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

2/29 - Leap day!

Last night’s Mavs/Spurs game was remarkable for its closeness throughout the entire contest. The game featured 21 lead changes, and only once did the teams get as far as 10 points apart, when Dallas took a 67-57 lead late in the 3rd quarter. Even then, less than a minute later, that 10-point gap was down to 3 points. Only once during the fourth quarter did the gap swell to 5 points, and that only lasted for 25 seconds. Most puzzling was that Jason Kidd was on the bench for the final 30 seconds when Dallas desperately needed to score. I recognize that he may be less familiar with the team’s late-game play arsenal, but doesn’t it seem like this would have been a good time for “on the job training?” In any event, this might have been a preview of a second of third round playoff series.

The latest reports are that LeBron will try to play tonight. But more than three-quarters of the top TSN Ultimate Hoops managers decided not to take the risk, dumping him yesterday in favor of healthier players with denser short-term schedules. We’ll see whether LeBron punishes them tonight.

2/28 - LeBron tweaked his ankle again. He returned to action, but it remains to be seen whether he will be able to play on Friday. With Minnesota as the opponent on Cleveland’s court, you could hardly fault the Cavs if they opt to play it safe. But you never know. And if he doesn’t it’s not clear just where Cleveland’s points would come from. Szczerbiak, perhaps? Delonte West? Ilgauskas? Certainly not Ben Wallace!

In GuruGolf, Steve Marino is the popular favorite by a wide margin, but most of that is a holdover from last week, when the field was much weaker.

Starting with this tournament, the PGA will use a slightly different cut rule. Until this week, if the top 70 players plus ties produced more than 78 players, then the field was reduced by eliminating those straddling the cut line from weekend play. Now, those players will get to play the third round, after which there will be another cut to reduce the field to the top 70 and ties for the final round. So from now on, if your player makes the cut, you get at least 18 more holes from him. But if your player stinks it up on Saturday, you now risk losing him for the final day.

2/27 - GuruGolf enters the eastern part of the tour schedule this week. With the next three events in Florida, GuruGolf managers are hoping to be able to conserve some trades, a feat which has been difficult so far this season.

Sign up activity for a second AA qualifying league for the RIBC has been going well, and it is all but assured that there will be sufficient interest to make it a go. If you are interested in joining this league – even if you’ve never tried a roto-style league before – don’t dawdle, as the league may be filled by tomorrow.

Meanwhile, if you like to follow the various RIBC league drafts, two have already started: RIBC AAA PCL and RIBC AA Eastern League. When reviewing these drafts, remember that the league is a modified 5x5, with hitters ranked by on-base percentage and slugging percentage instead of the more traditional batting average and HRs.

2/26 - It’s still February, but I’m already feeling like I’m behind the 8-ball in preparations for baseball. The RIBC draft will begin in a little over a week, and some of the qualifying leagues have already started drafting. The TSN games have also been launched. I do have the 2008 MLB schedule loaded, but that’s about as far as my preparations have gotten, other than a casual perusal of a few draft rankings. I’m going to have to buckle down in the next few days and start my analytical preparations in earnest.

Are you looking for a competitive roto-style fantasy baseball league to play in this season? A second AA RIBC qualifying league is testing the waters to see if there is ample interest. 16 managers are needed, and there is no pre-qualification required. The winner gets an invitation into next year’s RIBC league. If you are interested, sign up here.

2/25 - I’m back!

Going undefeated is obviously a very difficult thing to accomplish. The Patriots couldn’t do it. Memphis couldn’t do it in college basketball.

But maybe Tiger Woods can do it. At least, based on recent history, he seems to have the skill and the luck all lined up on his side.

Obviously, even he will run into a snag somewhere along the line. But it’s hard to imagine a more dominant force in any current (or past) sport.

The NBA went though a modest retooling last week, with a number of trades going through before the deadline. There’s no need for me to recount them now. But most of them will have implications for fantasy hoops, not only for the players who were traded, but also for untraded players who now have different roles. It’s a critical time to pay attention.

For example, look at the average TSNP/game for the past 7 days. There are a few names in the top 25 who seem to be putting up much better numbers than before the break. Two obvious examples are Vince Carter and Tyrus Thomas, both of whom are on teams which underwent some significant personnel changes. Whether these are the “new normal” or merely short-term aberrations is anyone’s guess. But they certainly bear watching.

2/15 - We’ve reached the notional midpoint of the NBA season - but we’re really well past the halfway mark. In terms of games, we’ve completed 63% of the schedule. So, if you’re trying to figure out where you stand vis à vis the game limits in any of your hoops leagues, you can use that percentage as a pacing standard.

From a fantasy standpoint, the NBA is now on a 4-day hiatus. So this might be a good chance to begin think about your baseball draft. I’ll try to get the 2008 MLB schedule posted in the next day or so. And after that, I go on a brief hiatus of my own, vacationing with my family in Florida. As usual, I’ll do my best to keep all of the stats up to date from the road. But don’t expect any blurbs.

Enjoy the break (from the NBA and from me)! Blurbs will resume on Feb. 25th.

2/14 - The Clemens-McNamee hearing was entertaining at times, but my ultimate reaction is that it was essentially just another “reality TV” show. It was interesting to see many of the Representatives appearing to take sides, and even more surprising to see those “alliances” tend to break along party lines. Frankly, when all was said and done, I tend to find McNamee and Pettitte more credible, but even moreso, I find myself wondering why this exercise is any business of a Congressional Committee – other than the obvious opportunity for grandstanding by the Representatives.

We had two triple-doubles last night, and neither was by the usual suspect – Jason Kidd – who was inactive due to the pending trade. The 3Ds were authored by Boozer and Odom. The Lakers finished their extended road trip with a 7-2 record, which is pretty impressive, even if many of those wins were against clearly inferior teams. And one of their losses was by only 1 point in Detroit.

I put up the draft prices for the TSN Season-2 Basic Hoops game in the sortable stats. If you are planning to play that game, you can now easily see how those prices differ from the comparable Season-1 levels.

In GuruGolf, Mickelson remains the popular favorite. Although he’s on seven fewer rosters than last week, he’s still represented twice as often as any other golfer.

2/13 - We experienced a power outage at RotoGuru World Headquarters this morning due to falling limbs during freezing rain. It’s been a tough year for power outages here, as this is the 4th time in the past couple of months. So I missed the opening of the Clemens/McNamee testimony. Then again, I’m sure if anything important or new was said, I’ll hear it eventually. Probably ad nauseam.

We’re down to the last couple of game days before the NBA All Star break. TSN Ultimate trades were refreshed overnight, and it may be that managers are finally able to catch up with the pervasive spate of injuries, illnesses, and DNPs that have dominated the recent landscape. At a minimum, we’ll have 4 days with no games to miss. And another dole of trades next week. Whew!

GuruGolf tees up for the Northern Trust Open tomorrow. Don’t forget to set your lineups!

2/12 - We’re not quite to the NBA All Star break, but RIBC Qualifying Leagues are now being organized at the baseball forum. To participate in a AAA league, you must be pre-qualified based on your performance in a RIBC league in 2007. But AA leagues are open to anyone. If you’re interested, sign up soon. Because the baseball season starts early this year – there are two games in Tokyo on March 25 & 26 – drafts are likely to get started in early March.

Hosted at Yahoo, the leagues use a 5x5 rotisserie scoring format. For hitting, batting average is replaced by on base average, and home runs are replaced by slugging percentage. Each league will have 16 teams, and each team has 21 starters and 4 bench players, so even though players from both major leagues are used, the player pool is relatively deep. The top finishers in AAA leagues and the winners of AA leagues typically earn an invitation to the RIBC in the following year. So if you’re trying to work your way up to the “bigs”, or if you’d just like to give this format a try, why not join a league?. No cost. (You do , however, have to be generally available during the first 3 weeks of March when slow online drafts are held – although as long as you can check in a few times per day, that’s usually sufficient.)

2/11 - I’ve been fighting recurring internet outages all morning, so I’m a bit behind in my morning routine, and frustrated at my on-again/off-again cable access. So I’ll let you forage for your own fantasy hoops highlights this morning.

In GuruGolf, Phil Mickelson seemed to be cruising along on Saturday, not playing spectacularly, but staying on the favorable side of the cut line with five holes to go. And then he carded an 11. Oops. Sayonara, Phil! I never did see the highlights of that hole, but the play-by-play sounded like the way I’d probably play that hole.

So, kudos to downward dog and oscobol370 whose Mickelson-free teams posted the top GuruGolf team scores for the opening week. On the worst ball side, Worcester Gramps parlayed Phil’s misfortune into a tidy +53 to take the top honors. And now we move on to L.A., with a normal sized field and a normal cut.

Meanwhile, only one team managed to find tournament winner Steve Lowery. Unfortunately, he also found Mickelson and John Daly.

2/8 - It’s been interesting to follow the progression of commentary on the Shaq-for-Marion trade. When it was first announced, the dominant reaction seemed to be “what!?”   But after a day of reflection, yesterday’s chatter seemed more like “great trade for both sides.” Time will tell.

Football Pickoff prize confirmation emails went out on Wednesday afternoon. If you think you might have won something, check your email (and maybe your spam folder).

Phil Mickelson threw a modest scare into all of his fantasy golf owners yesterday when he started out +4 after 10 holes. But then, 4 holes later, he was at -1. That’s one of the features that makes a guy like Mickelson valuable in best ball or worst ball formats. He may only shoot -1 for the round, but he did so with 4 birdies, an eagle, and 5 bogies. As long as he makes the cut, that’s a pretty nice contribution.

2/7 - Shaq is often known as a good passer, and yesterday he made his first pass for Phoenix, passing the requisite physical exam to complete the trade. Now we’ll just have to see how it works. And just as interestingly, how Shawn Marion produces for Miami. A lot of the pundits seem to think this will dampen his statistical output – but it would seem that he’ll be motivated to excel, since he probably views this as a 60-day audition for his pending free agency.

Two triple-doubles last night – one from Dirk and a “where’d that come from” TD from Seattle’s Earl Watson. Meanwhile, Josh Smith came very close (17-9-9), while Chris Paul may have had the best stat line of the night, with 42 points, 9 assists, and 8 steals in a 2-point double-overtime win over the Marion-free Suns in Phoenix.

GuruGolf 2008 is off and running. 242 rosters started off the season with 100 different players represented in at least one foursome. Mickelson is the popular favorite this week, on 89 rosters (37%), with Justin Leonard and Kevin Sutherland the only other golfers to appear on at least 20% of all rosters.

2/6 - Reportedly, pending a physical, Shaq has been traded to Phoenix for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. On the surface, this seems puzzling. Maybe three years ago. But Marion's contract expires at the end of this season, and he has been unhappy in Phoenix - so maybe he was, at best, a short-termer anyway. Still, after seeing what Shaq has been doing (and hasn't been doing) in Miami this year, it's hard to see him as the Suns' answer to Pao Gasol in L.A.

Speaking of the Lakers, Gasol made a big impact in his first game last night. For much of the game, Kobe seemed like the weakest link. Admittedly, he was playing for much of the game with a dislocated pinkie. But maybe Gasol, Odom, Bynum, and Fisher should now go to Mitch Kupchak and ask that Kobe be traded.

T-minus one day for GuruGolf 2008. Tee time is 8am pacific time Thursday. Only 117 rosters have been set up so far - which is only about two-thirds of the number of teams who had active rosters last week - so I'm expecting a day of high activity. Be there or be square!

2/5 - The sudden retirement of Bob Knight has no fantasy sports implications. But in a way, it's nice to see him leave the game on his terms, rather than being forced out over some embarrassing incident. Knight evokes some of the strongest respect and loathing - two contradictory sentiments that are sometimes even held by the same people. His winning record, his player graduation rates, and his interpersonal "skills" - all could rightfully be described as "extreme." It's hard to imagine a more complex figure.

The latest NBA triage report finds Marcus Camby still out with his knee bruise, and Nate Robinson pulling a surprising DNP with a bruised left quadriceps. Meanwhile, Chris Kaman and Corey Maggette each made their first game appearances in more than a week. I have various representations of each of those four players on my various fantasy teams, and I'm really getting weary of managing through a DNP minefield that's continually in flux. When does baseball start?

Or maybe I should turn my focus to golf. The official GuruGolf season starts this week. The week's tournament, the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, offers a few twists that may make it a nice way to ease into the season. First, the field is bigger than for any other PGA event, with 180 golfers entered. And since many of the Tour's marquis names are not included, the initial roster value limitation is not particularly constraining this week - in fact, only 12 listed golfers have a price above the initial average of $1000. Finally, because the first three rounds are played at three different courses, the cut only impacts the final round, mitigating that impact. On the other hand, because of the size of the field, a smaller proportion will make the cut. With those tidbits as background, go pick your teams. And pick a provisional golfer as well. You never know which golfer will wake up on Thursday with the flu.

2/4 - Every now and then, a game is remembered for a “signature” play, a game-turning play that will be replayed over and over and over for decades. If this game had one, it will be the fourth quarter play in which Eli Manning was almost sacked, but escaped to fire a downfield pass that David Tyree caught by trapping the ball against his helmet. Maybe that wasn't the turning point. It would have been 4th down, so the drive might have continued anyway. But at the time, it seemed like a potential back breaker. And from the Patriots' perspective, it turned the tenor of the game from "we almost have this one nailed down" to "uh-oh..."

Frankly, I thought the most puzzling play of the game was the Pats eschewing a 48-yard yield goal attempt in the 3rd quarter and going for a 4th-and-13 from the Giants' 31. Maybe Gostkowski would have missed the FG. But it sure seems like a 48-yarder had a better chance of success than a 4th-and-13 pass. And those three points would have come in rather handy later one.

Congrats to GS: A Family Company, who rode the Giants to the championship of Football Pickoff. I'll sort out the various prize winners and send out emails within the next week. And curiously, the entry with the most correct picks during the playoffs (10 of 11) was the Smart Dart, which is a computer-generated entry using a random number generator to make picks based upon the actual pickoff odds. I may have to refine that algorithm for my own personal use!

2/1 - Groundhog day isn't until tomorrow, but with key NBA players failing to play every night, it feels like déjà vu all over again all the time.

So far this season, the Cavaliers are 25-14 when LeBron plays, and 0-6 when he doesn't. Sounds to me like a good supporting rationale for the MVP award.

Along with LeBron's DNP, we had one more entity missing in action last night. At around 12:30am ET, the RotoGuru empire disappeared from view when a fiber optic cable was accidentally severed by a network provider. Service wasn't restored until almost 9am this morning. As far as I know, there should be no lingering effects, which is more than I can say for LeBron, or Kaman, or Maggette, or Butler, or any other of a host of players whose recent severance from action seems to be more severe.

Just in case you forgot, the Super Bowl is this weekend. OK, I realize that you probably didn't forget that. But you might have forgotten to log your final pick in Football Pickoff. As of this morning, the Pats are a 56/44 favorite.

2008: 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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