Who am I?

I'm from Houston, a graduate of the University of Texas, a fan of the Houston Astros and Houston Texans. But this blog will be about the "greater sports", whatever that means.

Follow me on Twitter: @lhd_on_sports

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LHD_PotW (295) MLB (115) NFL (110) NCAA (98) NBA (50) NFL Playoffs (47) NHL (41)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Why the BCS has failed

It's not for the reasons you think. Which are in rough order:

1) Isn't the best way to decide a National Champion
2) Is subjective, not objective
3) Isn't fair to teams in smaller conferences
4) Rewards teams for softer schedules
5) Doesn't maximize NCAA revenue

Actually most of those are true, but that's not my premise.

The problem is, it was thought the BCS would tidy up a small loophole in which sometimes the top two teams wouldn't play each other, this would make it happen. That's all it was supposed to do. It wasn't supposed to be a playoff. It wasn't supposed to redefine the way the college season was played out, but it did. All of the sudden, the emphasis in college football didn't become "win your conference", it became "win your conference and hope other teams lose and argue against smaller conferences and if you lose, hope your loss is better...". And college football is the worse for it.

One unintended consequence is that the non title BCS games are rendered meaningless. For a few reasons. One is that there is no identity for each. You don't get the same conference champ in each one, half the time that champ goes to the BCS title game. It's not the same (not even close) to have a runner up represent that conference in the title game (i.e. Illinois against USC that one year). It makes it where the SEC champion DOESN'T want to go to the Sugar Bowl, because they failed. If you make the Sugar Bowl out of the SEC, it's because you FAILED in the SEC title game. The Big XII champ has NO desire to make the Fiesta Bowl, because that means they aren't playing for anything. The Big 10/Pac 10 champs the same. Yes, they love the tradition. But if Ohio State's goal coming into the year is to play in the Rose Bowl, then their sadly undershooting.

So a playoff is the next step, right? I argue no. It just extends the same issues. There's subjective criteria, conference titles become secondary to defensible playoff position, you still have the same debates (i.e. this year, does 11-1 Boise make it ahead of 10-2 Arkansas?). And bowl ties are meaningless as they are now.

I'm here to say, the OLD system should be restored post haste. Tie the conferences to their bowl. Invite good unaffiliated teams as opponents. It would work out. Trust me. Here's the framework (bowl, champs):

Rose: Pac 10 vs. Big 10 period
Cotton: Big XII
Fiesta: All At large
Sugar: SEC
Orange: ACC

Big East gets a berth but as an At Large or opponent. Assuming favorites tomorrow, this is how it would look this year:

Rose: Oregon vs. Wisconsin
Cotton: Oklahoma vs. Ohio State
Fiesta: Boise State vs. Stanford
Sugar: Auburn vs. TCU
Orange: Virginia Tech vs. Arkansas

Suddenly both the Sugar and Rose are in play. The Cotton is darn interesting, Fiesta ain't bad (on par with current non-BCS title bowls). Tradition is maintained and lots of debate.

Last year would look like:

Rose: Oregon vs. Ohio State
Cotton: Texas vs. TCU
Fiesta: Cincinnati vs. Florida
Sugar: Alabama vs. Boise State
Orange: Georgia Tech vs. Iowa

So you reshuffle two games, but makes two games of interest suddenly, the same quantity of teams will be undefeated, and if Texas and Alabama both win, perhaps split title, but bragging rights for the ages for sure.

What you sacrifice is the occasional 1997 scenario where Nebraska and Michigan are darn good but don't get to play. What you don't get is all or nothing that TCU has played the last two years, and Boise last year. All are still in the mix through the bowl games under this scenario. Admittedly, Texas vs. Alabama may not have happened. But in some ways, it didn't really happen as intended anyway with the Colt injury.

It's a trade off. Some years like 2005, things wouldn't have been as good without the BCS. But most years and overall, it gives all teams one goal...win the conference, go to YOUR bowl, win that, and see what happens.

I'd even entertain a "plus one" at that point. Go through the traditional bowls, take the two best winners by heritage rank and quality of opponent defeated, then "Let's get it on".

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Blog Status

Contrary to popular belief, this blog is not dead. I'm just a busy guy who waits for inspiration to flow my thoughts. Why this is not good for enticing and retaining regular readers I apologize. I do, however, promise semi-regular (some might say semi-annual) thoughts to come. I still owe the crowd the top 40% of pro sports franchises, some thoughts on NFL and MLB playoffs, and maybe some NHL discussion. And perhaps a blog explaining why I will not watch one minute of NBA action this year (**cough** waste of time **cough**).

I appreciate your patience!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

10 Things to watch for this College Football Season

For those of you familiar with me or that read my second post on this blog, you'll know I'm a huge college football fan. Although I list six sports as top tier, College Football is clearly the #1. I'll watch Ball State play Eastern Michigan on a Tuesday night if ESPNU has it on. I think there should be 50 bowl games, just so I can see more. I thought I'd offer a random assortment of thoughts and predictions in no particular order, just numbered 1 - 20.

1) Conference champion predictions:
ACC: Virginia Tech (d. FSU in title game)
Big 12: Texas (d. Nebraska)
Big East: Pittsburgh
Big 10: Iowa
Conference USA: Houston (d. East Carolina)
Mid-American: Ohio (d. CMU)
Mountain West: TCU
Pac 10: Stanford
SEC: Florida (d. Alabama)
Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee
WAC: Boise State



2) Sleeper per conference (teams well outside Top 25 that could crash BCS):
ACC: NC State
Big 12: Texas A&M
Big East: UConn
Big 10: Michigan State
Conference USA: SMU
Mid-American: Western Michigan
Mountain West: Wyoming
Pac 10: UCLA
SEC: Auburn
Sun Belt: North Texas
WAC: Louisiana Tech

Calling Auburn a sleeper is kinda weak, but so many SEC teams are ranked and I don't like the ones who aren't. Obviously the non-AQ conference teams won't really crash the BCS, but they might win their conference instead of the above.

3) Most overrated team per BCS-AQ conference (AP Rank in parens)
ACC: Georgia Tech (16)
Big 12: Nebraska (8)
Big East: Cincinnati (26)
Big 10: Ohio State (2)
Pac 10: USC (14)
SEC: LSU (21)

It's hard to call "overrated" teams from the non-AQ conferences, only reason I omitted them. Nebraska's going to miss Suh more than they think (still have a very suspect offense) and Ohio State has a very tough schedule and I'm not convinced Pryor can play as consistent as people think. Same was said about Vince Young his Jr. year, so I may be eating crow.

4) Top 10 of the non-AQ conferences
1) Houston
2) Boise State
3) TCU
4) BYU
5) Notre Dame
6) Utah
7) Navy
8) SMU
9) Wyoming
10) Air Force

5) Top 5 players
1) Ryan Williams - Virginia Tech
2) Ryan Mallett - Arkansas
3) Mark Ingram - Alabama
4) John Clay - Wisconsin
5) Jake Locker - Washington

Note, this is not a Heisman list, the best player and Heisman winner literally have nothing to do with each other in today's media environment.

Take a look at Ryan Williams vs. Mark Ingram vs. John Clay 2009 stats:
Name Rushes,Yards,Avg,TD,Fumbles
Williams 293-1655-5.6-21-0
Ingram 271-1658-6.1-17-0 (also 3 receiving TD's and 300 more yards)
Clay 287-1517-5.3-18-0

Comparable, other things to consider, Ingram had more talent around him, but also left games earlier and faced tougher defenses while having Richardson take some of the series to keep him rested (hurting stats). Ingram had 6 games over 120 yards to Clay's and Williams' 7.

6) Conference Ranks
1) SEC
2) Big East
3) ACC
4) Pac 10
5) Big 10
6) Big 12
7) MWC
8) CUSA
9) WAC
10) Sun Belt
11) MAC

This year more than previous, the SEC is stronger relative to other conferences. The Big 12 and Big 10 have three or four great teams, then 7 or so really really soft teams. The ACC and Pac 10 are very deep, but lack star quality. I put the Big East at #2 behind the SEC, being shallow there are no really soft teams besides Syracuse and maybe Louisville and the top 6 are all dangerous. It's quality over quantity. The MWC might push the Big 10 and Big 12, but lack the quality 1-3 that those conferences have.

7) Top 5 games in terms of implications
1) Texas vs. Oklahoma (Dallas) - October 2
2) Boise State vs. Virginia Tech (Fed Ex) - September 6
3) Ohio State at Iowa - November 20
4) Alabama at Arkansas - September 25
5) Virginia Tech at Miami - November 20

8) Top 5 games in terms of intrigue/strength of matchup
1) Florida at Alabama - October 2
2) Texas vs. Oklahoma (Dallas) - October 2
3) Texas at Nebraska - October 16
4) Florida State at Miami - October 9
5) Miami at Ohio State - September 11

9) Random predictions
Notre Dame goes about .500, LSU may finish under .500 (Les Miles gets canned), so does Oklahoma State (Gundy gets sacked, then they hire Miles back), this really is Joe Paterno's last season, same with Spurrier, same with Friedgen, Michigan goes about 8-4, Off year for the non-AQ conferences, none crack the BCS, Alabama loses more than 2 games, UCLA d. USC, BC LB Mark Herzlich gets invited to the Heisman ceremony, Baylor and Duke go to bowl games (hey, why not).

10) BCS Bowl Matchups
BCS Title Game: Pittsburgh d. Iowa. These two teams have the best balance of talent, no conference title game, all tough games at home. Except intriguing OOC games, where Pitt goes to Utah (as underdogs day one of the season) and Iowa goes to Arizona.

Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Oklahoma
Fiesta Bowl: Texas vs. Miami
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Georgia
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Stanford

Monday, August 16, 2010

The 10 commandments of watching a game in person

At least according to me. There are certain habits that no matter what event you're at, are just common courtesy and common decency.

I will say that all have the counter-argument "I paid my money, I have a right". That is true. But being a fan is more than just exercising your rights. It's about sports, enjoying sports, and having a good time, and when you violate my 10 commandments, you infringe upon others' rights to do the same.

1) Avoid using profanity. I know it's tempting to call that overpaid SOB a s##tbag and tell him that you're not fond of his mother (or insinuate you had relations with her), particularly when he strikes out with the bases loaded or misses a tackle or misses an open jumper. Refrain. If he's one of your guys, he's one of your guys. Heckling the other guys can be part of it, but be clean and creative (think Duke fans). There are kids and families around. He can't hear you anyway, you're just venting frustration and you're better than that.

2) Only take or leave your seat during breaks in action. This is championed in hockey with the ushers and the hand-held "stop" sign, but it's not that hard to stand behind your seat in the concourse, or in case of a long aisle, squat in the aisle until it is between football plays, between batters, or a free throw. Hockey is the hardest, action can go for minutes. But it's a small price to pay, and you'll get more respect from your fellow fans rather than making them stand and missing a long pass or big 3 pointer.

3) When in Rome, do as the Romans do...when standing. Don't be the person who is the only one standing when everyone else is sitting. Don't be the person who is sitting and asking others to sit when all are standing. I know you paid for a seat and the right to sit and watch, but in college football for instance, you're not going to get everyone to sit, just go along. And if you're the only one standing, you're probably drunk.

4) If you're smack dab in the middle of a row and have to exit, choose one way out, and the other way back in. That way you don't inconvenience the fans in the row behind you twice (the standing folks can see the action while standing both times)

5) Bring cash for the concessions. That commercial where everyone swipes the card and the line moves faster is BS. I've been in a beer line with 4 people and each credit transaction takes 90 seconds costing me a half inning. Same line with people with $10's gets done in 90 seconds total. True story, I was at a game in which Bonds was going for HR 714, I left with 5 batters before he was due, they rallied and he was on deck as the guy in front of me was trying to pay, but the cashier couldn't get his card to work. I just about threw two 20's at her and ran, I'm sitting there for BS while almost missing history.

6) Mind the spillage. Keep that tall drink in your hands at all times (both hands). If you spill, instantly warn the fans in front of you to remove their personal effects from the floor. Get napkins if necessary. It sucks to have someone's drink flow over your purse or bag.

7) If you're a road fan, don't flaunt it. It's okay to cheer for your team, but turning and taunting or trying to prove some point by cheering every smallest thing is bush league. If I'm watching my team on the road and they score a TD. I stand, I clap, I make no eye contact with other fans. I DON'T say "Oh yeah, baby, that's right. D-money-jonesey, you the man, we got this baby, that's right, rah rah team". Stand, clap, high 5, sit down.

8) In step with Commandment #7, it never hurts to befriend nearby fans of the other team. Just talk X's and O's. Don't say "We're going to kick your a$$". Say "this is going to be a good game, I think we have a good team, you're team should be ready to play" or "I like your RB, I can't wait to see if he is able to run on our defense". "I heard this pitcher is good, will be a tough matchup for our hitters". I had a great experience at the BCS title game with some Alabama fans just by talking sensibly and respectfully and it made it better for everyone. In return I got "wow, Texas fans are nice, nothing like LSU or Tennessee fans". I guarantee you Texas fans can be the worst, but I just put forward our best face.

9) When you lose, you lose. Speak softly and walk away. It's just a game. Insulting the other teams star player for his paternity suit, or the other team's university for it's locale is bush league. Hey, they won, you lost. That's why you play. Silence is golden.

10) Have fun. Seems easy, but I think we've all been to a game where someone just seemed to complain about everything (it's too hot, I can't see, the concessions are too expensive, that SOB sucks, our team sucks, I can't believe tickets cost this much). Hey, you chose to be there, enjoy the game.

I'm not perfect, I've used profanity and insulted a dad and kid (Sirron remembers), I've spilled my mixed drink on the ground (okay, kid next to me kicked it) and didn't warn the people in front of me before her purse was drenched in Beamy Coke. I've been with a group who hurled insults so heavy, a nice lady in front of us tore out of the row near tears. I've been at games that by the end the whole experience was miserable, I've insulted College Station after a tough loss.

Following the above 10 isn't easy, but worth it in the end.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

MLB GM 101

I don't pretend to think it's easy, but there are certain mistakes an MLB GM makes time and time again, and it's not hard to avoid them.

First of all a disclaimer. You cannot count the Cashman, Epstein, and Hendry's in this. It's like sending my wife off on a shopping contest against Paris Hilton, Kelly Osborne, and J-Lo. Given all their means to come up with an outfit, perhaps one piece my wife might find at Kohls can resemble what they can find on Rodeo, but day after day, outfit after outfit, she will be outmatched.

But, she also doesn't need to just wander into Niemann Marcus and pay whatever to compete. Some tips (back to baseball).

1) Never ever overpay for a one to two year successful pitcher, particularly over the age of 28.

Examples: Randy Wolf (MIL), Woody Williams (HOU), Jeff Suppan (MIL), Chan Ho Park (TEX), Vincente Padilla (TEX), Carl Pavano (NYY). That just off the top of my head. How it worked out:

Wolf: Two seasons of 10+ wins in six years (only one of those over .500). Brewers sign him 3 years, $27.8M, another $1.5M to buyout 2013 at 33 or pay $10M.
Williams: At least 3 of last 4 years he had 10+ wins and winning record. But at 39, Astros give him $6M to go 8-15 with a 5.27.
Suppan: Only once in his career had an under 4.00 ERA, never gave up fewer hits than innings. Brewers at 32 pay him $40M over 4 years, shockingly ERA never goes under 4.00 and still never gives up fewer hits than IP.
Park: Okay 5 straight years of 13 or more wins, 11 or fewer losses, 4 with an ERA under 4.00. But it's in LA, not Arlington. Rangers pay $48M over 3 years at 29 to win 14 games and an ERA healthily over 5.00 all years.
Padilla: Two decent years over .500 with an ERA under 4.00 but it had been over 2 years when he won 16 games for Texas (ERA a pedestrian 4.50) and the Rangers re-sign him to $32M over 3 years at 29 (he did win 43 games)
Pavano: Two winning seasons ever (2000, 2004) most ERA's north of 5.00. Yanks sign him 4 years, $38M at 28.

2) The Japan market is tapped. Fukodome, Matsui (Hideki and Kazuo), Okajima, etc. all are never going to be Hideo Nomo nor Ichiro Suzuki. Yet we get year after year some GM (okay, mostly the above 3 free spenders) bring one in and spend a ton of money and get nothing. I'm not even bringing in Irabu.

3) Pay any player more than $15M per year at your own risk. Here's a hint, the chance for him to perform at a level to earn that is slim. In my estimation, there are about 4 players that will give you returns on that, their names are Pujols, Howard, A-Rod (slipping), and Morneau. Maybe Votto the way he's playing. Yet, you see a lot of Carlos Lee's, Jason Bay's, Carlos Beltran's, JD Drew's, Alfonso Soriano's, Derrek Lee's, and Kosuke Fukodome's. making that (ganging up on the Cubs there). Take the $18M, and get about 8 decent players (2 starters, 2 relievers, 4 end of bench guys) and see how it works out.

4) Draft well. I mean smartly. Balance college kids (fully developed physically) with high school kids (more of a wild card). It's not like Strasburg was a huge HS prospect, he developed, so don't tell me you can't find talent in college. Then there's the Purke (TCU) and Stubbs (Texas) who get drafted high out of HS but don't sign. Mix in some good HS talent and you'll do well.

5) Don't let signability sway your draft. I'm not saying pay what they want, but talent is talent and what's a few million dollars between friends. Don't sign the above pitchers and you can afford it.

6) Scout Latin America like crazy. Spend the money, find talent there, you don't have to draft it, and you can hit on about 10% and find a gold nugget.

7) Sign free agents that are <$5M and have an upside. Example Brett Myers this year. $3.1M this year, only 29. Never won fewer than 10 games with 30 starts. Same with position players. Find someone who can play 100 games and pitch hit for $3M.

8) Never overpay a closer. The other 24 guys have to get you in position to close and it's still random. Just rotate through guys who have good stuff, and when they demand more than $3M, make do with someone else. Someone like Rivera is an exception, again, with an unlimited budget you'd be stupid not to sign him. But the Angels and Rays and Braves have to find someone new every year.

9) Never be fooled by a postseason. Beltran 2004, Upton 2008, Mazeroski 1960, Hatcher 1990, prove that one postseason doth not make a star. It's as if one player had a hot 2 weeks (we've seen it from guys like Ty Wigginton and Juan Uribe midseason) and all of the sudden someone wants to throw $10M per at them.

10) Never overpay market value to re-sign resident talent. You have to let the Delmon Young, Adam Dunn, and Francisco Rodriguez's go. Trust me, you'll find yourself succeeding without them.

Follow those examples and I'm not promising post-season every year, but you'll put together a decent team every 3 or 4 years, then lose all your free agent talent to the Yankees and start over. But the White Sox and Cardinals have won as many World Series since 2000 as the Yankees and they just about never go out and just buy talent. Not to mention the Astros and Rockies and Rays have made World Series with minimal FA contribution.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

So what changed?

Before I delve into the mid-summer classic, I thought I'd give credit where credit is due. Fox Sports seems to have taken the cue that sports fans like sports and not distractions. I decided to take notes on how often Fox broke away from game coverage to cover:
1) Free Agent chat
2) Interviews with players who were replaced
3) Manager/coach interviews
4) Stars of TV shows on Fox
5) Analysis of LeBron

And frankly, I didn't fill up a page:
7:48p CDT First Pitch
8:23p - A brief and misplaced discussion of Andy Pettitte's children was commenced at which point there was a groundout to SS (with the go ahead run on base) to end an inning but they couldn't call it b/c of the non-play discussion. Just seemed pointless.
8:27p - A brief player microphone feature of Pettitte and Mauer getting together on pitches. Seriously, every catcher and pitcher in the All Star game do this.
8:35p - Interview with Girardi. Here we go, cue the parade of dugout interviews instead of the action. If my notes are to be believed it was during an Ichiro AB. Was pleased that it was brief, touched on Steinbrenner, and wasn't the usual "Pitcher needs to throw more strikes, batter needs to pick out his pitches, we need to shut down their running game" coach speak.

I showed no more meaningless chatter until Adrian Gonzalez batted at 9:22, but they sprinkled in positive praise of the Padres w/o missing the action and I thought it was well done.

9:43p - Jeter dugout interview (with non-coincidental Gatorade towel prominently displayed), were bailed out by Rolen having a long AB. It was this AB that I believe started the rally. Good thing they didn't drone on too long.

I'll let alone that every single one of the distractions involved Yankees and call that coincidence. Nobody asked about Josh Johnson's kids, nobody showed the footage of Molina talking over pitches with Jimenez, nobody asked Hanley Ramirez his thoughts on the game when he was removed.

But on to the main course. For some reason, everyone with a platform is declaring "shenanigans" that the All Star game as mismanaged. As if this hasn't happened in every game since 1985. Did something change? Is it b/c the AL lost and Ortiz was embarrassed on the basepaths? Funny, when the AL won they were praised for their intensity level at which they played. When the NL wins, the coach gets blamed. Little credit to Byrd for the throw, little discussion of Rolen's 1st to 3rd on Hunter. Little discussion of the litany of gold gloves in the field in the 9th for the NL (Bourn, AdGon, Rolen). It was these same things that won the game for the AL year after year. That and Rivera (while the NL tried to roll out soft throwers like Hoffman and Beck and Doug Jones).

But tons of articles decrying the travesty that was the coaching (even though it has been the coaching for 25 years):
Jim Caple - ESPN
Blair Johnson/Steve Henson - Yahoo
Joe Sheehan - CNNSI
Joe Paul Morosi - Fox Sports

I can't say I disagree. I also have in my notes that Albert Pujols left the game at 8:40p, and by 9:02p, the first half inning occurred where Buck had to spend 3 or more pitches reviewing all the changes. So our fan voted All Stars got all of about 74 minutes of action, the other 100+ were players like John Buck, Michael Bourn, Chris Young, Matt Capps, Nick Swisher, Phil Hughes, Matt Thornton, Marlon Byrd. You know, all those players that every kid wants their jersey. Meanwhile, Pujols, Jeter, Mauer, Ichiro, Vlad, Longoria, Howard were all sipping their postgame ice tea taking in the action.

If you want to fix the game, go back to 30 player rosters, every starter goes the distance unless situation calls for a switch. You're talking lefty/righty, pinch runner, use Bourn for defense, double switch in a key hitter in an inning you need runs. Baseball. I would actually say that the NL should have taken 3 catchers. Right the fans wrong of voting in Molina by replacing him in the 2nd inning with McCann and still have Olivo to play.

As for those gameday injuries that seem to have kept A-Rod out, how about having an actual All Star Roster of 34 players, but declaring 4 as inactive right before gametime. They are still on the team, but the dinged up Beltre's and A-Rods and pitchers who aren't going to go can be designated unavailable.

One final note, it's near impossible to find a roster of the final all stars. All are some sort of interim version, and even the final there are so many symbols next to them, I don't know who played and who didn't? This guy was hurt and replaced, this guy was a replacement, this guy was picked but is now a starter, this guy started on Sunday and can't pitch, this guy replaced a guy who started on Sunday and can't pitch, etc.

Pick 34, replace the known injured players (Tulo, Pedroia, etc.) then come gameday, activate 30.

And play the best players. If everyone agrees, then nobody gets their feelings hurt that they didn't play. It's not that I didn't get to play, it's that my name is Marlon Byrd and I play on a team with Ethier, Braun, and Hart in the OF and they're just better. Well, except for Hart.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The way the 2010 All Star game SHOULD be

As promised in an earlier blog, I will now offer how I would set up the all star teams if:

1) Fan voting only got you a roster spot, not a starting spot
2) Rosters are set to be competitive first, reward good 1st half play second
3) All teams must still be represented

As we all know, the voting for each league went like:

NL: Molina, Pujols, Utley, Ramirez, Wright, Braun, Ethier, Heyward
AL: Mauer, Morneau, Cano, Jeter, Longoria, Hamilton, Ichiro, Crawford, Vlad

Utley is most definitely out of the game, maybe Morneau. Heyward appears to be in, so we'll play it like he and Justin are in.

I'm going to cap the rosters at 30 instead of 34. I'm going to play it like a real game, so I don't need the four extras. So that's 21 more AL and 22 more NL after the starters. This allows 2-deep at the 9 positions (including DH) and 12 pitchers.

I would add the following to the AL roster (bold means they are on actual team)
C: Victor Martinez (.289/9/38) to be replaced by John Buck (.273/13/31)
1B: Miguel Cabrera (.346/21/74)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (.292/12/41) to be replaced by Ian Kinsler (.312/3/29)
SS: Elvis Andrus (.284/23SB)
3B: Adrian Beltre (.332/13/55)
OF: Nick Markakis (.308/5/30)
OF: Alex Rios (.306/14/47)
OF: Torii Hunter (.301/15/62)
DH: Kevin Youkilis (.294/18/57)

And for the NL:
C: Miguel Olivo (.317/11/41)
1B: Joey Votto (.315/22/60)
2B: Martin Prado (.332/10/39) (replaces Chase Utley)
2B: Kelly Johnson (.273/14/43)
SS: Rafael Furcal (.335/48R/15SB)
3B: Scott Rolen (.292/17/57)
OF: Carlos Gonzalez (.312/16/57)
OF: Matt Kemp (.264/16/50)
OF: Corey Hart (.280/20/63)
DH: Ryan Howard (.299/17/65)
DH: Adam Dunn (.285/22/58)

As for pitchers, 12 each team
AL:
SP: John Lester (2.78, 11W, 124K)
SP: David Price (2.42, 12W)
SP: Cliff Lee (2.34, 8W, 5CG, 6BB)
SP: Jered Weaver (2.97, 8W, 130K)
SP: Andy Pettitte (2.70, 11W)
SP: CC Sabathia (3.19, 11W)
SP: Fausto Carmona (3.64, 8W)
RP: Mariano Rivera (1.05, 20Sv) replaced by JJ Putz (1.64 ERA)
RP: Rafael Soriano (1.65, 23Sv)
RP: Jose Valverde (0.95, 18Sv)
RP: Joakim Soria (2.34, 25Sv)
RP: Andrew Bailey (1.75, 17Sv)

NL:
SP: Adam Wainwright (2.11, 13W, 127K)
SP: Josh Johnson (1.70 ERA, 9W, 123K)
SP: Ubaldo Jimenez (2.20, 15W, 113K)
SP: Roy Halladay (2.33, 10W, 119K)
SP: Mat Latos (2.45, 10W)
SP: Roy Oswalt (3.08, 112K)
RP: Jonathan Broxton (2.11, 19Sv)
RP: Billy Wagner (1.24, 20Sv)
RP: Heath Bell (1.72, 23Sv)
RP: Carlos Marmol (1.99, 16Sv)
RP: Brian Wilson (1.98, 22Sv)
RP: Evan Meek (1.11)

Italics is someone who only made it to get to one representative (I had to remove someone more qualified).

For each league, here's who I left off who was in, and who I included but was left off. In some cases, I just wouldn't go 3 deep at a position or the shorter rosters was a factor.

AL:
Players I added:
Markakis (better Oriole than Wigginton, Brett Gardner would have been there)
Rios (Better stats than some of the removed below)
Weaver (better stats than some of the removed below)
Bailey (better Athletic than Cahill)
Putz (Top 6 AL RP)

Players I excluded:
Ty Wigginton (.253 avg)
Alex Rodriguez (3rd best 3B)
Jose Bautista (.240 avg)
Nick Swisher (not top 6 AL OF)
Vernon Wells (not top 6 AL OF)
David Ortiz (not top 3 DH)
Clay Buchholz (not Top 6 SP)
Trevor Cahill (token Athletic, see Bailey above)
Neftali Feliz (not top 5 RP)
Phil Hughes (not a Top 6 SP)
Matt Thornton (not even best set up guy on his team)

NL:
Players I added:
Olivo: (better stats than McCann)
Johnson (needed a D-back)
Furcal (nobody seems to realize what a great year he's having)
Gonzalez (stats are unbelievable)
Kemp (good stats)
Latos (Top 6 starter)
Oswalt (needed an Astro, replaced Kershaw)
Wagner (best closer in the NL, his exclusion is a joke)
Marmol (Stats are worthy and fills the Cubs spot)

Players I excluded:
Matt Capps (I got my National from Dunn)
Chris Carpenter (Not a Top 6 NL SP)
Yovani Gallardo (Not a Top 6 NL SP)
Tim Hudson (Not a Top 6 NL SP)
Tim Lincecum (Not a Top 6 NL SP)
Arthur Rhodes (Not a Top 6 NL RP)
Brian McCann (Olivo better)
Adrian Gonzalez (5th best 1B)
Brandon Phillips (had to take Kelly Johnson)
Jose Reyes (3rd best SS)
Troy Tulowitzki (3rd best SS)
Omar Infante (doesn't even start for his team)
Michael Bourn (I got my Astro from Oswalt)
Marlon Byrd (7th best OF)
Matt Holliday (7th best OF)
Chris Young (I got my Diamondback from Johnson)

An ERA over 3.00 is garbage in the NL, Oswalt only in b/c he's the closest Astro.

So for the AL, I got 5 added, 11 removed. For the NL 10 added 17 removed. I actually think half of the NL 34 man roster shouldn't make a 30 man roster.

It's not quite even on numbers b/c of injuries, there are actually more than 34 in each league.

But now for the fun part, taking a 30 man roster, crafting a lineup and pitching plans. Remember, I'm not bound to fan votes for starters.

AL:
Suzuki RF
Crawford LF
Cabrera 1B
Hamilton CF
Guerrero DH
Cano 2B
Beltre 3B
Mauer C
Jeter SS

Top 4 off the bench: Morneau, Youkilis, Hunter, Longoria

Pitching:
1st Inn: Lee
3rd Inn: Price
5th Inn: Sabathia
7th Inn: Soria
8th Inn: Soriano
9th Inn: Valverde

Misc: Bailey, Putz, Weaver to put out fires if someone struggles

NL:
Ramirez SS
Wright 3B
Votto DH
Pujols 1B
Ethier RF
Gonzalez CF
Braun LF
Prado 2B
Olivo C

Top 4 off the bench: Dunn, Furcal, Rolen, Kemp

Pitching
1st Inn: Jimenez
3rd Inn: Johnson
5th Inn: Halladay
7th Inn: Marmol
8th Inn: Broxton
9th Inn: Wagner

Misc: Wainwright, Wilson, Bell to put out fires if someone struggles

The above disregards who doesn't have rest. Each SP goes two innings. I only use the bench when it makes sense, pinch run with Furcal, go righty/lefty later in the game. Dunn for power if needed, Youkilis for a gritty AB, etc. Lots of singlet players don't play (Oswalt, Meek, Bailey, Latos, Carmona) because they're not one of the best players in their league. But they're at the disposal of the manager if needed.

Unfortunately we'll see what I dislike...fan vote for starters, firewagon changes to make sure everyone plays and at the end there will be the worst players on the rosters facing the best closers.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Franchise Performance Pt. 3 (#61 - #90)

Recapping the groundrules of the study, we are ranking all sports city-team combinations for playoff performance since 1974 using a poker like system:
1) All teams chip in $10 at the beginning of the year
2) Winner takes 50%, Runner up 25%, Semifinalists 10%, remaining playoff teams split the last 5%
3) City/Team combinations are separate, the Charlotte Hornets are not associated with the New Orleans Hornets, etc.

Totals through the 2010 NBA/NHL Finals are included.

Number 121-147 were revealed in part 1
Number 91-120 were revealed in part 2

The third batch (the most average teams in terms of success). In this batch, we tend to see franchises who have been around for 5-10 years with no titles, or teams that were around for all the years with one title or a handful of strong runs. Not team in this group has turned a profit, so >60% of teams in this format are in the red. Not surprising since it seems like a handful of teams get more than their share of titles.













Rank

90
89
88
87
86
85
84
83
82
81
80
79
77
77
76
75
74
73
72
70
70
69
68
66
66
65
64
63
62
61

Winnings
-$86.29
-$85.29
-$81.25
-$80.00
-$77.75
-$75.08
-$74.31
-$69.00
-$68.15
-$66.52
-$62.69
-$62.50
-$60.00
-$60.00
-$58.88
-$58.75
-$57.50
-$53.04
-$52.50
-$50.00
-$50.00
-$47.02
-$45.71
-$45.00
-$45.00
-$44.88
-$44.19
-$40.38
-$37.06
-$31.88

Team
Grizzlies
Rangers
Jaguars
Texans
Rockies
Hornets
Bears
Orioles
Eagles
Packers
Flames
Pirates
Grizzlies
Clippers
Rockies
Bobcats
Wild
Senators
Mets
Nationals
Jazz
Suns
NorthStars
Rays
Twins
Braves
Bills
Flames
Raiders II
Jazz

City
MEM
NYC
JAX
HOU
DEN
NO
CHI
BAL
PHI
MIL
ATL
PIT
VAN
SD
DEN
CHA
MSP
OTT
NYC
WAS
NO
PHO
MSP
TAM
MSP
BUF
BUF
CGY
OAK
SLC

League
NBA
NHL
NFL
NFL
MLB
NBA
NFL
MLB
NFL
NFL
NHL
MLB
NBA
NBA
NHL
NBA
NHL
NHL
MLB
MLB
NBA
NBA
NHL
MLB
MLB
NBA
NFL
NHL
NFL
NBA

Titles
0
1
0
0
0
0
1
1
0
1
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
2
0
0
1
0
0

Finals
0
2
0
0
1
0
2
2
2
2
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
1
2
0
0
2
2
1
2
0
4
3
1
2

Semis
0
6
2
0
1
0
4
5
6
4
0
6
0
0
0
0
1
2
5
0
0
9
4
1
3
0
5
3
2
6

Playoffs
3
24
6
0
3
4
13
5
18
13
6
6
0
0
1
1
3
12
5
0
0
28
12
1
7
3
13
20
3
24

Seasons
9
36
15
8
16
8
37
35
37
37
7
35
6
6
6
6
9
17
35
5
5
37
20
12
35
5
37
29
15
31
Discussion: Blackhawks nudged their way out of this group with the Stanley Cup this year. An odd assortment of teams in this group. Both Grizzlies, both Jazz, both Flames, Buffalo Braves and Buffalo Bills side by side. Two different Colorado Rockies. Lots of teams from Minneapolis-St. Paul. Then some stalwart franchises like the Eagles, Bears, Packers, Twins, and Mets. Twins are the worst team with two titles (again, since 1974).

The break down of this set by league as:
NBA: 9
NFL: 7
MLB: 7
NHL: 7

City with at least two teams and still with no appearances (all teams in the top 40%) are Boston.

Each team is summarized below. A reminder, the years below are the year of the playoffs, so for NFL, 2010 is associated with the 2009 regular season. For best season, playoff performance is given precedence over regular season record.

Number: 90
Team: Grizzlies
City: Memphis
League: NBA
Years: 2002 – 2010 (9)
Playoffs: 3
Semifinals: 0
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 2004 (50-32, lost in first round of playoffs)
Worst years: 2007,2008 (22-60)
Winnings: -$86.29

Number: 89
Team: Rangers
City: New York City
League: NHL
Years: 1974 – 2010 (36)
Playoffs: 24
Semifinals: 6
Finals: 2
Championships: 1
Best year: 1994 (52-24-8-0, won Stanley Cup)
Worst year: 1985 (26-44-10-0)
Winnings: -$85.29

Number: 88
Team: Jaguars
City: Jacksonville
League: NFL
Years: 1996 – 2010 (15)
Playoffs: 6
Semifinals: 2
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 2000 (14-2, lost in AFC Championship game)
Worst year: 1996 (4-12)
Winnings: -$81.25

Number: 87
Team: Texans
City: Houston
League: NFL
Years: 2003 – 2010 (8)
Playoffs: 0
Semifinals: 0
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 2010 (9-7, no playoffs)
Worst year: 2006 (2-14)
Winnings: -$80.00

Number: 86
Team: Rockies
City: Denver
League: MLB
Years: 1993 – 2009 (16)
Playoffs: 3
Semifinals: 1
Finals: 1
Championships: 0
Best year: 2007 (90-73, lost in World Series)
Worst years: 1993, 2005 (67-95)
Winnings: -$77.75

Number: 85
Team: Hornets
City: New Orleans
League: NBA
Years: 2003 – 2010 (8)
Playoffs: 4
Semifinals: 0
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 2008 (56-26, lost in 2nd round of playoffs)
Worst year: 2005 (18-64)
Winnings: -$75.08

Number: 84
Team: Bears
City: Chicago
League: NFL
Years: 1974 – 2010 (37)
Playoffs: 13
Semifinals: 4
Finals: 2
Championships: 1
Best year: 1986 (15-1, won Super Bowl)
Worst year: 1974 (3-11)
Winnings: -$74.31

Number: 83
Team: Orioles
City: Baltimore
League: MLB
Years: 1974 – 2009 (35)
Playoffs: 5
Semifinals: 5
Finals: 2
Championships: 1
Best year: 1983 (98-64, won World Series)
Worst year: 1988 (54-107)
Winnings: -$69.00

Number: 82
Team: Eagles
City: Philadelphia
League: NFL
Years: 1974 – 2010 (37)
Playoffs: 18
Semifinals: 6
Finals: 2
Championships: 0
Best year: 2005 (13-3, lost in Super Bowl)
Worst year: 1999 (3-13)
Winnings: -$68.15

Number: 81
Team: Packers
City: Milwaukee
League: NFL
Years: 1974 – 2010 (37)
Playoffs: 13
Semifinals: 4
Finals: 2
Championships: 1
Best year: 1997 (13-3, won Super Bowl)
Worst years: 1987, 1989, 1992 (4-12)
Winnings: -$66.52

Number: 80
Team: Flames
City: Atlanta
League: NHL
Years: 1974 – 1980 (7)
Playoffs: 6
Semifinals: 0
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 1979 (41-31-8-0, lost in first round of playoffs)
Worst year: 1974 (30-34-14-0)
Winnings: -$62.69

Number: 79
Team: Pirates
City: Pittsburgh
League: MLB
Years: 1974 – 2009 (35)
Playoffs: 6
Semifinals: 6
Finals: 1
Championships: 1
Best year: 1979 (98-64-1, won World Series)
Worst year: 1985 (57-104)
Winnings: -$62.50

Number: 77 (tied)
Team: Grizzlies
City: Vancouver
League: NBA
Years: 1996 – 2001 (6)
Playoffs: 0
Semifinals: 0
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 2001 (23-59, no playoffs)
Worst year: 1999 (8-42)
Winnings: -$60.00

Number: 77 (tied)
Team: Clippers
City: San Diego
League: NBA
Years: 1979 – 1984 (6)
Playoffs: 0
Semifinals: 0
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 1979 (43-39, no playoffs)
Worst year: 1982 (17-65)
Winnings: -$60.00

Number: 76
Team: Rockies
City: Denver
League: NHL
Years: 1977 – 1982 (6)
Playoffs: 1
Semifinals: 0
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 1978 (19-40-21-0, lost in first round of playoffs)
Worst year: 1979 (15-53-12-0)
Winnings: -$58.88

Number: 75
Team: Bobcats
City: Charlotte
League: NBA
Years: 2005 – 2010 (6)
Playoffs: 1
Semifinals: 0
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 2010 (44-38, lost in first round of playoffs)
Worst year: 2005 (18-64)
Winnings: -$58.75

Number: 74
Team: Wild
City: Minneapolis-St. Paul
League: NHL
Years: 2001 – 2010 (9)
Playoffs: 3
Semifinals: 1
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 2003 (42-29-10-1, lost in Conference finals)
Worst year: 2001 (25-39-13-5)
Winnings: -$57.50

Number: 73
Team: Senators
City: Ottawa
League: NHL
Years: 1993 – 2010 (17)
Playoffs: 12
Semifinals: 2
Finals: 1
Championships: 0
Best year: 2007 (48-25-0-9, lost in Stanley Cup Finals)
Worst year: 1993 (10-70-4-0)
Winnings: -$53.04

Number: 72
Team: Mets
City: New York City
League: MLB
Years: 1974 – 2009 (35)
Playoffs: 5
Semifinals: 5
Finals: 2
Championships: 1
Best year: 1986 (108-54, won World Series)
Worst year: 1993 (59-103)
Winnings: -$52.50

Number: 70 (tied)
Team: Nationals
City: Washington
League: MLB
Years: 2005 – 2009 (5)
Playoffs: 0
Semifinals: 0
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 2005 (81-81, no playoffs)
Worst year: 2009 (59-103)
Winnings: -$50.00

Number: 70 (tied)
Team: Jazz
City: New Orleans
League: NBA
Years: 1975 – 1979 (5)
Playoffs: 0
Semifinals: 0
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 1978 (39-43, no playoffs)
Worst year: 1975 (23-59)
Winnings: -$8.48

Number: 69
Team: Suns
City: Phoenix
League: NBA
Years: 1974 – 2010 (37)
Playoffs: 28
Semifinals: 9
Finals: 2
Championships: 0
Best year: 1993 (62-20, lost in NBA Finals)
Worst year: 1988 (28-54)
Winnings: -$47.02

Number: 68
Team: North Stars
City: Minneapolis-St. Paul
League: NHL
Years: 1974 – 1993 (20)
Playoffs: 12
Semifinals: 4
Finals: 2
Championships: 0
Best year: 1981(35-28-17-0, lost in Stanley Cup Finals)
Worst year: 1978 (18-53-9-0)
Winnings: -$45.71

Number: 66 (tie)
Team: Rays
City: Tampa Bay
League: MLB
Years: 1998 – 2009 (12)
Playoffs: 1
Semifinals: 1
Finals: 1
Championships: 0
Best year: 2008 (97-65, lost in World Series)
Worst year: 2002 (55-106)
Winnings: -$45.00

Number: 66 (tie)
Team: Twins
City: Minneapolis-St. Paul
League: MLB
Years: 1974 – 2009 (35)
Playoffs: 7
Semifinals: 3
Finals: 2
Championships: 2
Best year: 1991 (95-67, won World Series)
Worst year: 1982 (60-102)
Winnings: -$45.00

Number: 65
Team: Braves
City: Buffalo
League: NBA
Years: 1974 – 1978 (5)
Playoffs: 3
Semifinals: 0
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 1975 (45-33, lost in first round of playoffs)
Worst year: 1978 (27-55)
Winnings: -$44.88

Number: 64
Team: Bills
City: Buffalo
League: NFL
Years: 1974 – 2010 (37)
Playoffs: 13
Semifinals: 5
Finals: 4
Championships: 0
Best years: 1991, 1992 (13-3, lost in Super Bowl)
Worst years: 1985, 1986 (2-14)
Winnings: -$44.19

Number: 63
Team: Flames
City: Calgary
League: NHL
Years: 1981 – 2010 (29)
Playoffs: 20
Semifinals: 3
Finals: 3
Championships: 1
Best year: 1989 (54-17-9-0, won Stanley Cup)
Worst year: 1998 (26-41-15-0)
Winnings: -$40.38

Number: 62
Team: Raiders II
City: Oakland
League: NFL
Years: 1996 – 2010 (15)
Playoffs: 3
Semifinals: 2
Finals: 1
Championships: 0
Best year: 2003 (11-5, lost in Super Bowl)
Worst year: 2007 (2-14)
Winnings: -$37.06

Number: 61
Team: Jazz
City: Salt Lake City
League: NBA
Years: 1980 – 2010 (31)
Playoffs: 24
Semifinals: 6
Finals: 2
Championships: 0
Best year: 1997 (64-18, lost in NBA Finals)
Worst year: 1980 (24-58)
Winnings: -$31.88

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Conference Balance

After a tumultuous May and June in the college conference landscape, things seem to have settled into a "we can deal with this for a few more years" but all is not really settled on the conference realignment front. Someone might think that the fuse is shorter than a "few years" but remember that we will be but a few months away from the 2012 Presidential Primaries before Nebraska plays a down as a member of the Big 10. Are more teams going to shift in the next 6-9 months? Doubt it. Maybe this time next year, which again means 2+ years before the next wave of teams plays a down in a new conference.

So as someone who values preservation of history, I was more than distraught at thinking the future of college football was going to be huge conferences that seldom played other teams in it, etc. To me it was ironic that 16 team Pac 10 or Big 10 were the same size as two already existing conferences. The AFC and NFC. Let me tell you, do you think the Miami Dolphins feel like they are in the same "conference" as the Houston Texans? Or the 49ers and Buccaneers? I mean they're loosely affiliated, may play every 4 years, etc. But not really like college football conferences. Purdue and Minnesota. UCLA and Washington. Ole Miss and South Carolina. I purposely picked non-rivals, but I love games like those where there are familiarity regionally and historically. People have been surmising...how about the Texas Tech vs. Iowa Rose Bowl? Nebraska vs. Utah? No, we think of USC/Ohio State, Washington/Michigan. It's like people want a large conference, so long as these foreigners don't win anything. Really, if things had gone another way, I could have seen Texas or OU playing Nebraska in the Rose about 5 years out of every 10.

What's interesting in this is that the ten team Big 12 thinks they may be onto something. I'm not fooling myself for a minute that their arrangement is permanent, but worth exploring. With headliners like Texas and OU making up 20% of the conference with fewer mouths to feed, I don't know. If you think about it, how would a two team conference with just Texas and OU do? They played 8 games against each other, every one worthy of TV, etc. Obviously being facetious, but quality over quantity needs to be discussed. The SEC has that in spades, there's 8 teams that have a heavy national influence (sorry Vandy, UK, Ole Miss, MSU). If they rid themselves of those teams, what would they lose? Any TV appeal? No. The other 8 would play each other every year (hello UF/Ala, UT/LSU, UGA/Ark, SCar/Aub) that seldom happen anymore. Room for 5 OOC games, fewer UK/Ala, Vandy/UF, MSU/UGA games that seldom work out interesting.

The 12 team barrier is a tough one to break, because you enter the realm of playing teams from the other division less than 50%. Meaning once a graduating class. If the Big 10 gets their wet dream and takes Notre Dame, Texas, Pitt, and Rutgers, you get 16 teams. Now if you play 8 conference games a year, you only get one out of division. Two if you play 9 teams. So suddenly old Big 10 rivals play no more (not the big ones, but the Purdue/Iowa, Penn State/Wisconsin, etc.). Or play once every 8 years. At best once ever four. Instead you get Nebraska vs. Indiana, Texas vs. Minnesota, Ohio State vs. Pitt and suddenly it doesn't feel like the Big 10 anymore.

Is that what's best, or is TV revenue best? I just ask the questions.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

How to fix the All Star Game

We're less than a month away from the 82st Major League Baseball All Star Game, I thought it prudent to review what is, and isn't working in the current format.

What is working:
1) Tuesday is a great day to host it
2) Marketing of the event is outstanding
3) Players genuinely covet roster spots (unlike NFL) and you can see it on their faces
4) DH (added this year) to all games regardless of location (and I'm generally a DH hater)

What isn't working:
1) Fans voting in starters
2) Selection of reserves
3) Field Management of the game
4) Home field in the World Series being on the line

More on each of the "isn't working" and how I would fix:

1) Fans voting in the starters. All this does is skew the starting lineup to the big markets and popular teams. It used to be the popular players regardless of team (Gwynn, Ozzie, Brett, Bench) but now it reads like a Yankees/Red Sox "mash up". The catcher for the NL is always from Chicago, St. Louis, or LA. Never a .300 hitting Benji Molina or slugging Pirate Ryan Doumit. Mind you, some of this is fed by Fox, who do you see on Fox Weekly games? New York, LA, Chicago, Boston, etc.

I propose that fans vote as they do today, BUT these players are only on the roster, not starters. This will also help the field management, the NL and AL managers can actually make a lineup that makes sense. With a speedy guy leading off, a contact hitter in the 2-hole, sluggers through 6, and maybe some better defensive players toward the bottom. You know, like a real manager would!

2) Selection of reserves. By the time the players and coaches vote in additional mandatory players, then the "one player per team" is filled, there's usually about one or two spots left at managers discretion. I think the managers should have the whole league to choose from, with the caveat that his team can have no more than one player than the next most represented team. This allows the manager to build an all star team based upon who he thinks can win the game. I think the one per team stays intact, it's actually something that makes the game special.

3) Field management of game. The next "rule" is, you play it like a real game. That doesn't mean you don't pinch hit or just play the starting nine. But Pujols, Jeter, Utley, Morneau should be in there at the end. Instead you end up with one of the last players added to the team pinch hitting against Mariano b/c you want him to play. You might substitute defense late. You can pinch hit righty/lefty, etc. Brings a whole new dynamic to the game, rather than the fire-wagon substitutions you see in the 5th - 8th innings. If a player doesn't play, so be it. It's an honor to be selected, and even more of an honor if you get a chance to play.

4) Home field advantage for the World Series. This is EXACTLY like how the BCS got formed. There was a problem (the tie in 2002) and they needed a way to win the fans back. Just like there was a bowl system that didn't pit the top two teams in 1997 so they found one that would. Both the previous systems were inadequate (World Series was determined by odd/even year whether it was AL or NL hosting 4 of the 7 games. They need to do the next thing (both of them). BCS should have a playoff and the World Series home field advantage should be decided by team with the best record. If you institute #3 above, you don't need to dangle home field as an incentive.

Once fan voting is finalized, I will institute my plan above and give you the rosters of each league if I were manager. And lineup. Might look a lot the same, might be different. Roster sizes should be a bit lower, but not the standard 25, because of the need for extra pitchers given you won't have one guy going 6+ innings.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Big XII: 1996 - 2011

I come not to bury the Big XII but to praise it.

First a disclaimer, for the most part I intend to keep this blog very objective. I am a fan of the University of Texas and therefore have personal opinions of the Big XII. I'm not going to write about that, but rather the facts, but take my facts in context.

You were born in 1996, really a two years earlier. But it was a good move at the time football being the focus. The Big 8 and Southwest Conference were struggling for relevance. While Nebraska was at the cusp of winning three out of four national titles, OU had regressed, Kansas State hadn't ascended, and it was one big fish in the Big 8, and with Texas A&M's probation and Texas still floundering (no bowls 1991-3) about zero big fish in the SWC but some potential. What might have sealed the fate of the SWC was 1994, when there were five (yes five, to include Rice and Baylor) co-champions all at 4-3. Texas A&M was on probation and ineligible for the title while finishing 6-0-1. The five champions all lost to A&M and went 2-2 against the others. Ironically, the last place finisher in the conference was SMU. At 0-6-1, they tied A&M.

What transpired for the next 14 years (and one to go) was nothing short of taking the best of both and not looking back. A Big XII team (not necessarily the champion) played in the title game for 8 of the 14 years. Two other years teams (1996 NU, 1998 KSU) were upset in the title game and denied. Only the SEC matched the Big XII's 57% appearance rate. Next best is ACC with 29%, all Florida State, all before 2000.

The Big XII garnered 4 Heismans (Williams, Crouch, White, Bradford), one more than any other conference (SEC 3, Big 10 3, Pac10/USC 3, ACC 1).

The following 8 teams made runs at National titles (#3 or better, November 20 or later): Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska (all 2 or more appearances winning one), Kansas State (1998), Colorado (2001), Missouri (2007), Kansas (2007), Texas Tech (2008). I defy you to find another conference that had 8 teams make a run like that. The SEC is the only conference to have more champs (Tennessee, LSU, Bama, Florida) than the Big XII (Texas, OU, Nebraska), no other conference had more than 1.

As for baseball, Texas having won two national titles equals the Big East (Miami x2 pre 2004) and one short of SEC/LSU (3 titles) and the Pac 10 (two Oregon States and a USC). Again right there.

Basketball over the last 10 years (data most easily found) shows that the Big XII has had 6 Final Four appearances only eclipsed by the Big 10 with 7 and the ACC with 9. The Big East also had 6 but has like 18 teams. In that, the Big XII had four different Final Four teams (KU, OSU, UT, OU), eclipsed by 5 for the Big East and matched by the Big 10 and ACC.

There was no doubt that on the field, court, swimming pool, the Big XII was as good as they came.

So what has led to its untimely demise? It was never a comfortable marriage. But rather arranged. The South always felt content, the the SWC teams having taken their tradition forward, and OU and OSU feeling really at home. But since 2000, there has not been a North team favored in the title game. A North team won in 2001 and 2003 upsetting National title hopes, but they were anomalies. The low point might have been Texas' 70-3 thumping of Colorado in 2005. Nebraska made a game of it last year (and might very well win the conference this year) but something was amiss. The old Big 8 lost its feeling of comfort and it didn't seem like the Big 12 was really a cohesive unit.

So enter Big 10 commissioner Jim Delany. Some think he masterminded a big takeover, I really think he was always just acting in the best interest of the Big 10. But when he said expansion, the glue that held together the arranged marriage fell apart. It was like a marriage on the rocks were on Temptation Island. Didn't take long before everyone was protecting their #1 interest. Interesting coincidence that the states of schools in the Big XII all bordered the SEC, Big 10, and Pac 10. It made them ripe for the picking, and everyone (commissioners, presidents, ADs, media) knew it. See the above successes, very very ripe additions only one state away.

So the demise was met. The Big XII tried to put together a pinky swear of everyone vowing to stay in, but the risk of not moving outweighed the potential benefits of staying. It hurt that the region of the Big XII just didn't have near as many TV markets as the other major conferences. So it was set.

It's interesting, as far as baseball, the SWC was always still superior to the Big XII. Despite only having 7 teams. From 1997 - 2009, the Big XII had 12 teams appear, the SWC would have had 15 (add Rice +7, subtract Nebraska +3, OSU +1). Texas, Baylor and Texas A&M count for both.

RIP Big XII, you led a great life, cut too short by marketability, longevity, and too many big programs looking attractive to the market. You end as you began, in the elite of conference competition.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Franchise Performance Pt. 2 (#91 - #120)

Recapping the groundrules of the study, we are ranking all sports city-team combinations for playoff performance since 1974 using a poker like system:
1) All teams chip in $10 at the beginning of the year
2) Winner takes 50%, Runner up 25%, Semifinalists 10%, remaining playoff teams split the last 5%
3) City/Team combinations are separate, the Charlotte Hornets are not associated with the New Orleans Hornets, etc.

Totals through the 2010 NBA/NHL Finals are included here (some money still to be earned by the final 4 franchises still playing).

Number 121-147 were revealed in part 1

The second batch (essentially the 60% - 80% percentile for worst franchises). In this batch, we tend to see franchises who have been around for 10-20 years with no titles, or teams that were around for all the years with a title or a handful of strong runs.












Rank

120
119
118
117
116
115
114
113
112
111
110
109
108
107
106
105
104
103
102
101
100
99
98
97
96
95
94
93
92
91

Winnings
-$168.48
-$168.33
-$167.67
-$166.50
-$162.00
-$160.00
-$158.17
-$143.88
-$142.33
-$141.19
-$139.00
-$138.71
-$136.13
-$136.08
-$131.71
-$125.00
-$123.04
-$119.35
-$112.50
-$112.27
-$111.54
-$108.00
-$107.75
-$106.96
-$103.75
-$99.75
-$98.75
-$92.75
-$91.79
-$88.75

Team
Saints
Nets
Oilers
Giants
Astros
Jets
Mavericks
Raptors
Cardinals
Bullets/Wizards
Indians
Knicks
Cardinals
Browns I
Hornets
White Sox
Coyotes
Sabres
Tigers
Pacers
Nordiques
Browns II
Buccaneers
Sharks
Predators
Colts
Thrashers
Panthers
Kings
Blue Jackets

City
NO
NEW
HOU
SF
HOU
WIN
DAL
TOR
STL
WAS
CLE
NYC
PHO
CLE
CHA
CHI
PHO
BUF
DET
IND
QBC
CLE
TAM
SJ
NSH
BAL
ATL
MIA
KC
COL

League
NFL
NBA
NFL
MLB
MLB
NHL
NBA
NBA
NFL
NBA
MLB
NBA
NFL
NFL
NBA
MLB
NHL
NHL
MLB
NBA
NHL
NFL
NFL
NHL
NHL
NFL
NHL
NHL
NBA
NHL

Titles
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
1
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0

Finals
1
2
0
2
1
0
1
0
0
3
2
2
1
0
0
1
0
2
2
1
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
1
0
0

Semis
2
2
2
3
4
0
3
0
0
3
4
5
1
3
0
3
0
6
3
6
2
0
3
2
0
0
0
1
1
0

Playoffs
7
16
10
6
9
11
16
5
3
18
7
20
3
8
7
5
6
27
3
18
9
1
10
13
5
3
1
3
5
1

Seasons
37
33
24
35
35
17
30
15
15
37
35
37
22
23
14
35
13
36
35
34
16
11
34
18
11
11
10
16
12
9
Discussion: New Orleans Saints bailed themselves out of the worst 1/5 with the big Super Bowl victory a few months ago. Houston and San Francisco (as cities) avoided the worst 1/5 but find themselves here. Only five teams have a title, it reads like a list of perpetual also-rans who triumphed in one season (Saints, Bullets, Tigers, White Sox, Buccaneers).

The break down of this set by league as:
NHL: 9 (teams before or after the 1990's relocation movement w/o a title)
NBA: 8
NFL: 8
MLB: 5

Cities with at least two teams and still with no appearances (all teams in the top 60%) are Boston, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia.

Each team is summarized below. A reminder, the years below are the year of the playoffs, so for NFL, 2010 is associated with the 2009 regular season. For best season, playoff performance is given precedence over regular season record.

Number: 120
Team: Saints
City: New Orleans
League: NFL
Years: 1974 – 2010 (37)
Playoffs: 7
Semifinals: 2
Finals: 1
Championships: 1
Best year: 2010 (13-3, won Super Bowl)
Worst year: 1981 (1-15)
Winnings: -$168.48

Number: 119
Team: Nets
City: Newark
League: NBA
Years: 1978 – 2010 (33)
Playoffs: 16
Semifinals: 2
Finals: 2
Championships: 0
Best year: 2002 (52-30, lost in NBA Finals)
Worst year: 2010 (12-70)
Winnings: -$168.33

Number: 118
Team: Oilers
City: Houston
League: NFL
Years: 1974 – 1997 (24)
Playoffs: 10
Semifinals: 2
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 1980 (11-5, lost in AFC Championship game)
Worst years: 1984, 1995 (2-14)
Winnings: -$167.67

Number: 117
Team: Giants
City: San Francisco
League: MLB
Years: 1974 – 2009 (35)
Playoffs: 6
Semifinals: 3
Finals: 2
Championships: 0
Best year: 2002 (95-66-1, lost in World Series)
Worst year: 1985 (62-100)
Winnings: -$166.50

Number: 116
Team: Astros
City: Houston
League: MLB
Years: 1974 – 2009 (35)
Playoffs: 9
Semifinals: 4
Finals: 1
Championships: 0
Best year: 2005 (83-79-1, lost in World Series)
Worst year: 1975 (64-97-1)
Winnings: -$162.00

Number: 115
Team: Jets
City: Winnipeg
League: NHL
Years: 1980 – 1996 (17)
Playoffs: 11
Semifinals: 0
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 1985 (43-27-10-0, lost in 2nd round of playoffs)
Worst year: 1981 (9-57-14)
Winnings: -$160.00

Number: 114
Team: Mavericks
City: Dallas
League: NBA
Years: 1981 – 2010 (30)
Playoffs: 16
Semifinals: 3
Finals: 1
Championships: 0
Best year: 2006 (60-22, lost in NBA Finals)
Worst year: 1993 (11-71)
Winnings: -$158.17

Number: 113
Team: Raptors
City: Toronto
League: NBA
Years: 1996 – 2010 (15)
Playoffs: 5
Semifinals: 0
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 2001 (47-35, lost in 2nd round of playoffs)
Worst year: 1998 (16-66)
Winnings: -$143.88

Number: 112
Team: Cardinals
City: St. Louis
League: NFL
Years: 1974 – 1988 (15)
Playoffs: 3
Semifinals: 0
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 1976 (11-3, lost in Division round of playoffs)
Worst year: 1987 (4-11-1)
Winnings: -$142.33

Number: 111
Team: Bullets/Wizards
City: Washington
League: NBA
Years: 1974 – 2010 (37)
Playoffs: 18
Semifinals: 3
Finals: 3
Championships: 1
Best year: 1978 (44-38, won NBA Championship)
Worst year: 2001, 2009 (19-63)
Winnings: -$141.19

Number: 110
Team: Indians
City: Cleveland
League: MLB
Years: 1974 – 2009 (35)
Playoffs: 7
Semifinals: 4
Finals: 2
Championships: 0
Best year: 1995 (100-44, lost in World Series)
Worst year: 1991 (57-105)
Winnings: -$139.00

Number: 109
Team: Knicks
City: New York City
League: NBA
Years: 1974 – 2010 (37)
Playoffs: 20
Semifinals: 5
Finals: 2
Championships: 0
Best year: 1994 (57-25, lost in NBA Finals)
Worst years: 1986, 2006, 2008 (23-59)
Winnings: -$138.71

Number: 108
Team: Cardinals
City: Phoenix
League: NFL
Years: 1989 – 2010 (22)
Playoffs: 3
Semifinals: 1
Finals: 1
Championships: 0
Best year: 2009 (9-7, lost in Super Bowl)
Worst year: 2001 (3-13)
Winnings: -$136.13

Number: 107
Team: Browns I
City: Cleveland
League: NFL
Years: 1974 – 1996 (23)
Playoffs: 8
Semifinals: 3
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 1987 (12-4, lost in AFC Championship game)
Worst year: 1991 (3-13)
Winnings: -$136.08

Number: 106
Team: Hornets
City: Charlotte
League: NBA
Years: 1989 – 2002 (14)
Playoffs: 7
Semifinals: 0
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 2001 (46-36, lost in 2nd round of playoffs)
Worst year: 1990 (19-63)
Winnings: -$131.71

Number: 105
Team: White Sox
City: Chicago
League: MLB
Years: 1974 – 2009 (35)
Playoffs: 5
Semifinals: 3
Finals: 1
Championships: 1
Best year: 2005 (99-63, won World Series)
Worst year: 1976 (64-97)
Winnings: -$125.00

Number: 104
Team: Coyotes
City: Phoenix
League: NHL
Years: 1997 – 2010 (13)
Playoffs: 6
Semifinals: 0
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 2010 (50-25-0-7, lost in first round of playoffs)
Worst year: 2004 (22-36-18-6)
Winnings: -$123.04

Number: 103
Team: Sabres
City: Buffalo
League: NHL
Years: 1974 – 2010 (36)
Playoffs: 27
Semifinals: 6
Finals: 2
Championships: 0
Best year: 1975 (49-16-15-0, lost in Stanley Cup Finals)
Worst year: 1987 (28-44-8-0)
Winnings: -$119.35

Number: 102
Team: Tigers
City: Detroit
League: MLB
Years: 1974 – 2009 (35)
Playoffs: 3
Semifinals: 3
Finals: 2
Championships: 1
Best year: 1984 (104-58, won World Series)
Worst year: 2003 (43-119)
Winnings: -$112.50

Number: 101
Team: Pacers
City: Indianapolis
League: NBA
Years: 1977 – 2010 (34)
Playoffs: 18
Semifinals: 6
Finals: 1
Championships: 0
Best year: 2000 (56-26, lost in NBA Finals)
Worst year: 1983 (20-62)
Winnings: -$112.27

Number: 100
Team: Nordiques
City: Quebec
League: NHL
Years: 1980 – 1995 (16)
Playoffs: 9
Semifinals: 2
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 1985 (41-30, lost in Conference finals)
Worst year: 1990 (12-61)
Winnings: -$111.54

Number: 99
Team: Browns II
City: Cleveland
League: NFL
Years: 2000 – 2010 (11)
Playoffs: 11
Semifinals: 1
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 2002 (9-7, lost in Wild Card round of playoffs)
Worst year: 1999 (2-14)
Winnings: -$108.00

Number: 98
Team: Buccaneers
City: Tampa Bay
League: NFL
Years: 1977 – 2010 (34)
Playoffs: 10
Semifinals: 3
Finals: 1
Championships: 1
Best year: 2003 (12-4, won Super Bowl)
Worst year: 1977 (0-14)
Winnings: -$107.75

Number: 97
Team: Sharks
City: San Jose
League: NHL
Years: 1992 – 2010 (18)
Playoffs: 13
Semifinals: 2
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 2010 (51-20-0-11, lost in Conference finals)
Worst year: 1993 (11-71-2-0)
Winnings: -$106.96

Number: 96
Team: Predators
City: Nashville
League: NHL
Years: 1999 – 2010 (11)
Playoffs: 5
Semifinals: 0
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 2007 (51-23-0-8, lost in 1st round of playoffs)
Worst year: 1999 (28-47-7-0)
Winnings: -$103.75

Number: 95
Team: Colts
City: Baltimore
League: NFL
Years: 1974 – 1984 (11)
Playoffs: 11
Semifinals: 3
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 1977 (11-3, lost in Division round of playoffs)
Worst year: 1983 (0-8-1)
Winnings: -$99.75

Number: 94
Team: Thrashers
City: Atlanta
League: NHL
Years: 2000 – 2010 (11)
Playoffs: 1
Semifinals: 0
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 2007 (43-28-0-11, lost in first round of playoffs)
Worst year: 2000 (14-57-7-4)
Winnings: -$98.75

Number: 93
Team: Panthers
City: Miami
League: NHL
Years: 1994 – 2010 (16)
Playoffs: 3
Semifinals: 1
Finals: 1
Championships: 0
Best year: 1996 (41-31-10-0, lost in Stanley Cup Finals)
Worst year: 2002 (22-44-10-6)
Winnings: -$92.75

Number: 92
Team: Kings
City: Kansas City
League: NBA
Years: 1974 – 1985 (12)
Playoffs: 5
Semifinals: 1
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 1981 (40-42, lost in Western Conference finals)
Worst year: 1982 (30-52)
Winnings: -$91.79

Number: 91
Team: Blue Jackets
City: Columbus
League: NHL
Years: 1974 – 2010 (37)
Playoffs: 9
Semifinals: 1
Finals: 0
Championships: 0
Best year: 2009 (41-31, lost in first round of playoffs)
Worst year: 2002 (22-47-8-5)
Winnings: -$88.75