College Football Week 8 – AI Score

(Top image from The Big Lead)

Yahoo! writer Dan Wetzel has been posting something like this tweet every Saturday:

Saturdays in the fall are as glorious as ever, even with 4 teams getting in. The best thing about it is that today, on October 21, more teams than last year at this point can say “we control our own destiny.” If only 2 teams made the playoff, then the only teams that would truly have control over their chance to win the championship at this point would be Florida State and the two teams from Mississippi. While that’s not a bad thing (every team in the top 5 conferences had a chance to win it at the start of the season), I’m sure we can agree that there are plenty of 1-loss teams that deserve to be in the hunt at this point, not to mention a team like Marshall (I know, weak SOS) that hasn’t lost a game yet. It doesn’t dilute the chase because there are so many teams and so few games to be played against each other. They can’t possibly have every team play every other one.

Here are my If-The-Season-Ended-Today playoff brackets (seeding process here):

8-Team Playoff (Quarterfinals on Dec 20)
#15 Nebraska (8) @ #1 Ole Miss (1) in Oxford
#11 TCU (7) @ #3 Florida St. (2) in Tallahassee
#4 Alabama (6) @ #8 Oregon (3) in Eugene
#2 Miss St. (5) @ #9 Marshall (4) in Huntington, WV

4-Team Playoff
#8 Oregon (4) vs.  #1 Ole Miss (1) in the Sugar Bowl
#2 Miss St. (3)  vs. #3 Florida St. (2) in the Rose Bowl

Screenshot 2014-10-21 11.47.20


Image from The Big Lead.
Image from The Big Lead.

College Football AI Score – Week 7

The SEC is dominating most ratings, including mine, at the midway point of the season.  I have 5 SEC teams in the top 8.  All these teams will have (or have already had) a chance to prove themselves and rise to the top.

Notre Dame is making it interesting this year. I summarized my playoff format in last week’s post, and one of the challenges for the Fighting Irish is that they don’t have a conference to win, meaning they should have to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that they belong in a playoff. If they win this week, that might happen.

Here are the projected matchups, assuming the higher-rated team wins out:

8-team Playoff – First Round on Sat. December 20
#18 Minnesota @ #1 Ole Miss (1) in Oxford
#12 Marshall @ #3 Florida State (2) in Tallahassee
#4 Notre Dame (6) @ #6 Baylor (3) in Waco
#2 Miss State (5) @ #10 Oregon (4) in Eugene

4-team Playoff
#6 Baylor (4) vs. #1 Ole Miss (1)
#2 Miss St (3) vs.  #3 Florida State (2)

Screenshot 2014-10-14 10.46.16

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications
Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Top Photo by Robert Jordan, Ole Miss Communications.

College Football Week 6 – AI Score

From SB Nation

This is my first rating update of 2014. I think September is too early to try and rank teams. And frankly, October might be too early, too, but the A’s are out of the playoffs so I need a distraction.

Speaking of playoffs, and college football: College Football Playoffs! I’ve always been a proponent of an 8-team playoff, given that there are numerous conferences with a pretty low level of interaction during the season. But a 4-team playoff is a step in the right direction.

Now let’s talk about the selection committee.  Are you serious? What is this, the Westminster Dog Show? Why do we want to inject the eye test into a game that has so much subjectivity when it comes to fandom and conference superiority? Hey, let’s have people from USC decide if UCLA should make the playoff! What could go wrong?

But again, it’s a step in the right direction and I’m looking forward to it at the end of this season.

As I said, I have always been a proponent of an 8-team playoff. Each week, I’ll post my If-The-Season-Ended-Today matchups in the 4 and 8 team variety:

My 8-team matchups will be the same as before: top 6 conference champs plus the next 2 teams of any type, with top 4 conference champs hosting, and the next 4 teams ranked by rating.

My 4-team matchups will be the top 3 conference champions + a wildcard. The wildcard will be determined like this: if the highest- or 2nd-highest-rated team in the country is still on the board, it gets chosen as the wildcard. If not, the highest-rated conference champion still on the board is the wildcard. Teams are ranked by rating, but top 2 must be conference champs.

So, if the season ended today:

8-Team Playoff
#16 Nebraska (8) @ #1 Auburn (1)
#12 Marshall (7) @ #4 Florida State (2)
#3 Miss St (6) @ #6 Arizona (3)
#2 Ole Miss (5) @ #8 TCU (4)

Obviously, each team in the SEC will have the chance to climb to the top spot by the end of the season.

4-Team Playoff
Auburn (1) vs. Arizona (4)
Florida State (2) vs. Ole Miss (3)

I’m looking forward to another great Saturday!

Screenshot 2014-10-07 21.06.29


So clean that it’s not


Imagine you’re staying at a hotel and you throw your dirty laundry in the corner of the room (that’s normal right? Do people have travel laundry hampers?). When you come back to your room, you notice it’s been cleaned, and you find that your dirty socks have been folded and placed back in your shoes.

How would you feel about this? Appreciative? Confused? The same way you feel when your kid makes you a ranch and peanut butter sandwich? Like oh hey thanks for trying, that’s really sweet, but also disgusting and I don’t want it.

Maybe you think: this is really weird, but their heart was in the right place. I guess that’s what matters.

Also imagine your phone charger has been unplugged and the cord has been neatly wound up.

Thoughts on Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester

Some thoughts on the big trade today:

  1. The Innocence of Sports Fandom. The A’s traded Jose Canseco in the middle of a game in 1992. I was 9 years old and it made absolutely no sense to me. How could Jose Canseco play for another team? He’s an Athletic!
    I had the same feeling this morning, but I wasn’t the only one. When I told my 5 year-old daughter that Cespedes would no longer be on the A’s, she was really sad. Cespedes has only played for the A’s and it’s really hard to imagine him in another uniform.  How could he play for a different team? He’s an Athletic! Why would the A’s do that? It was hard for her to process. She loved watching him, and it’s hard for her to accept the idea that the guy that solidified her A’s fandom with his exciting play is no longer on the team. Silly me for buying her a Cespedes shirt last season, I guess.
  2. The Excitement of Yo. Something you have to remember about being an A’s fan: we don’t get players like this very often, so we hold on a little more tightly when we do. In Oakland, we are used to being The Island of Misfit Toys, our roster often filled with players that no one else wants because of salary restrictions. But Cespedes was different. Cespedes was the G.I. Joe action figure that all our friends kept asking about. Yeah, come  look at this guy! He’s sweet! Yes those are real sunglasses. No, you can’t borrow him, I’m playing with him right now. He’s awesome. I don’t care if he can’t pick things up with his hands, he’s G.I. F-ing Joe! I’ve never had one of these before.
  3. The Complexity of the Game. Canseco being traded was my first understanding that there is a business side to professional sports. In baseball, you can only have 25 players on your  major league roster, so when you want to pick up one guy, you have to lose another. You can only afford so much salary, so if you want a good player, you’ll have to spend less elsewhere, maybe letting guys walk. And then there are other factors to consider, like contract demands, age, fit, and windows of opportunity (clearly a huge factor in the Cespedes/Lester trade).      Understanding that these factors are a part of the game had two effects on me.  First, it confused and depressed me. But then it made me love the game even more for its complexity.
  4. The Challenge of Responsibility. So, given how many factors there are in trying to win a World Series, I have to repeat the mantra of so many A’s fans: In Billy We Trust. Billy Beane is the one who has to make difficult decisions, and having been in charge of numerous sports teams on a much, much smaller scale, I know that the right decisions for the team are often unpopular at the time. But he’s not making this trade just for fun. He wants to win, which is what the fans want, too. He’s got a program of thinking, and he’s sticking to it. He’s responsible for whether or not the A’s are in a position to win this year, and he’s doing what he thinks is right. Cespedes was good, yes, but Jon Lester could be the difference on the mound in a critical game. So we have to accept that Beane has thought this through. 
  5. The Fun of the Game. Still, we all loved watching Cespedes. And yes, I know his stats are pretty pedestrian for a so-called star outfielder, and I’m all for using numbers to get a better picture of performance. But as a fan, how could you not love the athleticism he displayed? I was there for his first game when he hit a line-drive double off the Tokyo Dome wall. I saw his monster homers. And who can forget the throws? Sometimes as a fan, you love players like this, even when you know they’re not statistically the best, because they make the game fun to watch from day to day.
  6. The Worst Thing. As my daughter got in the car today, she said: “Maybe we can cheer for the Red Sox now.”

Finally, thank you to Yoenis for giving us a fun-filled two-and-a-half seasons. We were supposed to be horrendous in 2012, and we made the playoffs. We weren’t supposed to repeat in 2013, and we did. We were predicted to finish 3rd in the AL West this season, and we currently have the best record in baseball.  Now, let’s hope the A’s close it out and get Cespedes a ring for his efforts.

Thanks for the memories, Yo!