Friday, September 29, 2017

Week 7 EPL

Relegation is the  scariest thing that for a fan base when the end of the years comes around as the hope to stay in the top flight division is always the goal. Going down to the second tier is devastating to stay the least.

In England, playing among Britain's top teams is a treat that shouldn't be taken for granted. Crystal Palace this year is faced with the mammoth challenge of staying up after not picking a  single goal or point in there first six games and it's not looking good for them with Manchester United on the road and after a home date with defending Champions Chelsea is not the idea of a favorable schedule.

It's not the time to panic yet but it feels like it. They held City scoreless for 43 minutes last week before the floodgates opened up.

Personally, Palace will have life at some point. It's too long of a season for them not to. That being said, the more they lose, the more this Palace season will turn into Aston Villa's 2016 season that saw them being relegated after only three wins.

The United - Palace game will be the game I'll be focused on in the 10AM windows tomorrow. The Tottenham game and Chelsea game to finish the day are equally intriguing.

League table

PosTeam PldWDLGFGAGDPtsQualification or relegation
1Manchester City6510212+1916Qualification for the Champions League group stage
2Manchester United6510172+1516
4Tottenham Hotspur6321105+511
5Liverpool63211211+111Qualification for the Europa League group stage
8Huddersfield Town623153+29
9Newcastle United630365+19
12West Bromwich Albion622246−28
13Brighton & Hove Albion621357−27
15Swansea City612337−45
16Stoke City6123510−55
17Leicester City6114912−34
18West Ham United6114613−74Relegation to the EFL Championship
19AFC Bournemouth6105411−73
20Crystal Palace6006013−130

Saturday, 30 September 2017
Time/ResultHomeAwayVenue                                 TV
7:30AMHuddersfield TownTottenham HotspurJohn Smith's Stadium       TSN1 and 4
10AMManchester UnitedCrystal PalaceOld Trafford                       SN
10AMWest Ham UnitedSwansea CityOlympic Stadium                TSN 4         
10AMWest Bromwich AlbionWatfordThe Hawthorns                  TSN1
10AMStoke CitySouthamptonbet365 Stadium                  None
10AMBournemouthLeicester CityVitality Stadium                 SN World 
12:30PM ChelseaManchester City Stanford Bridge                   NBC

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Should Baseball Not Have a Shotgun Start on Final Day?

Down the stretch they come! No, this isn't the Kentucky Derby but the final week of the Major League season is supposed to be a drama filled week with many twists and turns along the way.

This year has been anything but, with seven out of the ten playoff teams already clinched and two others on the fringe of clinching any day now, this final hurrah has been fairly boring

However, the one race that will likely come down to the final day of the regular season is looking like the 2nd Wildcard spot in the National League. The Colorado Rockies hold a two game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals are right behind them breathing down their neck at three back.

There is no guarantee that the race comes down to the final day of the regular season, I'll put my money on Colorado going through. This is the third year in a row MLB has gone to a shotgun start for the final day of the regular season.

It begs the question, is this fair? Both games are 12:10 PT 3:10 ET on Sunday afternoon. More importantly though the two games will kick off at different local times that will favor the Rockies.
Denver is in the Mountain timezone and 12:10 translates to 1:10 a normal Sunday afternoon start time. On the other hand, Milwaukee plays in the Central timezone on Sunday and that translates to a 2:10 local time start time which is a rare start time through out the baseball season.

To me there is a big advantage for Colorado because Milwaukee has to adjust their daily schedule during a day they have to win a must win game. Or what happens if there is a rain delay in Denver or St. Louis on Sunday? The shotgun start theory is flawed.

I totally get it why baseball did this, I'm not arguing about that but to me it doesn't make sense to change a baseball players routine during a crucial last game of the season.

The idea to put every game on the last day of the regular season comes from soccer. Soccer is known to do this from the EPL to CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying. That's soccer though. A sport that has no time stopping and therefore will end at the exact same time as well.

This is baseball, a sport where a game might take 2 hours to finish or could take as long as 4. Starting the games at the same time doesn't fix everything and I'm not sure it is the best option.
None of the other Top three leagues does this, NFL has a flex schedule but that's based on what are the priority games between CBS, FOX and NBC.

NBA does a semi shotgun start with the East Coast and West Coast, which because of how baseball divides their leagues isn't realistic.

NHL does nothing at all. They play out the schedule with how it was drawn up the previous Summer. The surprising thing is, no one complains.

Why did baseball change? Why did baseball have to mess with tradition in a sport that doesn't like to mess with tradition.

Baseball needs to find a better solution because the shotgun start to me is too odd.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Oregon Ready for First Conference Foe

Lots of College Football teams get off to 3-0 or 4-0 starts based to a weak non conference schedule among other things. I don't think the Oregon Ducks fall into that category.

The #24 ranked Oregon Ducks take their scorching to record into Tempe for their conference opener against a ASU team that is still trying to find itself after a 52-45 loss to Texas Tech last week.

Oregon defeated ASU last year 54-35 in Eugene but it was little consolation for their disappointing 4-8 season which triggered a handful of changes at the University of Oregon including the hiring of Wille Taggart as the new Head Coach for the Ducks.

The change over has been brisk but has also been a fun one as well. Oregon can match their win total from last year and we are still only in September. Can Wille Taggart keep this up to the point that Oregon becomes a Top 10 team? Unfortunately, we won't get that answer for another few weeks but as of now, Taggart is making this coaching gig look like it's a walk in the park.

I might not be able to watch the game tomorrow. I will be at a family dinner but I think that Oregon comes a way with a 51-38 win. Arizona State has proved that they have lots of work to do on defense and that does not look good for them as Oregon's offense looks like it is at top notch right now.

The game starts at 7pm and can be seen on Pac 12 Network.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Oregon VS ASU Preview

My Friend does Youtube videos about the Oregon Ducks football team. Here is this week's video as Oregon gets ready to travel to Tempe and put their 3-0 record on the line against the Arizona State Sun Devils.

I hope you enjoyed it.

Vikings - Buccaneers Loser will be in Tough Position

Week three in the NFL pits two ex divisional rivals as the Minnesota Vikings welcome the adversity battled Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Despite it being only Week three, this serves to be a pivotal game for both teams as both seemed to be fringe playoff teams at the start of the season.

For the Vikings, expectations depending on who you talk to. Some people believe making the playoffs is a real posssibility with a good offensive line and a flashy Delvin Cook. Others will say that there are too many holes on this team that are still missing their franchise Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and are now down to their third string QB after Sam Bradford got hurt.

For Tampa Bay, having their game on September 10th Postponed due to the Hurricane in Miami, they now are given the task to play 16 straight weeks in a row. With Atlanta and Carolina both 2-0, the Buss can't afford to fall too far back in the division with tough games against the Giants and Patriots looming followed by games AT Arizona and and Buffalo.

The loser of this game takes a step back early in the year. Historically speaking, it takes about 10 wins to make the playoffs as a wildcard.

In total agreement it is early in the year, but getting off to a slow start might put these two teams behind the eight ball and that's something that fringe playoff teams don't want.

Monday, September 18, 2017

How Will The Canucks Forward Puzzle be Put Together?

Trying to crunch the numbers with the Canucks 9-4 loss to the Las Vegas Golden Knights yesterday and more importantly, with what transpired in general this weekend.

The 9-4 score line might bring people back to the days of the 1980's when scores were a lot higher. However, I think Canucks fans can except a better effort from their defense while in contrast, the offensive production will be more in line from what we can expect this year and in years to come.

Don't get me wrong, there are holes on this team but I still think they are on the right direction. I'm a firm believer that rebuilding now while the Western Conference is good is the right move. However, if Brock Boeser is this good than Vancouver will be in a good spot for the future. With that, Jim Benning has a conundrum unfolding as we speak. Place the young guys in Utica and let them win the Calder Cup together or play the young guys in Vancouver and see what happens.

As nice as it is to say Sam Gagner, Alexander Burmistrov and Thomas Vanek are Canucks, I'm not sure what will happen to them in the future. I'm really high on Vanek, I think its low risk high reward and he might be able to be flipped for a draft pick come the trade deadline. On the other hand, Gagner and Burmistrov are on the younger side and might be plan B if Boeser and Virtanen aren't producing.

Here's how I think should make the team for the Canucks:

LW                                           C                                RW
Daniel Sedin                      Henrik Sedin               Loui Eriksson
Sven Baertschi                   Bo Horvat                   Markus Granlund 
Thomas Vanek                   Brandon Sutter           Alexander Burmistrov
Ryan White                        Sam Gagner                Jake Virtanen

Don't be alarmed but Virtanen makes the team over Boeser because of age. Plus I don't think its ideal for Boeser to play 4th line minutes. The Canucks are deep at Centre but that will change when Brandon Sutter gets hurt three games into the season.

This team won't make the playoffs because they aren't very good. They will likely miss out because there are 8 other teams better than them in the West.

I am concerned about Sven Baertschi and Markus Granlund if they can duplicate their totals of last year. Start Boeser in Utica and see how this lineup turns out. It might light a flame under Burmistrov and Virtanen's career as they have underachieved since being Top 10 picks at their respective entry drafts.

Mathematically there will have to be a trade coming up soon. Too many players I haven't touched on will mold into Vancouver's future somehow.  

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

How Low can the UCL Parity Meter Go?

The Champions League is heading for a conundrum like no other which has neutral fans scared for the parity of the UCL group stage or lack there of. Only 16 out of the 55 leagues UFEA Leagues are represented in this years group stage and that should be a cause for concern as that number will likely decrease next year with the new format to be installed. 

What ar UEFA's options is another scary thought. The unbalanced Group Stage over the last few years has been alarming. In fact, unless your a team in the UEFA Top five that include, Spain, Germany, England, Italy and France there is really no hope for a team making a run to the Final Four. With that being said, here are a few options I think UEFA have. 

1. Add More Teams 
32 team group stage doesn't work because of where the strong teams are right now. After the Top 4 teams in Europe there is a big drop off and after the next 8 teams there is a another big drop off. 8 + 4 is 12 so in mathematically four groups are already decided when the draw is out. Increasing the Group Stage would allow for a smaller teams more of a chance. Also, the 6 game group stage doesn't work because it takes about 10.5 points to get to the knockout round. Therefore, teams would have to win all three games to remotely have a chance to advance. With all this said, the margin for error is so small. 

2. Europa League needs to Mean More 
Right now the 48 team Europa League is at times a clown show. Some teams don't take it seriously as some coaches find it a distraction. This will no longer be the case if the Champions League gap becomes wider. Right now the Europa League is competitive with more countries being represented every year. The chance of cinderella is way more possible. 

3. Put the Champions League back into This 
I know this sounds crazy but I think it would increase how special a European night would be. A 56 team Champions League. Every UEFA League gets 1 team into the League. This would make winning the League title super important and would add quality into the Europa League. This would mean in the Group Stage 32 countries would be involved. This likely won't happen but it is kinda keeps the small countries competitive with a chance of drawing a weak group. 

Nothing will change overnight, we will see how the next three year cycle goes starting next year. This last cycle has been deadly for the underdogs and that is not fair to the smaller teams. A league that is dominated by a few teams isn't much of a league. The best sports leagues in the world have lots of parity. 

Anyway, here are my predictions for the UCL Group Stage:

Group A[edit]

1England  Manchester United65101431116Advance to knockout phase27 Sep31 Oct22 Nov
1Portugal Benfica6231107395 Dec12 Sep18 Oct
1Russia CSKA Moscow6123813-55Transfer to Europa League18 Oct22 Nov27 Sep
1 Switzerland  Basel 6024211-9212 Sep31 Oct5 Dec
First match(es) will be played on 12 September 2017. Source: UEFA

Group B[edit]

1France Paris Saint-Germain6420113814Advance to knockout phase27 Sep31 Oct22 Nov
1Germany Bayern Munich633017215125 Dec12 Sep18 Oct
1  Scotland  Celtic6033514-93Transfer to Europa League18 Oct22 Nov27 Sep
1 Belgium   Anderlecht 00241140212 Sep31 Oct5 Dec
First match(es) will be played on 12 September 2017. Source: UEFA

Group C[edit]

1Spain Atlético Madrid64111221013Advance to knockout phase27 Sep31 Oct22 Nov
1England Chelsea623195495 Dec12 Sep18 Oct
1Italy Roma 613269-36Transfer to Europa League18 Oct22 Nov27 Sep
1 Azerbaijan Qarabağ6033314-11312 Sep31 Oct5 Dec
First match(es) will be played on 12 September 2017. Source: UEFA

Group D[edit]

1 Italy Juventus63211441011Advance to knockout phase27 Sep31 Oct22 Nov
1Spain Barcelona6231117495 Dec12 Sep18 Oct
1Portugal  Sporting CP62228808Transfer to Europa League18 Oct22 Nov27 Sep
1Greece Olympiacos6033216-14312 Sep31 Oct5 Dec
First match(es) will be played on 12 September 2017. Source: UEFA

Group E[edit]

1Spain Sevilla6411125713Advance to knockout phase26 Sep1 Nov21 Nov
1 EnglandLiverpool 62311412296 Dec13 Sep17 Oct
1Russia Spartak Moscow6123913-45Transfer to Europa League17 Oct21 Nov26 Sep
1Slovenia  Maribor6024510-5213 Sep1 Nov6 Dec
First match(es) will be played on 13 September 2017. Source: UEFA

Group F[edit]

1Italy Napoli64201111014Advance to knockout phase26 Sep1 Nov21 Nov
1 England Manchester City63121266106 Dec13 Sep17 Oct
1  Netherlands Feyenoord605138-55Transfer to Europa League17 Oct21 Nov26 Sep
1Ukraine Shakhtar Donetsk00243140213 Sep1 Nov6 Dec
First match(es) will be played on 13 September 2017. Source: UEFA

Group G[edit]

1 Portugal Porto

3219729Advance to knockout phase26 Sep1 Nov21 Nov
1Germany RB Leipzig615086286 Dec13 Sep17 Oct
1France Monaco62227708Transfer to Europa League17 Oct21 Nov26 Sep
1Turkey Beşiktaş  603359-4313 Sep1 Nov6 Dec
First match(es) will be played on 13 September 2017. Source: UEFA

Group H[edit]

1Spain Real Madrid 66001411318Advance to knockout phase26 Sep1 Nov21 Nov
1Germany Borussia Dortmund6222104686 Dec13 Sep17 Oct
1England Tottenham Hotspur 6123710-35Transfer to Europa League17 Oct21 Nov26 Sep
1 Cyprus APOEL6024117-16213 Sep1 Nov6 Dec

Don't see many surprises. Most groups will be decided by Matchday 3 it feels like. Basically the tier three teams have to literally win all three games or else it is a uphill battle. That's the tough part though. It's an accomplishment when a small team ties a Barcelona or Bayern Munich let alone beat them. That's the challenge UEFA faces to find the best format to make this competitive.