Well, I had written this for the Mariner Central website, as Lonnie had asked me to cover his beat for the week, but I didn't realize until finished that http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifhe had in fact written the recap for this night! Whoops! Not wanting the work to go to waste, I decided to go ahead and post it here. To see more of the same from Lonnie or myself, check out Mariner Central.
Don't expect regular posts on this subject. I just didn't want this to go to waste.
A: Clinton 4, Burlington 3
CLI: 11-29... BUR: 28-10
Edlando Seco: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, wild pitch
Nathan Reed: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
Jandy Sena: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, balk
Tyler Burgoon: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
Wind: 12 mph in from CF
Kevin Rivers: 1-4, double, RBI, walk, K
Mickey Wiswall: 1-3, double, RBI
Jake Schlander: 1-4, 2 run HR, 2 K
A bullpen relay led by Edlando Seco's first start of the season kept the Midwest League's best team in check, holding them to three runs while managing four runs against the league's best pitching and defense (3.03 runs/game).
Burlington's Tyler Vail, who had four walks on the season coming into this game, walked four batters in his 4.1 innings including two in the first. Bees manager Aaron Nieckula suspected foul umpiring and got himself tossed in the 2nd after Jake Schlander's 2 run bomb made it 3-0 (Schlander BTW really needed that after opening his Clinton tenure with a 2 for 16 skid following demotion from High Desert).
The Bees did claw their way back in against Seco and Nathan Reed to tie it at 3 in the 6th. But Clinton got a break on a leadoff error in the 7th to put Tim Morris aboard. After Morris stole a base and took 3rd on a bad pickoff throw, Mickey Wiswall sac flied him in to give Clinton the 4-3 lead, which Jandy Sena and closer Tyler Burgoon did not relinquish.
Morris now leads the Lumber Kings with 7 stolen bags, while Wiswall's sac fly gives him a team-leading 16 RBI.
A+: High Desert 10, Lancaster 8
Mavs: 18-22... Jethawks: 17-23
Anthony Fernandez: 4.0 IP, 11 H, (6 R), 1 BB, 4 K
Jason Markovitz: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 K
Willy Kesler: 3.2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
Wind: 30 mph L to R
Nick Franklin: 1-6, double, 2 K
Matthew Cerrione: 2-5, R, 2 K
Vincent Catricala: 2-5, solo HR, 2 R
Dennis Raben: 2-3, solo HR, solo HR, sac fly, walk, K
Mario Martinez: 2-5, triple, R, RBI, K
Denny Almonte: 2-5, 2 run HR, 2 K
Gabriel Noriega: 2-5, triple, RBI, K
The gusting wind likely turned damn near everything hit to RF a home run. The Mavs didn't help themselves with a 1st inning Vinnie Catricala error: The wind likely was a factor in screwing up the routine 1-3 putout that led instead to three Lancaster runs.
The wind was probably a factor all around. The Jethawks had a passed ball in the 1st themselves, and James Jones scored in the 2nd on a wild pitch. Jones himself had a heck of a time in RF, as several flyballs dropped around him, including two that helped score a Lancaster run to make it 4-1.
But the Mavs took advantage of the conditions in the 3rd, squeezing out four hits in five plate appearances, including Mario Martinez's swirling RBI triple to LF, followed by Denny Almonte riding the wind to a two run bomb to ultimately produce a 5-4 lead. But Lancaster themselves responded in the bottom 3rd as they and the wind further abused James Jones in RF with a two run triple to make it 6-5 Jethawks.
Miraculously (given these conditions) in the 4th, both teams got runners on 2nd and 3rd, and neither scored.
Dennis FREAKING Raben put a stop to that by leading off the 5th with a solo bomb to tie the ballgame at 5. The wind helped out on two throwing errors by Lancaster, James Jones stole another base, and Gabriel Noriega's triple all contributed to chasing Lancaster starter Bobby Doran as the Mavs took a 8-6 lead.
But having chased beleaguered Mavs starter Anthony Fernandez, Lancaster themselves responded in the bottom 5th off Jason Markovitz with three singles, a walk and a sac fly to tie the ballgame at 8.
But back to back jacks in the 6th by Catricala and Raben made it 10-8... and the scoring magically stopped. Even after loading the bases in that frame the Mavs did not get another run across. Willy Kesler stepped in during the 6th did not allow another airborne ball in play until the 9th inning, and even then Kesler went 1-2-3 as the Mavs held on.
AA: Jackson 6, Huntsville 4
JG's: 23-15... HUN: 19-20
Taylor Stanton: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
Stephen Penney: 0.1 IP, 2 H, (3 R), 1 BB, 1 K
Edward Paredes: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
Josh Fields: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Wind: 3 mph with varied direction
Carols Triunfel: 2-4, RBI
Kuo Hui Lo: 2-3, double, 3 run HR, 2 R, walk, K
rest of Generals: 3-21, 6 walks, 4 K
You know... I don't miss the moniker "West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx" at all. Yeah, the JG's redubbed themselves to celebrate a nostalgic anniversary, but I say they ought to keep the revised name. I even like the old school logo.
Whatever Taylor Stanton's doing, he ought to keep doing it. The M's wisely ignored his artificially inflated 8.20 ERA from High Desert and have seen him handle his first two AA starts just fine. Taylor followed an abbreviated 4.2 inning start with 6 shutout innings as the Generals built a 3-0 lead.
But leave it to the bullpen to hit the reset button in the 7th. Stephen Penney walked the leadoff batter and let Huntsville's Chuck Caufield go yard to make it 3-2. An unfortunate pair of groundballs (one of which led to Carlos Triunfel's 11th error of the season) put two men aboard before Penney got the hook for recently demoted Edward Paredes, and Lee Haydel blooped a pitch off Paredes into LF to tie the ballgame before a not so timely double play got the JGs out.
Paredes did strike out the side in the 8th, however, and Kuo Hui Lo became the hero with a two out three run bomb in the bottom half to give the Generals the lead for good. Huntsville eked out a two out run in the 9th off Josh Fields but could not get any more.
AAA: ORG SWEEP! The Rainiers had Wednesday off!
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Well, I had written this for the Mariner Central website, as Lonnie had asked me to cover his beat for the week, but I didn't realize until finished that http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifhe had in fact written the recap for this night! Whoops! Not wanting the work to go to waste, I decided to go ahead and post it here. To see more of the same from Lonnie or myself, check out Mariner Central.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Last year I composed a series of convoluted posts detailing each team's odds of winning their respective conference tournaments, then composed a full set of probabilities for each NCAA Tournament team to make the Final Four. Despite a little rust on the prob/stat end due to my theatre exploits, I jogged my memory and quickly whipped out a full set of probabilities, adjusting for the new wonky 68 team format.
The new at-large play-in format doesn't adversely affect those teams' already dim chances of making the Sweet 16 or Final Four. We're talking about 11 and 12 seeds here, after all. These teams are already facing long odds of getting to the Final Four. At worst, playing in cuts those chances by 70%, and if so that team's probably not good enough to project getting far anyway. More than likely, a worthy Cinderella candidate only sees their chances drop by 1/3... for example a 12% shot to make the Final Four becomes a 9% shot... not a huge difference.
In the distant past I've gone over the formula for determining each team's odds of winning individual games based on Sagarin ratings, and determining their odds of reaching certain points in the tournament based on Markov formulas. I won't bore you now with the details but rest assured this isn't just a bunch of numbers and ideas I pulled out of my ass.
So now, here are the four regions and odds for each team in the region:
The only region with two play in games has a lot of wonky stuff going on aside from the bonus action, but this is pretty much Ohio State's region for the taking.
Dark horse: Washington (7). I'd say Kentucky at #4 but they'll run into consensus #1 team Ohio State in the Sweet 16, easily the team to beat this year, and Orange would be a 2 to 1 dog in that matchup: I don't foresee an upset. UW, however, is a deserving but dangerous 7 seed that, for all their ups and downs (and legal trouble) this year, can play with just about anyone in the country. If they faced overseeded #2 UNC in round two I'd actually have the Huskies as the slight favorite, and think #3 Syracuse would give them a tougher but winnable challenge in the Sweet 16. Don't be too shocked if Ohio State ends up facing UW in the regional final. I won't say the Huskies would win... but they could certainly give the Buckeyes a scare at the least, and scoring the upset isn't impossible.
Overseeded: North Carolina (2) and Xavier (6). Reputation's pretty much carrying UNC in a down year: They're more like a 4 this year. Three teams below them (Syracuse, Kentucky, Washington) would be favorites to beat them on a neutral floor. Roy Williams' team would be fortunate to make the 2nd weekend, dad gummit. Xavier is more of a double digit seed, such a bad misseeding by the committee that they may have table-set a 1st round upset (more in a bit).
Underseeded: Clemson (12) and Marquette (11). Clemson did not have the best year but they should not be playing in when they're better than at least 4-5 other at-large teams, if not more. Marquette also got unduly punished, and probably deserved a single digit seed. 1st round opponent Xavier is similarly mismatched, and don't be surprised if Marquette sends Xavier packing.
No chance in hell: Neither 16 seed poses any sort of credible threat. Texas-San Antonio's odds at the Final Four are suitably long at 430,000 to 1, but the odds for Alabama State, easily the weakest team in this 68 team field, are so laughably long they make Powerball look like a better bet: 69,000,000 to 1. That is not an exaggeration. Their odds of getting to the round of 32 alone are 612 to 1 and their odds of making the 2nd weekend are roughly 23,800 to 1.
You have a better chance of... dying in a tsunami (condolences, Japan). In fact, you're more than ten times more likely to die randomly in a tsunami (615,488 to 1). Those odds obviously go up if you live on coastline in a fault zone, but still.
At least their odds are better than the odds of winning Powerball: 195,000,000 to 1.
1. Ohio State. Sweet 16: 79.3%. Final Four: 1.4 to 1 (41.5%)
2. North Carolina. Sweet 16: 46.2%. Final Four: 9.5 to 1
3. Syracuse. Sweet 16: 59.4%. Final Four: 7.2 to 1
4. Kentucky. Sweet 16: 59.4%. Final Four: 6.0 to 1
5. West Virginia. Sweet 16: 26.4%. Final Four: 27.3 to 1
6. Xavier. Sweet 16: 14.6%. Final Four: 96.9 to 1
7. Washington. Sweet 16: 45.1%. Final Four: 8.3 to 1
8. George Mason. Sweet 16: 7.8%. Final Four: 96.7 to 1
9. Villanova. Sweet 16: 12.8%. Final Four: 42.4 to 1
10. Georgia. Sweet 16: 6.9%. Final Four: 271 to 1
11. Marquette. Sweet 16: 23.7%. Final Four: 38.9 to 1
12. UAB. Sweet 16: 2.8%. Final Four: 861 to 1
12. Clemson. Sweet 16: 8.8%. Final Four: 131 to 1
13. Princeton. Sweet 16: 2.6%. Final Four: 2488 to 1
14. Indiana State. Sweet 16: 2.3%. Final Four: 4125 to 1
15. Long Island. Sweet 16: 1.8%. Final Four: 4331 to 1
16. Texas San Antonio. Sweet 16: 0.1%. Final Four: 430,000 to 1
16. Alabama State. Sweet 16: LOL. Final Four: 69,000,000 to 1
A more conventional 16 team region also has a conventional favorite, as Duke like OSU is facing considerable odds (41%) of making the Final Four. Few teams here can pose a serious challenge for them.
Dark Horse: San Diego State (2) and Texas (4). Silly to cite two high seeds as dark horses, but these are pretty much the best teams in the field not named Duke and the only real challengers to the Blue Devils. Texas is only a 60-40 dog to Duke and if they pulled the upset they'd be the favorite against every possible opponent. SDSU would be a 2 to 1 dog vs Duke in the Elite Eight and a 56-44 dog to Texas if the Longhorns pulled the upset but would be the favorite against anyone else. The odds for either aren't terrific, around 9 to 2 or 5 to 1, but they have the most realistic chance of everyone else to pull it off.
Overseeded: Tennessee (9) and Memphis (12). The Volunteers probably deserved a double digit seed, while Memphis' reputational license has long since expired. They won their conference tourney to get in, but they pack little more punch than your run of the mill mid-major these days, and probably belongs in the 13-14 range. Don't count on a 5-12 upset when Memphis meets legit 5 seed Arizona, while Tennessee has a reasonable shot at a round one win but stands little chance against Duke in the 32-round.
Underseeded: Texas (4) and Missouri (11). Texas has the strength of a 2, and if they meet Duke in the Sweet 16 as expected they will likely pose the toughest challenge of the bracket to the Blue Devils. Missouri probably warrants a middle seed more than a bubble seed, and likely no one will notice because Cincinnati at 6 is pretty good and is a slight 54-46 favorite to dispatch the Tigers, who deserved better.
No chance in hell: 16 seed Hampton is already a 50 to 1 dog to beat Duke in round one. Their odds of going all the way to the Final Four? A paltry 100,000 to 1.
You have a better chance of... sinking a hole in one from 150 yards (80,000 to 1). Maybe Hampton should bag the tourney and join the golf team for a relaxing weekend that doesn't involve getting crushed by 30 points against a Duke team running at half speed.
1. Duke. Sweet 16: 82.8%. Final Four: 1.4 to 1 (41.2%)
2. San Diego State. Sweet 16: 65.3%. Final Four: 4.8 to 1
3. Connecticut. Sweet 16: 45.4%. Final Four: 12.4 to 1
4. Texas. Sweet 16: 59.9%. Final Four: 4.6 to 1
5. Arizona. Sweet 16: 30.2%. Final Four: 21.9 to 1
6. Cincinnati. Sweet 16: 28.2%. Final Four: 24 to 1
7. Temple. Sweet 16: 18.6%. Final Four: 54.1 to 1
8. Michigan. Sweet 16: 9.7%. Final Four: 90.9 to 1
9. Tennessee. Sweet 16: 7.2%. Final Four: 153 to 1
10. Penn State. Sweet 16: 13.8%. Final Four: 93.7 to 1
11. Missouri. Sweet 16: 22.9%. Final Four: 35.5 to 1
12. Memphis. Sweet 16: 3.5%. Final Four: 1133 to 1
13. Oakland. Sweet 16: 6.4%. Final Four: 315 to 1
14. Bucknell. Sweet 16: 3.4%. Final Four: 1568 to 1
15. Northern Colorado. Sweet 16: 2.4%. Final Four: 2974 to 1
16. Hampton. Sweet 16: 0.3%. Final Four: 100,000 to 1
The odds of someone other than the top seed get a little better here, but not by much,a s top seed Kansas has a 34.6% chance of making the Final Four. However, the challenge is more broad and general, with no specific dark horses posing a threat aside from....
Dark horse: Purdue (3). Purdue might be a touch underseeded but it makes little difference at 3. They are a do-able 62-38 dog against Kansas if they meet in the regional final, and are solid (though typically not dominant) favorites against anyone else in the field, even 2 seed Notre Dame. Their chances of making the Elite Eight are a solid 39.5%, and there's a 47% chance Kansas falls before that point, which would make the Boilermakers a favorite to make the Final Four.
Overseeded: Both 11 seeds in the region's play-in game: USC and VCU. Actually, "shouldn't be in the tournament at all" is a better label. Given the snubs (Colorado, St Mary's, New Mexico), and how low both of these teams rate overall, the fact that either of these teams are playing championship basketball at all is insulting. Neither objectively is close to being a bubble team, and yet here they are. USC is a 69-31 favorite in the game, and a 74-26 dog against a far superior #6 Georgetown team. 12 seed Richmond could wipe the floor with both these play-in jokes.
Underseeded: UNLV (8) and Illinois (9). Both these 1st round opponents should be a couple seeds higher. If not playing each other for the right to get force-fed to Kansas, both would have a very good shot at the 2nd weekend.
No chance in hell: Newcomer St Peter's (14) faces some fairly long odds at 11,000 to 1 thanks to drawing tough Purdue in round one, making them a 13 to 1 dog for the upset. They probably should have been a 15 but debating the low seeds is a quibble. Our 16 in this bracket, Boston U, is facing 53,600 to 1 odds, and 33 to 1 odds of getting past top seeded Kansas. Even given that, the Terriers have the best chances of any 16 seed in the field.
1. Kansas. Sweet 16: 72.3%. Final Four: 1.9 to 1 (34.6%)
2. Notre Dame. Sweet 16: 61.8%. Final Four: 6.8 to 1
3. Purdue. Sweet 16: 62.1%. Final Four: 4.1 to 1
4. Louisville. Sweet 16: 56.9%. Final Four: 8.2 to 1
5. Vanderbilt. Sweet 16: 26.0%. Final Four: 33.8 to 1
6. Georgetown. Sweet 16: 23.0%. Final Four: 25.4 to 1
7. Texas A&M. Sweet 16: 18.1%. Final Four: 65.3 to 1
8. UNLV. Sweet 16: 12.9%. Final Four: 37.1 to 1
9. Illinois. Sweet 16: 14.6%. Final Four: 30.1 to 1
10. Florida State. Sweet 16: 18.2%. Final Four: 65.0 to 1
11. USC. Sweet 16: 7.5%. Final Four: 141 to 1
11. VCU. Sweet 16: 1.1%. Final Four: 2911 to 1
12. Richmond. Sweet 16: 14.3%. Final Four: 105 to 1
13. Morehead State. Sweet 16: 2.8%. Final Four: 2818 to 1
14. St Peter's. Sweet 16: 0.9%. Final Four: 11,000 to 1
15. Akron. Sweet 16: 1.9%. Final Four: 5832 to 1
16. Boston U. Sweet 16: 0.3%. Final Four: 53,600 to 1
The weakest (1) seed in Pittsburgh has a somewhat serious challenger and perhaps a couple of dim challengers to their Final Four throne. This region is rather seed, chock full of mid majors, only some of which pose a serious threat one on one, and many are underseeded, forcing them to climb uphill for the right to try and knock off the Panthers. But that said, Pittsburgh's weak-favorite status means there's a 68% chance someone else will represent the Southeast region in the Final Four, with over half the teams having roulette-like odds at doing so.
Dark Horse: BYU (3). Even without dismissed Brandon Davies, the Mormon Cougars have a solid top ten ballclub, and are no worse than a slight underdog to anyone. A couple of breaks and they could sneak past Pitt into the Final Four. Only a lack of dominant strength makes them a somewhat distant shot at 20.7%. Wisconsin (4) is close in strength but is slated to run into Pittsburgh in the Sweet 16 if they get that far.
Overseeded: Florida (2) and UCLA (7). The weakest two seed in the field should be a 5 or even lower. A very weak sub-bracket (UCLA at 7 and a downish Michigan State at 10, and of course the Gators draw the easily beatable 15 seed UCSB in round one) gives them an even money chance to get to the 2nd weekend, but BYU would be a 2 to 1 favorite if they met in the Sweet 16, and even #6 St John's could give them a serious game.
I had UCLA on the bubble, but they got a 7 seed. Ridiculous. They're a 56-44 underdog to Michigan State in the 1st round.
Underseeded: Utah State (12) and Belmont (13). Look, I know mid majors play weak schedules and you have to bear that in mind when they, say, win 30 games comfortably and only lose to top 50 opponents. But weak scheds never stopped the NCAA in previous years from giving Tark's UNLV teams or old powerhouse Memphis teams high seeds. Hell, Princeton teams in the 90's got single digit seeds a few times, and they rarely played anybody during the regular season.
Oh, but they never go far in the tourney anyway, right? The reason you never see these Utah States and Belmonts go far in the tourney is because you keep giving them 12 and 13 seeds and they're forced to play a tough 4 or 5 seed in the first round instead of some middling power conference team that they could beat. Are the powers that be afraid of getting their conferences exposed as overrated in an NCAA Div-I with better parity? Are they afraid of Utah State pulling a Gonzaga and showing they could go deep and that maybe these perennially successful small schools can play with the big boys and deserve respect?
Anyway, watch out for the 5-12 upset special here, as (5) Kansas State is a slight 47-53 underdog to Utah State. Belmont is not so lucky at 13: (4) Wisconsin is the real deal and a 64-36 favorite.
Speaking of Gonzaga, they're not what they used to be, but they're a slight 52-48 favorite at (11) to topple (6) St John's. Expect many upsets in this region. But not from....
No chance in hell: Arkansas Little Rock is a gift... for Pittsburgh, that is, if they can overcome 2 to 1 favorite UNC Asheville in the play in game. UALR is a 173,000 to 1 shot to thread the needle and make the Final Four.
You have a better chance of: Being killed on the job if you're a teacher or nurse (143,000 to 1). Education majors at UALR can both take comfort and weep at these facts.
1. Pittsburgh. Sweet 16: 75.6%. Final Four: 2.1 to 1
2. Florida. Sweet 16: 52.4%. Final Four: 9 to 1
3. BYU. Sweet 16: 58.7%. Final Four: 3.8 to 1
4. Wisconsin. Sweet 16: 41.3%. Final Four: 6.9 to 1
5. Kansas State. Sweet 16: 18.2%. Final Four: 33.2 to 1
6. St John's. Sweet 16: 18.1%. Final Four: 31.2 to 1
7. UCLA. Sweet 16: 18.3%. Final Four: 58.9 to 1
8. Butler. Sweet 16: 13.5%. Final Four: 61.7 to 1
9. Old Dominion. Sweet 16: 9.9%. Final Four: 108 to 1
10. Michigan State. Sweet 16: 25.8%. Final Four: 30.6 to 1
11. Gonzaga. Sweet 16: 20.1%. Final Four: 25.9 to 1
12. Utah State. Sweet 16: 22.2%. Final Four: 23.5 to 1
13. Belmont. Sweet 16: 18.2%. Final Four: 29.9 to 1
14. Wofford. Sweet 16: 3.1%. Final Four: 840 to 1
15. UC Santa Barbara. Sweet 16: 3.5%. Final Four: 1649 to 1
16. UNC Asheville. Sweet 16: 0.9%. Final Four: 7729 to 1
16. Ark Little Rock. Sweet 16: 0.1%. Final Four: 173,000 to 1
Monday, March 14, 2011
The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee's made some questionable choices every year, but even granted the novelty of the expanded 68 team field, this has to be one of the worst efforts I've seen from them in over a decade... as if most of them didn't know anything about college basketball.
By Sagarin rating (to this day one of the best barometers for team strength), if you filter out all the automatic qualifiers then the at-large selections should go down to the 50th rated team. Among those in the top 50, here is who got snubbed:
Virginia Tech (40)
St. Mary's (43)
New Mexico (48)
Here are the teams rated below that cutoff line that did get in at-large:
The top three on that last list might be explainable: Bubble decisions can come down to various, sometimes arbitrary factors. But letting USC and VCU in at-large was inexcusable. Those two teams might not even qualify for the top half of an NIT field.
This is some of the worst seeding I've seen in years.
- I'm not a Texas fan but they're worthy of a 2 or a 3, not the 4 seed they actually got, not-as-strong schedule or not.
- And if you're going to dock Texas for a lack of top-25 wins and holding serve on a padded schedule, then why give North Carolina a 2 seed despite a 4-seed caliber season and the same type of resume?
- Georgetown getting a 6 despite going 21-10 against arguably the toughest schedule in the nation (18 of their 31 games against top 50 teams, no less) is ridiculous. Give them at least a 5, if not a 4.
- Speaking of ridiculous, Florida at 2 despite a relatively easy schedule, only two top 25 wins and four losses versus teams outside the top 50. They're a 5.
- Call me a Vegas homer, but UNLV got ripped off with an 8 seed despite finishing 3rd in a tough Mountain West conference with two top 10 teams (BYU, San Diego State) and a shoulda-been-in New Mexico team while going 24-8 with one of the nation's tougher non-conference schedules. Give them a 6 if you don't like them but they could've warranted a 5... not an 8. An 8 is what you give a 19-13 power conference team or a decent power team that built a 23-26 win season on an easy schedule. It's about time the Mountain West's better teams started getting more than mid-major respect.
- Along those lines, when is the committee going to stop treating Utah State like a small school and giving them 12 seeds when they're clearly a top 25 team? They didn't even do that to the 80's-90's UNLV teams, who played in the weaksauce Big West... and the NCAA HATED Jerry Tarkanian! Utah State this year was a 6 for sure, even with their weak schedule.
- I'm more of a body-of-work guy than a reward-the-hot-finish guy, so I'm not a fan of Villanova at 9 even though they did kind of collapse to close the season. Thing is... even if you're hot or cold at season's end, the NCAA Tourney is a whole new environment, whole new opponents, whole different situation, and when you put 18-22 year old kids in a new situation like that, it can change the perspective of even the most resilient kid and change their game in an instant. Once the nominal season ends and we hit the do-or-die nationally-staged portion of the season, the hot and cold streaks don't really matter anymore because whatever environment you entrenched your groove or rut in is wiped out. Villanova had a decent season overall and keep in mind their cold run came during conference play in the nation's toughest conference (Big East). They still had eight top-50 wins and went 21-11 against one of the 20 toughest schedules in the country. Hit the reset button on their year and I bet things change. And I bet they're not only going to beat George Mason, but they could give #1 seed Ohio State problems this weekend. Yeah, the collapse still happened, but I would've given them a 6 or 7.
- Kansas State is overseeded at 5. Objectively they're maybe a 6, likely a 7. You could even make a case they're more of an 8, but I've give their tough schedule and 21-10 record the benefit of the doubt. And go figure their 12-seed opponent in the 64 round is none other than Utah State. Possible upset.
- Missouri and Marquette at 11 is kind of ridiculous. Both are top 30 teams... yes, even 20-14 Marquette. Missouri didn't fare well vs what top 25 talent they faced but they had four wins vs numbers 26-50 and pretty much held serve otherwise over a meaty schedule in a 22-10 season. Marquette faced 18 top-50 teams in their 34 game season, and beat five top 25 teams. Nearly all of their 14 losses came against the top 50, and bear in mind in this field the committee would have ideally let in everyone in the top 50. Sure, I can see punishing Marquette's 14 losses, and sure I can see punishing Missouri's lack of big wins. But I find that petty here: Both had tough schedules and there's no reason either one wouldn't warrant an 8 or a 9 in this field.
- One 13 loss team that should've gotten the 10-12 seed treatment is Michigan, who did not beat a single top 25 team and though they beat six teams rated 26-50, they took a dive versus four teams outside the top 50. I'd still give them a 10, but certainly not the 8 seed they got.
- Vanderbilt got their annual overseeding gift from the tournament committee. This year's prize: A 5 seed in an 8-seed worthy 23-10 season with a dodgy non-con schedule, only two top 25 wins, and four losses against teams outside the top 50. Seriously, I wonder if gifts from the Vanderbilt AD to the Tournament Selection Committee are part of Vanderbilt University's annual budget.
- Belmont at 13 is stupid. Look at their track record: 30 mostly convincing wins (yes, they play in the lowly Atlantic Sun, but several of those teams had good years), hanging tough in two losses to tourney team Tennessee and in another loss to tourney-bound Vanderbilt, their only real blip being a road loss to Lipscomb in late January. With a lack of convincing majors in the field this year, give them a 9 or a 10 and see if they can give one of those meh majors a scare. Or at least reward the strong year with an 11 or 12. Don't give them a 13 like they're some garbage auto-qualified small school with 8-10 losses as if they got blown out by every top 25 team they faced, or like they lost several games against crappy no-name schools.
- Xavier and their zero top-25 wins is so overseeded at 6 that the committee clearly table-set an upset loss to underseeded 11 seed Marquette. Conversely, Richmond kind of got the shaft at 12, though with a padded sched I kind of see it. Both should have been a 9 or 10 IMO. If you're going to shaft Richmond with a 12 you should have done the same for Xavier given they've had mostly identical seasons. Why unduly reward one while punishing the other? Because we recognize Xavier on a TV set more than we recognize Richmond? That's not how you're supposed to seed teams.
- Old Dominion at 9 isn't terrible but they're easily the weakest 9 in the field and if they weren't facing a similarly weak 8 in Butler, ODU would get crushed. Both are riding reputations from previous seasons: I'd have Butler at 12 this year (they went 22-9 off a pretty weak schedule), and while I might make ODU a 10, I could see seeding them as low as 12: They won 27 games off a somewhat weak schedule and didn't look as convincing as Belmont did with their weak sched.
- I don't like making Clemson play-in: I have eight tournament teams behind them, four of which incidentally got wrongfully snubbed. They're at least an 11. They didn't look too impressive against tougher teams but they still won 21 games against a decent schedule.
- If you're going to punish 13-14 loss teams at all, then why give Penn State a 10 despite 14 losses? Because they had a hot run in the Big Ten Tourney? Again, not a fan of rewarding hot streaks, because then you get 3-4 days off and have to play a new, tough opponent on a new, neutral, nationally televised court in a do or die game... which changes everything. Yes, I like their very tough schedule, but if you reward that for a team while ignoring 13-14 losses, then don't go punishing Marquette.
- UCLA at 7 makes little sense. Yes, three top 25 wins in a 22-10 season, but they had a pretty weak schedule for a Pac 10 team (only eight top-50 opponents in all), didn't look particularly convincing in many of their wins, and lost five winnable games to teams outside the top 50. I'd have them at 12 and would have had them play-in.
Bear in mind... I'm only hitting the clear, distinct mistakes. Poring through the teams and ratings, there was so much else to cover that, if I could see a couple of plausible reasons to overlook a seeding mistake, maybe a particularly strong/weak schedule or a lot more losses/wins than usual or something, I let it go if it was just 1-2 seeds over or under. This post could have been twice as long if I hit everything.
Well done, Selection Committee. Way to use three extra at-large bids as an excuse to turn completely stupid.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Go figure that LeBron James takes a bunch of Heat, then takes the Miami Heat's offer... but not before aligning with the mainstream media to turn his free agency process into a top-story news saga that did more to embarrass the sports media than it did to elevate/desecrate LeBron's image or report on any actual news.
Here's the thing with reporting on trades and free agency in pro sports: There is only one type of news that actually matters, and that's when a deal is actually made. All the rumors, all the hearsay, all the insider info... they come and go and rarely is any of it ultimately right or even valid: Often it brews from a throwaway comment in conversation blown very far out of proportion, speculation passed along as fact. No reporting in sports media is more consistently worthless that the reporting of trade or free agency rumors.
Couple that with LeBron's insistence on formally prolonging his decision and then aligning with ESPN to conduct a one hour special where he announced his decision (a decision he by all accounts made two weeks ago), and all you've got is equal parts three ring circus and pied piper, pulling the gullible masses along, of which includes the mainstream media itself, thirst for something to report on in the doldrums of baseball season with the World Cup winding down, the NBA and Stanley Cup Finals having long since concluded and NFL football season still more than a month away.
Thus I give very, very little credence to criticisms of LeBron James' character. He made no secret that he was unhappy with the Cleveland Cavaliers and that he would test the market. Given the obvious widespread interest in the superstar's services, LeBron was virtually assured of signing elsewhere. For LeBron to leave a perpetually underachieving Cleveland Cavs team is not an act of treason, but simply a desire to play for a better team. He owes the Cleveland Cavaliers nothing except his services over the life of his contract with the team, which expired after this season. Any moral arguments to the contrary are, like those trade and free agency rumors, all hot air in a media world that's already full of it.
Nobody told Michael Rosenberg.
Michael Jordan announced on national television he's leaving Chicago to join the Detroit Pistons. Jordan said it was tough to bolt Chicago, where he was the most popular athlete in many years, because he thinks he has a better chance to win a championship if he plays with Pistons star Isiah Thomas. Jordan said by playing together, he and Thomas "won't have the pressure of going out and scoring 30 every night."
That would have sounded absurd, right? Well, it is no more absurd than what LeBron James is doing. Jordan was 27 years old in 1990, slightly older than James is now. He had never been to the NBA Finals. He had been beaten up by the Celtics and Pistons for years. He doubted his supporting cast was good enough.
First of all, Michael Jordan was part of a carefully assembled, vastly improved team with strong role players (a young Scottie Pippen and BJ Armstrong, Horace Grant, John Paxson), and an innovative and effective coach in Phil Jackson. His team was loaded with young and improving talent, plus effective veterans (Grant, Bill Cartwright, Paxson, etc) with a lot of mileage left.
LeBron was on a hastily thrown together team of okay-ish players (Mo Williams, Delonte West) declining veterans (Shaq, Anthony Parker, Zydrunas Ilgauskas) and maybe one other young talent that might be an effective counterpart over the long haul (JJ Hickson). Their coach, the recently fired Mike Brown, was a terrible strategist and had barely the first idea of how to manage his personnel. With no head coach as of yet, no assurance the Cavs would hire a good coach, and no young supporting cast, not to mention a constantly transitioning roster with no identity let alone no style.
Save for improving to a winning record the last few seasons, the Cavs were nothing, NOTHING, like the Bulls team that Jordan elected to stay with. The situation MJ had in Chicago was vastly superior to the situation he would have found somewhere else. In Chicago, Jordan could be the leader of a young, stable, improving unit under a great strategic coach who also ran the team with a calm, balanced and yet suitably authoritative demeanor. No other team could have provided all of that, and a group he was familiar with to boot.
As for LeBron, he walked away from a rag-tag group that definitely would have to be rebuilt over the next season or three, and could well spend the rest of LeBron's youthful years rebuilding. They didn't even have a coach, nor much of an idea who they wanted to coach.
Contrast that with a fractured but reloaded Miami Heat team that just re-signed Dwyane Wade and just acquired star post man Chris Bosh. They have an incumbent and effective coach in Erik Spoelstra working under legendary Pat Riley. Yes, Miami has to reload that roster, but they also now have three very strong players in James, Wade and Bosh to build that team around. Compare this to the fractured and perpetually directionless situation in Cleveland, and it's no wonder James would choose Miami over that.
Oh wait, Rosenberg's not done yet.
the self-proclaimed King said everything you need to know about him.
1. "You have to do what's best for you, and what's going to make you happy."
This is what's going to make him happy? Sharing a stage with two other stars? Really?
First of all, Michael Rosenberg, who are you to decide what should and shouldn't make a star player happy? If LeBron James decides tag teaming with two star players instead of being the star leader on another team is what makes him happy, then who are you to tell him that's wrong? It's none of your business to decide what LeBron James does and doesn't want.
I guess that's all LeBron is: A complementary player with superstar talent. We should have figured this out before: He got that giant CHOSEN 1 tattoo on his back and calls himself King James because he is desperate for reassurance.
Actually, the MEDIA and his cohorts dubbed him King James. He ran it because well why the hell not.
And Rosenberg plays sports psychologist again, telling us with certainty that James got those tattoos because he was desperate for constant reassurance. Maybe LeBron just thought they were cool nicknames synonymous with his reputation. People get tattoos for a variety of reasons, some of which make more rational sense than others.
So far, we've got an article heading forward with a full head of steam on the basis of three very hastily assembled and poorly thought out presuppositions concocted purely in the author's imaginative mind. I have a bad feeling about the rest of this piece.
2. "We don't have the pressure of going out and scoring 30 every night or shooting a high percentage."
Whoa. Hold on there. Scoring 30 a night is too much pressure for one of the five most talented players ever?
Well, when defenses are tighter than ever and every team you play is focused intently on stopping you... yes, Michael, yes it is. I don't care if you're Jesus Christ and have blessed yourself with a 68 inch vertical leap, and the refs are giving you every call ever.
LeBron would rather be on a team where other stars provide a sthreat and, if he ahs a down night, others will be able to pick up the slack... than be a 30 point guy on a team where if he doesn't throw down 30 his team's probably losing because everyone else sucks. LeBron isn't perfect and can't play 82 spectacular games a year, plus 15-25 spectacular games in the playoffs, if his body can hold up to that kind of pressure. Strange, I know. There are very few players that could play consistently great all the way down the stretch in those conditions, and the list consists of Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and... uh....
Find me another all-time NBA great who would utter those words. Jordan would rather do an adidas commercial than say that. Bryant must have laughed as he heard the so-called "King" say that. Larry Bird? The next time he complains about pressure will be the first. Magic was the greatest team player of the last 40 years, but he was also so competitive that he wanted to play Jordan one-on-one in a promotional event -- and this was when Magic had won titles and Jordan had not, so Magic had more to lose.
Now would be a good time to note that Jordan had Scottie Pippen and, later, Dennis Rodman. Bryant had Shaq during his first title run and Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest during his 2nd. Bird had Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish. And Magic had James Worthy and some dude named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on his team, who BTW I hear is only the NBA's all time leading scorer. Yeah, none of those had or needed any help whatsoever. None.
3. "I know how loyal I am."
The man just dumped his hometown(s) on national television.
LeBron, like the rest of us, is loyal to an employer as long as he is technically employed by them. And like the rest of us, he is as loyal to his hometown as long as living there serves him well. He owes Cleveland nothing. Do we serious think Michael Rosenberg would stay loyal to SI if they treated him badly and another media outlet offered him three times the money to write for them?
This is pretty sad to read, because Rosenberg generally is a fairly decent sports writer. But this just reeks of Rosenberg being pressured by his employer and peers to craft up false moral indignance over a decision that honestly makes sense for all parties.
LeBron James just jumped into an elevator and wants us to think he can fly. Sorry, but we know better. We know that he did something Michael, Magic, Bird and Bill Russell never would have done. We know he ditched Cleveland for an All-Star team.
Right, because if Michael Jordan were the leading scorer for a rag-tag Cleveland Cavs team instead of the young, improving Bulls team he was a part of upon free agency, he totally would have stayed. If Bill Russell were the only good player on the Clippers, he totally would have stayed. Magic would have eschewed good money to be the man on a team of nobodies with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Oh wait, all of those players were great players on great teams with great teammates and great coaches, and LeBron walked away from a fractured team with the revolving-door roster and no coach.
I've already given this terrible piece more attention than it probably warrants, so I'll just say that while LeBron's media whoring was amusingly annoying, it made sense and his ultimate decision made sense.
Media hot air, however, will never make sense. Aside from drawing attention to said outlets, it rarely if ever provides any real sociocultural value.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Check this out.
The Mariners are over 10 games out of 1st place in the AL West, and well below .500. Why would they trade two fringey prospects (Ezequiel Carrera, Juan Diaz) to get back Russell Branyan in a lost season? There are two simple reasons, one being much bigger to the Mariners than the other.
Even if the team and many fans (such as many reading here, myself included) have given up on the season, many local/regional fans still might have an interest in attending Mariner games, so long as the team can make a significant effort to win, i.e. not make the cost and time invested to see a game a complete waste of their time. A team that scores 3 runs a game and is clearly/obviously punting the season isn’t going to draw most casual fans.
But believe it or not, the ticket sales side of the equation is the small part. Ticket sales, while valuable, make up a minority of the team's revenue. The biggest reason why Jack would want to buff up 2010’s team in a lost season is that the team's in-season performance from here on out does matter to the team’s relationship with FSNW and ESPN Radio, given the networks are paying the Mariners a lucrative sum for their media contracts.
A better team that competes despite the record equals more game-to-game interest which means more ratings. More interest in the team in 2010 means more viewers in 2010 which means higher average ratings during 2010 as well as over the life of the current contract, which means more ad dollars down the line.
If ratings for Mariners broadcasts tank, a) FSNW loses money in the long run as advertisers can cite lowered average ratings as justifiable leverage to lower the price on ad spots with the network and b) the Mariners may lose out on money from a new radio or TV contract down the line, as the network side will cite low ratings from this period as justification for low-balling the M’s when it comes time to negotiate a renewal. Sure, the Mariners have a 10 year, $300 million deal with FSN through 2020, but let's say the team wanted to buy out and jump to a more lucrative deal, or let's say FSN wanted to nix the deal. Don't forget the radio deal with KIRO ($5.5 million per year) only lasts through 2011. There is still plenty of leverage, as well as money, that can be gained and lost by what team they elect to field for the rest of 2010.
Even if the team's playoff chances in a vacuum make upgrading the 2010 roster seem like a waste of time, doing so could have an impact that reaches way beyond the field, and way beyond 2010.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
For various personal reasons, I have decided to shelve Net Runs until further notice. My eventual goal with the system is to program a method where I can calculate it quickly and automatically. I gather Net Runs will return once that is possible. But for now....
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Player of the Game: Michael Saunders (2.480 NRuns: 2.210 hitting, 0.270 fielding)
Mariners over 1.000 NRuns: 5 (Hernandez, Figgins, Saunders, Gutierrez, Ichiro)
Goat: Scott Rolen (-1.768 NRuns: -1.183 hitting, -0.368 fielding, -0.217 running)
Felix Hernandez's pitching: 1.335 NRuns... 2.98 EXERA
Mariners defense: 2.210 NRuns
Friday, June 18, 2010
Player of the Game: Josh Wilson (1.389 NRuns: 1.556 hitting, -0.274 fielding)
Cliff Lee: -0.196 NRuns, 4.39 EXERA
Mariners outfield defense: 4.395 NRuns
Reds pitching: 2.569 NRuns
Reds defense: 0.471 NRuns
Reds lineup: -4.652 NRuns
Goat: Jonny Gomes (-1.728 NRuns: -1.310 hitting, -0.418 fielding)
Sorry for the delay in Net Runs posts: The preceding games will get caught up later tonight, along with posts for a couple of other special items.
Following up on the Seattle Mariners minor league system's pitching, here is the Mariners minor league EMERA for all eligible pitchers* based on season pitching totals current as of yesterday. Pitchers are broken down by tiers: Ignoring all other developmental concerns, you could hypothetically slot the 1st tier in AAA, the 2nd tier in AA, the 3rd tier in High A and the 4th tier in Low A. On a more relevant scale, you want AAA pitchers in the 1st tier, not the 2nd tier or below... and you expect single A pitchers in the 3rd or 4th tier, so they're doing well if slotted higher.
And of course, EMERA is designed to estimate a pitcher's potential MLB ERA, so if his EMERA looks like a decent MLB ERA, that pitcher theoretically could pitch in the bigs right now.
(Ryan Feierabend is currently pitching in AAA and has enough innings to qualify, but I included his High A totals in parentheses as a point of comparative reference, as he has enough innings at that level to qualify as well.)
* - Minimum of 10 IP
|Player - 1st Tier||Lvl||EMERA|
|Player - 2nd Tier||Lvl||EMERA|
|Player - 3rd Tier||Lvl||EMERA|
|Player - 4th Tier||Lvl||EMERA|
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Player of the Game: Michael Saunders (2.323 NRuns: -0.075 hitting, 2.398 fielding)
Goat? Eliezer Aflonzo (-1.631 NRuns: -1.174 hitting, -0.248 fielding, -0.209 running)
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Player of the Game: Brendan Ryan (2.919 NRuns: 1.111 hitting, 1.646 fielding, 0.162 running)
Goat: Ryan Rowland-Smith (-2.909 NRuns: -0.548 hitting, -2.361 pitching, 8.99 EXERA)