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

10/31 - And they're off!

Shaquille O'Neal rewarded those who paid up for him with the top game of the night, 64.5 TSNP and 74 PSP. If he's able to do that for the rest of the week, it may turn out to be a good draft decision. However, he's bound to cost a trade next Monday, when he starts a 10 day period with only 2 games. So, if you own him now, enjoy the points - and conserve those trades!

This is probably a good time to recap the regular NBA tools available at this site. Here's the rundown:

  • Yesterday's points - lists all of the points scored in each day's games, sorted by position. You can get the list sorted for either TSN points or PSC points. If you want a quick recap of who did what yesterday, this is the best source to turn to.
  • Sortable stats - a versatile stats report that allow you no only to look at (and sort by) price, points, and averages, but also provides totals for the past 7, 15, and 30 days - as well as totals for the prior year. You can also use the projection feature to project points over any future period based on any of the listed per-game averages. Use the menu at the bottom of the table for advanced filtering or to activate the projection mode.
  • Player pages - such as this one for Shaq - provide game by game point details, price histories, and links to daily boxscores. These are good places to drill down into a player's history.
  • Sched-O-Matic - this problem allows you to "slice and dice" the schedule over any range of dates. It is particularly useful to se which teams have heavy or weak schedules over any period. Many users find this tool helpful for managing their rotisserie-style rosters as well as their TSN and PSC teams.
  • 4 week schedule generator - this program produces a convenient matrix of scheduled games over any 4 week period, including color-coded highlighting of heavy and light periods of activity. I find it very helpful to keep a relatively current printout of this next to my computer, as it's critical to be looking ahead for several weeks when planning any trades.
  • Assimilator - a roster management tool for TSN and PSC games. This is a useful place to track your team results, and to do trial roster manipulation prior to executing final trades at the game sites. IN addition to historical points (last 7 days) and the most recent price change, this program also allows you to project points over the next 14 days (or any 14 day period) using a variety of averages, and even allows you to supply your own projection average for any player.
The Sched-O-Matic and Assimilator are written in JavaScript, and require that you have scripting enabled in your browser. In addition, the Assimilator requires cookies for roster storage, and is also a bit of a memory hog, so some systems and/or browsers may be unable to use it.

Barring data problems, I try to have all of the prior day's stats updated by no later than 9am EST, and many times I have updates posted as early as 8am. Occasionally, I'll be a bit later on Saturday mornings, as that's my one day to be able to sleep in a bit. Based on site activity logs, you do so as well.

TSN price changes will usually be posted in the early afternoon, often within minutes of the update at the TSN site. Again, the sortable stats are a convenient place to review the latest price changes, whether daily (for Ultimate Hoops) or weekly (for Starting 5). The date of the reported price is shown in the price column heading of the sortable stats report.

And finally, the message forum is a good place to find out the current thinking on just about anything hoops-related. Just try to use it responsibly. If you are new to the forum, a review of the forum standards is recommended.

Links for all of the Hoops tools are found along the left menu panel as well. If you're unfamiliar with some of these tools, why not check them out? You might find some significant time-savers.

And as is always the case, please report anything that appears to be a programming glitch, or an error of any kind. A lot of these tools have been around for several years, and sometimes I forget to update some of the descriptions, or footnotes. And particularly at the beginning of any season, there is a greater possibility of data inconsistencies with prior years - so look at all data skeptically over the next few days. Double-check a few sample values before relying on them implicitly. I've done my best to ensure accuracy, but there are an awful lot of ways to sift and sort data, and I certainly haven't reviewed every possible calculation. But I promise to repair anything quickly if you bring it to my attention.

10/30 - Whenever we have a change of seasons, hope springs eternal. Here's that new opportunity to avoid all the mistakes I've made in the past. And yet, I'm constantly reminded of one of my favorite sayings, "Experiences teaches us to recognize our mistakes every time we repeat them." And so, for better or worse, we embark on another fantasy sports season.

TSN pushed back today's Hoops freeze until 5pm EST. The freeze at PSC is 7pm. So you still have a little time left to make those final roster tweaks.

Since I've had updated sortable stats available throughout the preseason, I should have no problem getting those up tomorrow morning. Ditto for the Assimilator. I'll also add the page which shows all of the point's for the past day, which may not up until late morning, as I still have a little reprogramming to do with that page. But the transition to hoops should be pretty smooth.

And if you came here looking for a pearl of wisdom to start your Hoops season - try this: Don't draft Marcus Camby.

Football Pickoff: Last night's game provided a soft landing for 60% of the entrants, as Pittsburgh easily carried the evening. That left the weekly scorecard with 150 positive scores, and 175 negative. Tops for the week was msilagy1, with 615 points on 12 correct picks, and more than 100 points better than the second best score. And in spite of a -59 score this week, SMG retained the top spot in the year-to-date standings.

No early football freezes this week. Woohoo!.

10/29 - It will be good to get the fantasy basketball season started. The World Series is in its final days, and fantasy football has been an unmitigated disaster for me this year. Hoops can't be worse. (Can it?) On second thought, forget I said that.

This would have been a remarkable week to properly differentiate. Check out this starting lineup:

 512 QB  Mark Brunell
 448 QB  Rob Johnson
 590 RB  Corey Dillon
 470 RB  Mike Alstott
 410 RB  Curtis Martin
 434 WR  Peerless Price
 432 WR  Isaac Bruce
 390 WR  Rod Smith
 216 TE  Tony Gonzalez
 250 K   John Carney
 450 D   Dallas
4602 Total
You might have had a little overlap with that roster, but not much, I'll bet - particularly at QB or Defense.

Suppose that instead, you had the "most popular" roster, determined as those players (excluding those with byes) with the largest YTD price gains: :

 229 QB  Kurt Warner
 163 QB  Donovan McNabb
 172 RB  LaDanian Tomlinson
 162 RB  Priest Holmes
 274 RB  Trung Canidate
   0 WR  Todd Pinkston
 390 WR  Rod Smith
 152 WR  Marty Booker
   0 TE  Byron Chamberlain
  80 K   Wade Richey
 190 D   San Diego
1812 Total
There is one overlap between the two - Rod Smith - although he sustained a $100K loss this week, so a number of managers bailed on him this time around. And I saw a lot of lower weekly scores than that 1812, including my own (thank largely to the Giants defense). Argh!

Picking winners wasn't much easier this week, although it wasn't nearly as tough as last week, as 42% of Football Pickoff scores are positive this week. And no one is going to reach -600 points this week, in spite of my personal valiant attempt to get there.

So, it's definitely time to assemble my various Hoops rosters. A word to the wise: even if you want to wait until tomorrow morning to make some late revisions, at least get a valid roster entered by tonight, just in case of technical problems tomorrow. It's not uncommon to have a logjam of trade activity at the last moment, and there's no reason to risk it by leaving everything until the last hour.

10/26 - Tonight's action concludes the NBA preseason. We'll then have until Tuesday morning to get our Hoops rosters prepared for the new season. When October rolled in, it was difficult to find a lot of value in the TSN player price list. But, as expected, that has changed. Yesterday, I started working on rosters for both TSN games and for PSC. Based on preseason stats, there are more cheap opportunities than I needed, and the key is to figure out which ones will carry over into the regular season. You need to be especially wary of cheapies who got a reasonable amount of PT in preseason, but who will probably spend most of the regular season collecting splinters. (Actually, they sit on cushioned chairs now, don't they?)

Do you suppose Trent Green appreciates the value of a good supporting cast? He's certainly not in St Louis any more.

One more note on Hoops. If you are looking for a free game as an alternative to (or in addition to) the Starting 5 game offered by TSN, don't forget to check out Progressive Sports Challenge. Although they don't have changing prices for players, they do offer an expanded roster of 18 players, and 5 free trades per week. The prizes are also very attractive. I recommend it.

10/25 - Now that I have my football lineups set for the week, I need to get my baseball playoff roster set. (Too bad we have to have a catcher - but I guess Casey makes sense!) Fortunately, my TSN playoff results have been so bad that I don't feel compelled to spend much time analyzing matchups. Because I also have some Hoops planning to do.

I reconfigured the player links in the Hoops sortable stats to go to I had hoped to use the Sporting News player detail, but at this point their basketball player info is not nearly as well developed as it is for football (or baseball). So, at least until it also converts to s subscription basis, rotoworld it is.

My Dirty Dozen (experts) Fantasy Basketball draft is nearing the end. It has been a good exercise for me to clarify my thoughts on a lot of players, and to see what other (so-called) experts have to say. For a look at the rosters and other draft information, visit Many of the managers have now provided a brief analytical blurb to go with each pick. I don't agree with the reasoning of all of these guys, but it is interesting to see what everyone is/was thinking, nonetheless. So far, I'm pretty happy with my opening roster, but that could change dramatically in the next few weeks, when projections give way to actual performance.

As a reminder, for Football Pickoff you only need to make your pick for tonight's game by kickoff time. You can defer your picks on the rest of the slate until Sunday. Of course, you can also elect to abstain for the week. Those who took that approach last week had a very strong score of zero - roughly the 75th percentile!

10/24 - The times, they are a changin'.

The online fantasy sports landscape continues to get smaller and more expensive. As you should know by now, TSN now only offers its flagship Hoops game for a fee. The free game offering is a stripped down version. Swirve is not offering any traditional games for hoops or hockey this season, instead offering only a very limited "pick the winner" game. And yesterday, RotoWire switched over from a free, advertising-based service to a subscription-based service, charging $59.99 per year for access to any part of their site. Chances are, now that they've gone first, other free fantasy information sites may attempt to do the same.

It's disappointing, but very understandable. Advertising can no longer solely support an internet-based enterprise. The only free sites and services that will remain free will be those that have a financial incentive which is other than making a marginal profit on the fantasy site itself. The big questions remains as to how the pay-for-service universe will shake out. Clearly, some services will have trouble surviving in that mode, which unfortunately leaves them with a Hobson's choice. But presumably, the games and services which offer the best products at the most reasonable prices will do fine.

Sad to say, but the constituencies that might get left out are teenagers and college students. Fantasy sports can provide a tremendous learning opportunity, encompassing planning and budgeting, statistical analysis, and critical thought. But fewer and fewer young people will get hooked if you have to pay to play. I'm not criticizing the decisions of game and service operators to seek a means to make ends meet. I'm just sad to see the rapid loss of a significant segment of the fantasy sports community - especially those without the local connections to put together a do-it-yourself league.

In response to the RotoWire change, I'll be recoding the player links in my sortable stats and individual player pages. I've already reset the links in the football page to go to player data at In addition, there are still other free alternatives out there, such as and But I'm sure they'll be watching this RotoWire episode very carefully. The only things in life that are certain are death, taxes, and the lack of a sustained free lunch.

And don't forget tomorrow's early football freeze.

10/23 - Four off days before the World Series. Almost like the week before the Super Bowl.

It was a remarkable weekend for Football Pickoff. Twenty-four entries scored worse than -600 points this weekend, including five in the -700s. (And another 3 just missed the cut with -599.) Last season, there was only one - yes, one - weekly score below -600, and that was a -624 in week 16 (which was a blind week last year). That makes the top scorer, StLCards1, all the more impressive, although it was a week in which simply picking underdogs was a dominating strategy.

The NBA season begins one week from today, and there are only four more days of preseason games left. Time to start planning your Hoops rosters. I'll probably have a Hoops Assimilator available later today, and it will cover both of the TSN games, plus the PSC games.

Also, there is an early football freeze again this week. Maybe the best approach is to do your football research and trading for the next 2 days, and then use the ensuing football/baseball lull to dive into Hoops. That's probably going to be my approach.

10/22 - You could have done phenomenally well with a cheap football lineup yesterday. With an entire TSN lineup of players each less than $5m (and $32.4m total), you could have produced more than 4400 TSNP! Check out this week's points for the cast of characters. And just as remarkably, you couldn't have done much better by spending more.

We have another early (Thursday) freeze this week, so don't delay too long to make your roster adjustments.

At least we get one new baseball team in the World Series this year. Now it's up to Seattle to work its magic again, or else we'll have one old team as well. Seattle did well with its back to the wall in the divisional playoffs, but last night's loss will be a tough one for them to overcome. And if the Yankees win tonight, we'll have a lot of dead time before the Series starts on Saturday.

New York sports fans will be giving their remote controls a stiff workout tonight, with the Yankees/M's and Giants/Eagles games on at the same time. Make sure you've got fresh batteries handy!

It was a tough weekend for many Football Pickoff contestants, as 7 of the top 10 teams had negative points (so far), and only 25% of this week's scores are positive. After four weeks of favoring the favorites, underdogs have come roaring back the past two weeks - so much so that a straight slate of picking consensus underdogs each week would now rank 67th overall, while a consistent set of favorite selections now has a negative cumulative result. It's a confounding game!

10/19 - The NFL was very gracious to put such gripping games opposite the MLB playoffs this week. Monday's Washington/Dallas thriller was a good start, and last night's Buffalo/Jax game continued the practice. Those four teams now have four wins combined, and two of them were in this week's head-to-head matchups.

Meanwhile, the Yankees cruised to their 5th consecutive postseason win, and in spite of many close scores, they always seem to have the games under control. You may not like the Yankees, but you have to admire their ability to "do whatever they do".

As promised, sortable stats for TSN Hoops is now up and running, You can look at either last season's points or this year's preseason games. You can drill down on any player and see individual game detail - both for the preseason, and also for last year's regular season. And the Hoops version of the sortable stats program also includes a number of useful projection features which take into account the schedules for each player. So there's plenty to dig into. Enjoy.

Progressive Sports Challenge has launched their trio of fantasy basketball games, including one which is free - and good free games are getting harder and harder to find. I'll be adding PSC scoring into the sortable stats program shortly.

Meanwhile, Swirve has decided to abandon their player-based fantasy basketball game. In its place they are producing a "pick the winner" Basketball Survival game that is unlikely to attract many (or any) Gurupies, I'm sure. They took the same approach for hockey, and if baseball and football go this route next year, then they have essentially exited the fantasy sports arena. Too bad, but understandable.

10/18 - Football freeze day. You only have until noon EST today to get your weekly rosters set for TSN and Swirve. You have until 8:30 set your roster for PSC, and to make your picks for tonight's game in Football Pickoff. (You can wait until Sunday to make your remaining Pickoff picks.)

I really do think I'll have Hoops sortable stats up later today, at least for the TSN games. PSC stats may not be ready for another day or two, since the point formula has changed in that game, and I need to do some recalculation for last season. And there's still nothing announced for Hoops at Swirve.

10/17 - In TSN's baseball playoff game, I opted not to pay up for pitching studs like Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson. I decided to go with cheaper starters in order to be able to afford steadier, better hitters. But so far, that has backfired bigtime - especially since Jamie Moyer wasn't one of my cheaper alternatives. Schilling and Johnson have put up huge games, while most pitchers have been mediocre at best. And studlier hitters have generally not stepped up to produce comparable offsets. So I think it's time to look ahead to Hoops.

In spite of the apparent lack of progress, I am getting pretty close to having sortable stats for the TSN Hoops games posted, including preseason points. Hopefully by tomorrow.

10/16 - Thank goodness there was playoff baseball last night, so we didn't have to endure the Redskins/Cowboys affair. I saw the tail end of the football game (after the final out), and it appeared to have lived up to its billing.

Congrats to Football Pickoff entrant TB, who took the weekly honors with 12 correct picks and 713 points. Consensus underdogs won half of the games, so getting the correct mix was no mean feat. Entrant SMG retained the cumulative lead, but the race tightened considerably as he took a negative score for the week.

TSN launched the free version of its Hoops game. The game is a "mini" version of the traditional game, with 5 roster slots (2G, 2F, 1C), a $30m cap, 2 trades per week, and weekly repricing. If you want to play the fuller game (10 slots, 4 trades/week, daily repricing), you need to register for the pay game (which is very reasonably priced). For more background on the reasons TSN is going this route, please see a variety of threads at the hoops message forum, as the issues have been discussed ad nauseum.

My "Dirty Dozen Experts League" fantasy basketball draft entered its 7th round this morning. So far, I'm reasonably pleased with my roster, but it does look like it will be a very competitive league. For more details and a running commentary on the draft, see this thread for the first 5 rounds and this one for more recent developments. We're getting to the point where sleeper picks could have some nice value; feel free to contribute your ideas.

10/15 - There were plenty of football points to be had this weekend, if you knew where to look for them. For the most part, I didn't.

Last week, Kurt Warner was the only QB to top 400 TSNP. This week, six QBs turned the feat, including 3 over 500 TSNP. Jeff Garcia led all producers with 639 TSNP. But alas, Kurt Warner barely topped 200 TSNP.

At the other end of many of Garcia's passes was Terrell Owens, whose 564 TSNP were the second highest for the TSN game, while his 1914 SvP led all positions in the Swirve game. (At least I had him on my Swirve team.)

Team defense was a tricky commodity this weekend, as the two top defenses faced St. Louis and Denver. Gutsy choice, if you had one of them!

So far this football season, we've had plenty of time to reflect and scout after the weekend's games, as there was no need to make any roster changes until just before the next weekend's games. But this week, there are all sorts of midweek issues:

  • Buffalo plays at Jacksonville on Thursday night, which means that all of the fantasy games have a Thursday roster freeze this week.
  • In addition to the early freeze, the Progressive Sports Challenge game has completely repriced all players, and all rosters must now be completely reselected -by Thursday at 8:30pm eastern time. I've got the new prices all loaded in the sortable stats and the Assimilator, so get busy!
Football Pickoff will use the same freeze format as in prior years. Picks for the Thursday night game will be frozen at kickoff time, but all other games will remain open for picks (or changes) until the usual time on Sunday.

If the midweek football activity doesn't keep you busy, there is always the change of series in baseball to create some needed roster movement.

And with all of the baseball and football activity, I haven't made much progress on getting basketball data posted. I'm still hoping to get the sortable stats up by Wednesday, including preseason points, but it's conceivable that this could slide until later in the week. But then, it's not like you have nothing to do in the meantime!

10/12 - If there's one team I wouldn't discount with an 0-2 deficit in a best-of-three series, it's the Yankees. Of course, that could change on Saturday.

Once again, the pitchers were generally in control, especially once Chuck Finley got past the first four batters. After that four batter outburst, only four runs were scored in the day's remaining 17 innings. Tim Hudson was the only one to top 100 SWP, as Jamie Moyer didn't (need to) go quite deep enough. On the hitting side, Oakland hitters continue to top the point rankings, with Damon and Long still ranked 1-2 among all postseason hitters. My favorite hitting pick for the playoffs was also an Oakland player - Eric Chavez. So far, he's amassed a whopping minus-6 SWP. Oh well, eight other hitters are doing even worse, including Luis Gonzalez with minus-10.

On to Hoops. Guidelines for the divisional prizes in Hoops have been posted. There will be a competition for the best division. A division's score will be the sum of the points for its top ten managers. Those ten will each receive a $50 prize, and all members of that division will win a TSN magazine subscription. So there's actually an incentive to join a strong division - maybe even a strong, large division. To that end, I've created a separate division for any and all GuruPatrons. If you have contributed to the site, you should have already received an email invitation (I don't have current email addresses for all GuruPatrons, so send me an email if you didn't get one and want to join.) Any new GuruPatrons who contribute before the start of the NBA season are also welcome to join this division. I'll have a team in it as well. There are currently more than 170 GuruPatrons, but I'm sure many won't be playing Hoops, and some (perhaps many) of them will be joining other divisions, so I have no idea how large or small this division will be. But the opportunity is there for anyone who has provided financial support. Thanks.

I will be providing sortable stats analysis for NBA preseason games, as I did last year. This can be a real help in sniffing out the early bargains, even though playing time in preseason games is not necessarily indicative of regular season expectations. You're on your own to figure out the anomalies. I doubt if I will have this available today, but I hope to have it up and running by early next week. I'll be out of town tomorrow, and then football will consume center stage for a couple of days, but you should expect preseason sortable stats to be available by next Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest, barring unforeseen complications.

10/11 - The three winning pitchers yesterday each reached 100 SWP. The closers on each of those teams earned saves. If you picked the pitchers from the winning sides, you did well yesterday.

The hitting honors went to Oakland, which outscored the other two losing teams combined by a score of 5-1. Terrance Long and Johnny Damon now lead the playoffs in total hitting SWP, even though they've each only played once.

Not much else going on right now, so I'll shut up.

10/10 - So, did any of you own the tandem of Schilling and Colon? I see from the TSN leaderboard that some teams did. Nice call! I didn't want to shell out the shillings for Curt, and I didn't have the intestinal fortitude for Colon.

Ellis Burks led all hitters, and his price was pretty reasonable, so I imagine he appears on a fair number of rosters. Not mine, unfortunately, in spite of my tribal leanings. I ended up staying away from the Cleveland/Seattle series, just to avoid any emotional entanglements with my fantasy squads.

After a one week gain, Football Pickoff doubles once again netted a loss this past weekend. The two most popular doubles were Minnesota over New Orleans, and Tennessee over Baltimore. Neither panned out. San Francisco was the only team to be totally undoubled. In fact, that's the first time this season that a team had no doubling action.

10/9 - There were several oddities in last night's MNF game. First, Marshall Faulk fumbled. He hasn't done that since 1999. Second, neither team even attempted a field goal! That must be very rare, although I have no stats to assess how unusual it actually is.

Detroit looks to be running away with the honors for the offense you'd most like to face. They haven't held an opposing defense to less than 400 TSNP yet, and the trend in moving in the wrong direction. This week offers an interesting matchup between the movable force and the resistable object, as Minnesota faces the Lions. The best week for Vikings defense so far is 105 TSNP, and they are averaging less than 60 TSNP per week. The other interesting offense/defense matchup pits Washington at Dallas. At least they can't both be 0-5 after that one.

I've been invited to participate in a 12-team "experts" fantasy basketball league this year, which is being organized by Our draft will be published round-by-round, with each team manager required to supply some analysis with each pick. The draft begins today (a "slow draft, held via email). We'll be using standard 8-category rotisserie scoring, so the results might be helpful to you if you are participating in a similar league this year. I've set up a thread at the message forum which lays out the particulars and will follow the draft as it unfolds, pick by pick. I'm also happy to hear any advice/feedback you might have. I get the 11th pick and 14th picks. If nothing else, it forces me to start thinking about Hoops now.

10/8 - And so the MLB regular season is in the record books. Bring on the playoffs! (Speaking of which, I added a Playoffs Assimilator this weekend for those who are interested.)

In football, running backs outpaced quarterbacks for a change. Although Kurt Warner has yet to play, no QB topped 400 TSNP this weekend, while four RBs turned the feat. However, the best performance of the day came from the Bears defense, which put up a monster 595 TSNP effort on 5 turnovers, 7 sacks, 3 points allowed, and a defensive TD, conjuring up images of the mid-80s.

Football Pickoff wreaked havoc for many, with the day's median score at -42. The top result came from Dusty Bottoms, who missed only one game on the day, and doubled the Arizona win for a total of 789 points, more than 200 better than the closest rival.

Finally, a note on Hoops. If you haven't been following the message forum, you may not realize that TSN will not be offering their standard Hoops game as a free game this year. If you want to play the traditional game, you'll have to pay. The price is very reasonable, and if you register today, you can save an extra $2 with the Gurupie discount, which will allow you to get 2 teams for $14, or 3 teams for $18. For more information, check out the basketball message forum.

10/5 - A lot had been made of pitchers' supposed reluctance to be known as the one who gave up the 70th home run. (Actually, surrendering #71 would seem to carry more notoriety, but I digress...) But in the case of Wilfredo Rodriguez, if he's not known for this, would he be known at all? And the same could have been said of last night's Houston starter, Dave Mlicki.

The way Bonds is going, if he gets the same kind of pitching that McGwire saw in his final series in 1998, he'll probably reach 75. Of course, with the Giants struggling for a playoff berth, he's unlikely to see such accommodating pitches.

The NL playoff picture is still fuzzy. Atlanta certainly has the upper hand in the East. Arizona needs only one win to clinch at least a tie in the West. And St. Louis can do no worse than a tie for the wild card spot. But that means that no team has yet clinched a playoff spot. The two most precarious teams are Philly and San Fran. Philly's situation is simple to understand - they must sweep, and the Braves must be swept. SF could potentially lose one more and still make it, although that would require either Arizona or Houston to be swept this weekend. And any of those six teams could still earn a one game playoff for next Monday. So if you are trying to figure out what players might get an extra game, keep your options open as much as possible.

If you are using up you remaining pitcher trades this week, Mark Mulder was yesterday's best choice, although Matt Morris was close behind. I guess it was M&M day. Mulder took maximum advantage of his 98 pitches, working 7 innings and allowing just one hit. Morris gave up 3 hits in just 6 innings, but also fanned 10. Now, could someone please tell me the best pitchers to pick up for today?

Fifteen hitters produced 40 SWP or better, headed by Matt LeCroy's 54.

In Football Pickoff, five favorites are currently listed at 80% or better. For the first three weeks of the season, underdogs are 3-5 in games that are this lopsided, so beware.

10/4 - Houston and St. Louis still are tied with the best record in the NL. And neither has yet clinched a playoff berth. In fact, if SF wins tonight, and Milwaukee beats St. Louis, then the Giants will suddenly control their own destiny, as a SF sweep over the Dodgers would assure them of no worse than a tie for the wild card slot. That's because Houston and St. Louis face off this weekend, and one of those two teams has to lose at least two games out of their final three. (And just imagine if Barry sets the home run record in his team's 163rd game. Another asterisk?)

Steve Trachsel was the best pitcher of the night by a long shot, with a complete game 2-hitter over Pittsburgh. And much to Philly's dismay, Robert Person's -69 SWP brought up the southbound end of the night's point rankings. Bud Smith (-48 SWP) game him some valiant competition, though. (Anyone notice how appropriate it is that a pitcher named "Bud" hurls for the Cardinals?)

Richie Sexson wielded the biggest stick, with 2 HRs and 5 ribbies producing 83 SWP and finally slowing the St. Louis juggernaut, in spite of J.D. Drew's pair of deep ones.

10/3 - I think I have the NL situation figured out:

  • Either Atlanta or Philly will win the east. The other team cannot get the wild card.
  • Either Houston or St. Louis will win the Central. The other has the best shot at the wild card slot, but nothing is clinched. And these two teams face each other this weekend.
  • Either Arizona or San Francisco will win the west. The loser could still get the wild card, although SF is almost out of wild card contention. And I guess that means if SF wins the division, Arizona will most likely have dropped out of the wild card race as well.
So the most likely scenario is a playoff foursome of Houston, St. Louis, one west team, and one east team. The chances are pretty good that the Houston/St. Louis series will be for seeding, rather than advancing. But youneverknow...

Sound right?

There were two complete games last night, neither from playoff contenders. Brad Radke shut down Detroit, while Bronson Arroyo pounded the final nail in the Mets' coffin. Randy Wolf continued his September mastery, allowing no earned runs in 8 innings at Atlanta - and Jose Mesa obliged with a 1-2-3 save. (Philly fans, you'd better hope the season doesn't come down to Mesa on the final day. Be very afraid!) And Randy Johnson was solid for 7 innings, although he's going to need a push from SF to get a shot at the season strikeout record, as the only way he'll start on Sunday is if the playoffs are on the line. He still needs 11 Ks, so a possible cameo relief appearance won't get the job done.

10/2 - New York's Hitchcock was Sterling last night. The Jets' rushing defense was not.

There were only four baseball games played last night, and three of them produced 3-digit SWP totals for the winning pitchers. Sterling Hitchcock had the best of the three, with a complete game victory for 144 SWP and 186 SvP. He almost outpointed Vinny Testaverde, who managed only 166 SWP(TSNP).

In Football, 49er running backs combined for more than 500 TSNP, with most of them split between Garrison Hearst (252) and Kevan Barlow (190). Hopefully, you didn't pay up for Jeff Garcia this week. He played fine, but just didn't need to throw the ball very often.

We have a new leader in Football Pickoff. Mrs Sludge 2 took over the top spot with her third solid week. Overall, Pickoff doublers managed to net a small gain this weekend, thanks mostly to Baltimore and Cleveland. It's also surprising to see how many people doubled Indy over New England. Granted, that game seemed pretty safe, but the risk/reward tradeoff was pretty lopsided.

Finally, TSN has pre-released an excel spreadsheet with prices for their upcoming Hoops games. See this thread for instructions on how to download your copy.

10/1 - Seven more days to go in the MLB regular season. And this is often one of the trickiest weeks for planning, if you're still working your team. AL teams are all playing out the string now (other than deciding the seeding for the playoffs), so playoff teams will be resting their regulars and aligning their rotations, while the rest of the teams could be doing just about anything. In the NL, there are still a number of races up for grabs, so those teams, and their opponents, will probably play things pretty straight. But the postseason outlook could very well change daily. Stay alert, if you care.

In football, if you are shaking your head over some of the TSN price changes from yesterday, you've got company. The most likely explanation is that trades from the prior two weeks were factored into the price changes, although I don't yet have any confirmation of that from TSN. (They do acknowledge, however, that something looks to be amiss.) Hopefully, we'll get an explanation. More importantly, I hope we can get some credible assurance that next week's repricing will be done with the correct data.

All of yesterday's football points were posted by mid-morning. Once again, all of my values tied out to those at the TSN site, so I think I've got good data - which is about the only thing that's good about my football prowess so far. When's basketball start?

Football Pickoff turned rather nasty for a lot of entrants this weekend. More than 60% of the day's scores were negative, even though picking a straight slate of favorites still eeked out a positive score. The top score so far is PSCommish, and he's got San Francisco for tonight - doubled. A 49er win gives him a big winning margin for the week. A Jet victory knocks him down the list at least several pegs. And did you notice who had yesterday's second best total?

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

2001: 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

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