense, I was right, since they all did well, but Cunningham certainly walked away with the Lion's share. (Or should I say Viking's share?). Steve Young's gain was less than I expected as well, though that may have been due to some uncertainty about the timing of bye week trading. Or maybe because, if history repeats, he's about due for another concussion.

Duce Staley finally came through (thanks for getting those player stat leaders posted, Smallworld!). Fred Taylor moved up less than I thought, though his bye in week 5 might have kept some people away.

Defense was another interesting category - in particular the leader, Miami, since they have an upcoming bye. Do you suppose people are buying them for the bye, or because their first three games have been so strong? Could be both, though I would be surprised if alot of people are aware of the "bye benefit". Also, Oakland is showing the adverse effects of a weak start and a heavy draft (since there were a lot of people who were able to sell them.

Among players, I don't see much of a bye week pattern. Glenn Foley's demise is obviously unrelated, and Terry Glenn is the only other one showing close to a half-$million decline, again probably because he was fairly heavily drafted.

I updated the RotoGuru team rankings last night. A few new teams have been submitted since the current list was run, and I'll update again later today. (Incidentally, a blank in either of the columns showing the weekly change means that I wasn't able to capture that team's stats prior week data.) I dropped the column showing each team's worldwide rank, since by mixing teams from two sites (Smallworld and CNN/SI), the rankings aren't all comparable. Maybe I'll stick them back in with a notation to indicate which site they are from. This might also help identify whether there is any obvious impact of the extra 4 trade allocation granted solely to the Smallworld site teams.

9/23 - Three home runs from Mark Lansing last night! So where has he been all year? Meanwhile, Matt Morris posts a 200 SWP game while shutting down the 'Stros. I hope all you late-season pitching rotators picked him up yesterday, and not Mike Mussina!

Server response remains sluggish. I still haven't heard what the problem is. Believe me, "I feel your pain!"

Fortunately, I managed to squeeze my football trades in the brief window when trading was enabled last night. The SW server was pretty slow, so I gather I wasn't the only one there. With trading de-activated most of yesterday and again this morning, I see that Smallworld has delayed today's repricing until 3PM CST. Not only that, but it appears that teams at the Smallworld site have been given an extra 4 trades - to compensate for technical difficulties! (Folks at the CNN site, it appears that you don't have this benefit.) Go figure.

I've finally added analytical tables for MLM Football. Actually, in the first few weeks, delist values don't matter much, anyway. I added an extra column in the tables to show percentage gain over the past day. This may help you identify the big movers. I also show some dividend yield info for the team stocks. I'm not sure how meaningful this is, particularly as a predictive tool, but I had some columns to fill.

9/22 - Hats off to Roger Clemens. Might as well just hand him another Cy Young award right now.

It wasn't long ago that the Yankees had thoughts of winning 120 games, blowing away the ML record of 116 wins in a season. Now, they have to win five of their last seven just to set a new AL mark of 112. What a difference a month makes! In fact, the Yankees are just 9-11 so far in September, and 15-18 since August 19th. Meanwhile, the Red Sox are only 7-14 in September. The Angels have a September mark of 7-11. Only the Rangers (11-8) and the Indians (13-6) have played above .500 this month.

In the NL, San Diego has been slumping with a 7-12 record in September, but the other contenders have been playing well: Houston 12-7, Mets 12-7, Atlanta 11-8, Cubs 11-8, & San Fran 10-8.

On to football. First, I'd be remiss if I didn't compliment Smallworld on yesterday's speedy posting of Sunday stats. I think they had results up before I did!

Ranked SWP listings are now posted at the Smallworld site, so trading may seem a bit more rational this week. The bye week effect is still up in the air, though. I've gotten a number of emails asking me whether I think Steve Young and Garrison Hearst will show a price decline tomorrow, since they counter-intuitively rose before their bye week. Obviously, I don't know. But here's my assessment

  • Young and Hearst had an excellent first week, and many of their buys undoubtedly occurred before the 2nd game. However, since there was no repricing that week, those who bought them may have held on, hoping to see a delayed price spike. They got it.
  • Those who were looking ahead may have then dumped them between Wednesday and Sunday. However, they have had ample opportunity (especially with 4 more trades) to pick them up again since Sunday.
  • Those who blew their trades before Wednesday and got stuck with these guys for their bye aren't going to sell now.
  • Young, even with a bye week, is still the top producing QB. Hearst ranks 2nd only to Terrell Davis. Both of them have prices that look low relative to their tabular peers.
Is it possible that Smallworld is using a lagged time period for trades vs. price changes? Sure, it's possible, but that hasn't been the case in any other SW games that I know of. And even if it is the case here, I think the reasons I've outlined above make these players' prices more likely to rise than fall. That's my best guess. I'm also pretty sure that neither one will be able to sustain their point pace of the first two weeks. The decision is now up to you. Frankly, I haven't yet decided what I'm going to do.

As far as other trading opportunities go, my general approach for early season trading has been to look for obvious price outliers near the top of each position's rankings. I'll let you do your own selecting.

And what about the strategy for team defenses? Through three weeks, the average week for a team defense is -421 SWP, which makes a bye deduction of -325 look attractive. But 10 teams produced a better mark this past week. Over time, it would seem that picking up a bye defense is a value-generating strategy. But if you can pick good defensive matchups, perhaps you can do better than the default. Once again, your call. And since most players don't realize that -325 is markedly better than the average defense (in fact, SW is still erroneously claiming that it was the 1997 average), don't expect any price benefit if you opt to trade for bye teams.

I should have the sortable football stats tables up by early afternoon. You'll note a small change in the new tables. At the excellent suggestion of RotoGuru user Pat Rogers, I'm listing the next opponent alongside of each player's team. While you can see the entire schedule on each player's individual page, this should make it easier to review the relative matchups for the coming week.

I'll try to get updated RotoGuru team rankings up by later this afternoon. And finally, I also hope to have MLM football delist tables posted by this evening. Those tables will be similar to the corresponding baseball tables. I'm sure they'll be useful to you MLM players.

9/21 - I think I have good football stats posted in the Yesterday page and the Assimilator, but the process is still somewhat manual (especially for team defenses), so if something looks wrong, it just might be. I realize that bye week defenses show up as a zero, rather than -315 SWP, but I'm not sure there's a good way to adjust for that without screwing up the other defensive averages. I'll think about it. Report any other errors to me, as always. I'll have the sortable summary stats tables up later today.

In baseball, there were four shutouts in the NL - I don't recall that happening before. The best effort belonged to Darryl Kile, which probably had little significance to Smallworld managers, because who would have had him on their roster? Of much greater import was Kevin Brown's 155 SWP - in spite of failing to garner a win after 9 innings of shutout pitching. Carlos Perez and Al Leiter also threw nice games, and may have had some impact on the standings, as they could easily have been on some rosters - especially in a late season "pitching rotation".

9/19 - I've been in and out all day, and have been updating the site off and on, but haven't gotten around to the blurb until now (it's just after 10PM). I think I'll make this my weekend blurb.

A couple of you in Perfect Rotation noticed that "We are Borg" finally cracked into the top 50 yesterday, currently at #43. It's been a long journey, and I hope I can hang in there through the last week. On the Smallworld side, "Species 8472" just rose into double digits, ranked #99. I have my doubts as to whether this team will sneak into top 50. But I'm satisfied with my results. And I know a few things I could've done better. Don't we all?

I've upgraded the football Assimilator to include links from each player's name to his stats page. The player page will pop up in a separate browser window, so you won't lose your place in the Assimilator. Hope I didn't break anything in the process. Enjoy! I think this feature will be quite useful.

I've now updated the Team Rankings page with all teams I've received through 10PM Saturday. If you think you sent yours to me before then and you don't see it, send it in again. I found one more RotoGuru league on the CNN/SI version of the game, and included those teams, too. Since we have an intermingling of teams from two game sites, the worldwide rankings aren't consistent. Next week, I'll replace that column with one which shows the results for the previous weekend.

Incidentally, I'm having trouble reconciling the previous poll results (on this week's franchise value increase) with the Team Ranking tables. In the poll, 12 people claimed they had a value increase exceeding $10 million, and another 22 clicked on $8-$10 million. Yet, in the team rankings, I have 200 teams listed so far, and only four show an increase of greater than $8 million, and none even exceeds $9 million. The poll results are looking a bit exaggerated. So what gives? Wishful thinking, or lousy arithmetic?

9/18 - Jose Offerman had a distinctive night. He posted 93 SWP without hitting a home run, becoming the first hitter to exceed 90 SWP without hitting one out of the park. He had a triple, 3 singles, 4 runs, 2 ribbies, a walk, and - most critically - 3 stolen bases.

I received an email yesterday from Doug Mayfield (here's your 15 minutes of fame, Doug!) asking how to best compare his team against those in other RotoGuru divisions. I thought maybe this would be a useful feature to add to the site, so today I have a new page showing the current points and franchise values for all of the active teams in any Smallworld league whose name begins with "RotoGuru". I realize that many of you are probably in non-RotoGuru divisions, too, so if you'd like me to track your team along with these others, send me your team name and its "user_id". (See the note at the bottom of the table if you don't know how to find your team's user_id.) I excluded 4 teams with either zero or negative points, but if they want to be included, let me know as well. My objective is to give all RotoGuru users a broader universe of managers to compare against - all of whom use the same, state-of-the-art statistical data available at the RotoGuru site.

I've already been asked if I'm planning to cover fantasy hockey this winter. Frankly, I haven't decided yet. I'm not a hockey fan, and have never played a fantasy hockey game. Last year, Smallworld's fantasy hockey game had a relatively small base of participants, so I don't think the "cost/benefit" is particularly attractive. I also have no idea whether statistical data is going to be easily available in user-friendly format. I'm very reluctant to try to bite off more than I can reasonably chew - and I consider maintaining this site's quality and timeliness to be more important than expanding the coverage beyond my ability to efficiently cope. On the other hand, if the NBA season is delayed, it may be the only game in town for part of the winter. So, I'll continue to ponder the workload implications.

9/17 - Manny Ramirez was the top hitter (in SWP terms) for the second consecutive night. That hasn't happened often. (I'm not going back to count, however.)

Do you get the feeling that Sosa is going to lead the majors in home runs (by himself) this season for only one day - which will be the last day of the season? He keeps catching McGwire, but never passes him. If it happens that way, remember, you heard it here first.

On to football. A lot of you wrote to me yesterday to call attention to the price changes which exceeded the stated limit of $1 million. Some people were pretty irate about it, as it impacted their trading strategy going into this repricing. Most, however, just found it curious. Some even tried to rationalize it as perhaps being related to the fact that it reflect two weeks of trading, and the rules said the limit was $1 million "per week".

Well, if you haven't noticed, sometime in the dark of night the rules page has mysteriously changed. Now they say that the maximum weekly price change is $3 million. Hmmm... Seems like with the liberalized trade limit and a higher weekly cap, it's "deja vu all over again". Let's get those roster values inflating!

Obviously, I'm perturbed by the series of rules changes which have occurred after the start of the season. But, what can you do? I've always felt that fantasy football was a bit of a random game anyway. With only 16 games per player, individual games - good and bad - have a disproportionate impact relative to other fantasy sports. Now, I guess mid-season rules changes just add to the element of randomness. You'll appreciate the game more if you learn not to take it too seriously. Trust me.

It is apparent (to me, at least) that the lack of ranked SWP lists at the Smallworld site had a material impact on the trading patterns. The big gainers were the players who were in the headlines, or who were "name brands". Some of the lesser known players - like Duce Staley, for instance - were difficult to detect. Had there been a way for the masses to notice him, I suspect we'd have seen a Bartolo Colon-like price spike. (SW baseball players may remember that Colon began the season with a 196 SWP shutout over Anaheim, which propelled his name - with his low $670,000 price - to the top echelon of early season pitching leaders. He turned out to be the biggest price gainer in week #1.) Hopefully, player lists ranked by points will be available soon. I hate games that are inefficient and grounded in ignorance. (In the spirit of full disclosure, you can guess who owns Duce Staley on his roster.)

There doesn't appear to be much of a bye week effect in the price changes, either. I wonder how many people will get caught with "pointless" players this weekend, since the next allocation of trades won't be doled out until after the weekend. (Unless, of course, the rules are relaxed again.)

Finally, back to baseball for one more comment. Many CNN/SI "Perfect Rotation" managers have emailed me in the last few days to report that they can't access their teams. (Since my email address is the only one which appears anywhere at that site, I get all the complaints!) Although this is evidently a widespread problem, I have been able to get in without problem. (This may explain why my "We are Borg" team has been able to advance its ranking of late - now at #61 through Sept. 15. Ha - ha! Resistance is futile! You will be Assimilated! Oops, sorry - just couldn't resist...) I don't know what the problem is, but I'm sure Smallworld is aware of it. So, you don't need to notify me. Between baseball managers who are high and dry, and football managers who are trying to figure out the rules, my email box has been quite active over the past several days. And to all you football players who thought that changing the rules was a frustration, now you know what to really dread....

9/16 - Manny Ramirez blasted three deep ones last night, missing triple-digit SWP territory by one pt. Manny will never qualify as a brain surgeon, and Tribe fans always hold their breaths when he runs the bases, but he has quietly put up a 40 HR, 129 RBI, .295 avg season.

I think I have accurate football stats posted now, although I'd appreciate your continuous checking. Team defense stats are still the most suspect, since I've had to assemble them manually.

RotoGuru users have a real competitive advantage going into the first SW football repricing. You may have noticed that SW still hasn't put up any listings of the top players at each position. In fact, my sortable summary stats tables are the only place you can usefully see comparative points vs. prices. Good luck to all of you.

The most interesting aspect of today's repricing will be the action on players and defenses who are going into a bye week. I'll be out during the late afternoon, so updated price data may not be posted here until evening. If SW manages to have prices posted by 3:00, though, I may get some tables done this afternoon.

So far, team defenses have averaged -437 SWP per game, making the -325 SWP "charge" for a bye defense look pretty attractive. Only six teams have averaged better than -325 after just two games, and some of those teams won't stay under that threshold for long.

9/15 - Last night offered the extremes of pitching and hitting. El Duque threw his first major league shutout, a 3-hit, 9-K jewel at the ("Here we go again!") Red Sox. Hernandez may have the greatest volatility of any pitcher, with 6 negative SWP games, but also 5 games above 150 SWP. Carlos Perez also threw a beauty, surrendering only a meaningless 9th inning HR to Colorado. Carlos seems to have found his groove in Dodger blue, and will be an interesting pitcher to consider in next season's fantasy draft.

At the other end of the spectrum was the White Sox 17-16 squeaker over the Tigers. This game featured four (count'em, 4) blown saves, 18 pitchers (tying a ML record), 12 walks (11 courtesy of Detroit pitchers!), a 5-hit, 5-run, 4-RBI, 97 SWP night for Juan Encarnacion, and a 5-hit, 5-RBI night for Albert ("it's not about money") Belle. Three other teams also scored in double digits last night.

Turning to football, Garrison Hearst will provide an interesting early season test of the "bye week" effect in trading. He's gotten off to a great start, but has a bye this Sunday. Without the bye, he'd be a cinch to appreciate the max. But because of the bye, you'd expect him to be sold by anyone who was alert. It's a tough call, as there are evidently a lot of SW managers who are "a few bricks short of a full load." (Check out the latest feedback letter for a clarification of the handling of bye week pricing, which is different from last year's treatment.)

If you haven't yet seen it, SW has changed the football trading rules, evidently because a lot of players couldn't figure out the previous rules (hence, my caustic comment in the previous paragraph.) As I interpret the new rule, we now get 64 trades over the course of the season (4 trades per week for 16 trading weeks.) That's an awful lot of trades - I'm not sure I know how to use that many productively.

I'll have completed football stats posted by mid-afternoon (fingers crossed). Yesterday was a real treat. I started by surfing around late yesterday morning, trying to find any site with stats updated through Sunday's games. ESPN's individual player stats were updated, so I used those for the first pass - only to discover that they had somehow botched the fumble data. USA Today had updated data on team defenses, only I later discovered that some teams were updated, others weren't, and some data was incorrect. Finally, in late afternoon, Yahoo posted player stats that seemed to be both complete and accurate. So, after several false starts, I finally got preliminary stats posted last night. (Team defense stats still have a few errors which will be corrected today.) It appears that "haste makes waste" will be the watchword for football stats posting this year, and going forward, Monday night will probably be the earliest I can typically get Sunday's stats posted.

9/14 - Plunk!

Not much more to say - although it is interesting that Steve Trachsel was one of the starting pitchers in each of the "62" games. Well, OK, maybe it's not that interesting....

Baseball stats are almost completely posted. Updated summary stats should up by 11:00 am. Then I work on football. Hopefully, some sports site will have yesterday's stats posted by then. I don't want to type in everything by hand this week.

Back to the salt mines. . . .

9/13 - If you're looking for the answers to yesterday's trivia question, I put it in the feedback section.

My Perfect Rotation team, "We are Borg", has finally cracked into the top 100, with a ranking of 89th through 9/10. Don't know if I can sustain it, but it's nice to be in double digits, if only for a day. "Species 8472" still hovers in the mid-100's on the Smallworld site. Each team has 8 trades left, so pitching trades over the last two weeks will decide the ultimate level of success.

9/12 - The big stick yesterday was wielded by the unlikely Gerald Williams, with 2 homers (including a grand slam) good for 94 SWP, tied for the 13th best hitting game of the season. Williams' blasts helped propel yesterday's biggest price gainer, John Smoltz, to his 15th win in a very respectable 116 SWP outing.

Here's a good trivia question I heard the other day: Can you name the only pitcher who has faced Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Roger Maris in a major league game? I'll post the anwser tomorrow. (It's not all that difficult, actually.)

A good number of you have questioned the validity of the team defense points posted at the Smallworld site. I kept waiting for Smallworld to post a notice about this, but I guess not. When stats were first posted on Wednesday, the SWP formula used for team defense was incorrect, and thus, all team defenses were improperly scored. After noticing the error, SW quickly corrected the points awarded to Smallworld teams, but the listing of points for individual team defenses in the roster section still shows the incorrect total. I'm sure they'll get this corrected next week, but in the meantime, your team points are already correct.

9/11 - Compare these stats for two nameless pitchers:

Name    IP    H   BB   SO   W-L   ERA
 "A"   236  207   48  238  18-6  2.35 
 "B"   233  185   37  188  17-8  2.20
With two weeks (and probably 3 starts) left in the season, which pitcher looks like the better CY Young Award candidate? Pretty nip and tuck, isn't it? Pitcher "A" is Kevin Brown, and pitcher "B" is Greg Maddux. Several weeks, ago, Maddux was generally accorded overwhelming frontrunner status, but now the situation is far from clear, and may very well depend on how they each do from here on. If one and only one gets to 20 wins, that may be the clincher.

By the way, you may have noticed that Brown now leads Maddux by over 150 SWP as well. In fact, with yesterday's 137 SWP outing, Kevin is now #1 in total SWP across all positions, overtaking both McGwire and Sosa.

If you've still got baseball trades remaining, be aware that there are only 16 days remaining in the regular season. If you're still competing for an improved ranking, a divisional title, or even a prize, you should be plotting your endgame strategy now.

I believe I've fixed the IE-4 problem in the football Assimilator, at least for now. (Thanks to those of you who assisted me in pre-release testing.) Based on the browser poll returns, it looks like IE-4 is the 2nd most popular browser, although Netscape-4 seems to be the clear leader. I use Netscape-4 myself, and it does provide the most flexible JavaScript features to exploit in the Assimilator.

I added the Yesterday's SWP page for football, and going forward, this page (and the Assimilator) will be the first ones to be updated with new stats.

Some of you have reported that the RotoGuru server response has been slow of late. I know - I've suffered with it too. Although site traffic has been strong this week, I'm pretty certain the culprit is the server for the advertising banners, which is distinct from the RotoGuru server. The ad provider is a pretty common one, and I've noticed that other sites which use the same service are having similar speed problems. Hopefully, this will be corrected soon. If not, I'll consider reformatting the more popular pages to a frames format which will allow the "meat" to load independently from the advertising. Hopefully, that won't be necessary - I really don't need more work.

9/10 - I heard an interesting comment by Bob Costas a couple days ago. He said that he's often heard this year how fortunate it is that baseball went to a wildcard playoff system, since otherwise there would be no playoff races going in the National League. But Costas notes that this is blatantly incorrect, because had their been no divisional reorganization into three divisions (which is what prompted the "need" for a wildcard team), there would actually be two excellent pennant races: San Diego, Atlanta, and Houston would be in a tight battle for the West, while the Cubs and Mets would currently be tied for 1st in the East. Interesting perspective.

I added a column to the 1998 Football stats to show the 1997 SWP/G average, which should facilitate comparisons of this year to last. This should be especially useful in the early weeks when averages can be skewed by a single game performance. Thanks to David Vogel for suggesting this enhancement.

I also beefed up the individual football player stat pages. Click on any player's name link to see the new format. And you can still link from the player's name on that page to the player's RotoNews page.

For those who may not have noticed yet, the SW baseball server was down yesterday, and the notice indicates that it won't be back up until tomorrow. I suspect SW has "borrowed" the baseball server's capacity to shore up the football difficulties. The CNN/SI Perfect Rotation server is still up, however.

Today I hope to find a solution to the football Assimilator problem experienced by IE4 browsers. This will be a toughie, since I don't have IE4 (and I'm reluctant to upgrade, since then I'll lose my IE3 browser, which also presents some unique Assimilator challenges. Today poll question is to help me assess which browsers I should consider most critical. This will ensure that future site enhancements are appropriately configured.

9/9(later) - I've updated player stats. Every stat has been checked programmatically except for team defense sacks, which I haven't been able to find in a decent tabular format yet - so they are still subject to manual error. There is one discrepancy which I cannot resolve. According to the game boxscore, Pittsburgh lost no fumbles to Baltimore, but the team stats at several different sites show Baltimore with one fumble recovery. I've left them with zero, but you should be aware of the potential discrepancy with scoring services.

If you're interested in doing some statistical manipulation of your own, Yahoo provides a free download of all players in a single comma-delineated text file. The link is labeled "fantasy download" and is on the lower right.

Although I have not seen any formal announcement, you should probably be prepared for the possibility that SW football prices may not be changed this week. This has happened in prior games as well, and the server problems yesterday suggest that they've got their hands full at SW mission control.

9/9 - I've been cleaning up my football stats, and automating the process better. Sometime later this afternoon I'll have updated point values for everyone. There weren't many discrepancies from the early postings, but there are a few.

I'm aware of a football Assimilator problem for the IE-4 browser, but I have not had much opportunity to dig into it yet.

If Smallworld reprices football today, I'll have data posted sometime this evening. Given yesterday's server problems, I'm not sure what to expect, however.

And, oh yeah, McGwire hit another one, in case you hadn't heard.

9/8 - I wish Mark would've hit #62 as well yesterday. Now, we get to endure another day of over-coverage when he gets 62. And probably every day until then. I want him to succeed, but . . . .

On to football. I've got all of the first week's games tallied and posted. This was primarily a manual effort, so there are probably some errors. As the various stat services get up to speed, I'll figure out the best automated solution. I'm also unsure if I've correctly handled yardage lost on sacks. Stat services include that in passing yardage for the team, but do not include it in either passing or rushing yardage for the individual stats of the QB. That's how I've done it, too. But it's possible that SW will include sack yardage in the QB's total yardage, so be aware of that possible change. Shouldn't be a big deal in any respect. Once SW posts SWP values for week 1, I'll crosscheck my values with theirs.

I'll be tinkering with the formatting of the various football stats pages over the next week. If you have any ideas you'd like me to consider, now's the time to let me know.

There would now seem to be three pre-repricing trading strategies to be considered (assuming you can get a pulse from the SW server):

  1. Sell a player before Wednesday if you expect his price to drop, and buy someone whose price you expect to rise. (Duh-h-h-h!)
  2. Sell a player before Wednesday if you expect his price to drop, and leave the slot vacant until after repricing, to see what bargains are available. (Since the freeze period isn't until the weekend, there are no adverse rules consequences for having an invalid roster during mid-week.)
  3. Sell a player before Wednesday if you expect his price to drop, and (assuming you're correct) buy him back at the lower price after the repricing. This allows you to take out the price difference while keeping your roster unchanged and burning only one trade.
Finally, a word of caution in interpreting results from week 1. Football stats - even for the best players - can be pretty volatile form week to week, so don't despair (yet) if some of your better players had a bad week, and don't get overly enthused about anyone on the basis of one good game. A look at last year's averages may provide a good reality check:
  • The better quarterbacks averaged between 200-300 SWP per game last year. Only 9 QB's averaged better than 250 SWP/G.
  • Excluding Barry Sanders and Terrell Davis, who each averaged in the high 200's, the better running backs averaged only 170-210 SWP/G last year.
  • Only one wide receiver averaged better than 200 SWP/G last season (Rob Moore, 217). The better WR's posted averages in the range of 150-190 SWP/G.
  • Only five tight ends averaged better than 100 SWP/G, led by Shannon Sharpe's 139.
  • The best kickers produced in the range of 60-75 SWP/G, led by Mike Hollis with 74.
  • Last year's best team defense (San Fran) averaged -267 per game, while the worst (Oakland) averaged -563. So Jets fans, don't despair - it gets better from here on.

Remember that the maximum weekly price change is only $1 million, and everyone will have to play a second game before the next price change opportunity. So, temper your exuberance or despair accordingly. If you're going to get the most out of your trading strategy, you need to have realistic expectations.

Have fun!

9/7 - For me, this will definitely be a Labor Day!

Baseball stats for yesterday are now posted, except for the summary stat tables, which I may skip for today. We'll see.

Here's my football outlook: By mid-afternoon, I expect to have the Assimilator and summary stat tables posted. I'll put up a new link for the 1998 Stats when they're up. The "Yesterday" page may not get posted for a few days, but since there's only one week so far, the summary stat tables also provide yesterday's results, so that's an easy page to postpone for now.

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work I go. . . . .

9/5 - One more day to get your football rosters drafted!

Barry Bonds is on a remarkable streak, having now reached base safely in 15 consecutive plate appearances. However, CBS Sportline ended a streak today - they had gone 22 consecutive days without screwing up players stats. Today, unfortunately, about half of yesterday's games were AWOL. So, I had to revert to USA Today again. You know the drill - since I subtract today's YTD stats from yesterday's to get the daily production, if there is a discrepancy between stat services, it shows up in today's SWP total. So if you notice something that looks wrong, please report it to me.

Actually, Vinny Castilla had the biggest whipping stick yesterday, with 2 homers, a triple, and 6 ribbies, good for 93 SWP and tied for the 14th best hitting performance of the season. Shawn Green also continued his torrid late-season hitting, and became the Blue Jays' first 30/30 (HR/SB) player ever - probably nosing out Canseco by a week or so, since Jose is just 2 steals shy of the feat himself. I wonder if any ML team has ever had two 30/30 players in the same season? Anyone know?

Price changes were reasonably predictable yesterday. Kerry Wood is going to skip his next start, according to this morning's paper. Your consolation prize, if you just bought him, is that at least you had the top price gainer for this week. I was a bit surprised that Pedro Martinez gained more than Randy Johnson, although that may be more of a residual effect of some late season pitcher rotation - since Pedro had just pitched on Thursday, and Randy doesn't work again until next week.

9/4 - Yesterday was certainly a slow day for sports. Yawn.

I'm still tinkering with the football Assimilator, trying to insert some additional ad banners without being overly intrusive and without slowing down execution. I'm trying to set it up so that even if the ads are loading slowly, the rest of the program will execute while waiting. I recently analyzed my site usage, and noticed that the baseball Assimilator accounts for more than 10% of the total page accesses for the site, so I'm trying to make the football version a revenue producer. Remember, those ads keep the site free.

Mark McGwire is certainly turning out to be lucrative for the Cardinals. I hear that all of the rest of this season's games at Busch Stadium are sold out.

Looking ahead to next week, I still haven't figured out where I'm going to get my football stats for the season. I'll figure that out early next week, when I see how the various sites format everything. So, I don't know when I'll have the results for Sunday's games "Assimilated". I'll try to have something up by late Monday, but it may rollover to Tuesday. Please be patient this first week.

Speaking of SW football, I've done a little snooping around to see if I can detect any drafting trends. I find it interesting that a lot of managers are picking the Oakland team defense, which is the cheapest alternative. I'm not sure whether that is because they like the Sunday night matchup with KC (doubtful), or whether they just figure it's got more price upside than downside - that they can't be as bad as last year's team. The interesting aspect of this is that if a lot of managers draft Oakland's defense, then it will ultimately put downward pressure on the price, since there will be a lot of potential sellers. On the other hand, if Oakland has a strong defensive opener, it may offer some decent appreciation potential, at least early in the season.

9/3 - Midday Assimilator update:

I just posted an updated version of the Football Assimilator, which includes the following new features:

  • A football image on the title page, to better distinguish it from the baseball version.
  • An advertising banner at the top of the summary page. (Sorry - but the Assimilator is one of the most popular parts of RotoGuru, and I want to bring it into the "revenue producing" portion of the site as well.)
  • Each player's bye week is now listed on the summary page. This should help you monitor future trading needs.
  • There are some changes in the grey columns at the right side of the summary page. Most of these are still filled with zeros, but you can see where I'm headed. Of course, if you think other information would be more useful, let me know.

I hope this version is relatively bug-free. If you need to revert to the prior version for any reason, it is still available at foot/jscript/footborg0.html. As always, report any problems and I'll try to fix them ASAP.

9/3 - Don't blink, or you might miss the record setting home run!

If you haven't yet drafted your Smallworld football roster, I'd suggest that you not wait until the last minute. I was on the SW football site last Sunday, and again several times this week, and response time has been very slow. If there are a lot of last minute drafters (and there usually are), you could be in for an excruciating process.

If any of you plan on playing Central Plaza's Touchdown Fantasy Football game this year, you're welcome to join my division. It's called "RotoGuru Rooters", and the ID# is 270 (which is what you really need to know). First come, first served. (Once it is filled, if you'd like to create another RotoGuru division, I'll be happy to post the league ID here. Last time I checked, there were already 9 RotoGuru divisions in Smallworld Football.)

9/2 - David Wells may not have thrown a second perfect game last night, but he did pitch his second 230 SWP game of the season, picking up an extra 2 K's to offset the 2 hits (compared to the earlier perfecto). It was also his 5th shutout this year. I had thought about including him as a choice in the current RotoGuru poll, but went with Schilling instead. So I guess Wells is the frontrunner for "someone else".

And Big Mac would appear to be poised to cruise into the HR title. I know the fat lady hasn't yet sung, but 5 homers in 26 days would seem to be a cakewalk.

Some of you have asked about more web links to fantasy football information. So I updated my favorite links page to include The Sporting News and USA Today, each of which offer some pages devoted to fantasy football, in addition to the usual variety of stats and news.

9/1 - Juan Gonzalez missed only the single in his quest for the cycle last night, even though he had a double to spare. With Texas leading by double-digits, I wonder if he would have stopped at first if he would have hit a ball off the wall late in the game? We'll never know.

Cleveland scored 10 runs in the first, propelling Blake Stein onto the list of the 10 worst pitched games of the season. Although he only surrendered 8 runs, he's the first one on the list to have recorded no outs at all.

Switching to football, I made some adjustments to the way I calculate ratios for team defenses in the 1997 stats tables. This may not be the perfect solution, but it makes more sense than the previous, unadjusted ratios did.

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

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<>.