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Smallworld Baseball - Daily blurbs from the Guru

If this is your first visit to this site, you should first stop by my home page to find out what this site is all about.


4/14 - Managing your pitching staff may turn out to be among the most difficult tasks in this game. (Just like the real game!) In Hoops, you always wanted to maximize your exposure to games played. In baseball, starting pitchers have produced single games anywhere from -173 to +219 SWP. Getting stuck with one of those big negatives can really screw up a team's scoring. But missing one of those big positives is a stiff price to pay for safety. Take the case of Bartolo Colon, for example. His first start was a 4-hit shutout, a 196 SWP masterpiece, which precipitated a buying spree last week. His second outing was a lackluster, though far from disastrous -14 SWP. He pitches again on Wednesday this week. If he fails to perform well, he'll surely be heavily dumped this week in a wave of profit taking. But if he pitches his "A" game again, he could still be bought. Colon's history has been erratic, but he's shown a lot of promise, so history would indicate that he's fully capable of delivering any SWP total between -170 and +220. For those of you who own him. . . . . and it's apparent that many do. . . . . . I have no advice today. I'll be glad to tell you on Thursday what you should have done, however.

BTW, I'm sure many of you have stopped visiting Smallworld's Hoops site, with your team having no more trades and no more future. Smallworld just announced a Hoops Playoff game. So, you might want to check it out.

4/13 - Remember in SW Hoops, how several players were characterized by high price volatility, coupled with the inability of their prices to climb to relative parity with other players of comparable point value? Names like Brian Williams, Bobby Jackson, Donyell Marshall, and Brevin Knight come to mind. The common denominator among these guys is that that their draft prices were much lower than their ultimate value, and thus they were fairly heavily drafted. Since a draft buy didn't figure into the price adjustment, it was difficult for their prices to rise, because there were fewer managers who could subsequently buy them in a trade. Whenever their values did rise, they were very susceptible to price drops, since there were always a significant number of managers looking to harvest the profits.

Well, after an initial review of prices, I think it's safe to say "They're ba-a-a-a-a-a-ck!". Although there was an announced adjustment in this game's repricing formula which took account of the percentage ownership, it is evidently slight enough that it doesn't appear to solve the issue. As a classic example, consider Todd Helton. Based on a random sampling of teams, I'd estimate he was on roughly 25% of all rosters. He was also the most heavily owned of all first basemen. Over the first ten days, he performed respectably, although not spectacularly, and we also learned that he will platoon with Greg Colbrunn, at least for awhile. So, it is reasonable to assume he had some slight sale activity, but not significant. Most of the sale activity was probably related to managers buying McGwire or Floyd, who had hot starts. So, while I believe he is still heavily owned - likely still the most heavily owned first baseman - his price dropped. And going forward, if any other first baseman gets hot and attracts buys, guess who's going to be sold more than others? You got it. Every now and then, there won't be a hot first base candidate - or maybe the hot one will be Helton - and managers will flock to him because he looks so cheap. His price will pop up, and then there will be a wave of selling. At least, that's my prediction based on what I've seen so far - and I'll admit the data is still limited.

While I'm sure all of those Helton owners are disappointed, this isn't all bad, I suppose. Players like Bobby Jackson and Brian Williams were important in hoops, because you could get good production out of them without tying up a lot of funds. You just couldn't own them in hopes of long term appreciation without disappointment. You could, however, take advantage of the price volatility from time to time. So, I think Helton will become another one of those. Other hitters in that camp are Ventura (who did actually go up, but will still be subject to a lot of future price volatility, I believe), Grieve, Piazza, Brian Jordan, and Travis Lee.

On a more mundane note, I changed the font for the column headings on the Stat reports from bold to underlined. This report still has more reformatting to undergo, but I hope this will correct the column-heading misalignment problems that several of you are experiencing.

4/12 - Some of you noticed a number of missing games from the April 10th daily point listing. For some reason, yesterday's CBS Sportsline was missing stats from several games, including the Atlanta-Philadelphia pitching duel. I imported stats from a different source to fill in the gaps, and the complete listing is now out there. Several hitters are probably a few points off, because my alternate source doesn't include sacrifices. I'll pick those up in Saturday's stats, which will be posted Sunday evening.

4/11 - The major take I have on the repricing is that any attempt to incorporate a "drift" factor failed to accomplish its objective. The drift impact, while it is perceptible, is so slight that it may take a long time to correct for some players who were notably underpriced at issue and heavily bought. More analysis will be done, but it's disappointing that a good idea has apparently failed because of the way it was applied.

4/10 (late) - Initial repricing results are in, and I must confess that some of the results are surprising. It would appear the "percentage ownership" factor (also sometimes referred to as "drift") does not seem to be as powerful as anticipated, although it seems to be evident to some degree. More analysis will be needed to dissect the results. However, here are my very preliminary assessments:

I'm glad we have a week to digest this new data before new decisions need to be made. Stay tuned for more detailed analysis.

4/10 - Hopefully, repricing will go through today. I ended up making a couple of trades, both pitchers.

Several people have reported sightings of teams with high rankings. If you'd like to scale your performance, the team ranked #3 worldwide has 1841 SW points as of this morning's report (which reflects points through games of April 5th). Before you panic, you should also know that this team has already made 36 trades! If you trade in and out of players to maximize exposure to games played, you can build up an impressive early score. But I don't think this is one team you'll need to worry about in September. Other sightings: 1344 SWP ranks 21st (with no trades), and 1233 SWP ranks 115th (w/ 1 trade), so those should give you a better indication of what the "true" market leaders are doing so far.

I'll be away for the weekend, so my updating for the next couple of days will be limited. I'll try to post daily baseball results from my laptop, but I won't update the year-to-date stats pages until Sunday evening. I don't know what I'll do about posting new prices. It may depend on how Smallworld publishes them. The SW notice indicates that you'll need to go to the "confirm buy" page in order to see the new price, which implies that the main price list might not be updated. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

4/9 - Only 24 hours left before prices reset. I don't have any trades to make this time - even the guys I own who haven't started out well have potential price upside, I think, so I'm going to hold tight. But, if you have trades to complete, my advice is not to wait until the last minute. Remember how the server crashed on Monday, when team points were first going to be released? I suspect there will be a lot of people making last minute swaps, so beware of sluggish response, and be prepared for possible downtime. And tomorrow afternoon, after prices are reset, I figure you won't be able to get within miles of the place.

My team is ranked about 25,000th as of yesterday. Without worldwide leaders posted, it's hard to figure what the leading teams must have, but I'm sure the point spreads are pretty compact right now. Team rankings in the first few weeks are about as meaningless as player stats. It will take awhile to separate the wheat from the chaff. Hopefully, by the end of the month, I'll feel more like wheat than chaff. Today, I'm definitely chaff.

4/8 - You might want to consider the early season stats in light of last season's results. The best players - both pitchers and hitters - tended to average close to 20 SWP per (eligible) game for the season. Larry Walker was the hitting leader at 22+ per 162 games, and Griffey was the only other hitter north of 20. Another four hitters averaged in the 19's. (Actually, Frank Thomas and Andres Galarraga might have also topped 20 per eligible game, but I can't recall how many games they were on the DL.) On the pitching side, Pedro Martinez probably worked out to 26+ points spread over slightly less than a full season (he started last year on the DL, as I recall). Clemens' points, spread over a full 162 games, equated to 24.4. Randy Johnson was also in the 24 ballpark (again adjusted for a short stint on the DL in late August/early Sept.) Schilling was around 20, and everyone else was lower. So, unless baseballs hop out of parks at a significantly greater pace this year - a possibility, I'll grant - you can probably regard a long term SWP/G average of 20 as a superior season.

Through 8 days this year, there are 32 hitters averaging better than 20 SWP/G, and 25 pitchers exceeding that standard. So, don't get overly enamored with any of these guys yet, because they can't maintain that pace. Less than 5% of the season games have been played so far.

David Wells managed to get a win yesterday, and still only garnered 1 SWP. He wasn't even the best pitcher named "Wells" pitching in that game, as Bob Wells booked 14 SWP for Seattle in middle relief.

Roger Clemens may have set the record yesterday for worst SWP per pitch average in a game. He threw only seven pitches, but got tagged with the loss, and ended up with -56 SWP for the game.... an average of -8 SWP per pitch. Maybe that record should only hold for a starting pitcher. A reliever could enter a game, throw one gopher ball, and get tagged with the loss. If I do the arithmetic correctly, that works out to a potential -40 SWP for one pitch. It could happen!

4/7 - Starting today, I've excluded inactive players (with zero games played) from the 1998 stats reports. There are roughly 350 of them, and removing them should improve page access speed (by a factor of about one-third), and also enhance report readability. I will continue to include inactive players who have already played at least one game, denoted by an "x" after their games played.

Fortunately, I didn't stay up to listen to the suspension of the Cleveland Oakland game (suspended at 4:00 am EST). Stats from that game are included in today's reports.

4/6 - I made one more refinement to the stat reports today. Instead of using "team games" as the denominator in SWP/G averages, I'm going to try "elig games", which will equal team games excluding those when the player was not active on the major league roster. I don't know how well I'll be able to keep this current, but I'm going to try. So, you'll notice a lot of players today show zeros for eligible games. In fact, there are 359 players (one-third of the total list) who are not currently active. While some of these are on the DL, a good many are in the minors, or retired (like me - only they're even younger!). I have denoted these with an "x" at the far right side of the reports. I got my rosters from www.majorleaguebaseball.com with updates taken from ESPN. For some teams, I may still have some ineligible players listed as eligible. If you can find 'em, point 'em out to me. (There are 23 players listed as active who have not yet appeared in a game. These are the suspicious ones.) Again, I'm counting on you to help me debug this.

In the "can they keep it up" sweepstakes (see yesterday's blurb), the score is Cleveland: 5 & still winning, McGwire: 4 & out.

4/5 - I made a change to the 1998 stats reports today. Instead of showing per game averages using a player's games played, I'm dividing by the games played by his team. This should help neutralize the differences between everyday players, part time players, and pitchers. Admittedly, it doesn't compensate for games during which a player is injured, but it's the best I can do for now. Hope this helps. A number of you have suggested it, and I think it is the most reasonable approach to use for the time being.

Which will happen first this season: Mark McGwire will fail to hit a HR in a game, or Cleveland will lose? Both are starting off very hot. I'd be happy if both went at this pace for the whole season. But not likely, I know. (And now that I've said it, both will probably fail today. Ah well....)

4/4 - OK,OK.. I was wrong about scoring for sacrifice files. They do count as 3 points. All stat pages have been corrected. (There were a total of 16 sac flies for the first three days, so it was no big deal to fix.)

The reason I know is that Smallworld posted player SWPs for the first two days. I've also discovered that they have awarded only 3 points for a run scored, rather than 5. Many hitters therefore show incorrect totals. I alerted Smallworld of the error.

I will be putting up individual player stat pages, as in basketball. Give me some time to get everything set up.

If you have a Real Audio player, I found a site that provides a schedule with links to Real Audio broadcasts of most Major League Games. I listened to most of the Tribe/Angels game last night, and occasionally surfed around to other games. Definitely cool.

4/3 - The kinks are gradually being worked out in my scoring tables. CBS Sportsline got caught up today, so I now have all stats through April 2nd. Please let me know of any apparent discrepancies. One of the biggest challenges at the beginning of the season is matching up the various versions of players' names from different sources. I'm already envisioning some irritations this season from having to deal with two each of Eduardo Perez and Pedro Martinez. I didn't start the Hoops site until early December, and by that time, I had things fairly well worked out. This time, you get to help me catch the goofs. In fact, the more you help, the quicker I'll get it right.

One question arose yesterday with regard to sacrifices. My interpretation of the scoring formula is that sacrifice hits are worth 3 SWP, but sac flies are worth nothing. This is because sac flies are usually associated with an RBI, so points would come from a different category. I asked Smallworld to confirm this last week, but received no reply, so I guess we'll figure it out after they start posting stats on their site.

One final caution, which should go without saying, but I'll say it anyways. Baseball players are notoriously streaky, and early season stats can be particularly deceptive. Remember John Valentin last year? He batted less than his own weight for the whole month of April, and then ended up outhitting Cecil Fielder's weight for the whole season. (That was Fielder's real weight, too, and not his reported 250 lbs.!) So, the best advice I can give is to be patient and let the stats begin to stabilize before making too many knee-jerk reactions.

4/2 - I have added a link for 1998 player stats. For now, the reports are formatted the same as the preseason reports. (I've retained links to the preseason reports based on 1997 stats as well.) The report format will evolve as the season progresses, but it was easiest for me to slap new data into the existing format for now. I'm using CBS Sportsline as my stats source for the time being, and they seem to be on somewhat of a staggered time lag. As of 6:00 pm EST, yesterday's earlier games were posted, but the late games were not. I'll update again once all games are included. And I'll include a note in the report heading which states how current the stats are. You can also click on the Yesterday link to see daily SWP output for each player.

If you had a good draft, there's not much to do for now anyway. Since prices won't be updated for another 8 days, there's not much point in doing any early season trading unless you drafted someone you wish you hadn't - which certainly happens. Still, unless your guy is on the DL, it probably makes sense to hold out until next Thursday before executing any early trades.

Meanwhile, I've been tinkering with the majorleaguemarket.com stock trading simulation, and I must say I'm still quite bullish on it. As a fairly new venture, there is still a good bit of programming that needs to be developed, but it is certainly functional now, and building toward critical mass. While trading activity is building, the market inefficiencies are likely to be greatest, so you might want to sign up and test it out yourself. I've seen a few familiar names on their pages already. By the way, I created an "Investment Bank" - which is comparable to a division in Smallworld - called GuruBank. If any of you want to join it so you can compare results with other Guru fans and me, drop me an email with your MLM username and I'll add you. So far, Victor Davis and I are the guinea pigs.

4/1 - I've decided it's too much work to maintain this web site so I'm going to quit. You're on your own from now on. And before you panic, think about what day this is --- other than the second day of the baseball season.

I watched the whole Cleveland-Seattle game last night, and I felt like nothing had changed from last fall. Nagy still can't avoid the big inning, Alomar is en fuego, Seattle goes out to a big early lead and the bullpen blows it, and Cleveland comes from behind to win. That's OK......another 1997 would be just fine for this Tribe fan.

I also watched a good bit of the Mets-Phillies pitchers' duel. And a few innings of the Diamondbacks game. Overdose! But it's great to be back in baseball season.

Now I'm going to need your patience for a few days while I figure out how to process stats. Did you notice that Smallworld announced that they won't be repricing until a week from Friday? Thus, I don't sense a pressing need - other than curiosity - to get stats posted immediately. In due time. I'm basically starting from scratch, so please, hang in there for few days.

3/31 - Opening Day! Starting today, when you call up this site, the baseball blurb page will come up first. If you want the basketball blurbs, you'll have to go there yourself. My sense is that most of you have lost interest in hoops by now.

I just finished my radio interview on Atlanta station WCNN. If you came to this site as a result of hearing that interview, please send me an email at davehall@home.com. And welcome aboard! (Click on the following link for an approximate transcript of the interview.

While surfing around a bit after last night's Kentucky comeback, I happened upon a MLB stock market simulation that looks to have some promise. It is majorleaguemarket.com, and it's free. The things I like about it - on the surface, at least - are that it provides a stats-based season-end settlement price for each player stock, which allows for a means to assess relative value. Also, it offers short selling, options trading, and some commodity price trading. If you're interested, check out the site. I'm going to try it out, and if I think it stands up to the "Guru test", I'll post more info.

(Some of you have previously pointed out the "Wall Street Sports" stock market simulation as well. I have been trying it for awhile, but find it falling short in several basic ways. The most critical flaw is that there is no fundamental way to value a stock. They use a "black box" approach based on stats and supply/demand, but I can't figure out an objective way to compare the relative share price of, say, Frank Thomas with that of Mark McGwire. Also, it offers no short selling, which I think is a critical need for any market simulation in which prices are based on supply/demand.)

3/30 - T-minus 1and counting! Are we psyched? You bet! My Indians are even on ESPN tomorrow night. Even if it's Randy Johnson firing at 'em, I'm there!

Make sure you've got your rosters valid by 1:00 pm EST tomorrow. Then let's see who the early season phenoms turn out to be.

3/29 - I'll squeeze a late blurb in tonight. I was preoccupied for a few hours each of the last two days helping my sons with their live drafts for ESPN baseball teams. Both went reasonably well, in spite of occasional technical difficulties. I'm pretty content with my ESPN team's draft as well, at least for now. I'm sure after a few games I'll feel compelled to start shaking things up, but at this point, I don't see any compelling trades to offer, or free agents to grab.

In addition, we had 80 degree weather all weekend here in Connecticut. Summertime! I even got out the ball and glove and threw for a few minutes. And just a week ago, we had 5 inches of snow. Wild! We've now had winter and summer in the last week; how about some spring?

I got a number of responses to my blurb from yesterday, related to the mystery pitcher and whether he should be held or replaced. Interestingly, I got responses both ways. Those who thought he should be replaced cited the uncertainty of the %-ownership impact, the lack of point production, and the potential to have to waste a trade. Those in favor of holding cited the likely price increase, a hopefully short disability, and the ability to duck quickly if things turn sour, with little price at risk. I have my own opinion, but I think I'll just let you all do what you want to do without my suggestion this time.

3/28 - If you don't check RotoNews every morning, you're missing the boat. The morning routine page that I just linked to is essential reading if you're trying to stay up to date in a reasonable amount of time. And when you're there, make sure you go to the latest MLB news page.

When I was scanning the news this morning, I noted a pitcher who reportedly may start the season on the DL. It's a pitcher who's showing up on a fair number of rosters, too - including mine. That poses a dilemma. If the price adjustment for percentage ownership is significant, then it still might make sense to keep this pitcher, because I assume he'll stay on a lot of rosters even if he starts out on the DL. Most managers won't notice - at least, not until after the season starts. On the other hand, he will be subject to a lot of dumping once everyone catches on. So any early price rise will probably be short term. Hmmm.... Want a hint? He's a closer. Now, go find him, and figure out what to do for yourselves.

I suppose I should put together a page of useful baseball links. If any of you have favorite pages to suggest, shoot them in. I won't promise to post links to them all, but I will put up a collection of the best ones.

3/27 - This "fame" thing keeps on going. As a follow-up to yesterday's NY Times article, I'm going to be interviewed on a news radio station in Atlanta next Tuesday morning - Opening Day! I'll be on WCNN 680 AM - the Tom Hughes Show - at 9:45 AM, for about 5 minutes. If any of you live in the Atlanta area and would be able to tape the local broadcast for me, let me know.

I finally drafted my team last night. Of course, I may still second guess myself before Tuesday, but I think I've got a winner. A few of you have tried to guess my team name, but so far to no avail. I think I'll wait until I appear on the worldwide leader board (I hope) and then let you guess which team is mine. Although I suppose any copycat trading would actually benefit me, I kind of like staying hidden for the time being. Adds an element of intrigue.

3/26 - If you can track down a New York Times today, check out the "Circuits" Technology section. There's an article about online fantasy baseball, and it includes a few quotes from me, as well as a picture. You can also see the story and picture at the New York Times web site (you'll first have to register, but it's free).

3/25 - It's Draft Day for my ESPN baseball league. I'm anxious to see what I have to work with.

If you want a good chuckle, read The Top 10 Signs You're a Fantasy Baseball Addict, from ESPN's archives. Any of it ring true to you? If not, this must be your first year, rookie! If any of you have suggested additions to the list, send them in and I'll consolidate and publish the best ones.

3/24 - I've been peeking around a bit at other rosters (as I know many of you have, too), just to see if I can note any themes. There appear to be a few. In fact, I see one draftee who seems to be showing up on almost 50% of all rosters. If anyone will trigger the "percentage ownership" price adjustment, this guy will.

3/23 - The season starts one week from tomorrow. I just glanced at the schedule for opening day, and noted there are 12 games that day, including Detroit at Tampa Bay. Looks more like an NFL schedule to me! Ah, well. The NCAA championship game will be Monday night, with a seamless segue into baseball the following afternoon. So much for March going out like a lamb.

3/22 - Victor Davis, who is obviously keyed up about the pending baseball season, wrote a provocative and entertaining article on draft strategies called Draft Day Cometh, which is so good I have accorded it full Base Advances status. You shouldn't finish your draft until you've read this.

3/21 - Would you all do me a quick favor? I've posted a test version of my new site, which I'd like to have you pull up. Let me know how it looks. The only links which will work right now are the three links under "General" near the bottom of the left menu.

I'm most interested in two aspects:

  1. Does the color scheme work OK? Are you able to see the links clearly on the left menu? If you're using the latest versionsof either Netscape or Internet Explorer, the left links should be bold and not underlined, which should make them easier to see. If you're using the prior versions of either, then you probably have the usual non-bold underlined links. And I have no idea what the AOL browser(s) will do to this. So let me know if there are any optical adjustments I should be considering.
  2. Do the three "General" links seem to operate properly? Can you move back and forth successfully? Does the "Friends of Smallworld" icon properly link to Smallworld's site? Again, I'm trying some new HTML techniques here, and I want to make sure everything works on all browsers.
You don't need to bookmark the new address, because that's not what it's going to be. Thanks for test driving. And email me with any comments.

3/20 - It looks like I've been slacking off on daily blurbs. When we get baseball, Hoops, and March Madness all intersecting, it's turning out to be a lot to keep up with.

Victor Davis, who has been contributing some great analysis in the feedback section, suggested yesterday that I develop some sort of player price index which measures price inflation over the coming season. I think I'll take a crack at putting something together - probably a "blue chip index" comprised of the most expensive players at each position (i.e., the most expensive roster money can buy). I'm doing some experimentation using Hoops price data - which will probably also provide good fodder for a new Hoop Pointers essay. I may also put together something which tracks the average roster value progression for the top 50 worldwide teams. If anyone has other related ideas to suggest, shoot them in. Could be fun.

I noticed today that CII/SI is offering a clone of Smallworld Baseball as its fantasy baseball game this year. Way to go, Smallworld! Your format is much more interesting than the CNN/SI basketball format was. Plus, this broadens the base for my potential constituency as well.

3/18 - The baseball feedback pages have carried a good deal of discussion about the relative day-by-day point volatility of pitchers vs. hitters. In an attempt to illustrate the likely differences, I select several players and calculated their 1997 game-by-game SWP production. Players were chosen in three categories: hitters, starting pitchers, and closers. In each category, I tried to pick out (1) the best player in 1997, (2) a player with good production, and (3) a player with a disappointing or erratic year. I didn't use any scientific basis for picking these players - just my "top of the head" recall of last year. Here's who I picked for this unscientific exercise (click on the links to see the tables):

As expected, volatility increased as a percentage of the average as player perforance declined. On an absolute basis, though, a trend in volatility is not evident, at least not in this small sample. Pitchers do show more game by game volatility than do hitters. Notice the propensity for pitchers - even good ones - to have occasional "big negative" games. Hitters will have negative games more freqnetly, but they will be mild, since at bats are worth just -1 SWP. In my small sample, closers seem to have proportionately more volatility than starters, but this is quite possibly due to the guys I picked. However, since a save is worth 40 SWP, and closers tend not to face many batters per outing, blown saves really do induce significant point swings - especially if a loss also results.

That data is a bit unwieldy, but I thought it was at least illustrative of what we might expect this season. I'll leave it to you to suggest what the strategic implications might be.

3/17 - Someone noted in a recent feedback item that the total number of price changes for the full baseball season will be equivialent to the number of Hoops changes over a five week period. I realize that the comparison is probably not valid, but after five weeks of Hoops "2nd Chance League" activity, the average roster value of those teams had just "matured" at about $67,000,000 - where it remains today. After 26 pricing cycles, my Talaxian team was already worth a cool $127,000,000; it had reached the $100,000,000 mark on December 1st, after just 14 repricings. I'm not sure what the interpretation should be, because I expect the number of trades per cycle will be much greater for baseball, so that average price changes per cycle will also be higher. But, it didn't take long to amass a nice lode in Hoops, and I expect baseball roster values will find a way to increase faster than one might expect, in spite of the apparently smaller number of gain opportunities.

I put in some time last night on my baseball draft, the first time I've focused for more than a few moments. I'll have to say that there seem to be more opportunities than there are roster slots available. It's going to be tough to narrow down the list to only 14. Spring training stats may help me make some choices, although spring training performances are often deceiving. (No, I'm not going to post spring training stats - look 'em up yourselves!)

3/15 - One of my favorite sayings goes something like: "If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. But if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime." I think that epitomizes my approach to this web site in general, and to the baseball draft in particular. If I were to suggest cheap players, or post dream teams, or do anything that tells you which players you should draft, I might provide you with a good team to open the season, but you wouldn't necessarily know how to follow through. However, if I help you by pointing out ways to identify attractive players, but stopping short of "giving" away their names, then I've not only helped you by letting you figure out who to draft, but you probably also feel a lot better about it because your team is really YOUR team.

I hope you're following the chain of feedback letters that I've been posting over the last few days, because I think they will give you some helpful ideas on how to pick your initial roster. In a sense, they are a critical part of the "fishing lessons" offered at this site.

Meanwhile, while you're all working on your baseball drafts, I'm starting to redesign the layout of my website in anticipation of a move to a new server and new address. In particular, I will probably abandon the frames format in favor of a similar non-frames look. If you have seen any other site on the web that you thought was particularly well organized, please send me the URL so I can check it out.

3/13 - Some of you have asked whether I could set up some Smallworld divisions for Guru fans. Actually, I can't, but if you want to compete with other Guru-ites, let me suggest that you either set up a new division whose name starts with Guru (which will make it easy for others to find), or join an established Guru- division (if some have vacancies). I note that, without prompting, there is already one Guru division formed and filled. (No, I'm not in it!) There's also a second one started, but I see it's password protected, so unless the password is obvious (and it might be), you may be out of luck for that one. Once some new divisions have been started, those of you who have already joined an existing division can then switch to a Guru division if you wish. Bear in mind, though, that this is not going to be like the 2nd Chance League; I'm not offering any special tracking service, just providing a way for all of you to find each other and compete against the cream of the crop!

3/12 - Sorry to be AWOL yesterday. Processing and setting up the March Madness Contest has commanded center stage. If you've emailed me recently about baseball, I'll get to you within a few days. Be patient. It's Spring Training, after all.

3/10 - I posted several new feedback letters today, and I've still got more in the email hopper for later in the week. I'm still trying to assess the best way to report SWP averages during the season, and while several have suggested SWP/week as a good measure, I'm not yet convinced. I may need to fumble around a bit early in the year in search of something sensible. Of course, early season stats tend to lie, so it may take longer than a few weeks to figure out the best approach.

3/9 - The RotoNews server seems to be down as of this morning, so if you're having trouble accessing the preseason stat reports today, you're not alone. Hopefully, the situation will be cured before long.

My emailbox has been filling fast of late, with feedback on Smallworld Hoops, March Madness Contest Entries, and a lot of preseason baseball feedback. Please be patient this week - I'll get around to responding to all of it, and posting the best of it, but I'm swamped right now. There's plenty of time until baseball season begins, so that's the stuff to backburner. I will, however, try to quickly fix any errors you detect in the preseason stat reports.

Let me clarify my position on baseball recommendations. I will not post any material which promotes any specific player. Many of you have asked me specific questions about my thoughts on this player or that, and that's not what this site is about. This site tries to provide a statistical framework, and tips on strategic approach. It is not a forum for picking players. That's your jobs.

3/7 - The baseball portion of this site has only been up for about 12 hours, and already I've gotten some feedback. Must be that many of you have that "spring fever" virus that's going around these days.

Thanks to Victor Davis for voluntarily screening through my SWP totals based on 1997 stats, and catching a few glitches. Some of my data came from ESPN's site, where players were listed only by last name and first initial. This produced some confusion between players like Randy and Rodney Myers, or Shawn and Scarborough Green. I had caught most of these in advance, but Victor found a few more, for which I am grateful. If any of the rest of you notice other errors, please report them to me. Hopefully, the database will be fully scrubbed shortly.

And check the baseball feedback section, too, which is already starting to show life.

3/6 - Baseball is just around the corner. I know many of you have already started drafting your 1998 team. Smallworld reports that over 20,000 managers have registered so far!

Today marks the introduction of the baseball section of this site. I have a brief "Base Advances" article, A New Ballgame, discussing some of the changes in Smallworld Baseball format, along with some of the implications on strategy. Next, I've got preseason stats galore, where you can evaluate this year's draft prices in relation to Smallworld Points based on each player's 1997 stats. And, I've got a spot reserved for your feedback. As the season develops, you can expect the same type of stats and features that made my introductory foray into fantasy hoops strategy such a success.

You will note that I've provided direct links from each player's name to his corresponding page at RotoNews. In fact, Rotonews has graciously agreed to provide server space for my site beginning this month. While I haven't yet fully moved, I have started using some of their disk space. Later in the month, once I've got my site redesigned, I'll be announcing the movement of the site to brand new URL. Once that occurs, you'll no longer have to deal with that annoying pop-up screen from Tripod. Woohoo! Instead, my site will be "decorated" with banners and other advertising supplied by Rotonews. Even so, I will be remaining independent - that is, I am not being employed by Rotonews. In return for posting their supplied ads, though, I will be generating some modest revenue for Guru Fantasy Sports, so once I've relocated, I'll be asking you to help support the advertisers on my pages.

In an attempt to avoid producing information which results in many managers drafting the same players, here are my preseason ground rules:

I've tried to test all the various links and pages to make sure everything's working properly. But if you find a goof, please report it to me.

That's it. Play Ball!


Guru Fantasy Sports 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<davehall@home.com>.