Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Few Tidbits from Around the Web

Time for some links to sports related articles and a video clip that I find interesting. I think you should click them and digest the content. Then, if you happen to see, we can talk about your favorite bits.
  • Floyd Mayweather recently won his 48th professional boxing match against Manny Pacquiao. Despite his win in the biggest fight in recent history, Mayweather is still a terrible person. We should all remember that he is a serial women beater and never pay money to watch his fights.
  • This New England Patriots fan makes a case for why the Tom Brady suspension is ridiculous. Although I shutter while I type this, I have to say he does make a few good points. 
  • In case you think I have gone soft on Patriots fans, here is another piece pointing out how delusional many of them are.
  • In game seven against the Memphis Grizzlies the Warriors punched their ticket to the Western Conference championship. The game was a good one and highlighted exactly why the Warriors are so great. It also had an amazing bit of ridiculousness when Steph Curry drained a 3/4 court shot with time expiring in the half.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Soccer Statistics: A New Era

Advanced statistics have been making their way into every sport over the last ten years or so, and it's all Billy Beane's fault.  The fact that Billy Beane doesn't have anything to do with it (and probably isn't even all that great as a GM) doesn't matter here: what matters is that stats have taken a great leap forward.  In baseball, it's commonplace to talk about BABIP and team's are shifting more than ever before.  In basketball, team's finally realize just how valuable the three-point shot is, especially on Daryl Morey's NBA 2k fanboy Rockets, who refuse to take any shot that isn't a dunk, three pointer, or Josh Smith doing whatever it is he gets paid for.  In hockey, we have uh...uh...Deryk Engelland being considered a hockey player still.

So it's not a perfect world, to be sure.  One of the toughest areas for advanced stats to take hold has been in soccer (or, as the English call it, crisps).  This isn't because of any sort of good ol' boy traditionalism so much as it is that it's really, really hard to measure things in soccer.  Normal counting stats like goals or saves exist, but tell you almost nothing about the game.  Clint Dempsey gets a goal for this just as much as he does for this.  Passing numbers are nice to look at too, but there isn't really a ton to be gained from knowing Andres Iniesta completed 7000 passes in a game other than that Barcelona loves possession just so much you guys.  Plus, it can be hard to break into soccer because so much of the skill is in the little things.  Basketball's great because you can obviously see when a good play is made and can understand where advanced stats are coming from.  Soccer relies so much on things like a good first touch that it can be hard to really know what to look for.

There needs to be more accessible, informative statistics for soccer, really.  American sports fans love the fantasy aspect of sports, where we can argue about why Michael Beasley is better than Corey Maggette even while knowing in our heart of hearts we're both wrong.  Stats are wonderful.  That's why we need more of them for soccer.  Here's just a few that can really make any person's fandom that much better.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Seventh Round Mock Draft

The greatest sporting event of the year is here!  The NFL Draft begins tonight!  Hope springs anew amongst all fans.  Yes, it is truly the best weekend of the NFL calendar starting today.  That is, the best weekend excluding any of the weekends with games and, more importantly, all the weekends without games in which we don't have to pretend we're not ok with rooting for spousal abusers to run for 100 yards a game.

By now, there have been more than enough mock drafts written.  Every expert has weighed in and, by now, everyone knows exactly what will happen in the first round.  Therein lies the problem, however. The first round is all taken care of, but nobody pays attention to all our favorite rounds!  Anyone can say that Buccaneers should draft Jameis Winston or JaMarcus Russell or Ki-Jana Carter, all can't miss NFL superstars.  It takes a real expert to know what will happen in the draft's final round.  That's when all the players we truly care about are drafted anyway.  Marques Colston, Trumaine McBride, DeVon Harrison, and Scott Mruczkowski are all pillars of our NFL fandom and only one of them is a made-up name.  That's why Unique Sports Theme Name is committed to giving you the most comprehensive, most accurate Round 7 Mock Draft that has ever been written.  Be wary, as the revelation that we can see the future can be rough for some.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why Aren't You Rooting for the Bucks?

The Milwaukee Bucks are God's chosen gift to basketball.  After last night's stirring defensive performance, the Bucks have won two straight games over the Chicago Bulls to get back in a series they were down 3-0.  Are they going to win?  No, of course not.  It's almost unheard of in the NBA for a team to come back from down three games to none, having occurred only once since the first round became a best-of-seven series.  Outside of Mark Cuban's nightmares, it's pretty much impossible.  However, that doesn't mean that the Bucks are anything but the best thing.  They may be essentially doomed this season, but it's never too early to think ahead for what bandwagon to get on.  Everyone likes to look down on bandwagon fans, which means now is the time to hop on so you too can act like you're better than everyone else the next few years.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Mariner's Starters are just Not that Good

Heading into this season the majority or fans and media seemed to think the Mariners starting pitching was going to be great. Lots of local talking heads held them up as one of the best pitching staffs in major league baseball. So far things haven’t turned out that great. I am personally not that surprised. I didn’t understand the hype preseason. 

The one sure thing in the rotation was Felix Hernandez. And what do you know? He has been awesome. He continues to decimate AL batters and keep the M’s in every game he pitches. He sets the bar so high it makes it hard for other pitchers to follow. M’s fans rightfully appreciate a great player.

Iwakuma and Happ have both been surprises, but for different reasons. They have basically flipped spots based on performance. Iwakuma has been much worse than expected. He is supposed to be a legit number two starter, instead he has struggled to get out of the fourth inning. Happ looked like just another arm. Someone to eat up innings every fifth day. Instead he has provided the M’s with almost all of their good starts not belonging to The King. 

Looking back neither of these results should be that surprising. There was writing on the wall for both of these players. ‘Kuma had a 7.61 ERA in 23.66 IP during the month of September last year. He struggled to end the season and he hasn’t gotten it back. I hope that he figures it out, but I am not holding my breath. His struggles could have been predicted. 

J.A. Happ, the newcomer to the staff, was a high profile prospect in his youth. After struggling in Houston he landed in Toronto. As a flyball pitcher Happ was ill-suited for the home run friendly confines of the Rogers Centre. In 2014 his 39.5% flyball rate put him at the 17th highest among all qualified starters in both leagues and that was the second lowest flyball rate of his career. Happ is a flyball pitcher and the exact kind of guy that Safeco Field helps succeed. His recent success isn’t as crazy as some people believe. 

The other two starter, Paxton and Walker, are essentially rookies. Combined they pitched 112 innings in 2014. That is less than half what Felix threw. The sample size on these guys was small. Expecting them to perform at All-Star levels was crazy. Rookie Pitchers struggle. It takes them a while to figure out the majors. I expected both to figure it out eventually, but in the meantime we are going to have to suffer through the learning curve. 

The sky high pre-season expectations for the M’s starting pitchers was unfounded. All four starters that aren’t named Hernandez had red flags. Three of the four struggling isn’t a surprise. This team’s pitching staff isn’t as star studded as the 2013 Tigers or the 2015 Nationals. They are just average and it is time for people to realize this.

Friday, April 24, 2015

9 Mariners Position Players Who Are Starting Positions Players

Buzzfeed.  Everybody loves it, even if it is a horrible conspiracy run by sentient bees who subsist on our delicious, delicious brain waves (editor's note: this is probably not true).  Essentially, it's just a compilation of lists on lists on lists, because who doesn't love lists?  It's why grocery shopping is everyone's favorite chore.

We here at Unique Sports Theme Name strive to give our readers only the best or, barring that, the published.  Sports lists are an under-served market on the intrawebs, unless you count Bleacher Report, in which case you are an idiot who may not actually know what sports are or how to read. We also realize that Seattlites like you (editor's note: if you are a reader not from Seattle, you are of no use to us) want content tailored to what you know.  That's why we bring you, today, the most important list that has ever been listed: the top nine Mariners position players who are starters. There's sure to be a lot of debate about just who should be on this list, who has really earned the right to be called a starter (by virtue of starting).

A brief bit of housekeeping: all statistics used in this article are up to date as of this article's publishing.  Starters were determined based on whether or not the player was a starter or not.  Edgar Martinez was removed from consideration because oh my God he's been retired for 11 years, get over yourselves.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Mariners vs Astros = Fail

The Astros joined the American League West in 2013. Since then they have been one of the worst teams in baseball compiling a record of 129-209. The team hasn't had a winning season since 2006, when they were still in the National League. All this seemed like a good thing to Mariners fans. We were gaining a weak opponent in our division. This should have been a chance for our team to feast on a bad opponent. We could have bolstered our record against Houston. It hasn't quite worked out that way for the Mariners.

According to Baseball-Reference.comas of 4/21/15 the Astros have a 20-20 record against the M's since 2013. While going .500 against a team in your division isn't normally terrible against a team as bad as the Astros you have to do better. The Astro's have a .366 winning percentage against MLB teams not in Seattle. This means the Mariners have let the Astros outperform their expected win-loss record by five games. This is five games the Mariners really could have used, epecially last year when they missed the post season by one game.

If the Mariners have any chance of making the post season this year they need to win their games against teams as bad on paper as Houston's. Starting 0-2 against the 'Stros is definitely a step in the wrong direction. The bull pen needs to shut down the Astro's offense in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings. This team is rip for striking out. They led the American League in 2014 and 2013 with 1442 and 1535 K's respectively. Our hitters need to destroy their pitching. Houston's team ERA was fourth worst in the AL last year at 4.11 and worst in 2013 at 4.79. There is just no excuse for not dominating these guys.

It is nice of the Mariners to welcome the Astros to the American League by taking it easy on them, but it is also stupid. Letting such an inferior opponent beat you half the time is pitiful. Lloyd McClendon needs to whip his team into shape and stop the embarrassment. The Mariners need to beat the Astros.