Sunday, July 17, 2016

Longevity And Realistic Odds For The New York Mets

For the past week or so, the moans and groans from the fan base would indicate that the New York Mets’ season has taken a nightmarish turn.
As a matter of fact, the season has been anything but that. Currently the Mets are one game ahead of the pace they were on last year and they are coming off their fifth World Series Appearance in franchise history. Speaking towards that stat alone is something that 28 other teams wish they could claim.
More importantly, their record of 49-42 has served them well thus far, good enough to grant New York the second National League Wildcard spot – which they share with divisional foe Miami Marlins. Being tied for the second wildcard is a luxury that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Despite an abundance of injuries to their starting rotation, for instance Matt Harvey, a starter whose only taken part in 20% of the Mets’ games this season.
While losing Harvey for the rest of the season stings. It’s totally understandable to feel that way. However, when glancing at his numbers at the surface, the Mets could be better off without him. First off, his WAR is a microscopic o.1 for the season. Let’s be clear, that is nothing to fawn over. To continue, his ERA this season is 4.86. If you’ve kept track throughout his career with the Mets, that would make this season alone 1.94 runs per game higher than his career ERA of 2.94.
Because the Mets play in the National League, games are generally lower scoring and consequently closer. This indicates that any game that Harvey has pitched where the run margin has been either one or two, the Mets have wasted his start. At 6.5 games back from the division, the Mets are prime for missing the NL East crown this year, although there’s still 70+ games of baseball to be played. Even if the Mets don’t win the division that doesn’t mean they aren’t good enough. It’s because other teams are better. The Mets would be in a different position had they taken care of business against the East-leading Nationals last weekend.
Not only has the NL East grown to be more formidable than it has been in the past, but the whole National League is deeper, too. Case in point, seven of the league’s 15 teams have over .500 records. This alone would make the Mets look foolish to go out and acquire a big-time bat (like Cespedes last year), or a front-line starter (that’s self-explanatory for New York which has the third best ERA in baseball). With the Marlins improving, and the Phillies and Braves building for the future, it would be quite a risk to mortgage the farm system.
While the Mets continue to scratch and claw amidst the log-jammed wildcard race. Pending turnarounds remain: can Jose Reyes hit like he once did early in his career? Can Curtis Granderson flash the power at the plate that he so often flashed in 2015? These are questions that the Mets must answer in order to achieve a sterling second half.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Champions League Action

Match day one of the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League is complete. The day was dominated by the home teams that went 6-2-2. The one big surprise was Lincoln Red stunning Celtic FC.

The good news for most teams is that all games this morning were relatively close games. Therefore, there is a lot to play for when the second leg will take place next week.

Tomorrow, or depending where you are in the world, later tonight the other first leg games take place.  The marquee game tomorrow is Rosenborg taking on Swedish champion Norrköping.  The Sweden side will end their 51 year Champions League drought when they travel to Norway . 
Seattle Mariners fans think they are hard done by having a 15 year playoff drought. Could you
imagine if they went 51 years without making the playoffs??

It should be a pretty big day for Norrkoping fans tomorrow. Going 51 years without playing in Europe's top tournament
is almost a lifetime ago for some fans. Anyone under the age of 63 at least has no memory. 

Other notable teams that start their campaign are Astana FC who competed in the group stage and København from 
Denmark. Both teams have aspirations of sneaking into the group stage this year. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Euro Cup is over, Soccer Isn't

The Euro Cup is over but the European soccer season for club soccer is just around the corner. In the coming weeks, all the major winter European leagues will get under way.

In addition, the UEFA Champions and Europa League Group Stage will begin in September, but there are still teams needing to punch their ticket into Europe's most competitive event in on the UEFA club calendar.

During the summer months, the Qualifying for the UEFA Champions League Group Stage takes place as each team hopes to be this years Cinderella. In the qualifying phase, the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid are not playing as the European giants all get byes into the group stage.

The Champions League is a mega tournament that represents the best teams in each country. Each country has a number of allocated berths that is given to the country based on how well that countries club teams did in previous Champions League Competitions.

Here is the schedule for tomorrows games:

For these teams in the small countries these are big games. For some of them, its their only international soccer exposure they will get all year. For others, the chance of going on a run to the Champions League Group Stage and beyond gives the club to believe they can build their club to be a global name around the world.

For instance, Celtic FC was in the CL Round of 16 a few years ago and Croatian powerhouse Dinamo Zagreb was in the Group Stage a couple of years ago.

Winning on the road in Champions League is very difficult and therefore, making sure a team wins there home games is crucial for survival. I'm looking forward to the soccer action tomorrow and will hopefully post back tomorrow. 

Tuesday, July 12

HSK Zrinjski Mostar
Game 1
9:30 AM
Legia Warsaw
Dinamo Tbilisi
Game 1
10:00 AM

Qarabag FK
Game 1
10:00 AM
H. Be'er Sheva
Game 1
10:50 AM

Game 1
11:00 AM
The New Saints
Game 1
11:00 AM
Apoel Nicosia

Lincoln Red Imps FC
Game 1
11:00 AM
Game 1
11:00 AM
Red Star Belgrade

Red Bull
Game 1
11:30 AM
FK Vardar
Game 1
11:45 AM
Dinamo Zagreb