Thursday, November 27, 2014

NFL Realignment Update

Last week was the first time this year, I showed what the playoffs would look like with a simple realignment. Each conference would have two divisions. Each team would play the three other teams in their current division twice and the four new teams in their division once. The AFC East and North would be one division and the South and West would be another. In the NFC, the East and South would be one division and the West and North would be the other.

Here are the updated standings: actual and new. If the playoffs began today, the AFC playoffs would look like this:
Byes: 1) NE 9-2; 2) Den 8-3.
Home playoff games: 3) Cin 7-3-1; 4) Ind 7-4.
Road playoff games: 5) KC 7-4; 6) SD 7-4.

AFC playoffs in the new format:
Byes: 1) NE 9-2; 2) Den 8-3.
Home playoff games: 3) Cin 7-3-1; 4) Pit 7-4.
Road playoff games: 5) Ind 7-4; 6) KC 7-4.

There are six teams in the AFC tied at 7-4. In the NFL, tie-breakers involving three or more teams are essentially come down to conference record, although ties are first broken within the division, which is weird. For the new format, I simply broke the ties with conference record. Pit and Indy are both 6-3 in the conference and since Pit beat Indy, they are in the 4th spot. KC and SD are both 5-3 and KC beat SD earlier this year.

In the NFL's format, Indy has a comfortable lead for the fourth spot because the next best team in their division is 5-6.

If the playoffs began today, the NFC playoffs would look like this:
Byes: 1) Ari 9-2; 2) GB 8-3.
Home playoff games: 3) Phi 8-3; 4) Atl 4-7.
Road playoff games: 5) Dal 8-3; 6) Sea 7-4.

NFC playoffs in the new format:
Byes: 1) Ari 9-2; 2) Phi 8-3.
Home playoff games: 3) GB 8-3; 4) Dal 8-3.
Road playoff games: 5) Sea 7-4; 6) Det 7-4.

The Atlanta situation is embarrassing for the NFL. It simply wouldn't happen in the new format. The NFC shows the vast superiority of the new format.

The GB, Philly, Dal tie was broken by first determining the leader of the East-South division. Philly has a better division record than Dallas. GB has a better conference record than Dal and thus is in the third spot.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New NFL Format Standings are Back Again

Back again is my attempt to make the NFL playoffs and seedings far more fair. Check out last season's final standings. We combine the AFC East and AFC North into one division. The AFC West and AFC South will be in another. The division winner earn byes.

The NFC East and the NFC South will be in one division and the NFC North and West will be in the other.

Each team will play their current division foes twice every year and the four new teams in the division once. For example, the Buffalo Bills will still face the Patriots, Dolphins, and Jets twice a year, but will face the Ravens, Browns, Bengals, and Steelers once a year. Four games will be played against teams in the other conference in the same way they are now. And the other two games will be based on last season's record.

Here are the updated standings: actual and new. If the playoffs began today, the AFC playoffs would look like this:
Byes: 1) NE 8-2; 2) Den 7-3.
Home playoff games: 3) Cin 6-3-1; 4) Ind 6-4.
Road playoff games: 5) KC 7-3; 6) Pit 7-4.

AFC playoffs in the new format:
Byes: 1) NE 8-2; 2) Den 7-3.
Home playoff games: 3) KC 7-3; 4) Cin 6-3-1.
Road playoff games: 5) Pit 7-4 ; 6) Mia 6-4.

For the second year in a row, the current NFL format rewards the Colts for being in a weak division and hurts Kansas City for sharing a division with Denver. In the new format, five teams would be tied for the sixth spot. Miami has the best conference record of the five.

If the playoffs began today, the NFC playoffs would look like this:
Byes: 1) Ari 9-1; 2) Det 7-3.
Home playoff games: 3) Phi 7-3; 4) Atl 4-6.
Road playoff games: 5) GB 7-3; 6) Dal 7-3.

NFC playoffs in the new format:
Byes: 1) Ari 9-1; 2) Phi 7-3.
Home playoff games: 3) Det 7-3; 4) GB 7-3.
Road playoff games: 5) Dal 7-3; 6) SF 6-4.

This is exactly the scenario the new format is designed to prevent. Right now, Atlanta would get a home playoff game, despite having a 4-6 record. It is simply unfair. In the new format, Atlanta would be in a five-way tie for eighth place.Realistically, any division-winning team in the current NFC South will have to go at least 5-1 to finish with a winning record.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Game 7: An Ace in the Hole

The scoring in Game 7 ended early. In the second inning, Jeremy Guthrie plunked Pablo Sandoval, who went 3 for 3. Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt both singled, which loaded the bases. Michael Morse and Brandon Crawford hit sac flies to give the Giants a 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the second, Billy Butler singled off of Tim Hudson. Alex Gordon doubled him in. Salvador Perez was hit by a pitch. Gordon made it the third and Omar Infante his a sac fly tying the game at 2. Hudson was removed for Jeremy Affeldt, who pitched two and a third innings of scoreless ball.

In the third, the Giants went away softly, but the Royals continued to put pressure. Lorenzo Cain singled off of Affeldt. Eric Hosmer pulled a scorcher. Second baseman Joe Panik dove and started a memorable double play, which killed Kansas City's momentum.

After singled by Sandoval and Pence in the fourth, Guthrie was lifted for Kelvin Herrera with one out. Herrera pitched well, throwing two and two-thirds innings and striking out four, but a single to Michael Morse scored Sandoval in the fourth. The Giants led 3-2.

Madison Bumgarner entered for the Giants in the fifth. Most figured he'd give San Francisco about an inning or so. Instead, his performance was one of the most impressive and clutch in recent baseball history. In five innings, after a pitching a shutout in Game 5, he gave up two hits and struck out four.

Bumgarner won the World Series MVP and the Giants captured their third championship in five seasons.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Game 6: A Blowout and a Game 7

The Kansas City Royals allowed fans to cancel any non-baseball plans the for the tomorrow night with a seven run second inning. When it was all over, the Royals had won 10-0.

Lorenzo Cain knocked in three runs and Eric Hasmer added two more. The three and four hitters combined to go 4 for 8 with 2 walks. Mike Moustakas hit a two-run homer off Hunter Strickland in the seventh.

In addition to Kansas City's bats coming alive, young Yordani Ventura shut down the Giants in seven innings, only giving up three hits. The Giants were not as fortunate on the hill. Jake Peavy was credited with giving up five runs. Yusmeiro Petit gave up two and so did Jean Machi.

This will be the first Game 7 of the World Series since 2002.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

2014-15 NBA Predictions

Out in first round: Toronto, Washington, Miami, Brooklyn
Out in Eastern semis: New York, Charlotte
Eastern Finals: Cleveland over Chicago 4-2

Out in first round: Memphis, Denver, Dallas, Houston
Out in Western semis: San Antonio, OKC
Western Finals: LA Clippers over Golden State 4-3

NBA Finals
LA Clippers over Cleveland 4-2

Monday, October 27, 2014

Game 5 - A Masterpiece

The Giants' Madison Bumgarner continued his incredible World Series run. He pitched nine shutout innings in Game 5. he struck out eight and only allowed four hits.

James Shields, who has had a difficult postseason, finally settled down. He gave up a couple of singles int he second inning that led to an RBI groundout by Brandon Crawford. In the fourth, a couple of singles led to a Crawford RBI hit. Shields went six innings and only gave up those two runs.

Kelvin Herrera pitched a scoreless seventh, but struggled in the eight. Wade Davis, who has a microscopic ERA, finally showed he was human in the same inning. Pinch-hitter Juan Perez doubled in two off Davis. Crawford got his third RBI of the game later in the inning.

The Giants won 5-0 and took a 302 series lead heading back to Kansas City.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Game 4 - Momentum Swings

The Giants manufactured a run in the first when Gregor Blanco walked and later scored on a Hunter Pence forceout. Kansas City came back in the third with a vengeance.

The Royals sent ten men to the plate in the inning. Pitcher Jason Vargas made two of the Royals' outs. Eric Hosmer, Omar Infante, and Salvador Perez all had RBI knocks in the inning. Infante's hit brought in two. KC ousted the Giants' starter, Ryan Vogelsong, from the game. And yet, in retrospect, the Royals lost the game right here.

With the bases loaded, Vargas strode to the plate for the second time int he inning. He worked the count to 2-2 and took a close pitch that was called a ball. He thought it had been ball four and trotted down towards first base. He was called back and struck out on the next pitch, one that seemed out of the strike zone.

Buster Posey drove pinch-hitter Matt Duffy home int he bottom of the third. Vargas was taken out in the fifth inning Joe Panik led that inning off with a double. He scored when Hunter Pence smacked a single. Pence scored on a sac fly tying the game.

Brandon Finnegan pitched the sixth and gave up three more runs. The Giants did it with small ball, constantly moving the line.Finnegan allowed the first two Giants to reach in the seventh. Then, the bottom fell out. He was replaced by Tim Collins. Blanco bunted and Collins threw the ball away. One scored on the play. Panik doubled in two and Pence doubled in Panik. By the time the Giants' onslaught was over, the score was 11-4.

Meanwhile, Yusmeiro Petit was San Francisco's unsung hero again. He had earned wins int he Division Series and in the NLCS. Earlier in the year, Petit quietly set the MLB record for most consecutive batters retired. While that record should have brought him heaps of praise, it took an outstanding playoff performance to bring him the appropriate notoriety. As the Giants fought back to get into the game, take the lead, and ultimately run away with it, Petit threw three scoreless innings just when the Royals' attack was at its most confident.

The Giants' 11-4 victory tied the series at two games a piece.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Game 3 - NL Baseball

Game 3 was a relatively quick game and the only close contest thus far int he World Series. Alcides Escobar, who has played a great shortstop, doubled to open the game. He was moved over to third. Then Lorenzo Cain grounded him in.

Tim Hudson of the Giants and Jeremy Guthrie of the Royals shut down opposing bats until both ran into trouble in the 6th. Escobar singled before Alex Gordon doubled him in. Eric Hosmer knocked in Gordon and Kansas City took a 3-0 lead.

In the bottom of the sixth, Brandon Crawford got on with a basehit before pinch-hitter Michael Morse doubled him home. Kelvin Herrera replaced Gutherie and got out of the inning giving up only one more run on a Buster Posey groundout.

Herrera went an inning and a third, rookie Brandon Finnegan got two outs, and Wade Davis pitched a scoreless eighth. Greg Holland got hte save int he ninth. Kansas City won 3-2 and take a 2-1 series lead.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Game 2 - Homerun Fury

Both teams scored in the first. Gregor Blanco led off with a homerun to lead off the game for the Giants. Billy Butler singled in Lorenzo Cain in the bottom of the inning. Flame throwing Yordano Ventura then settled down for Kansas City.

Alcides Escobar doubled in Omar Infante in the second. Jake Peavy then threw three scoreless innings. In the fourth, Pablo Sandoval doubled before Brandon Belt knocked him in with a double of his own. The game stayed knotted at two a piece until the sixth inning.

The Giants had two on in the top of the inning, but Belt and Michael Morse got out. In the bottom of the sixth, all hell broke loose. Peavy left after giving up a single to Cain and a walk to Eric Hosmer. Jean Machi came in and promptly was knocked out by a Butler single that scored a run.

Javier Lopez got Alex Gordon to fly out. Then Bruce Bochy made a fateful decision. He brought in Hunter Strickland, a hard-throwing young pitcher with a killer curveball. Strickland didn't give up a run in nine regular season appearances.

Strickland threw a wild pitch allowing Hosmer and Terrance Gore, who had pinch run for Butler, to advance. Salvador Perez then doubled them both in. Next up, Infante smacked a homer. Strickland, who had just given up his fifth four-bagger of the postseason began screaming. Perez was confused, because it seemed as if Strickland was yelling at him. Strickland then yelled at Perez some more and threatened him. Strickland showed a lack of class in the face of his poor performance.

By then, the game was 7-2, which is how it ended. Kansas City tied up the series as it heads west to San Francisco for Game 3.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Game 1 - Rude Visitors

Both teams made the World Series after playing in the Wild Card game. This series is the first time a fourth seed has faced a fifth seed in the series. The 162 game regular season is rapidly losing importance.

The Giants wasted no time in roughing up Kansas City's starter James Shields. Hunter Pence slammed a two-run homer after Pablo Sandoval doubled in a run. The Giants were up 3-0 before Madison Bumgarner took the hill.

Once Bumgartner was on the mound, the game was effectively over. He befuddled the Royals' hitters. Kansas City had a chance in the bottom of the third when Omar Infante reached on shortstop Brandon Crawford's error. Mike Moustakas doubled. But the top of the order failed the Royals. With two outs, Lorenzo Cain walked to load the bases, but cleanup hitter Eric Hosner weakly grounded to second base, uncharacteristically failing in the clutch.

The Giants tacked on two more in the next inning to take a 5-0 lead. Michael Morse knocked in Hunter Pence with a single. Later, when Shields was lifted, Danny Duffy walked Gregor Blanco with the bases loaded.

In the seventh, rookie second baseman Joe Panik tripled home Blanco, who had walked. Duffy was lifted after three plus innings. Sandoval later singled home Panik for the Giants seventh run.

In the bottom of the inning, catcher Salvador Perez nailed a homer off of Bumgarner, who gave up three hits and finished the seventh. Javier Lopez and Hunter Strickland shut the door the rest of the way for a 7-1 Giants victory.