CWS C’Ship Series Vandy v. Virginia

Vandy VirginiaWe have reached the top of the hill.  There’s no more climbing to do. The Commodores and Cavaliers have simultaneously reached the peak for the first time in each of their respective program’s history.  Once their eyes meet this evening (and for the next two or three games) there will be nothing left to do but knock their opponent off the top of the hill to be declared champion.

Vanderbilt and Virginia are built the same.  Both have tremendous starting pitching.  Both have a cast of above average, though mostly nondescript hitters–because, you know, it’s 2014 and college baseball doesn’t care about hitting anyways, amirite. (?!?) Both teams will have their aces on the mound tonight hoping to start this best of three game series for all the marbles off properly.

The aces for the respective squads though are worth at least noting.  Walker Buehler (he, not of the “day off”) with a 12-2 record, a 2.27 ERA and .218 opponent batting average will face off against Nathan Kirby with a 9-2 record, a 1.7 ERA and a .174 opponent batting average in the first game of the series.  A game which will, obviously, set the tone for the series. cws final 2

If nothing else, this College World Series (and the prior rounds of Regionals/Super Regionals) has served to highlight this sport’s most glaring error.  By that, I mean the supreme lack of offense in the last five years brought on by the changing of both the college ball and the college bat.  The changes in aluminum bat alloy have decreased the factor by which a ball is repelled by contact.  The change has been sought to decrease the likelihood of injuries to opposing pitchers but also to curtail your average football score popping up in the middle of a College World Series.  The bat is also meant to replicate the way a wooden bat treats a baseball. Congrats on that, engineers! Please don’t misunderstand, I don’t necessarily mind aligning aspects of the college game with the pros, not at all.  But what I do mind is that we’ve taken a lively and interesting game and nearly murdered the interesting parts of it.  Maybe it’s not quite “Planet of the Apes”-type destruction but scoring averages are down a full point and a half since the new bats were introduced.  ERA has gone down a full point and a half.  Homers per game throughout the NCAA has been cut in half now occurring only in 42% of the games played (This is misleading, but, in 2013 home runs occurred at a rate of less than half of one homer per game.  42% of games sound better now?  Because, statistics).  All of those statistics are the lowest they’ve been in the college game since aluminum bats were introduced over 40 years ago.  Did the overseers of the game really want to set their game back four decades offensively?  This is clearly an error.  No attribution can be given to the ebb and flow of pitching versus hitting, either.  Normally we see cyclical periods where batting gains ground on pitching and vice versa; but to have this dramatic change in numbers over such a short period of time is a clear anomaly and must be addressed.  The NCAA will be moving to a different ball next year, hoping to turn some of the tide made by the bat change.  The idea with the ball change being that slimmer seams will decrease drag and lead to 20% longer hitting distances.  That would mean that almost every ball hit to the wall this year would be a home run next year.  Will it meet those results?  Will the results that we do see from the ball change be enough to assuage nerdy fans like myself?  Will these issues even matter if LSU has yet another crappy end to their season? We shall see.

Year

# of Teams Average # GMS Batting Average Scoring HR/GM SB/GM ERA K’s/9 FLD PCT

2005

283 55.1 0.29 6.14 0.7 1.19 5.13 6.75 0.959
2006 285 56.2 0.291 6.15 0.68 1.17 5.14 6.62 0.96
2007 282 55.7 0.291 6.1 0.68 1.15 5.12 6.63 0.961
2008 286 55.6 0.296 6.57 0.84 1.14 5.59 6.84 0.961
2009 288 54.2 0.302 6.88 0.96 1.16 5.85 6.96 0.962
2010 292 55.8 0.305 6.98 0.94 1.21 5.95 6.87 0.962
2011 292 55.5 0.282 5.58 0.52 1.12 4.67 6.72 0.964
2012 291 56.3 0.277 5.38 0.48 1.03 4.51 6.61 0.965
2013 296 55.9 0.274 5.27 0.42 1.09 4.38 6.53 0.965

Stats provided by NCAA.com

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Who Says We Don’t Love Soccer? Portugal Match Sets Viewership Marks In U.S.

We may not love soccer. But, we do love supporting our country. GEAUX USA!!!

CBS New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Who says Americans don’t love soccer?

The United States’ 2-2 World Cup draw with Portugal is almost certainly the most-viewed soccer match ever in the United States.

The Nielsen company said Monday that the gripping game was seen by an average of 24.7 million viewers Sunday evening on ESPN and Univision. That matches it with the 24.7 million U.S. viewers who watched the 2010 World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands.

ESPN said an additional 490,000 people streamed coverage of the game on their mobile devices through the company’s app. Streaming numbers for 2010 weren’t immediately available, but it’s very unlikely it reached that level.

Many factors were in place to make it a big night for soccer on television. It was an exciting game, interest in the U.S. team was high because of the first-game victory against Ghana and World Cup viewing in general has…

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2014-15 Pelicans — The Draft, the Roster, the Offseason

 

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The 2014-2015 NBA season is 130 days away. That’s sad.  But luckily, there are only five short days from now until the 2014 NBA Draft.  Thank God for the offseason, amirite?!?

The 2013-14 Pelicans campaign was mostly sour as some of the biggest contributors for last year’s run for the playoffs (Ryan Anderson, Jason Smith and Jrue Holiday) played only a combined 87 games and none played in more than 34 games.  Ryan Anderson, a huge influence when on the court, was only able to play in 22 games last year.  Injuries suck, especially upon your squad en masse.

With any luck, this year will be much different all around.

The core of the Pelicans team remains intact:

# First Last Pos HT WT College Exp
10 Eric Gordon G 6’4 215 Indiana 6
33 Ryan Anderson F 6’10 240 California 6
1 Tyreke Evans G 6’6 220 Memphis 5
11 Jrue Holiday G 6’4 205 UCLA 5
23 Anthony Davis F-C 6’10 220 Kentucky 2

In addition to this core, we have some rotation guys already on the roster, including Austin Rivers, Darius Miller, Brian Roberts, Jeff Withey and Arinze Onuaku.

Last year, the fight club rotation was laid out as such.

Pelicans 201314 roster stats

We still have a majority of the same pieces in place, save for Aminu and Morrow not being under contract, and most of the same beliefs about who will carry the team.  But, it appears clear that the Pelicans are looking to make moves this offseason either in the draft (by trading someone off the current roster to acquire a pick) or in free agency, or both.

As for the Draft this coming Thursday, there are a number of players who could potentially help fill out our rotation.  In the last week it was rumored New Orleans was trying hard to move into the first round of the draft though it’s still unclear who they would be targeting or what team they’d likely try to work with on a trade.  If the team is looking to acquire a wing in this year’s draft there appears to be a number of likely selections.  But of all the selections and trade partners, the most likely target could appear to be Doug McDermott.  Here are Doug’s college stats:

mcdermott stats

McDermott is both a mid-first round projection and a scoring prodigy.  Due to the bounty of mid-first round picks that belong to teams with multiple picks in the round, it would be likely that the Pels could also find a team amongst that group with need at SG.

It’s important to note at this point that the team is likely still incorporating the lingering thought of ridding themselves of Eric Gordon (our starting SG and one of the few trade assets we possess) who has never found his fit with the team. Of all the potential trade partners with need at shooting guard, Boston and Philadelphia appear most likely.  Boston holds the 6th and 17th picks in the first round.  Philadelphia, who appear to hold every other pick in the draft have SEVEN picks in the upcoming draft.  (Apparently they gave away the Liberty Bell years ago and are just now ready to cash in.)  At any rate, Philly holds the 3rd, 10th and 32nd pick in the first round of the draft.  Both Boston’s 17th and Philly’s 10th would be good spots to nab to the sharp-shooter, McDermott.

Jason Smith, who has been a fan favorite for years, has proven to be a solid complementary player but is not the type of center a team can rely upon defensively–at least not at this point in his career.  The team will almost certainly look for a starter at center in free agency.  Among the best options both at C in free agency are as follows:

FA Pelican options

If I’m looking to sign someone, I take a long hard look at a player we actually drafted a few years ago but traded away immediately after: Cole Aldrich.  He’s got several things going against him, admittedly.  But, in the past two seasons of 40+ games played per, Cole has put up a respectable Player Efficiency Rating including a 19.2 PER in 46 games played last year with the Knicks.  Not only that, but he had a low, low, low defensive rating of 100 even at the center position.  One thing that the Pels have been good at over the last few years is getting points out of the 5 spot.  What they have not received from their centers over the past few seasons is DE-FENSE!  It appears, though built with scant evidence, that Aldrich could develop into quite the versatile player–and he’s young!  Truth be told, I wouldn’t mind any of the above players at C as they all have put up pretty solid numbers over the last year and also would likely come in at a premium.  I’ll take a caveat there in the form of Andrew Bynum, as we all know that he brings a little extra baggage and may be more trouble than he’s worth.  But, as with injuries depleting a roster over the course of an 82 game season, you never really know what you’re going to get until you get into a thing.