Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
On second thought, this reminds me of 91
After numerous anti-Gardenhire, depressing rants, in many ways this team remainds me of the 1991 Twins. It's a player by player type of break down. Bear with me.
The Twins, of course, had the core group in town that had been successful for many years. Some were appreciated, some were under appreciated, maybe a few were even overrated. You had:
The popular home town hero: Kent Hrbek/Joe Mauer
The popular, long time outfielder: Kirby Puckett/Michael Cuddyer
The leadoff hitter having a very down year: Dan Gladden/Denard Span
The outfielder who had a breakout year after geting regular playing time: Shane Mack/Delmon Young
But then there were the holes that needed to be filled. For example:
A middle of the lineup power hitting DH: Chili Davis/Jim Thome
Someone to fill a long thorny infield position: Mike Pagliarulo/Orlando Hudson
A dynamic rookie to fill another problem infield position: Chuck Knoblauch/Danny Valencia
And don't forget the pitching staff!
Some new additions bolstered the relief corps: Steve Bedrosian and Carl Willis/Matt Capps and Brian Fuentes
The young pitcher who may end up having the best year of his career: Kevin Tapani/Brian Duensing
The pitcher so brilliant early in his career, but needed to be monitored for injury later: Scott Erickson/Francisco Liriano
And of course, the ace with the mustache: Jack Morris/Carl Pavano
Links of the Day 9/29/10
We are the Indians
One of the most historically inept "good" teams of all time was the Cleveland Indians. They had the AL Central locked down for almost a decade, winning the AL Central crown 6 times in 7 years from 1995 to 2001. The Twins are a little bit less successful in that regard, having only won their 6 titles in 9 years. The Indians were always regarded as an exercise in futility, winning the crown but never taking down the World Series. Everyone felt bad for Cleveland since it has such a sad sports history.
Well here's the thing. The Indians went to and lost 2 World Series and managed to find their way to two more ALCS's. In the Twins' stretch, the team has one SERIES victory under their belt. I guess I shouldn't have said the Twins ARE the Indians, because when held up against the Indians, the Twins are substantially less successful. I think that as a fan, this will be a significantly less enjoyable post season than usual, if only because I will no longer accept just getting to the post season as a success.
Links of the Day 9/28/10
The Reds made the postseason!
This was sort of a scary incident. I have to say, if someone was spitting on me and yelling ethnic slurs at me, I might have reacted similarly.
So the Twins are saving their wins for the postseason, right? RIGHT?!
Labels: Links of the Day
Monday, September 27, 2010
Some fun college football thoughts
Ever since Steve and I set up the college football simulation a few years ago, I always take in the NCAA game with the 12 10 team divisions in mind. Now that we are a few seasons in, and several of the same teams are getting into the season ending tournament year after year, a year like this gives a little perspective on how the landscape of the game is changing. If the simulation shakes out such that the highest ranked teams actually do top the divisions, the 12 postseason teams would be thus:
North Carolina State
I think the most stunning inclusions have to be NC State and Air Force, right? Though it would be pretty interesting to have this tournament without USC for the first time since it's inception.
Links of the Day 9/27/10
Sunday, September 26, 2010
It's Sunday, Here's a fat man running.
Links of the Day 9/26/10
Saturday, September 25, 2010
NFL Computerized Power Ranks: Week 2
Even though the Steelers are #1, I'm giving the picture nod this week to Matt Schaub of the #2 Texans, who threw for almost 500 yards last week and won what was the most exciting game of Week 2 (Thanks Sunday Ticket!....the Monday night Saints-49ers game was a close 2nd). Speaking of that Saints narrow victory in San Francisco, they hang on to the #3 spot this week. The Bears leaped up 6 spots to move into #4 after their impressive win over Dallas, and the Packers move into the #5 spot.
3 out of the original 5 bottom 5 teams won in week 2, so we have some newcomers. Staying put are the Rams (#32) and 49ers (#31, even though I think they are way better than the 31st team in the NFL based on Monday Night), and joining them are the Cowboys (#30, another one that probably won't stay), Lions, and Bills (Those 2 probably will).
I know this is only week 2, but some teams had night/day performances between the 2 weeks, and as a result, we saw some of the most dramatic movement since I have been doing this ranks. The Broncos jumped 18 spots from dead last to #14. The Chargers also jumped 17 spots, and the Bengals 14. The victims of the Broncos, the Seahawks, fell 18 spots to #24, and the Jaguars, Giants, and Cardinals all dropped 13 spots.
Here are the full ranks:
1. Steelers - 83.55 - +3
2. Texans - 79.41 - Even
3. Saints - 78.92 - Even
4. Bears - 76.29 - +6
5. Packers - 75.73 - +6
6. Buccaneers - 74.89 - -1
7. Chiefs - 72.55 - +6
8. Falcons - 69.65 - +11
9. Dolphins - 66.61 - +7
10. Chargers - 62.07 - +17
11. Colts - 61.10 - +6
12. Jets - 58.23 - +6
13. Titans - 54.33 - -12
14. Broncos - 51.99 - +18
15. Bengals - 47.74 - +14
16. Redskins - 47.69 - -1
17. Eagles - 46.08 - +5
18. Patriots - 45.81 - -10
19. Ravens - 44.35 - -5
20. Jaguars - 42.31 - -13
21. Browns - 38.87 - -1
22. Giants - 37.77 - -13
23. Raiders - 37.55 - +8
24. Seahawks - 36.05 - -18
25. Cardinals - 32.98 - -13
26. Vikings - 30.00 - -3
27. Panthers - 29.65 - -6
28. Bills - 26.13 - -3
29. Lions - 26.05 - -3
30. Cowboys - 23.25 - -7
31. 49ers - 21.37 - -3
32. Rams - 19.19 - -2
Links of the Day 9/25/10
Cooking with Ryan; Salmon with cilantro vinaigrette
It was basted in the aforementioned cilantro vinaigrette, which afforded me an opportunity to use my blender for something other than milkshakes and margaritas. That went well. I accidentally grabbed mozzarella instead of Parmesan, but I don't think that was a huge difference when it was on the fish. Unlike the last fillet of salmon I made, this one was very flavorful, even on it's own. I mean, I think I want to order salmon the next time I go out to eat I enjoyed it this much. And that would be made by a professional chef, so they would theoretically know it was cooked.
Now let me talk about what I had going on under the fillet. You had better believe that was penne and broccoli. The broccoli was steamed with a bunch of seasoning and some lemon juice and turned out great. I had never had broccoli quite like that before, and it was quite delicious. And, well, I love noodles. So the penne was good. EVERYTHING worked out with this meal, aside, of course, from my own misgivings about the fish, but it all tasted very good.
Labels: Cooking with Ryan
Friday, September 24, 2010
Links of the Day 9/24/10
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Twins MVP, 2010
The whole team. Every one of them is an MVP. I'll even include some non-factors like Brendan Harris, although if you don't want to include the likes of him, Ron Mahay and Randy Flores, I'm down with that.
The thing is, it took all seven thousand of them to win this year (really, I lost track of how many guys have played this year). When Slowey and Baker were injured, and when Blackburn struggled and was sent to the minors...the likes of Dunesing stepped in, with spot starts with by Manship and Perkins. When Justin Morneau--a guy heading towards another MVP season hit his head and ended up with a concussion, and missed the entire second half of the year, Cuddyer moved positions for the millionth time (he played second base, third base, and center field, other than his position in right field). Jason Kubel went from part-time DH to right field. Jim Thome went from part-time bench/part time DH to DH. Hardy, Hudson, and Punto all missed time in the infield. Valencia showed up. Casilla filled in. Like Hughes filled in for a few games. Butera showed himself as a capable defensive catcher, and seemed to have a fair amount of clutch hits that made his lack of hits in general a little easier to take.
So, who's the MVP? Is Cuddyer's reported leadership and flexibility more worthwhile than finally getting a real third baseman or a phenomenal defensive/offensive catcher or a starter who pitched strongly or a pitcher who should be considered in the Cy Young based on peripherals, or the bullpen's work both early and late in the season? Who is it? I think it's everyone put together. By everyone I'm including Bill Smith and the front office, the scouts in the field, the trainers, the coaches in both the majors and minors, and everyone else involved with this Twins season.
There is no easy way to pick a team MVP. It's a team sport. You can't say a starting pitcher is more valuable than a bullpen pitcher--starters can lose games before the bullpen gets involved, and bullpens can lose games after the start has left. A clean-up hitting first baseman can't get RBIs if the batters before him don't get on base. A power-hitting DH can't win games with his bat if no one else hits or plays defense. A great-called game by a catcher is worthless if defense doesn't back it up, or no one gets a hit. It's all combined efforts that win games.
So who's the MVP of the Twins this year? Whomever you think. Although if you've picked Matt Tolbert or Trevor Plouffe, I'd like a rational explanation.
Links of the Day 9/23/10
Labels: Minnesota Twins
Links of the Day 9/22/10
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
The Akinori Iwamura story
He traveled with the A's this past weekend to Minnesota, where he played third base on Sunday's matinee. In the 6th inning of that game, he was battling Alex Burnett, and on the 8th pitch of a long at bat, with the 3-2 count, he popped a foul ball behind the plate and right into the waiting right hand of my father.
(Fun side story... I watched the replay to see if you could see my dad snag the foul ball, but you couldn't. He said that he considered giving the ball to a little girl sitting nearby, but noticed an Inaugural Season logo on the ball so he kept it. Two batters before, FSN cut to a guy giving a little girl a foul ball.)
Labels: Akinori Iwamura
Links of the Day 9/21/10
Monday, September 20, 2010
The Favre Sad Gallery, Week 2
Links of the Day 9/20/10
Sunday, September 19, 2010
NFL Computerized Power Ranks: Week 1
However, the week 1 power rankings are usually pretty worthless. Recent success takes last season heavily into account and all the 1-0 teams have a terrible strength of schedule while all the 0-1 teams have a perfect strength of schedule. I have some pretty high doubts that some the teams at the top of these first ranks, who took advantage of beating down bad teams, will still be at the top at the end of the season, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Saints and even the Texans or Titans are still there.
The bottom 5 is pretty interesting to start the year. I wouldn't be too surprised if most of these teams stay there almost all season. The Broncos look pretty bad, and the Raiders, Rams, and 49ers have been no strangers to the bottom 5 over the past few years (even though the 49ers were allegedly going to be better this year). It's not a stretch the Bengals will stay down there too, despite a good year last year.
Here are the initial ranks:
1. Titans - 81.77
2. Texans - 78.06
3. Saints - 77.58
4. Steelers - 75.32
5. Buccaneers - 71.61
6. Seahawks - 68.06
7. Jaguars - 67.90
8. Patriots - 67.58
9. Giants - 66.94
10. Bears - 66.77
11. Packers - 65.16
12. Cardinals - 64.68
13. Chiefs - 62.90
14. Ravens - 61.94
15. Redskins - 61.61
16. Dolphins - 59.35
17. Colts - 44.84
18. Jets - 44.68
19. Falcons - 42.90
20. Browns - 42.58
21. Panthers - 40.97
22. Eagles - 37.42
23(tie). Cowboys - 36.61
23(tie). Vikings - 36.61
25. Bills - 33.55
26. Lions - 31.77
27. Chargers - 30.65
28. 49ers - 29.84
29. Bengals - 29.03
30. Rams - 28.87
31. Raiders - 21.77
32. Broncos - 19.03
Links of the day 9/19/10
Yep, that's Joe Torre all right
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Links of the Day 9/18/10
Friday, September 17, 2010
Not that Jeter gets treated like a god or anything
Ron Gardenhire is amused.Every commentator on ESPN, from Josh Eliot to Mark Schlereth has expressed their admiration for such an intelligent, gritty player. If it was ANYONE else in the game, do you think the reviews would be as glowing? I think I'm just going to be happy that he has a fastball coming for his ribs in the not so distant future.
Links of the Day 9/17/10
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Cooking with Ryan: Macaroni and ham bake
This was an extraordinarily simple little bake, which was greatly appreciated after the massacre that was the Canton beef noodles, though I have to say the leftovers, doused with soy sauce, were actually pretty tolerable. This was just some macaroni in eggs and milk, baked with ham. The only thing is, I didn't want to go get more ham when I had other pork products all over my refrigerator. I still had some pancetta from the risotto I made a few weeks ago, so I threw that in instead of the ham. The only seasoning was pepper, so the fat of the pancetta was rendered out into the pasta, which gave it a nice added flavor. Pancetta is more like bacon than traditional ham, so it wasn't quite as salty as the original recipe intended, I'm sure. It was still pretty good, and I'm always proud of myself when I'm able to tweak a recipe a little bit and have it come out OK.
The green on the plate is just steamed broccoli with a little lemon juice. It's the right idea, something a little lighter to cut the heaviness of the pasta, but something about broccoli isn't light for me. It was still a good meal when it was all put together, though, so yay me.
Labels: Cooking with Ryan
Links of the Day 9/16/10
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
The 2011 schedules are out
Hey, the MLB 2011 schedules already came out. The things I always look forward to are the opening day, home opener and interleague series. Of course, I also take a particular note of who the Twins are playing on my birthday, because I like to go to the game in that situation. Well, how about a run down.
The season opens on April 1st in Toronto against the Blue Jays. A week later on the 8th, they will be facing the A's for the Target Field opener. The interleague series are against Arizona, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles (the Dodgers, of course) and of course, two against Milwaukee. The Dodgers and Padres are at home, in addition to one series against the Brewers.
My birthday, for those who forgot (which better be nobody) is April 5th, and the Twins will be on the road in... New York. I have never been to the City, and I am terrified. Wish me luck (or come along!)
Labels: Minnesota Twins
Links of the Day 9/15/10
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Here we go again
Back in June, I touched upon the mayoral race in my adoptive home town, Eagan, and the quixotic campaign of former Vikings' safety Joey Browner. As per usual, I took my facts from the Star Tribune, and splayed them across the internet at my site, and once again, I have been derailed by the Star Tribune. EaganResident has taken it upon themselves to comment:
Lets get more facts down:
The decision is being appealed and therefore should not be paid
He made the deadline. First people complain that he did not make a deadline and now they are complaining about that he did make the deadline. I find it interesting that an employee at Eagan found it necessary to inform the press of the time Browner filed but nothing is said of Maquire's timing.
His website is up and running. Try it again joeybrownerformayor.com
Lets get the facts right before you call them facts
Good stuff. It should be noted that on the interview portion of the site, he cites a Star Tribune commenter to decry the mayor. But that's not the point. Relaying the facts given to me by a credible news source has once again led me astray. Joey Browner, have you heard of Ben Repinski?
Links of the day 9/14/10
Monday, September 13, 2010
College whiners irk me.
For whatever reason, the idea of people selling jerseys of college teams has become quite the point of contention for people railing against the idea of not paying people to play college sports. Well, there have been a couple of sites that I saw the complaint on, namely The Big Lead, Barry Petchesky at Deadspin, and this post at Fanhouse by Kevin Blackistone.
Give me a break. Let's run down a few facts: most college athletes in the most profitable sports (football and basketball are the only two that are actually profitable, generally speaking) ARE paid. Do you know how much most college students would LOVE to be on a free ride at their school? Do you know how much the inclusion on a sports roster boosts one's notoriety and resume? Make no mistake, most of these athletes are paid upwards of 30k a year.
If you look up the typical pay of a meteorologist, you will see something in the 6 figures. The numbers are skewed because of the ones on TV and a few of the senior meteorologists at the National Weather Service. Most pro meteorologists make less than 30k a year. This would be about the same discrepancy between a college athlete and one in the NFL or NBA. It's not insane for someone to make 25k a year while other members of their profession make significantly more. And for those that are upset they aren't getting that money in cash, then I say it's their fault if they are too stupid to parlay a free education into a successful career.
As for the millions the school rakes in, I need to remind you that those millions typically go to fund other programs. Were the schools to pay athletes, then the school starts losing money. Programs are dropped. And if there IS a profit, that goes back into the school. Most of these universities are non profit, so that extra cash goes back into courses, research professors and facilities. Remember? These are schools we're talking about, not the big bad NFL.
Blackistone made reference to the plight of one particular athlete. The problem with allowing one player an exception is that it's a slippery slope. If one athlete at Georgia is allowed to take money from the school on top of his scholarship (and that's what selling their property is), then what's to stop an athlete from a less privileged school, like, say, Idaho, from doing the same?
Now that I have talked about that, I can start in on the fallacy of a playoff being more fair than the present system. Perhaps another time.
Links of the Day 9/13/10
Sunday, September 12, 2010
At least it's NFL Season
I'm a fan of two teams in the college game, the Purdue Boilermakers, my alma mater, and the Minnesota Golden Gophers, the home town team. The season's second week was played, mostly in full, yesterday, and I can already tell this isn't going to be a good year for football.
Both the Gophers and Boilermakers played FCS (lower level) teams this week, the Gophers against South Dakota and the Boilermakers against Western Illinois. Minnesota lost to South Dakota 41-38, and Purdue narrowly edged the Leathernecks of Western Illinois, 31-21.
The Gophers couldn't stop South Dakota at all on defense and ended up allowing 41 points. Imagine what will happen when they have to face a real opponent, like USC, Ohio State or Wisconsin or... hell even Northwestern.
Purdue won, so that means they are a little bit better than Minnesota, I guess, though they struggled. Not only that, they fought injury the whole game, including a devastating injury to their top receiver, Keith Smith, though that was in the 4th quarter when the game shouldh ave been in hand. And by "in hand" I mean, Smith shouldn't have even been on the field, because the second team should have been babysitting a 40 point lead. But alas, this was not the case, and both of my college teams are woebegone, and I am looking forwards instead to the NFL team. At least it appears the Colts have locked up their run defense.
Links of the Day 9/12/10
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Nine years have passed so quickly
Links of the Day 9/11/10
Friday, September 10, 2010
History is repeating itself!
Anyways, as the game began, Richard Dawson was interviewing Danny White, the new quarterback for the Cowboys now that Roger Staubach had retired. Well, White had some interesting comments on the topic (paraphrasing):
"Well, we hope he's retiring. He says he is, but he could still come back. He may change his mind. He's always been a practical joker."
Danny White is Aaron Rodgers.
Links of the Day 9/10/11
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Links of the Day 9/9/10
Could this be the last of the Vikings?
It's no secret to anyone who doesn't want to sit around in denial; Zygi Wilf would move the team at the drop of a hat, if it means more money for him. He is a business man, first and foremost, and has no affiliation or loyalty to Minnesota, aside from the fact that he owns the football team. He is in it to make money, not for Minnesota. Even if there is a new stadium built in Minnesota, the thought is that the state will require Wilf to chip in. There is a stadium already built in Los Angeles, waiting for a football team. Depending on how things go with the CBA, profit sharing could be completely revamped, meaning a team in a major urban center could stand to be much more profitable than one in a town like Minneapolis, especially if that team is on the hook for part of a new stadium.And the Dome lease will soon be at it's end.
Oh, sure, it would take a while to get everything taken care of, but after this season, it's looking more and more like there won't be a 2011 season, thanks to the increasing likelihood of a lockout. The CBA is being debated, which could be bad news for small market teams, and would more notably give the Vikings a two year window to plan their move to LA, without football. These two factors could mean we are experiencing the last season of the Vikings in Minnesota.
And yes, LA might be adding the Jaguars already, but why couldn't LA support another team? New York and the Bay area do. The Raiders and Rams left when there wasn't really anything different between a small and large market. And wouldn't the NFL want a more interesting team than the Jaguars in Los Angeles anyways?
This isn't something I necessarily want to happen. I don't like the Vikings, but it doesn't mean I wish they would go away. I'm just saying... enjoy this season, I guess.
Labels: Los Angeles Vikings
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Links of the Day 9/8/10
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
I hate Nike
The Oregon Ducks, it turns out, have just been a warning beacon to us all. Nike WILL be infiltrating the rest of college football with their uniform retardery, and there is nothing we can do about it. In ESPN's college football preview (in the magazine, which I can't figure out how to hyperlink to), football players rated the Oregon unis the best. Damn kids, not knowing what's what.
Well, Nike, now emboldened by the next generation of half-witted, pot-smoking hippy kids, rolled out their "pro combat" uniforms, which almost unanimously look terrible. Of course, everyone under the age of 22 thinks they look amazing. Kids are morons.
TCU's are far and away the worst. "The helmet has two red lines down the center that represent the blood that shoots from a horned frog’s eyes when under attack. Lewis said the lines also symbolized the brotherhood that unites the team." I would have thought a Christian school would look down on abortions like this.
Paul Lukas is the only saving grace in this regard. Why can't the sane every be heard in dens of madness?
Links of the Day 9/7/10
Monday, September 06, 2010
Cooking with Ryan: Canton beef noodles
Well, they can't all be winners. I'm not sure EXACTLY what went wrong with this, but I know how it ended it up: slimy and flavorless. The sauce had ginger, red pepper, soy sauce, and beef broth, and there was garlic in the stir fry, so by all means, it should have tasted like SOMETHING. But it didn't. And like I said, it was slimy. Here are my theories:
1) The slime was because of the noodles, which were overcooked
2) Too much corn starch in the sauce
3) The sauce was too warm when it was added to the noodles and stir fry.
I have no idea. The steak in it was good though. Other than that, the less said about this the better.
Labels: Cooking with Ryan
Links of the day 9/6/10
Sunday, September 05, 2010
Is this a bad thing?
Links of the Day 9/5/10
Saturday, September 04, 2010
Ryan's 2010 NFL Predictions
New England Patriots
New York Jets
I don't like the Jets as much as some do. sure, they made a post season run, but they really only made the playoffs last year because Indy gifted them a win. I think this division will be tight and very competitive, which will be a problem for the Jets and Dolphins, because teams from weaker divisions, like the North, will be able to accumulate more wins and get into the playoffs. The Patriots should be able to put up enough points that the Dolphins can't keep up. The only way this goes the way of the Jets is if Shonn Green is as good as advertised, and probably a little better.
Balitmore Ravens - 1st Round bye
Cincinnati Bengals - Wild Card
I think it's funny that it took until AFTER offensive guru Brian Billick was out of town for the team to figureo out how to move the ball. Joe adds a new target in Anquan Boldin and still has Ray Rice to rely on. And yes, the defense is going downhill, but it's still good, just not elite as it once was. I think Bengals will also be able to move the ball with alacrity, especially now with a real live tight end to throw the ball to in Jermaine Gresham. They will get into the post season, but only as the last place team in, thanks to defensive issues. I think the Steelers are in a lot of trouble. Their O-Line isn't good, their defense is suspect and they are starting Dennis Dixon for the first two weeks of the season. In Cleveland, the Colt Countdown has already begun.
Indianapolis Colts - Home Field
Tennessee Titans - Wild Card
I really think the Colts are due for a collapse, seeing as they have no running game and the defense is always inconsistent (though I LOVE that they picked so many LB's in this year's draft), but I think the other teams in the AFC South are going to be hamstrung by their own incompetence. I think in Tennessee, the issues are with their defense, not with Vince Young, who I think is a perfect complement to Chris Johnson out of hte backfield. The Jaguars are always the Colts' Achilles heel and have a good running game and are always feisty on defense. They may surprise a bit this year. Everyone seems to think this is the year the Texans break through, but just look at what has gone wrong. Their two needs were secondary and an enhanced running game. Their starting cornerback, Dunta Robinson took off, and the running back they drafted, Ben Tate, blew up his ankle. I figure everything else has gone wrong for them, so why not put them in last place.
Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego Chargers
I fully expect crazy things to happen in the AFC West, where every team could end up 8-8 or 7-9. The Chiefs are my pick as a sleeper this year, perhaps because I am insane, but I have my reasons. This year, they aren't going to be hamstrung by trying to put Larry Johnson in the lineup and can depend on Jamaal Charles (and Thomas Jones) for the entire season. The coaching staff improved, and the defense will follow suit. They will have two real receivers for the entire season in Chris Chambers and Dwayne Bowe, and they have a dynamic new offensive component in newly drafted Dexter McLuster. The Chargers are on a slippery slope and Philip Rivers has nobody to throw to. The Raiders will benefit from an improved defense and a quarterback who cares. The Broncos will likely be one of he worst teams in the league.
New York Giants - 1st Round bye
Dallas Cowboys - Wild Card
Philadelphia Eagles - Wild Card
I think Steve and I had similar thoughts here, in that this could be a division that puts three teams in the playoffs. I think the AFC South will be weaker than Steve does, so I am comfortable giving a spot to the Eagles, who will benefit from dynamic playmakers away from the quarterback position. Ahead of them, however, will be the Giants and their balanced attack. I think the defense will be better too, because Tom Coughlin won't let it be as bad as it was. The Cowboys can't be as good as they were last year. People will expect Miles Austin now, and will be able to key on him. The Cowboys D needs to be healthy. The Redskins just don't have the right personnel on defense and still haven't done anything to address the offensive line, which will be the problem for McNabb, more than his receiving corps or his running backs, whose average age is 74.
Green Bay Packers - Home Field
This year is the Packers' to lose. I had a few extra days to see what would happen in this division, and the Vikings may be out their two top receivers from last year, they no longer have Chester Taylor, and their defense will not be as strong as last year, owing the injury to EJ Henderson last season, which I am not comfortable that he is fully returned from, the fact that their secondary isn't any better and, well, that's about it. The Packers will be able to score at will, and they addressed their offensive line, which was a drastic need. The Lions and Bears are probably going to finish with about the same record. I just have them in the order they are at to be different from Steve.
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
San Francisco 49ers
Saint Louis Rams
The 49ers will run over this division, but get beat up in their non conference schedule. Their defense is the selling point, and I suspect their offense will languish. Frank Gore is a near certainty to get hurt, and Alex Smith is still trying to figure out how to be a pro quarterback, but the rest of the division is still just so bad. The Cardinals should be in last place, but they also play in a division with two of the most pitiful teams in football. Their offense won't be AS bad as it could be. They still have a ton of receivers and some options to run with. The Seahawks could turn it around soon, but they are in desperate need of talent on the offensive side of the ball. The Rams... ugh.
Wild Card Playoffs
Titans over Chiefs
Patriots over Bengals
Eagles over 49ers
Falcons over Cowboys
Colts over Titans
Ravens over Patriots
Packers over Eagles
Falcons over Giants
Colts over Ravens
Packers over Falcons
Packers over Colts
MVP - Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Coach of the Year - Todd Haley, Chiefs
Offensive Rookie of the Year - Dexter McLuster, Chiefs
Defensive Rookie of the Year - Brandon Spikes, Patriots
Links of the Day 9/4/10
Friday, September 03, 2010
So What are the REAL Competitively Balanced Divisions?
When the Big Ten announced their realignment on Wednesday, they said that both competitive balance and geography played a part in setting up the divisions. A lot has been said about the geography side of things. An East-West split seemed pretty easy, but what about the Competitive balance part of it. My guess is the Big Ten grouped and then split pairs of teams by competitiveness. It was probably something like 1. Ohio State - Michigan 2. Nebraska - Penn State 3. Iowa - Wisconsin 4. Purdue - Michigan State 5. Illinois - Minnesota 6. Northwestern - Indiana.
But, what if the Big Ten used real numbers to split up their divisions? I thought this would be interesting to look at, so I looked at each of the 12 teams records throughout the BCS Era (since 1998). I feel like that is a pretty good gauge of competitiveness. You have 12 years to work with, this was an era when things became a little more standardized in college football, and its recent history. Sure, Illinois was awesome in the 1920s with Red Grange, but how much does that matter or affect their recruiting now? Remember, colleges are trying to recruit kids that were born in 1992 or 1993 this year, so the BCS started when they were 4 or 5. So let's take a look at the standings since 1998. These records include bowl games and conference championship games (for Nebraska). Teams in the real life Ohio State division are in red and teams in the real life Michigan division are in blue:
|1. Ohio State||119||32||0.788|
|5. Penn State||96||52||0.649|
|8. Michigan State||76||70||0.521|
So, if we were to split up the conferences from a competitive standpoint, we would put teams 1. 4, 5, 8, 9, and 12 together and teams 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, and 11 together (to make it a "snake" pattern). This means the divisions would be:
Division A: Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Indiana
Division B: Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois
This is interesting because in real life, the Big Ten put the top 2 and bottom 2 teams over the past 12 years together, leaving the other division to mostly be the "middle of the pack" division. Divison A looks much stronger on paper in the alignment above, but its actually more balanced, at least over the 12 years. The interesting thing is in his alignment, pretty much only the Purdue/Indiana and maybe the Iowa and Wisconsin vs. Minnesota rivalries would be lost to realignment, probably eliminating the real life need for a cross-conference protected rivalry.
I also took it one step further, because the Big Ten is all about money. Bowl game appearances bring in big bucks, so I gave 1 extra "win" for a bowl bid and 2 extra "wins" for a BCS bid. This didn't change the standings that much, but here they are:
|1. Ohio State||119||32||0.788||3||8||0.914|
|5. Penn State||96||52||0.649||5||2||0.709|
|9. Michigan State||76||70||0.521||6||0||0.562|
Division A: Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Indiana
Division B: Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois
I'm sure under this format they would have done the cross-division rivalry because they split up "sacred" Michigan and Ohio State. What would the other 5 be? I'll guess Nebraska vs. Iowa, Minnesota vs. Wisconsin, Purdue vs. Indiana, Illinois vs. Penn State, and Michigan State vs. Northwestern. The most interesting thing I realized while doing this is that Illinois has only been to 3 bowl games in the past 12 years, and 2 of them have been BCS bowls. Weird. But that's why splitting them up by BCS appearances alone can be deceiving. Also, who would have guessed that Wisconsin has the 2nd best record over the past 12 years, even when you correct for bowls? They have been very, very consistently above average, but rarely great.
I'm interested to hear what you think about these other possible alignments. Feel free to leave a comment.
Labels: Big Ten
Links of the Day 9/3/10
It's like the Roman Gladiators
This was probably the best basebrawl not involving Kyle Farnsworth in about a decade. My favorite part? Pat Listach!
Links of the Day 9/2/10
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
As expected, the Big Ten messed up divisional alignment
Division A) Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota and Northwestern
Division B) Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue and Indiana.
The claim was made that they wanted to look at three things when creating their divisions, in this order: competitive balance, traditional rivalries and geography. Well great, you screwed up all of them. Let's review what they did wrong addressing all three of those factors, in reverse order.
Geography: This should be pretty office. An East-West split would have preserved a truer geographic balance. Have fun with your inter divisional game against Penn State, Wisconsin, as you pass through Northwestern on your way to get there! But really, this wasn't as bad as it could have been, as two teams in the middle of the Big Ten -- Wisconsin and Illinois -- were swapped with the two teams from Michigan.
Traditional rivalries: Most traditional rivalries are best preserved by a true East-West split, and as a result, most of the broken rivalries are because of the 4 teams that got swapped, like Minnesota and Iowa vs Wisconsin, Illinois vs Northwestern, Michigan vs Ohio State and Michigan State vs. Penn State. Realizing how important these rivalries are, the Big Ten, in their infinite wisdom, will have a set, cross divisional rivalry for every team. They are: Minnesota-Wisconsin, Michigan-Ohio State, Illinois - Northwestern. After that, it gets fun. Iowa - Purdue, Indiana - Michigan State (because this is basketball) and Nebraska - Penn State. So much for geography. And if they go with the 8 game schedule as is common, they will play their 5 divisional games, the 6th crossover game and 2 rotating games. This means that there will be 1 team that you won't see on the schedule for 3 seasons. That's pretty awesome for traditional rivalries, like Iowa-Wisconsin. Of course, there is the chance another conference game is added to the schedule, which may yet happen, but hasn't been confirmed to my knowledge.
Competitive Balance: I have discussed this at length. A true east-west division would be just as competitive as whatever monstrosity this is. Actually, probably more so. Putting Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin in the same conference would have assured a deep western conference. Furthermore, Illinois has been to a BCS game within the past few years, making this conference extraordinarily deep. On the other side, you have Ohio State and Penn State who have fielded any sort of talented roster in the past 5 years. Michigan and Purdue have been BCS teams, but it's been a very long time for each of them. Instead, Michigan was decreed to be just as high quality as Ohio State, and they were split up. Give me a break. When did Michigan become Notre Dame? Do we really need to coddle them and tell them they are pretty even though they haven't been relevant for several years? How long until Michigan is viewed as what they are, a relic of history?
Let's face the facts, this was done for money. Michigan-Ohio State is the cash cow of the Big Ten. The split of those two teams drove the entire alignment. Congratulations, Nebraska, you left a conference that responded to the whims of Texas for one that responds only to Michigan and Ohio State.
Labels: Big Ten
Links of the Day 9/1/10
Is it worth it to have Kubel in the tield?
On the surface, this is an obvious "yes". But of course, we aren't replacing the bat of Gomez with the bat of Thome, we are replacing the glove of Gomez with the glove of Kubel as well. This is an overly simplistic take on the situation, of course, but it's a look worth taking.
Kubel's fielding this year has been very poor by almost every metric. His fielding percentage is high, of course, because of the balls he gets to, he usually catches. Of course, he doesn't get to all that many balls. His fielding percentage is the lowest among outfielders, and his WAR (wins above replacement) based solely on fielding is -.8. His bat is actually not doing a whole lot this year, and is providing only a .7 WAR this year, but we aren't looking at that. For comparison purposes, Gomez's fielding WAR was .9, so the change in fielding WAR is -1.7. Not so great (and that's comparing Gomez to Kubel... the comparison to Delmon Young is even more staggering, - 2.8)
Thome, who is evaluated exclusively on his bat, is providing a WAR of 2.4. It's his best season since 2007, which is why he is in the lineup every day. If this tells you how much more valuable a bat is than a glove, Carlos Gomez' outstanding glove gave him the same WAR as his forgettable bat: .9. The change, then, from having Thome instead of Gomez is +1.5. Again, we aren't taking into account Delmon Young's addition to the every day lineup
Certainly, there are flaws in the logic and my methodology... I'm doing this after 1100pm on a Tuesday night, after all. For example, a truer reflection of the outfield defense would explore Gomez vs Span in center and Kubel vs Span as a corner outfielder. Also, my understanding of the statistics used isn't as good as it should be, but the simplified conclusion I have made here is this: A straight replacement of Gomez with Thome, moving Kubel from DH to the field is a slight downgrade in the quality of the team. Thank goodness for Delmon Young's bat and JJ Hardy's glove.