FanDuel - WFBC

September 30, 2012

SportsFilter: The Sunday 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 - 39 comments

There've been some voluminous college FB scores lately.

Yesterday's WVU-Baylor result was more like a Daly-era Pistons game score.

Looking forward to the mid-Oct. meeting between Tex. A&M and La. Tech.

posted by beaverboard at 12:32 PM on September 30

Continuing the MLB playoff discussion from yesterday, here:

First, I think grum was right: this article discusses tiebreaker rules, and it does look like they don't use the tiebreaker rules to win a division even if the other team is a WC (I could have sworn they did in years past, but maybe they changed that with the two-WC one-game playoff format- which, again, I hate as an idea). So in the event we'd have a 4 or 5 team tie (two teams tied for the division in the East and West, and/or 3 or more teams tide for the two WC spots) there'd be some complicated playoff scenarios, because a lot of the rules defined in that link don't assume something quite so complicated.

From what's defined, there'd be a Thursday set of playoff games to decide the division winners, and then the losers and any wild cards would go on to their playoffs. It wasn't clear if, but I'd assume for fairness that, the loser of the division game is guaranteed a chance to play for the WC spots, and doesn't lose out for suddenly having a lower winning percentage after the division playoff- i.e., that seeding is determined overall after 162 games.

Second... this is all probably about to be moot. As I type this the Rangers are up 4-3 on the Angels in the top of the 9th; if they win, LAA is basically out of the playoffs for all intents and purposes (they'd literally required all other teams to lose all their other games to even get a tie for the WC spot). The Yankees are leading on the Jays in the bottom of the 8th, and the Orioles over the Soxs in the top of the 9th with two outs.

Scratch that- the Orioles just won, and are at 92 wins. Texas is up 4-3 with one out in the top of the 9th and one one. Unless my math is wrong, Baltimore is now guaranteed a playoff spot: they are either going to win/tie for the division, or have a better record than TB and LAA (or at worst a tie with LAA if the pull off a comeback in the 9th here).

posted by hincandenza at 04:01 PM on September 30

AL West
Oof- Joe Nathan has choked. He put two on, but struck out Trout to make it 4-3 with two out... then gave up a 2-run double to Torri Hunter to make it 5-4 Angels, with Pujols coming up to the plate (and walked intentionally, before Morales lined out). If LAA holds on to win this (while typing, they've done just that- LAA wins), it goes back to making things interesting, at least for a few more hours, as they then have a very outside chance to win 92, which- theoretically- could net them a WC spot.

Importantly, LAA mostly controls their destiny. The SEA/OAK game has just taken on massive importance to LAA. If LAA loses tonight, they're basically cooked, but if they win that OAK/SEA game matters hugely.

If OAK wins tonight, the standings going into Monday would be TEX (92), OAK (91), LAA (89). In that case, the worst possible outcome for LAA would be a 2-1 series win by OAK@TEX, leaving those teams knotted at 93 and LAA praying for the improbable that either NYY or BAL get swept in their final series to stay stuck at 92 wins. Any other outcome of OAK@TEX would leave one team with no more than 92 wins, ensuring LAA could control at least a tie for the second WC spot.

However, if OAK loses today and stays at 90 wins, then the best possible record for the non-division winner in the West is 92 wins (or as little as 90 for OAK), and a 93-93 tie cannot occur- which means LAA would control their destiny by winning out, finishing at 92, and guaranteeing a tie or win of the 2nd WC spot.

So LAA has to win tonight, and then is either hoping that OAK lost today (they're up 2-0 in the 2nd at Seattle) or actually rooting for TEX to win at least one against OAK. But they aren't out of this at all. If LAA loses tonight, they have a ghost of a chance: they'd have to bank on OAK losing today and TEX going 2-1 or 3-0 against them, or if OAK wins today that TEX sweeps.

Man... this WC stuff is confusing!!!!

AL East
I think the East is now about to be much more clear: with NYY@TOR up by 2 already, and with the bases loaded, no outs in the top of the 9th... scratch that, a Granderson single scored, two, so it's 9-5 NYY with 1st and 3rd and still no one out. While not over yet, we pencil that in as a win for NYY, which put BAL and NYY at 92 wins and counting. TB is out of the AL East now, and with a max of 91 wins is all but out of any chance at the WC.

Scratch that- having finished my AL West write-up above, I see NYY has won after giving up a run in the 9th. So yes, the AL East winner is either NYY or BAL, and at worst one of those teams is finishing with 92 wins- and the only way that team doesn't have a WC spot is if LAA wins out along with OAK and TEX each getting 93 wins.

posted by hincandenza at 04:45 PM on September 30

Ed Hochuli's crew gets introduced

posted by tommytrump at 04:46 PM on September 30

Detroit just won, and Chicago missed a scoring opportunity to stay down 5-2 against Tampa, heading to the 9th. If Chicago (likely) loses, they'll be down 3 with 4 to play, and... there's no chance they go 3-1/4-0 while Detroit loses all 4. It's a shame; I was rooting for them when they acquired Youkilis, who came out of the gate mashing the ball but has been terrible in September, when the [White] Sox have just been awful. I feel bad for Youkilis now being part of two consecutive September collapses. Oh... it's now 6-2 after the B.J. Upton HR.

The NL is basically locked up and drama free; the only tension is the clinching of the division by the Nationals (they're about to be up 3 with 4 to play), and the outside chance the Dodgers catch up to the Cardinals for the second wild card spot.

posted by hincandenza at 05:09 PM on September 30

If Chicago (likely) loses, they'll be down 3 with 4 to play, and... there's no chance they go 3-1/4-0 while Detroit loses all 4

After today, both Detroit and Chicago have 3 games left each...

posted by MeatSaber at 05:32 PM on September 30

posted by grum@work at 06:15 PM on September 30

oops- yeah, I misread the standings in one window with the scores in another. CHW is toast, Tigers have a magic number of 1.

dodgers up 5-1 in the sixth, they could have interesting finish.

posted by hincandenza at 06:26 PM on September 30

Well, that was fun, unless you're an American golf fan. I don't know if anyone had money on Europe taking the singles 8 1/2 - 3 1/2, but if they did, they deserve their payout, and I hope they donate a chunk to the Seve Ballesteros Foundation.

posted by etagloh at 06:34 PM on September 30

Amazing to see that many professional golfers on the US choke. Holes 17 and 18 were ridiculous for them.

posted by dyams at 07:15 PM on September 30

So the A's won, the only ongoing important game today is the LAA@TEX game, where LAA has already gone up 4-1 after one inning (now 4-3 after 2).

God damn, this is playoff picture is confusing. I keep wanting to look at the remaining games and find some hidden proof that it's actually all over for certain teams, but I can't quite do that because a theoretical clusterf*ck tie as grum described yesterday is still possible. And I had a much longer passage written, but it's all still up in the air: if TEX wins tonight, they all but eliminate TB and LAA, because at that point nothing short of TEX sweeping OAK would allow them entry into the playoffs; any OAK win means 92 wins, and then it's just up to the four teams (NYY/BAL/TEX/OAK) to decide the division winner versus WC spot. An LAA win tonight keeps things wide open.

All I really know is I'd love to see OAK and BAL win their divisions outright, and leave NYY playing away in the WC one-game to make it into the ALDS.

posted by hincandenza at 07:57 PM on September 30

"Never mind. It's over. Olazabal can click off the walkie-talkie and take the IFB out of his ear. Time for the Europeans to fire up the private jets and head back home to Florida." Gene Wojciechowski, last seen with black feathers and pastry crumbs in his beard.

posted by etagloh at 08:00 PM on September 30

8-4 Texas in the top of the 7th, behind Mike Napoli's huge 3-3 day (so far, it's only the 6th) with a solo HR, 3-run HR, and 2-run double. 9 outs left for LAA, because if they lose this, it's a done deal. This loss would clinch a playoff spot for NYY, BAL, and TEX (at worst those teams would be one of the two WC spots); TB and LAA would be playing with a magic number of 1 to OAK.

Doesn't mean the last 3 days won't be huge: I preferred the single WC, because then we just went to the ALDS, but when one game is the difference between a couple of days off and going into the ALDS with your rotation set up, and blowing your best pitcher on a one-game WC playoff just to get into the ALDS... that's a huge incentive for NYY, BAL, TEX, and OAK to strive to win their divisions outright after 162, or at least with a one-game division playoff... and preferably with a good enough record to face the depleted winner of the one-game WC playoff instead of the other division winner.

I'm so baseball'ed out today, but while the Red Sox season was a bust, it looks like the rather slick MLB app finally paid dividends for me, in the closing days of the season.

posted by hincandenza at 09:29 PM on September 30

And ouch, to the WC setup: if there is a divisional tie, then the teams would have a 1-game playoff to win the division, and the loser would have then spent their best pitcher just for the chance to spend their second-best pitcher in the WC match... which means the WC 'winner' would enter the ALDS with their rotation completely out of whack, and easy pickings for the rested divisional winner. This setup means it might actually be smarter for a team to forfeit the divisional playoff, or at least throw their #5 out in that game, so they can try to have their best pitcher in the WC game, and have their #2 to start the ALDS.

Man... fuck Bud Selig and his stupid ideas. This thread over at Sons of Sam Horn talks about why the system is a joke: the whole point of the WC was that the 2nd best record wouldn't get the shaft in the pennant hunt, and you were guaranteed that the two best teams in each league would make the playoffs. Now we have a situation where the 2nd and 3rd best records could do a coin flip while the 7th best record in the league gets a cushy bye and time to set up their rotation, while better teams play coin-flip games for Selig's amusement.

Also, 8-7 Texas, after Kendrick hit a 3-run blast in the top of the 7th for LAA. Sheesh, what a sport!

posted by hincandenza at 09:33 PM on September 30

Having two wild card teams is better than one.

Forcing the wild card teams to use their best pitcher just to make it to the playoffs is a good enough punishment for not winning the division.

When it was just one wild card, there was no incentive at the end of the year to secure the division title if you could just fall back on the wild card spot (known as the Red Sox method). There was no true penalty for taking the wild card spot instead of the division, other than home field advantage.

Now, if you grab one of the wild card spots you aren't guaranteed anything. You have to win that one-game play-in just to make it to the playoffs.

Since they introduced three divisions and a wild card, finally winning the division (and not the wild card) has a real incentive.

posted by grum@work at 09:48 PM on September 30

But if they're going to have two wild cards... then do away with divisions. After all, why should there be a penalty on the "Red Sox" method (alas, that hasn't been the case for 3 years and counting) of having to compete with the richest team in baseball, in an unbalanced scheduled in your division... but no penalty for winning less than 90 games while competing against teams like the Royals and Indians? This idea that the wild card should come with a penalty... why?!?

Seriously, go ahead and justify why we need to "penalize" the Wild Card team: in many cases, the wild card team has had a better record than at least one division winner, so it's not even the team "skating in" to the playoffs. The lack of home field advantage is already penalty enough, no?

grum, I think you're flat-out missing why the WC was necessary from the perspective of fairness: it is the only mathematical way- unless you remove the divisions- to ensure that the top 2 teams make the playoffs. The case that immediately preceded the introduction of the wildcard was the 1993 Giants, in the first year of Bonds, winning 103 games... and not making the playoffs because they were in a division with the 104-game winning Braves.

I say, if you're going to have divisions, and imbalanced schedules, then the WC should be a single team meant as a "safety valve" for a case like the 1993 Giants, or other times when the Red Sox would have the second best record in the majors and without the WC would not have made the playoffs.

But maybe we really need to just ditch divisions, move to a straight AL/NL split, balanced schedules, top 4 teams advance with 1-4 seeding. The only time you need any one-game playoff is in a 2+ way tie for 4th place.

posted by hincandenza at 10:07 PM on September 30

grum, I think you're flat-out missing why the WC was necessary from the perspective of fairness: it is the only mathematical way- unless you remove the divisions- to ensure that the top 2 teams make the playoffs.

Actually, I'm going to say you're flat-out missing why the WC was necessary:

To have more teams in the playoffs, and generate more more excitement for more teams in the regular season (as more excitement might mean more tickets sold and better TV ratings). As well, it adds another round of playoffs that they can sell to networks to broadcast.

Everything else was window dressing for this main fact.

posted by grum@work at 10:33 PM on September 30

One quarter into the 2012 NFL season, there have been 4 overtime games. (Well 5, counting today's Arizona win over Miami.) Participants in those games are a combined 0-8 the following week. Week 5 upset special: St. Louis (2-2) over Arizona (4-0).

posted by bender at 10:36 PM on September 30

Well, that might have been their motivation, but I was talking about why it is necessary from the perspective of fairness: the WC is "fair" because you don't have several teams doing well, but behind a behemoth of a team and not able to make the playoffs. Obviously, the second round is what the real value was to the league and the money men. And you still haven't explained why the WC team(s) need to be "penalized", if they actually finish with a better record than a division winner, which has happened quite often in the history of the WC since 1995.

Also, Texas held on to win. Provided Oakland wins at least one game or Tampa and the Angels each lose at least one game, the four AL playoff teams are set- at worst, Oakland would potentially lose out on its playoff spot if it can't win one more game.

I'd actually like to see NYY be one of the WC teams, because I gotta think they'd raise holy hell at the next owner's meeting about this setup if they get burned by it.

posted by hincandenza at 10:38 PM on September 30

After all, why should there be a penalty on the "Red Sox" method (alas, that hasn't been the case for 3 years and counting) of having to compete with the richest team in baseball, in an unbalanced scheduled in your division... but no penalty for winning less than 90 games while competing against teams like the Royals and Indians?

Here have been the AL East champions the past 6 seasons:
2012 - Baltimore (maybe)
2011 - NYY
2010 - Tampa
2009 - NYY
2008 - Tampa
2007 - Boston
(selective end point alert!)

The number of times the NYY have made it to the World Series in the past 8 seasons is one. St. Louis, Boston, Texas, and Philadelphia have made it to the World Series more often in that time.
(selective end point alert!)

I'm not seeing this NYY dominance that everyone likes to tout. It might have been the case earlier in the century, but it isn't so any more.

posted by grum@work at 10:48 PM on September 30

Thank goodness the Tigers gave me something to cheer for today because the Lions were dreadful.

In 2009 the Tigers became the first team to blow a three game lead with four games to play. I dearly hope history does not repeat itself.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 11:04 PM on September 30

In 2009 the Tigers became the first team to blow a three game lead with four games to play. I dearly hope history does not repeat itself.

Shhh! Detroit fans don't get to complain about 1st place teams choking leads in the final series of the season.

posted by grum@work at 11:17 PM on September 30

Using "trips to the world series" is a pretty specious metric, dude, and you know that. Trips to the playoffs or division wins is probably more useful.

posted by hincandenza at 11:31 PM on September 30

Shhh! Detroit fans don't get to complain about 1st place teams choking leads in the final series of the season.

Ahh, 1987...what a magical year. Too bad there were no playoffs that season...

posted by MeatSaber at 11:47 PM on September 30

Depends. If all you care about is your team making the playoffs (i.e. buying a shitload of talent stack the deck during the regular season), then the second wild card is a great thing. If you care about your team winning a title, I think it matters little.

posted by wfrazerjr at 11:47 PM on September 30

Using "trips to the world series" is a pretty specious metric, dude, and you know that. Trips to the playoffs or division wins is probably more useful.

The point was made that the Yankees were some financial powerhouse that made things unfair for everyone else in their division.

I pointed out they don't win the division very often, and when they get to the playoffs, they make it out of the ALDS/ALCS even less.

They have over $81million in salaries this year for players 35 years or older. They aren't going to get much better in the near future because of the aging factor, and they can't dump some of their crushing contracts.

posted by grum@work at 12:34 AM on October 01

You're talking about something different; the point is that so long as you have divisions (which they'd had since 1969) you're going to have cases where the best two teams don't make it to the *LCS. Introducing a 4-team playoff and the 3-division format helped alleviate that- and now they've undone it with the two-team WC format. Because now we're back to the best two teams not necessarily making it (or that the 2nd best team has a much, much harder road than the 7th best team).

The reason for mentioning the Yankees is because in the pure pennant model of many years prior to 1969, they would win very frequently, such that good teams would see HoF players go their whole careers with maybe one trip to the playoffs. And over the last 15-20 years, the Yankee payroll has exploded. Are they always the best? No. Do they have a lot of aging payroll? Yes. But they make the playoffs an awful lot, and are a consistently strong team... which teams like Boston, Tampa, Baltimore, and Toronto all have to play more often than teams in the AL Central. In other words, the heavy spending of NYY means the other teams in their division have a tougher time trying to stay competitive.

Here, this is the list of Division winners from 1995-2011. You'll see that the Yankees have won 12 of the 17 AL East titles outright, and an additional 4 wild card spots. That's right- they've only not made the playoffs one year out of the last 18 (including this year, when they're in one way or another).

That is kind of a powerhouse, because the other four teams in the AL East know that the road to the playoffs goes through, over, or around NYY: they're likely either winning the division, or being highly competitive for the wild card spot. This is a pressure not felt by Chicago, Detroit, or the other AL Central teams that can ease into the playoffs with 85 wins and do it against an unbalanced schedule of generally weaker teams.

And I'll repeat again: tell me again the moral, ethical, and competitive justification for "penalizing" the wild card team, when they are just as likely to have more wins that one or two other division winners in their league. I'm still waiting for you to answer that question, unless I somehow missed it. You seemed really gung ho about penalizing the wild card teams, as if they were shameful.

posted by hincandenza at 04:41 AM on October 01

And I'll repeat again: tell me again the moral, ethical, and competitive justification for "penalizing" the wild card team, when they are just as likely to have more wins that one or two other division winners in their league. I'm still waiting for you to answer that question, unless I somehow missed it. You seemed really gung ho about penalizing the wild card teams, as if they were shameful.

First off, it's a sports seeding system. There is nothing immoral and there isn't anything unethical about how things are done.

As for competitive...

They have divisions for a reason. If the divisions didn't matter, then they wouldn't have them, and they'd go to the "top 4" option for the playoffs.

As a result, if you are going to have divisions, then make winning the division mean something. One way to do that is if you can't win the division and get in through the wild card option, you have to EARN that final spot (by winning the wild card play-in game).

It's just a smaller version of what happens in NCAA March Madness. The guarantee for getting into the tournament is to win your conference's playoff system. You win, you're in. If not, you then have to rely on the selection committee.

The second wild card stops teams from coasting at the end of the season, like New York did in 2007, like Boston did in 2008, Boston did in 2009 and New York did in 2010. Those teams had the solo wild card spot locked up if they didn't win the division, so they didn't have to work like crazy to try and catch the team ahead of them in the division.

However, if they knew going into the final two weeks that if they DIDN'T win the division, the were in a one-game play-in crapshoot just to make the playoffs, that might have made things a bit more exciting/desperate.

Even as a Jays fan, it's tough for me to hear them complain about competing against the Yankees giant payroll when I've watched THE OTHER THREE TEAMS win the division (if Baltimore pulls this off) in the last 5 years.

This advantage that everyone thinks the Yankees wield isn't that big any more. A lot more teams are getting smarter with their money than the Yankees have been recently, and New York's house of credit cards is about to collapse on itself.

You'll see that the Yankees have won 12 of the 17 AL East titles outright, and an additional 4 wild card spots.

Atlanta won the NL East fourteen (complete) seasons in a row. That was more dominant than the Yankees reign in the AL East. I don't remember the hue and cry about their dominance in the NL (East).

posted by grum@work at 12:50 PM on October 01

Atlanta won the NL East fourteen (complete) seasons in a row. That was more dominant than the Yankees reign in the AL East. I don't remember the hue and cry about their dominance in the NL (East).

True, but Atlanta also hasn't had nine seasons* in a row spending at least $30M (2011) and as much as $85M (2005) more than the next team on the list. The backlash against the Yankees isn't so much about the fact that they win so much as it is the way in which they handle their business.

* '03, '04, '06, '07, '08, '09, '10. Note: You have to go all the way back to Baltimore in 1997 to find any other team even occupying the top spot on that list, though the gap at the top in the late '90's and early 2000's wasn't as huge as it later became.

posted by bender at 01:43 PM on October 01

And I'll repeat again: tell me again the moral, ethical, and competitive justification for "penalizing" the wild card team, when they are just as likely to have more wins that one or two other division winners in their league.

The justification for penalizing a wild card team is to reward the champion of their division. It heightens division rivalries during the regular season when it matters to win them.

posted by rcade at 02:06 PM on October 01

True, but Atlanta also hasn't had nine seasons* in a row spending at least $30M (2011) and as much as $85M (2005) more than the next team on the list. The backlash against the Yankees isn't so much about the fact that they win so much as it is the way in which they handle their business.

But the frontlash (is that a word?) in reply is "who cares how they spend their money now, it doesn't seem to be working as well as it did before".

Here are the top 10 teams in payroll for 2012:

Yankees
Phillies
Red Sox
Angels
Tigers
Rangers
Marlins
Giants
Cardinals
Brewers

Only 3 of those teams have clinched a playoff spot with 3 games left in the season.
Only 2 more of those teams are in good position to grab a playoff spot.
Of the 5 with good playoff hopes, only one of them (Giants) have clinched a division title right now.

Lots of money doesn't buy you a playoff spot.
Smart money might (Oakland has the 2nd smallest payroll in MLB).

posted by grum@work at 03:27 PM on October 01

rcade: The justification for penalizing a wild card team is to reward the champion of their division. It heightens division rivalries during the regular season when it matters to win them.
Isn't that done via the lack of home team advantage? There are three division champions, and they are rewarded relatively equally. This is why the additional penalty of the coin-flip one-game playoffs is BS; it means that two teams with better records than one or two division winners will dance for Selig's amusement, while a team that doesn't even win 90 games in a weak division gets a cushy ride into the post-season to reset their rotation and rest players.

I guess I just never understood this idea some people have that the wild card team is "sneaking in" to the playoffs, when they are likely better teams than some of the "legitimate" division winners.

posted by hincandenza at 03:52 PM on October 01

And I'm all for smart spending of money. It's also good to see that the gulf at the top of the payroll chart has started to narrow again in recent years. It certainly can't be disputed, however, that having a lot of money to throw around does give you an advantage over other teams, whether you are smart with it or not. For several of the years in that stretch, the difference between the Yankees' payroll and the next highest was larger than the entire payroll of some teams--and a few times almost half of the teams in the league.

Going out of your way to spend a boatload more than anyone else isn't against the rules nor does it guarantee you playoff success, but it does tilt the playing field in your favor and it certainly makes the schadenfreude effortless.

posted by bender at 03:57 PM on October 01

Isn't that done via the lack of home team advantage?

I would consider that fair, but this season, the lower seed gets to host the first two games. That's not much of a home team advantage to the higher seed considering they either have to win one game on the road or stretch the series out to five games (after winning two elimination games) to claim it.

posted by bender at 04:00 PM on October 01

Agreed- I prefer the 2-2-1 myself. Didn't the ALDS experiment with (or still have) an option where the higher seeded team got to choose the format, such that they could opt for either a day off after game 2 or 3, for setting up their rotation better? Or did I hallucinate that?

posted by hincandenza at 04:20 PM on October 01

I would consider that fair, but this season, the lower seed gets to host the first two games. That's not much of a home team advantage to the higher seed considering they either have to win one game on the road or stretch the series out to five games (after winning two elimination games) to claim it.

The only reason the lower seed plays their home games first is that they shoehorned the second wild card team into the schedule. They don't have time for the extra travel day for a 2-2-1 set.

Starting next year, it's 2-2-1.

posted by grum@work at 06:09 PM on October 01

I say go back to two divisions, east and west. Win your division or go home, five game pennant, seven game World Serious.

And get off my lawn.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:07 PM on October 01

five game pennant

That ship sailed 27 years ago.

seven game World Serious.

If you're serious, then you want a 9-game World Series.

posted by grum@work at 10:54 PM on October 01

Starting next year, it's 2-2-1.

I know, but I still don't like it, and I feel like they could have figured out a way to squeeze in 2 extra games. For starters, they could have eliminated the WC play-in travel day.

posted by bender at 11:02 AM on October 02

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