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

3/30 - Wow. It's almost 1pm, and I'm just starting on the blurb for today. At 10:55am, my oldest son (who is a freshman at Tufts) asked me to jump on Instant Messenger and kibbutz on his 11am live draft for an ESPN league. So, I was unexpectedly - but enjoyably - sidetracked for the past 2 hours.(Fatherhood trumps Guruhood.) I was up until after 1am last night with another live draft, so baseball is taking its preseason toll right about now. It's great!

Since it's late, and baseball is in the air, I'll let you fend for yourself in reviewing yesterday's hoops results.

For baseball, there isn't much to say that hasn't been discussed at the message forum. For Smallworld baseball, I still recommend this thread as the best all-purpose launching point for preseason strategy ideas and links. For Swirve, use the filters to select out the threads with Swirve in the subject. And by all means, don't wait until 11am Sunday morning to start drafting. But if you do get caught with a tardy draft, at least you are only missing one potential game on Sunday, so don't despair.

On Monday morning, I'll need to start processing two sets of daily stats again. Hoops stats should run like clockwork, but baseball will undoubtedly be a bit rocky for the first few days, while I dust off the cobwebs from my various stats processing routines. Some programs are difficult to completely pre-test without having access to actual data feeds, which inevitably contain a surprise or two. I'll do my best. But please be patient. It's a long season, and a little delay at the beginning won't have much of a lingering impact by the time September rolls around.

3/29 - Jason Kidd parlayed his recent scoring surge into the top fantasy score of the night, with 58.5 SWP and 221 SvP. Three others were in the SWP 50s, and nine were in the 40s, including two $500k players : . Robert Pack and Lucious Harris. If you want to see a model of inconsistency, check out Pack's recent history. His average is reasonable for a $500k player, but you need a cast iron stomach to deal with the ups and downs. Perhaps the biggest miracle is that he doesn't have a single DNP in the past month - although there are a couple of near misses.

The SW Hoops game tends to get rather uninteresting at this point of the season, as many teams are effectively unconstrained by dollar value. The most expensive roster possible currently costs $101,810, and there are already a number of Gurupie-managed teams which exceed that franchise value. You don't lose much by substituting a few cheaper players, like Jermaine O'Neal, or Shawn Marion, or (of late) Mookie Blaylock, which puts the price of a top performing roster within reach of a majority of the top teams. Thus, most teams now only differ by one or two players, making it very hard to make up ground if you're behind, or lose ground if you're ahead. It almost seems like the real key at this point is avoiding injury problems - and there have been so many of them that virtually no team has gone unscathed in that regard.

I guess the good news is that many of us can let our Hoops teams run on autopilot for the most part, and concentrate on baseball.

Assembling a good baseball draft is a critical factor in both the Smallworld and Swirve games. In Smallworld, you need to draft a few guys who will start out strong, producing both points and money without the need to burn a trade. It's unrealistic to expect to identify a roster full of talent, as some of the early hot players will come from out of nowhere, while some early favorites will start slowly - regardless of how they performed in spring training. So you shold expect to have to use some early trades to jump on some of the unexpected fast starters. But you don't have enough trades to turn your entire draft roster over very quickly, so you need to hang onto to a few draftees for several weeks, at least. Keeping some extra cash available at the outset can also be worth a lot in early trade flexibility.

In Swirve, you have to decide early on whether to lock in any players to long term contracts. If you "guess" right, this can turn out to be a real benefit over the long haul. But in perusing some of the Gurupie rosters in that game, I see some rather long term contracts for some unproven players. At this juncture, the downside of having a mediocre player (or even worse, a benched player) signed for an extended period seems much worse than the upside of having a long-term bargain. There will always be opportunities to find new bargains, as players are called up or moved into new roles due to injuries, etc. But if you are stuck with a lemon, your recovery options are slim. For that reason, I don't think I'm going to lock anyone into a long term contract - and certainly not at the outset. If I'm going to screw up, I want to at least screw up in a way that gives me options to recover. I'd rather have the opportunity to make new mistakes along the way, as opposed to having to live with an early mistake throughout the season with little chance of parole. Of course, one approach is to run two teams, but only using long term contracts on one of them. Maybe I'll do that.

3/28 - The fantasy hoops significance may be slight, but it was good to see Alonzo Mourning back on the court. Gravity has only brought his SW price tag(s) down to the low $7m range, and that's pricey for the production that he's likely to generate - although we'll have to see. I'm sure there will be a few takers, however. In Swirve, his $43.6k price is even more prohibitive. The one game where he might offer some value is Three For All, where the center position is now pretty "picked-over", and where Miami's 4-4-2 schedule for the last three weeks will probably make him a better choice than most of the remaining the alternatives.

Mourning didn't produce many fantasy points, but there were plenty of others with good scores. The top gun for SW was Lamar Odom, whose triple double propelled him to a 77.5 SWP night (240 SvP). Tops in Swirve was Chris Webber, with 253 SvP (and 67.5 SWP). Tim Duncan also had a strong outing, with 69 SWP and 232 SvP. Five other players were in the SWP fifties, and another five were in the forties.

It's been a week since I launched my GuruPatron campaign, and donations continue to arrive each day. An updated tally is posted at the top of this page. I plan to release the initial registry of donors sometime next week, so if you want to be on the inaugural list, you still have a few days to get your payment in the mail - either e- or snail. Once baseball gets underway, I plan to put fundraising on the back burner for a few months. While the early results are certainly a good start, there are still about 200 people who responded favorably to the pre-campaign poll that have not yet been heard from. If you've been procrastinating, why not take care of it today? And thanks to all of you who have already responded. Your early returns are greatly appreciated.

3/27 - Jason Kidd continued his strong play, leading the way last night with 57.5 SWP. Kidd has been the top SWP producing guard over the past 15 days, both in total points and average (52.9). But do you know which guard has amassed the second highest total over that period? No, it's not Paul Pierce (although Pierce has the 2nd best 15-day average among guards).. Believe it or, it's Mookie Blaylock, who was also the second highest SWP producer last night (51.5) and the highest in Swirve with 208 SvP.

The only other player to reach 50 SWP was Elton Brand, who seems to have shaken off his injury problems, now that everyone has dropped him. Other notable performances included Denver's George McCloud, who had an NBA season high 22 assists (46.5 SWP). In fact, Denver had a total of four players in the SWP 40s, including McDyess, Posey, and Willis.

It's the end of Three For All week again, so let's take a look back at the top producers in that game:

  • Guards:
    1. Kidd 232
    2. Mercer 210 (5 games)
    3. McGrady 198
    4. Finley 192
    5. Armstrong 185
    6. Allen 184
    7. Andre Miller 183
    48. Kobe 43 (1/4 games)
  • Forwards:
    1. Garnett 202 (3 games)
    2. Webber 190 (3)
    3. Nowitzki 187
    4. Carter 177
    5.Malone 169
    10. Brand 153 (3/5 games)
  • Center:
    1. Shaq 268
    2. B. Miller 176 (5 games)
    3. J. O'Neal 129
In Survival, teams that were able to preserve Shaq for this week got a nice boost. Teams that were able to use Kobe got screwed.

For baseball, I went through the March trade listings yesterday afternoon and updated a few player-team affiliations in the sortable stats and Assimilator. If you notice any that are still incorrect, please let me know. In the process, I also noticed that Swirve now has Jose Ortiz listed as a second basemen. In their original release, he was listed as an outfielder. If you're working with older files, you should note the change.

3/26 - If you've been procrastinating on your preseason baseball research, it's time to start cranking. Opening night is Sunday. And you don't want to wait until the last minute to do your drafting, particularly in the SW game(s). Sluggish - sometimes comatose - server performance has been a common 11th hour problem in years past. If you need to make some last minute adjustments, it's much easier to tweak an existing roster than it is to draft an entire slate. Forewarned is forearmed.

We now have a Final Four. The sum of the advancing seeds is only 7, which is low by historical standards. The average has been about 10. Only once have the Final Four seeds totaled less than seven - in 1993, when three #1s and a #2 made it. There have been three other Final Fours with a seed sum of 7, including one (1991) with the same configuration of 1-1-2-3. That year, the two #1 seeds lost in the semis.

Market Madness contest standings are much more clarified now. Check out the picks of the leaders. Very impressive. With the Final Four bonus points earned by Maryland and Arizona (as well as the associated baskets), those entries with favorable longs got a nice boost, while those with unfortunate shorts took a tumble. And don't forget the separate competition for the best "basket-free" score.

The NBA had three triple-doubles over the weekend. On Friday night, Alvin Williams and Jason Kidd turned the trick, each netting about 68 SWP. On Saturday, Mookie Blaylock authored a 65.5 SWP gem. But none of them had the big game of the weekend. That was Shaq's monster on Friday night, which produced 90.5 SWP and 329 SvP. Think he minds that Kobe is out?

3/23 - Four more NCAA Hoops games in the book. One was an upset, which is right on the historical average for this round. Not a good couple days for UK, as Pitino goes to Louisville, and then this.

One triple-double in the NBA - from Lamar Odom. It wasn't a real stat stuffer, though, as it only resulted in 51 SWP (41 plus the bonus). That total was topped by two other forwards - Chris Webber (60) and Antoine Walker (56), and also matched by Paul Pierce. Ten players were in the SWP 40s.

Baseball is rapidly approaching, with the season opener a week from Sunday. I've recently expanded the coverage in the sortable stats to include points and prices for Progressive Sports Challenge. PSC started operations with a football game last fall, and has also been running a hoops game. This will be their first baseball offering, with a menu of pay and free games. Gurupies have represented a sizable proportion of the leading managers in their initial games, and I expect baseball will be no exception. Prices don't change throughout the season, and rosters are locked in weekly, so it doesn't require the same daily intensity to manage a team for this game (vs. games with daily repricing and daily trading). If you're looking to diversify into some alternative games, this is worth checking out.

I'll also provide Small World prices (in the sortable stats) for both the free and pay (Hardball) games. Although the two games will start with the same player prices, the prices will move separately once trading begins. So, if you still haven't decided whether to play their pay game, you should at least be aware that I will include these prices in the sortable stats (as a separate game option) once the season begins.

And, of course, Swirve data is included as well.

So, if you haven't yet started your baseball draft planning, it might behoove you to put it on this weekend's "to do" list. It's on mine.

3/22 - I guess we're not going to get a reprieve this week from the injury bug. Last night's casualty was Kobe Bryant - again! - with a late-game ankle injury. Although it is too early to know the extent of the injury, Kobe himself seems to think it might be worse than a simple sprain, so the outlook is certainly discouraging. He's turned into a real trade-sucker since the All Star break, with his various injuries and illnesses. You'd think a young guy like that would be more durable.

The stud of the night was clearly Kevin Garnett with 71.5 SWP and 239 SvP. Garnett's linescore is a bit unusual: 14-17 FG shooting, but not a single free throw attempt. Did Dallas just concede the inside game to him without a single foul? For that matter, the entire T-wolve team went to the foul line only 11 times.

After Garnett, three guards reached the SWP 50s, and ten other players were in the 40s. Still, some of the bigger names had disappointing nights. It was possible to have a good all-around fantasy team result, but most rosters probably ended up with mixed results.

If you missed yesterday's blurb, please read it. Never having attempted this sort of fundraising before, I have no historical basis against which to interpret the early returns, so I guess I'll take the optimistic viewpoint. After the first 24 hours, 32 Gurupies have contributed a total of $1368. This includes 9 donations of $100 or more, 4 in the $50-99 range, and 19 from $1 to $49, some of whom indicated they planned to donate regularly. Other have indicated that "the check's in the mail." Thanks to everyone who has responded so quickly and generously!

I recognize that feedback is important in an endeavor like this, so I've been posting updated results in the heading of all message forum pages. From time to time I'll also add a bit more commentary here. But I don't want this activity to dominate the discussion, so I'm hoping we get a sufficient response over the next week that I can stop pushing for awhile. If the preliminary poll was an accurate indication, then I've only heard from about 12% of the potential GuruPatrons. So while the early returns are encouraging, the journey has only begun.

After several days of stock market madness, it will be nice to get that activity back on the court today, with four regional semi-final games on tonight's docket. If you're following the Market Madness standings, the key to a good ranking so far has generally been a good short portfolio without too much harm on the long side. But those with strong long holdings will start to make their move shortly. The ultimate contenders will be much more apparent after the next few days.

3/21 - Spring has sprung. The grass has ris'.
I wonder where the ad fees is?

Actually, in New England, most of the grass is still snow covered, and more white stuff is predicted for tonight. But it's still time to usher in a new era at

This site has been solely supported by advertising since its inception over 3 years ago. But with the recent dot-com bust, the supply of advertising is way down, and for those ads that are available, the trend is toward either more intrusive presentation (i.e., annoying pop-ups) or commission/registration-driven fees. Further, pay-per-click advertisers are severely restricting the ability of ad publishers to remind users to click on an ad. The net result - for RotoGuru, as well as for many other formerly ad-driven sites - is that advertising alone can no longer support the costs of site production.

Over the past few months at the message forum, I've discussed a number of alternative ways to keep the site alive. Based on widespread feedback, and on the results of a Gurupie poll, I've decided to try a system of voluntary financial support. If Gurupies follow through on their poll indications, cash donations from almost 300 supporters should be sufficient to keep the site alive and free for all Gurupies to enjoy. This may not turn out to be the optimal long-term solution, but it is worth a try.

So, with the change of seasons, today I am asking you to support by becoming a GuruPatron. Consider the value you get from this site, whether it is the flexibility of the sortable stats, the customized tracking of the Assimilator, the deep historical detail on all players, the variety of games covered and/or offered, or just the camaraderie and give-and-take at the message forum. If this site is at least as useful as a daily cup of coffee, then consider a donation at the rate of $5 per month (or more). That's pretty cheap for coffee. And while I understand that not everyone will be able to cough up that much, if all active Gurupies pitch in according to their capabilities, we can keep the site going through thick and thin. For more details on how you can do your part, click here (or use the new "Sponsorship" link near the top of the left menu panel). If you come through as indicated, I promise to do my best to keep the site as useful and enjoyable as I can make it.

[End of fund-raising pitch.]

Chris Webber blew the competition away last night with a triple-double effort that produced 82 SWP and 264 SvP. Second best was 25 SWP back from Jason Kidd, who parlayed 36 real points into 57 SWP. Kenyon Martin and Shawn Marion were also in the SWP 50s, while eleven others were in the SWP 40s.

After last week's ravage of injuries and suspensions, it's nice to have a few more SW trades to work with. I expect some pent-up trade activity to be reflected in today's SW price changes, after which we can all cross our fingers that we can make it through the next few days without any more sudden outages. Those who had the trades available to weather last week's storm(s) should have fared reasonably well in the standings. And this is a good time to make a move, as the regular season ends just 4 weeks from today. Time to kick it in gear!

3/20 - Only three games in the NBA last night, and the most notable result was probably that Atlanta beat the Lakers. Three (widely held) players reached the SWP 50s - Duncan with 59.5, Shaq with 59.5, and Payton with 51.5. Five others were in the 40s, including the apparently rejuvenated Tony Kukoc with 46. Over his past four games, he's averaged better than 53 SWP/G.

By the way, if you are paying close attention, you may have noticed that team points in the fullseason SW Hoops game are incorrect. Points for last Saturday have been double counted. SW is aware of the problem, and according to a highly placed source, "will be corrected shortly". Until then, standings and rankings will be off.

The Divisional finals are now completed in SW Three For All Survival, and the points went pretty much as expected (with the exception of Kukoc):

  • Guard:
    1. Payton 217 (5 games)
    2. Kobe Bryant 202 (4 played)
    3. Stackhouse 197
    4. Kidd 174 (3 games!)
  • Forward:
    1. Duncan 269
    2. Webber 261
    3. Kukoc 226
    4. Abdur-Rahim 185
    5. Garnett 183 (3 games)
    5. Jalen Rose 183
  • Center:
    1. Shaq 284 (5 games)
    2. Jermaine O'Neal 204
    3. David Robinson 137
    3. Brad Miller 137 (3 games)
    5. Mutombo 127
    6. Ewing 121 (5 games)
So now the divisional winners move on to the overall finals. Congrats if you've survived this far!

And if you didn't survive, maybe it's time to turn to baseball. If you're justing getting started, The Pink Pimp pulled together a helpful thread at the forum that links to many of the thoughtful threads which have been generated thus far. I recommend it as a good place to start. Believe it or not, the baseball season starts in less than 2 weeks! Yikes!

3/19 - A lot has been made of the number of early upsets in this year's tournament. For example, underdogs won 13 of the 32 first round games. No prior tournament has seen as many opening upsets.

This year has seen more upsets than usual, which is consistent with pre-tournament expectations. But when you consider that 4 of the 13 upsets were 9's beating 8's, it's not quite as wild as it sounds. And twice before, there have been 12 first round upsets. (Last year, however, there were only three - but then the fun began.)

If a tournament goes according to the seedings, then all 16 of the #1-4 seeds should advance to the Sweet 16. This year, 10 of the #1-4's have arrived. Historically, that's right on the average. Three times, only 7 of the top seeds have survived to this round, including last year. Twice, as many as 13 of the top seeds have made it, although that hasn't happened since 10 years ago.

Another way to evaluate the success of underdogs is to look at the sum of the seeds which are still alive. This year, the sum of the seeds in the Sweet 16 is 73. Over the past 16 years (during which the tournament has included 64 teams), the average sum of the Sweet 16 seeds has been 71.5. So by that standard, this year also seems rather normal. The minimum seed sum was in 1989, when the seeds totaled only 50 (the minimum possible is 40). The maximum was 89 in 1986, although twice the total was 88, most recently in 1999. Last year's sum was 85. So by this measure, the current tournament is closer to form than the previous two.

So while it is usually possible to cite a stat that makes the current tourney look unusual, on balance, I don't think this year has been particularly extraordinary at all. And it's certainly premature to call this the year of the upset, in spite of the opening round results.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the NBA season marches on. I'll let you look up the weekend results for yourself.

3/16 - It didn't take long for this tournament to generate some upsets. If you've done well with your picks so far, hang onto your hat, because it may be a wild ride. And if you're already a lost cause, then watch the tourney for fun, and start focusing on baseball. That's my plan.

A lot of Market Madness entrants did well with their short selections yesterday. The Big 10 was the most heavily shorted conference basket, and Iowa State was the second must heavily shorted team (behind Illinois). Most of the popular longs play today, other than Maryland, who survived a late scare. Check here to see a listing of the long and short positions for every team and basket unit.

Standings have been updated as each game is completed, but it's a little difficult to assess your overall progress this early, because the initial cash position often distorts the picture. After 3 more days we'll have a better picture, as roughly 75% of the games will be finished. I know I have nothing to shoot for but the booby prize, though. I decided to take some contrarian positions (it seemed to work well during the second half of Football Pickoff), so instead of shorting Iowa State, Ohio State, and the Big 10, I went long. In other words, the pressure's off.

It's still a bit early to know what the real flavor of this tourney will be. Last year, there were a lot of big upsets, but they didn't start emerging until the second round. Most years, about 25% of the games are won by underdogs. So it's way too early to tell whether this trend will turn into a theme. But we are starting to get a picture of the candidates for Cinderella.

In NBA land, Kobe returned with a vengeance, posting 57 SWP and 203 SvP. His output was exactly matched by Cuttino Mobley. Three other guards reached the SWP 50s (Marbury, Kidd, and Pierce). But was anybody watching?

3/15 - Comin' down to the wire! As of 9am EST this morning, there were 850 registrations for the Market Madness contest, but only 417 had submitted picks. You've got until 12:20pm EST to click on that "Store These Selections" button. Remember, my 9-year-old daughter finished 2nd overall last year, so it's possible to do well even if you are totally clueless! Might as well take a flyer. By the time the tourney is over, you might have even figured it out!

I've opened a "store" to sell RotoGuru merchandise. Items currently available include a variety of shirts, plus mugs and mousepads. The products are manufactured and distributed by I've ordered several myself, and the quality of the products and service was excellent. Each item is priced with a margin of $3-$6 dollars which goes to support the continued free availability of, so although you might find the items a bit pricey, recognize that it's all for a good cause. For more information, and to order, go to the RotoGuru store. Thanks for your support. And if you have ideas for alternative designs and/or slogans, send me an email or leave a message here.

In SW Hoops, it's a good time to have a few trades socked away. The latest casualties are Tracy McGrady's 2-game suspension, Kenyon Martin's sprained ankle, Elton Brand's strained quad, Ron Artest's knee, Antonio McDyess' knee - and then we still have Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson on the mend. Aye carumba!

Among those who could play last night, Kevin Garnett led the way with 58.5 SWP and 215 SvP. Eight others reached the 50 SWP mark, so the night wasn't a complete bust, in spite of all the DNPs. It was particularly good night for UConn forwards, as Donyell Marshall had 51 SWP, Richard Hamilton had 46, and... oops... Cliff Robinson had only 9. Oh well, it's still better than Elton Brand's 2.5.

Warm up the TV. Sixteen games on tap today.

3/14 - There are all sorts of this happening in the NBA, but I don't really want to devote much blurb-space to those issues today. The highlights are:

  • Kobe didn't play
  • Iverson is doubtful for tonight, but you never know
  • McGrady will probably get suspended for fighting, but how soon and for how long is anyone's guess
  • Francis and Kukoc had triple doubles, but Jermaine O'Neal was the night's top producer with 67.5 SWP and 254 SvP.
  • Michael Jordan might return next year to play for the Wizards.
I want to devote a little time to some hints for the Market Madness Contest. I know the rules are somewhat daunting, especially for newcomers. But it's really not as complex as it seems - and you don't really have to understand all of the nuances. Here are a few basic hints:
  • To "go long" means to buy. You want to buy teams that you think will do better than their seed expectations. For example, if you think any team other than a #1 seed will get to the Final Four, then you should buy that team.
  • Shorts have the same return pattern as longs, but the sign is reversed. If you short a team, you are betting against it. So, you want to short teams that you think will do worse than their seed expectation. If you think a #1 seed will lose before the Final Four, then you should probably short that team, particularly if you think it will lose in the Sweet 16 round or earlier.
  • It is usually not a good idea to short a team seeded #9-16. They are "expected" to lose their first game, so it's difficult for them to do worse than expectations. While it is possible for a short of a #9-16 to work out OK, you should only do this if you understand the implications. You are much better off to short teams that will lose to underdogs.
  • You must short exactly 10 units. These units can represent single teams, or a basket of teams. There are no economies in owning a basket unit - they are just the sum of the underlying teams. Basket units simply allow you to "lever up" your holdings. For example, if you think Michigan State will underachieve, you might want to short them, the #1 seed basket, and the Big 10 conference basket. Just be aware that the basket units expose you to other teams, and even if you're right about Michigan State, a good showing by Illinois (for example) could cancel out the benefit in those two baskets.
  • There is a separate prize this year for the best result excluding basket units. Since you can enter three times, you might want to set up at least one entry without any basket units. While all entries will be eligible for this prize, basket unit returns will be zeroed out in the calculation. For a fuller description of prizes, see the rules.
  • For the confused, the best tool to help you is the scoring simulator. Simply fill out your expected winners for all 63 games, and see what the resulting returns would be. Then, short the worst ten, and buy the best ten.
  • For more insights, visit the message forum. There are still plenty of helpful hints left over from last year's contest. And if you still have questions, raise them there. Remember, you have until the first tipoff tomorrow to save your selections.

    3/13 - So far, more than 400 entrants have registered for Market Madness, and more than 200 of them have already stored a set of selections - which, of course, can be continually changed up until the opening tipoff on Thursday. Last year, there were 692 entrants who submitted picks. It remains to be seen whether we'll top that figure this year.

    Only four NBA games were on tap last night. The big kahuna was Jamal Mashburn, who was 2 boards short of a triple double, but still managed 69.5 SWP and 250 SvP. That overshadowed a strong outing from Kevin Garnett, who had 62.5 SWP and 231 SvP. The only other player over 50 SWP was Elden Campbell, with 53.

    Here's the recap of the previous week's notable producers in SW Three For All:

    • Guard:
      1. Steve Francis 239
      2. Jason Kidd 200
      3. Gary Payton 171
      4. Tracy McGrady 165 (3 games)
      5. Paul Pierce 155 (3 games)
    • Forwards:
      1. Chris Webber 253 SWP
      2. Kevin Garnett 234
      3. Tim Duncan 217
      4. Vince Carter 172
      5. Wally Szczerbiak 170!
    • Center:
      1. Shaq 233
      2. Jermaine O'Neal 158
      3. Elden Campbell 146
      4. Brad Miller 143
      5. Dikembe Mutombo 142 (3 games)
      5. David Robinson 142
    This is crunch time for the full season Survival game. After this week, Divisional winners move on to the overall finals (and claim a divisional prize of $100). Those who have Shaq available are likely to use him. Those who don't are rooting for a quick injury. The more interesting position is guard, where Kobe's illness certainly raises some problems... and opportunities, particularly for those who still have Payton available. And at forward, Webber and Duncan are the cream of the crop. Unless you have a big lead, there's no holding back now. And if you're looking up at the division leader this morning, make sure you differentiate in at least one position.

    3/12 - Brackets are set, units are priced, and contest selections are now being accepted. Log in to the Market Madness contest site to set up your entries.

    While we gear up for the NCAA tourney, there are some NBA issues to work through as well. Allen Iverson left yesterday's game early with a hip injury. And Kobe Bryant took a DNP due to a viral infection. The immediate prognosis for each of them is uncertain - so even if you have trades available to deal with this, it's not clear that trading is the best choice. You'll have to make the decision that makes the most sense in your team's context.

    Among those players who managed to finish a game yesterday, Chris Webber was the best with 62 SWP and 236 SvP. Jason Kidd was close behind with 60 and 217, and Dikembe Mutombo had 58 and 206. The only other comparable results over the entire weekend came on Friday, when a trio of guards each posted 60 SWP: Paul Pierce, Iverson, and Robert Pack, who got some extra playing time with Van Exel out.

    Kobe's situation not only creates some difficult decisions in the regular Small World Hoops game, but also in Three For All, where the Lakers have a 5-game week starting tomorrow. Seattle also plays five, and if you have both available, GP is no doubt the safer choice. This is also the final week in the Survival divisional finals, so the stakes are high. I guess these decisions are why they pay you the big bucks!

    3/9 - Only 3 NBA games last night. Only one player north of 50 SWP - Steve Francis, with 54. Only three players in the 40s: Tim Duncan (48.5) , Baron Davis (47.5) , and Derek Anderson (45.5). Not much to evaluate this morning.

    Tonight, there are 12 games on tap - not to mention a host of NCAA conference tournament games. TV remotes will be actively clicked all across the continent.

    The baseball Assimilator has now been updated with 2001 players and prices. It's rather "bulky", as I'm currently including all players listed in either Small World or Swirve - 1242 in all. Once the season begins, I'll strip it down to the active players, which will reduce the total to less than 800. But you'll probably find that the program runs (much) faster in MSIE (or perhaps Netscape 6). I know it is sluggish in Netscape 4. And I have no idea whether the latest AOL browser can handle something of this size. (Prior versions generally could not.)

    Sometime on Sunday I'll be taking down the Market Madness site in order to load the new brackets. If all goes well, it should be back up and ready for action late Sunday evening. You'll then have until the first tipoff on Thursday to enter your picks.

    Point of clarification: This year there will be 65 teams in the field, with the 2 lowest seeded teams playing a "play-in" game earlier in the week. For purposes of the contest, I will treat these two teams as a single #16 seed, and the results of the play-in game will not be scored. Essentially, that unit will represent the winner of the play-in game.

    3/8 - Patience sometimes has its rewards.

    Evidently, a number of managers recently lost patience with Jermaine O'Neal, as his SW price (FS game) has dropped $320K over the past 3 days. The prime beneficiary over that period has been Marc Jackson, who has gained $660K over three days. Hakeem Olajuwon picked up a few shekels yesterday, too.

    So what's happened on the point front? After getting just 16 SWP the night before, Jermaine put up 58 SWP last night, for a two night total of 74 SWP. Meanwhile, Jackson has produced a total of 10 SWP over that 3 day period, and Hakeem managed just 2.5 SWP last night before getting injured. If nothing else, this should at least stop Jermaine's bleeding (until his next stinker, of course).

    The lesser O'Neal wasn't the top producer last night, although he did outpoint his name twin by 17.5 SWP. The nightly honors went to Tracy McGrady, with 64.5 SWP and 253 SvP. But there were plenty of points to go around, as Chris Webber had 59 SWP, seven others were in the low-50s (SWP), and nine were in the 40s. With a ten game slate, if you didn't rack up at least 400 SWP last night, you probably lost ground.

    I'm continuing to make baseball progress. I now have the sortable stats reports updated with 2001 prices and points based on the 2001 formulas (based on 2000 regular season stats), for both the Small World and Swirve games. Next, I'll work on getting the new values in the Assimilator. Stand by...

    3/7 - I suppose last night could have been subtitled, "We're ba-a-a-ack...", as Webber, Marion, and Camby all returned to action. The party wasn't complete, however, as McDyess continued to sit, and Nick Van Exel decided to join him on the sideline.

    Kevin Garnett was the top producer with 68 SWP and 235 SvP. There is a silver lining to the McDyess injury, because the only reason I have Garnett is that I sidestepped into him (from McDyess) on Sunday. And instead of 2 DNPs, I have 134 extra SWPs two days later. Not bad. Sometimes it's better to be lucky...

    Shaq was almost as prodigious, garnering 60 SWP and 226 SvP. After those two, the next best was Ron Artest with 48 SWP. Shawn Marion did well with 41 SWP, and Chris Webber's "off night" wasn't so bad at 37.5 SWP. Camby's 27 SWP weren't quite as encouraging. Tonight we'll get to see how each of these guys holds up in back-to-back games.

    I was doing some long range SW trade planning this morning, just to make sure I've got the best coming attractions scoped out before it's too late to maneuver. For some reason, I kept plotting things out all the way to the end of the season. And when I got to the last day, I realized it was a Wednesday - which means that we'll all have four extra trades to deal with just that last day! So I guess you can afford to have four guys with open dates on the final day. I hope the server will be able to hold up under all of that last minute activity.

    3/6 - So many choices. So little reliable information.

    Will Chris Webber return to action tonight? How about Shawn Marion? Antonio McDyess?

    Your choices in the next day or two could make a big difference. Find a lucky coin, and start flipping it.

    Kenyon Martin had a triple double last night, and blew away the competition with 75.5 SWP and 240 SvP. The next best output was from Bo Outlaw, who was 20.5 SWP and 49 SvP behind.

    Time to recap the previous week in Three For All. Here are the top producers, by position:

    • Guard:
      1. Tracy McGrady 217
      2. Gary Payton 212
      3. Jerry Stackhouse 197
      4. Stephon Marbury 186
      5. Tim Hardaway 183 (5 games)
      21. Eddie Jones 121 (5 games)
    • Forward:
      1. Anthony Mason 231 (5 games)
      2. Vince Carter 217
      3. Tim Duncan 202
      4. Kevin Garnett 194 (3 games)
      5. Kenyon Martin 193
    • Center:
      1. Shaq 177 (3 games)
      2. David Robinson 167
      3. Scot Pollard 133 (3 games)
      4. Vlade Divac 126 (3 games)
      5. Brad Miller 110 (3 games)
      5. Antonio Davis 110
    Tracy McGrady led at guard for the second consecutive week. Eddie Jone battled several injuries, and finished only 21st, while Tim Hardaway was the much better 5-gamer. Anthony Mason came through at forward. And at center, David Robinson wasn't a bad choice, if you still had him available.

    Finally, a baseball note. I've updated the 4 week schedule generator with the 2001 MLB schedule. The format is the same as last year's. And if you'd prefer to have the entire season in one grid, you can get that here. (Warning - the full schedule is about 340Kb in size.)

    3/5 - It was a pretty wild weekend, with downtime being the key for both players and servers. Marcus Camby missed two games with a bad back. Shawn Marion failed to return from his injuries. Antonio McDyess sustained a dislocated kneecap, and is reported as "day-to-day". Jermaine O'Neal was benched for most of yesterday's blowout loss to the Nets. And the Small World server created some havoc on Saturday morning with performance - amidst all of these injuries - that was so sluggish that many trades just couldn't get done.

    Which is not to say that there weren't some good games. Fred Hoiberg combined for more than 100 SWP in games on Friday and Saturday. (Yes, I said Fred Hoiberg!) Gary Payton had 72.5 SWP yesterday. Kevin Garnett was one assist shy of a triple double, but still managed 66 SWP. But many teams needed a few of those big games to counterbalance Jermaine O'Neal's 10 SWP, or Antawn Jamison's 7 SWP (on zero real points).

    Speaking of downtime, there's a major blizzard trekking its way up the eastern coast, and Connecticut (home of RotoGuru World headquarters) is expecting upwards of 2 feet of snow with winds gusting to 50 mph. So if I disappear tomorrow, you can assume I've lost power and phone service.

    So, let me expand today's blurb and announce the 2001 version of RotoGuru's Market Madness Contest. The contest site is now accepting registrations. Rules and stats are updated, and although there isn't much more that can be done until the brackets are announced, you can tinker with the new scoring simulator (loaded with last year's brackets), just to refresh your memory on how the scoring works. Once the field of 64 is announced, there are only three days to get your picks assembled. So a little advance preparation - even if it's only some mental calisthenics - could serve you well next week.

    If you're looking for help in understanding the contest mechanics, please visit the message forum. You can review the discussion from last year, or engage in some new discussion. Some Gurupies now have three years of contest experience under their belts, so there should be plenty of expertise to take advantage of, even if I am knocked offline for awhile.

    3/2 - Usually, if you hold a player right up until the final game before his schedule turns weak, you lose some SW$ on those final few days, as other managers begin to jump ship early. This week's examples are guys like Iverson & Odom, who each play twice in the first three days of the trade week, but then start extended light periods. If you have enough financial cushion, and you can squeeze a few extra games out of these players (vs. the ones you plan to trade into), then it makes sense to hold out to the bitter end - especially as the season matures. But with Iverson's 27 SWP yesterday, and Odom's 18 SWP last night, the rewards for tenacity are looking pretty slim. Oh well...

    It wasn't long ago that a number of forum users were moaning about Marcus Camby. Three of his first four games after the ASB resulted in SWPs in the 20s, and his price declined by $600K. But those who had the patience to hold on are getting a nice reward now. In the past five days he's recouped most of those losses, and last night he had his second straight 60 SWP game. And other than Camby, there weren't many performances to bet excited about. Steve Francis and Clarence Weatherspoon each contributed 51.5 SWP. Eight others were in the SWP 40s, although not many of them were widely owned. If your team had a big night, you probably made a nice move in the standings.

    NBA Playoff oddities: It looks like five - and maybe even six - NBA Western Conference teams will finish the regular season at least 20 games over .500. Consequently, one or two teams at that level won't even qualify for home court advantage in the playoffs. Meanwhile, in the East, only one team - Philly - is likely to be 20 over. And it's quite possible that one Eastern qualifier will have a sub-.500 record. In the West, as many as three teams could have winning records and not even make it to postseason.

    3/1 - If you use the Hoops Assmilator, before you do anything else, read this.

    Kobe's layoff doesn't seem to have dulled his skills. He was last night's SWP leader with 57 SWP. Tracy McGrady was #1 on the Swirve list, but only 3rd in SWP with 54.5. There were a cluster of four others in the mid-50s (SWP), and another seventeen in the 40s, so I'll let you look 'em up, rather than rattling them off here.

    If you're chomping at the bit for baseball to begin, there are some changes on the horizon for some of this year's offerings:

    • Small World will be dampening the price sensitivity of pitching trades, partly as an attempt to tone done the effectiveness of the "Randro" strategy. Check out this thread for more details and discussion.

    • Swirve has completely redesigned their baseball format. Check out this thread for an introduction to the rules changes, and then review some of the other Swirve threads that have started to emerge. Although the rules may seem a bit complicated at first, I think many Gurupies will find this format intriguing.

    As I said earlier this week, I plan to update the baseball pages next week. But if you can't wait that long to start tinkering, there are already some spreadsheet tools being freely offered at the baseball forum.

    Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

    2001: 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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