FanDuel - WFBC

April 21, 2011

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle:

A place to discuss the sports stories that aren't making news, share links that aren't quite front-page material, and diagram plays on your hand. Remember to count to five Mississippi before commenting in anger.

posted by huddle to general at 06:00 AM - 32 comments

The 2011 SpoFi NHL Playoofs Confidence Pool standings have been updated with the last couple of nights' scores. My march to the Costanza continues unabated.

posted by NoMich at 08:20 AM on April 21

Real Madrid show the Copa del Rey a good time.

posted by yerfatma at 09:22 AM on April 21

The 2011 SpoFi NHL Playoofs Confidence Pool standings have been updated with the last couple of nights' scores. My march to the Costanza continues unabated.

Think you missed me Mich

posted by Debo270 at 09:25 AM on April 21

Mourinho parks the bus again, on top of the trophy this time. Nice.

posted by JJ at 09:31 AM on April 21

Think you missed me Mich

O wait. Wrong pool

posted by Debo270 at 10:08 AM on April 21

Oh Debo. I am sooo disappointed in you.

posted by NoMich at 10:24 AM on April 21

Oh Debo. I am sooo disappointed in you

Me too..... The double overtime last night ment I had to drink longer and that is slowing me down a little today..

posted by Debo270 at 12:48 PM on April 21

Here's some more fodder for the baseball stat geeks of the world. Steve Slowinski has written an explanation of "Shutdowns and Meltdowns" in the fangraphs.com/blogs site. Shutdowns and Meltdowns are a measure of the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of a relief pitcher. The statistic is based on Win Probability Added (WPA), and according to Mr. Slowinski, it correlates well with saves, and it has the added feature of being applicable to any reliever.

posted by Howard_T at 01:57 PM on April 21

Baseball, sick of having a regular season that counts, will fix problem next year.

Translation: In three of the last five seasons, there were playoffs that did not have both the Yankees and the Red Sox. We have decided that is unacceptable, and will make a change to guarantee both teams qualify for the post-season.

posted by grum@work at 05:14 PM on April 21

Ugh. The only benefit to that plan is healthier pitchers for the division winners when their playoff games begin.

Didn't baseball just make a big deal about how it was moving up the regular season's start date to avoid another November World Series?

posted by rcade at 05:52 PM on April 21

Totally against this, but if they do it (which they probably will) they should make the wild cards come from different divisions regardless of records. At least that would give incentive to the other divisions instead of just giving Yanks and Red Sox a 3 out of 4 chance of making playoffs.

posted by graymatters at 06:06 PM on April 21

I think the baseball plan may be like the 96-team field NCAA tourney plan. A bad idea that actually gets rejected because it is such a bad idea, after it was presented as a inevitability.

I hope.

posted by Aardhart at 07:40 PM on April 21

Yeah, I'm a HUGE fan of the wildcard, but a second wildcard? Nah.

See, the wildcard is nice because back in the day, you had no divisions- just two leagues and the winner met in a new "World Series". Then there were enough teams that you had two divisions in each league, and the winner of each would face off in a playoff to earn the "pennant", and a trip to the World Series. Unfortunately, this meant decades of heartbreak for teams that were in 2nd place so many years, with nothing to show for it.

So then with expansion in the 70's through the early 90's, there were enough teams that only two teams making the playoffs from each league seemed too limited, so they added two more spots. But if they'd done 4 divisions it would have once again led to some really unfair winners and losers, so in a rare moment of insight they thought up the 3 division winners + wild card format, and I think it's absolutely great!

The beauty of the single wild card is that it ensures the regular season HAS meaning. A 3 divisions + wildcard isn't about ensuring the best FOUR teams make the playoffs in that league, it's about ensuring the best TWO teams do, as well as two other teams that may or may not be the 3rd and 4th best teams in the league. Which is why I'm not in favor of giving division winners too much benefit- sometimes they're markedly [b]worse[/b] than the wild card! Having the two wild-cards square off in a 1 or 3 game series while the other teams rest would seem "unfair".

The wildcard ensures winning the division still has real meaning, but also protects against the 2001 AL West situation, where the 2nd best team in the league happens to be in a division with the very best, and would otherwise miss out on a playoff spot. It also adds excitement to September, because instead of the mathematical inevitability of the magic number counting down, teams now have an alternate route; the result is that until the last 2 weeks of September, over recent years more than half the teams in the sport still have a chance at making the playoffs.

At 30 teams, we don't need 10 making the playoffs, (although percentage wise, baseball is still the hardest sport to make the playoffs in) and I think the current 3+1 format works fine. Having two wildcards would also make scoreboard watching nightmarish.

But, if they're determined to add another team into the playoff hunt, they should not just have the two wildcards duking it out in a best of 3 round to become a single wildcard, while the three division winners all rest (this again might reward an 88-win team in a shit division over a 98-win team fighting for a wildcard spot because it didn't have 100 wins). If you want to do a 5 or even 6 team playoff hunt, you do this:

1) 5-team: Get rid of divisional play altogether- at least in terms of the playoffs, and possibly in terms of unbalanced schedules- and just send the top 5 teams to the playoffs. Then use the format from the article of the worst two teams play a 3-game round while the other three teams rest, and then the 'real' playoffs start with a 5-game Divisional Series then a 7-game Championship Series. It adds barely a week to the post-season, and it also means the winning WC team isn't severely disadvantaged because after a 3-game round, their #1 and #2 should be ready to start in the next round.

2) 6-team: Divisional play or otherwise (and this would work for the three division setup, top two teams in each division make the playoffs), adopt the NFL-style format, where the best two records get a bye week, and the #3 team (possibly a runner-up/wildcard) plays the #6 and the #4 plays the #5 in the "wildcard" round of best of 5. Then you have two rounds of best of 7. This would extend the playoffs noticeable, as you're effectively having a new best of 7 round (or best of 5). However, one aid to this would be aligning the divisions well and minimizing travel lengths/days off, so that the 162-game season takes a few days less on the calendar.

So I guess I'm long-windedly saying, I don't oppose new playoff sizes, but I would be against any "two wildcards duke it out" because the beauty of the WC has been its ability to ensure the #2 team makes it, and this would instead be like having a one-game playoff to determine a division winner- except where the teams might have better records than the other division winners.

posted by hincandenza at 08:46 PM on April 21

See, the wildcard is nice because back in the day, you had no divisions- just two leagues and the winner met in a new "World Series".

Not true. You had an eastern division and a western division in each league. The winners of the divisions met in a best of 5 series for the league championship, and the two league champions met in a best of 7 World Series.

I don't like the wildcard, and I never have. The old system was quite manageable in the days before the addition of quite so many expansion teams. The new teams provided the rationale for adding a wildcard -- the divisions are too big, there are too many teams in them, they won't each get enough of a chance at the playoffs, so we need to split into three divisions, so we need to add another tier to the playoffs. I understand the wish to see your team get a "fair shot" at the playoffs.

On the other hand, the "fairness" argument starts to sound a little like we're talking about no-score tee-ball and not professional baseball. Everybody had a chance at the playoffs back when there were two divisions -- and, for everyone who thinks this is all about trying to guarantee that the Yankees and Red Sox both make the playoffs every year, guess what? Back then, they were guaranteed that they would never both made it -- and nobody cried "not fair" about it. They just came back and tried to win it the next year, like every other team -- they all understood that you win your division, or no playoffs for you.

But really, the "everybody gets a fair shot" bogus argument isn't what the forces that be really believe, either. They toss that out to pander to fans who believe their team is hard done by. The real reason? It's all about the money. Let's add another round to the playoffs, let's add three games or five games or however many games onto a playoff season that's already seven games too long as it is...and let's line our pockets. That's the only real reason for doing anything.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:17 PM on April 21

Not true. You had an eastern division and a western division in each league.

That didn't start until 1969.

posted by yerfatma at 10:52 PM on April 21

An ultimate NFL mock draft.

Be forewarned, it's horrid.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 11:01 PM on April 21

I'm not going to pretend like I know how the playoffs will ultimately play out, but I do know one thing: when you lose 2 straight elimination games to the 8th seed by a combined score of 12-2, 2 games where your supposed world-beating goalie is pulled, you can't really consider yourselves a Cup contender...

posted by MeatSaber at 12:47 AM on April 22

The real reason? It's all about the money. Let's add another round to the playoffs, let's add three games or five games or however many games onto a playoff season that's already seven games too long as it is.

Not to mention the increased ticket sales at games during September that now would matter due to the Wild Card race being expanded.

This is a money grab, and I'm not for it. If you have 4 teams, the 5th team is left off, if you have 5 teams then it's the 6th team that gets left off. Win your damned division if you want to make the playoffs. Only way I'm for this is if they include a rule that requires the Yankees and Red Sox to play each other in the wild card round regardless if one of them won the division.

posted by dviking at 01:18 AM on April 22

On the other hand, the "fairness" argument starts to sound a little like we're talking about no-score tee-ball and not professional baseball.

Was someone arguing that this isn't fair or was that a preemptive strike?

posted by tron7 at 10:38 AM on April 22

I'm not going to pretend like I know how the playoffs will ultimately play out, but I do know one thing: when you lose 2 straight elimination games to the 8th seed by a combined score of 12-2, 2 games where your supposed world-beating goalie is pulled, you can't really consider yourselves a Cup contender...

I still think Vancouver will win the series, but if they do complete the choke and let Chicago beat them, then the neurotic fans out there will NEVER recover.

It'll be like Ottawa-west, except Chicago will be their version of the Leafs.

posted by grum@work at 10:50 AM on April 22

Was someone arguing that this isn't fair or was that a preemptive strike?

Neither, really. It's just an argument that commonly comes up in support of the wildcard and other forms of expanded playoffs -- that the playoffs we've got just aren't fair enough and don't give enough teams a chance to get into the playoffs.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 11:25 AM on April 22

I still think Vancouver will win the series

I'm not saying they won't beat Chicago, but how can they get past San Jose, Detroit, or even Nashville when they can't put away a team that was almost gutted in the off-season, and backed into the last playoff spot? And Luongo at this point is starting to look like the most overrated goalie in the league. He's won nothing, and has never had a year where you'd look at his team's success and say "wow, if it wasn't for him, that team doesn't win." Patrick Roy did it all the time...Martin Brodeur has had flashes of it at times...hell, even Chris Osgood put the Wings on his back in 08 and carried them to 9 straight wins after Hasek fell apart in the first round. Does Luongo belong in that conversation? And it's not like we're talking about a young guy who I'm just impatient with...he's 32 years old. He has more good seasons behind him at this point than ahead of him...

posted by MeatSaber at 02:10 PM on April 22

He's won nothing, and has never had a year where you'd look at his team's success and say "wow, if it wasn't for him, that team doesn't win.

Luongo had a 1.77 goals against and a .941 save percentage in the 2007 NHL Playoffs. In spite of this, the Canucks lost in the second round. They scored 1.75 goals per game during those playoffs, scoring more than two goals in a game only twice.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 03:34 PM on April 22

Luongo had a 1.77 goals against and a .941 save percentage in the 2007 NHL Playoffs

Then it puts him in the same class as Curtis Joseph. CuJo had a 1.39 GAA and .939 S% in 2004, but I don't hear anyone bestowing on him elite status. Instead you see comments like garfield's here.

posted by MeatSaber at 04:28 PM on April 22

The beauty of the single wild card is that it ensures the regular season HAS meaning. A 3 divisions + wildcard isn't about ensuring the best FOUR teams make the playoffs in that league, it's about ensuring the best TWO teams do, as well as two other teams that may or may not be the 3rd and 4th best teams in the league.

Money grab by MLB notwithstanding, that's an excellent explanation of the rationale of the wild card.

posted by cjets at 05:00 PM on April 22

Then it puts him in the same class as Curtis Joseph. CuJo had a 1.39 GAA and .939 S% in 2004, but I don't hear anyone bestowing on him elite status.

I wasn't bestowing him elite status. But that year, if it wasn't for him, Vancouver doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell at even making it out of the first round of the playoffs.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 10:25 PM on April 22

I also said "when you look at his team's success." Losing a 2nd round series in 5 games isn't my idea of "his team's success"...

posted by MeatSaber at 10:52 PM on April 22

Expanding the baseball playoffs seems like such a horrible, horrible idea. Blatant money grab.

I'm curious how they'll deal with a longer season in places like Minneapolis and Detroit, places that have no roof and are already in danger of snowouts at the beginning and end of the season. A November World Series in Minneapolis could be a total disaster - the winter is like 7 months long there!

I like the wild card plenty - it allowed the Brewers to reach the playoffs in 2008 - but I'm more in favor of killing the wild card entirely than expanding it to include more teams.

But I'm also in favor of returning to a 154-game season, not because I'm some crusty old-timer but because I'm just in favor of a slightly shorter season. Baseball should be played in fair weather.

posted by rocketman at 07:09 PM on April 23

And Luongo at this point is starting to look like the most overrated goalie in the league. He's won nothing,

*cough*

posted by grum@work at 07:48 PM on April 23

Sorry grum, I meant NHL Luongo, not Olympic Luongo...

posted by MeatSaber at 02:56 AM on April 24

I guess Vancouver's coach had the same thought, as Schneider replaced Luongo as the starter for Game 6.

Wow.

posted by grum@work at 08:19 PM on April 24

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