Monthly Archives: November 2009

GAMES I DID NOT WATCH

Syracuse 31(+13.5), UConn 56
I checked this scores on my phone and Cuse was trailing 42-31 with about 2 minutes left. UConn decided to score twice in the final minute including on a 28 yard pass that covered the spread.

Illinois 36(+20.5), Cincinnati 49
Illinois became the second team(Fresno St.) to out-gain Cincinnati this year, furthering my belief that Cincinnati deserves no part of the BCS. Let’s go Pitt.

Oklahoma 27(-9.5), Oklahoma St. 0
Total domination from the Sooners. Oklahoma held their instate rivals to just 109 yards of total offense. Records aside, OU might be the best team in the Big 12 this year. I know if you gave me the 3 points they were getting at the Cotton Bowl against Texas again next week, I’d take that in a heartbeat.

Mississippi St. 41(+7.5), Ole Miss 27
Solid culmination to the career of Jevan Snead. 17/29 3TDs, 3INT. It’s safe to say he probably won’t be a very good pro quarterback.

Random Thoughts
-Charlie Weis should not be fired.

Don’t confuse that with Charlie Weis is a great coach. But, he is not bad enough to pay him 18 million dollars to NOT coach your team.

Notre Dame only played one cupcake(Wazzou, neutral site) and still managed to out-gain 8 of their 12 opponents. They were actually pretty good on offense, too. If you asked me, this was actually a better Notre Dame team than they have had in the past few years.

Of course, they have had some terrible luck in close games, and Weis has probably made some questionable decisions. The point is, with a few breaks the other way this could easily be a 10-2 incredibly overrated BCS team.

Weis certainly has his flaws, namely a pretty poor defense. However, I don’t think anyone ever confused him with a defensive mastermind and he’d never been a head coach before. But, it’s doubtful Notre Dame will do better, or at least improve enough to justify buying out Weis.

It seems to me, firing Weis would be an 18 million dollar failure of results-based decision making.

TCU
I’m convinced that TCU should get a shot in the National Title game. It’s hard to believe that we have so many undefeated teams this year with the mediocrity at the top, but neither Texas nor Florida nor Alabama are as good as the top of the last few years.

In comparison, TCU is probably the strongest mid major ever in relation to the rest of the field. Say what you want about their schedule, but they are dominating teams. Not squeaking by 2008 Boise State style, but absolutely killing the garbage of the MWC.

Texas is garbage, Florda is garbage, Alabama is garbage, let’s get TCU in the title game. The Horned Frogs will probably be the biggest snub in the history of the BCS(which usually does a better job of putting 1-2 together than a playoff system).

NEXT WEEK
I think it’s going to be pretty simple: Clemson, Nebraska and Pittsburgh. Lean to Florida in the SEC title game, but that seems like a pretty fair line.

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THANKSGIVING

Going away and not sure what the internet situation will be, so put all of this in last night(all -110 unless noted):

College:
Oklahoma -9.5(1)
Syracuse +13.5(1)
Mississippi St. +7.5(1)
Illinois +20.5(1)

NFL:
Tampa Bay +12(1)
St. Louis +3 +100(1)
Chicago +10.5(1)

Omega World Cup:
Sweden +105 v. England(1)
USA to win +1600(.3)

The golf stuff(mainly the US to win) is just plain stupid, but I couldn’t resist. Sweden won last year, but Karlsson and Stenson are so much better than Fisher and Poulter, who I think are really overrated right now, that I couldn’t resist. I may play some other stuff from my phone, but don’t expect any posts because it is incredibly annoying.

Good luck and enjoy the holiday.

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FOOTBALL NOTES

College:
Utah State 21(+20), Boise State 51
This one was over as soon as a somewhat errant Diondre Borel pass was knocked up into the air and intercepted on the first drive. Otherwise the best part of the game was Joe Tessitore picking #Limpcock for his weekly fantasy team. Speaking of, guess who is getting less than two touchdowns from Boise next week?

Syracuse 31(+10), Rutgers 13
Surprisingly, Syracuse outgained Rutgers by 294 yards and Greg Paulus celebrated Senior Graduate student day in style completing 13 of 16 passes for 142 yards, a touchdown and NO interceptions. We hardly knew ya, Greg.

Cal 34(+7), Stanford 28
This game got me wondering how exactly Toby Gerhardt is a good college football player. I mean, he has great stats and all, but I seriously doubt he is a better player than CJ Spiller in the NFL next year.

NFL:
Tampa Bay 7(+10), New Orleans 38
Order has been restored. New Orleans nearly puts up 40, and rolls over some terrible team like the spread was 14 points to low.

Cleveland 37(+3), Detroit 38
Does it get any worse if you are a Browns fan? Stafford ran around in circles for about 15 seconds, chucked it up to the end zone and the Browns decided that instead of knocking it down they would tackle all the Detroit recievers. That worked out well, until Stafford, with separated shoulder, threw a touchdown pass from the 1 on the next play. Luckily for me, TDs are still only worth 7.

Kansas City 27(+11), Pittsburgh 24 OT
Once KC was down 17-7 at the half, I already had this one in the category reserved for the Rams and Tampa Bay, but KC got it to overtime and never really threatened to lose by 11 from there.

Baltimore 15(+105), Indianapolis 17
Baltimore should have won this game. I really hope the Colts keep winning until the playoffs and get a rematch with the Patriots. This team is just not as good as everyone thinks.

Seattle 9(+10), Minnesota 35
Seattle is only laying 2 to the Rams next week.

St Louis 13(+9), Arizona 21
I’m glad because the Rams covered and it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, but I’m not sure how a 1-8 team justifies kicking a field goal from the 2 yard line. Oh well, as long as they remain somewhat competent they can keep losing.

Oakland 20(+10), Cincinnati 17
While Tom Cable was busy slapping around women, I could have told him in week 2 that Bruce Gradkowski would be a better option for his team.

Chicago 20(+3), Philadelphia 24
Now that JaMarcus is gone, Cutler takes over the mantle of worst quarterback in the league. Apparently, tired of throwing passes to the other team, Cutler decided it would be easier to just overthrow everyone by 10 yards. At least they weren’t picks.

LEANS
College
Juice +18? Really? That seems pretty high.
Auburn +12
Colorado +8.5-might be a week late on the Buffs. Glad, I decided to go 0-8 on Dubai instead.
Nevada +12-Catching up with Chris Ault.
Cuse +12.5- Pretty sure Paulus won’t be bowl eligible so this could be the last money wagered on him.
Miss St. +7.5-Guaranteed MSU has a better coach than Les Miles
Georgia +7-Waiting for the ACC Champ.

NFL:
Cleve +13.5
Oakland +13.5
Rams +2
Tampa Bay +12.5
Pats +3, MNF U
Bears +10.5

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BUFFS!

Colorado 72(+10), Gonzaga 76
The Buffs, apparently inspired by interim coach Steve McClain(and his 57% career wining percentage) jumped out to an 11 point lead at half time. Predictably, the Buffs could not sustain their 7-11 pace from beyond the arc in the first half and Gonzaga rallied for the comeback win. Colarado was out in front by enough by halftime, though, that losing by 10 or more was never really an issue.

For tomorrow, I think I’ll limit it to ‘Cuse vs. Cornell. Cuse has won twice on national t.v. over two big time opponents and moved into the top ten. Cleveland St. is a maybe.

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2009 GROOVE CHANGES

I started his post with the idea of making it my first in my PGA Tour 2009 Preview series. I wanted to take a look at how the much talked about groove changes would affect the game of golf.

Where I started was with a look at the difference between what difference the difference is between the fairway and the rough. To do this was pretty easy, as the PGA Tour keeps laser tracked stats titled “proximity to hole from fairway” and “proximity to hole from rough.” Now, those stats are individually pretty biased as a means for rating players because they are not at all adjusted for the difference in difficulty of courses.

Overall, though, since it is almost impossible for a golfer to play only the fairway on one course and the rough on another, when you take the tour average, that stuff should even out. Also, things like good lies, bad lies, distance should even out when looking at all the players over the course of the season.

This is the chart I came up with Broken down by year:

The chart should be fairly explanatory, except for the bottom row, which I’ll get to in a second.

At first, this fooled me too, as I noticed that there did appear to be a huge gap between 2002 and 2009. Then I went back and noticed in 2002 there were only 15,000 attempts from the rough. In 2009, there were over 43,000. I doubt that means players became wildly less accurate in 2002, rather the PGA Tour lasered all its events in 2009, and only a select few in 2002. The problem is those select events in 2002, were probably the bigger PGA Tour events that more people care about and are generally played on harder set-ups.

There were over 40,000 attempts from the rough in 2003, so I’m assuming that is the first year the PGA Tour started lasering all its events. As you can see, the rough has gotten easier on Tour since 2003, with the average proximity getting almost 2 feet closer since back in 2003. Of course, this could have nothing to do with Technology(or grooves) and relate to other factors like players getting stronger, better, hitting it further, or tournaments cutting down the rough to make tournaments more exciting with more birdies.

I tried to look up stats on distance to the hole after tee shot averages, but those only went back to this season, so it’s virtually impossible given what the PGA Tour publishes on it’s website what the actual effect of technology has been.

To illustrate my point I took a look at the PGA Tour’s proximity to hole from different yardages:

There is a clear advantage to being closer to the hole. I put in the percent of error, just because I have heard people say stuff to the extent of “well, relatively speaking you do better on shots from 100 yards than a tricky distance like 50.” Relatively that’s true, but it’s also irrelevant. You would rather have a closer look from your next shot, regardless of where the first one came from. It seems, at least from the yardages the PGA Tour compiles, that being closer to the hole on average is the way to do that.

Since, I think that chart shows that there is an advantage to being closer to the hole for your approach shot, that could mean that the PGA Tour is hitting it closer from the rough for the simple reason that their approaches from the rough come from shorter distances. There is no way to tell that technology has had any effect on this. Or it could also be some of the factors I named above, it’s hard to say to with the available data from the PGA Tour.

The bright-side is that they have very detailed stats from 2009 and there is a clear rule change going into effect. It shouldn’t take us too long before we are able to tell if the groove changes have made the rough harder.

How to do that is an interesting story. This is where the stroke per 1000 shots from the first table comes into play. To calculate this effect, I used the proximity vs. distance stats from above and distance vs. % of putts made that comes again from the PGA Tour’s shotlink stats.
DISTANCE REMAINING v. PROXIMITY TO HOLE

PUTTS MADE

DISTANCE OF PUTT V. PCT MADE

As you can see there is a very strong correlation between that success in putting and getting approaches close, decreases exponentially with distance*

*It’s possible that the distance categories that the PGA Tour uses skew the graph a little. For example, using the percentages and averages of distances(0-5 is 2.5 on the graph, etc) there is a strong correlation, but it crosses the y axis at 1 at around 1.7 ft. Which is to say pro’s never miss from 1.7 feet or less. I think that is probably a stretch and there is a different exponential equation for extremely short putts. However for these purposes, this works fine, since the proximity to the hole is in the 20s and 30s.

So, just looking at 2009, we can say that the average approach from the rough ended 42.81 feet from the hole, compared to 31.34 feet from the rough. Plugging those numbers into the putting equation above, that results to being about 32 strokes better from the fairway over 1000 shots*. Of course, that understates it because it assumes that every shot hits the green, which is not true. While on average, a player would scramble the same no matter where he hit the previous shot from, an average proximity of 10.5 feet further away is going to result in more missed greens, so it is probably safe to say that it is more than a 32 shot difference from missing the fairway.

*This also doesn’t take into account that you are probably less likely to 3 putt from 30 feet than you are from 40 feet.

It’s impossible to say, given the PGA Tour’s available data, if there is a significant difference in the penalty of hitting the ball from the rough over the past few years. It’s also impossible to say what the cause of any difference would be. However, after next year, there should be enough available data to determine what effect the groove changes had.

As far as this favoring certain players, that again is hard to tell. There was definitely a difference in missing the fairway, so if the difference increases guys that hit a lot of fairways should benefit. However, I doubt that hitting the fairway will all of a sudden become more important that GIRs, scrambling and putting from close range(IMO, in that order). Those three stats are usually so much more important to scoring that a small penalty for hitting the rough is unlikely to change what makes good golfers good.

The other factor will be how big of a deal people are making of the groove changes. I seriously doubt that even if the rough gets harder to play from it will ever match the effect that golf announcers will attribute to it. I can just imagine Peter Kostis next year saying, “Well, that’s the effect of the new grooves” on every shot that misses the green from the rough. The fact is, the guys are pros who are really good, practice a lot and are able to tailor pretty much any equipment they want. I’m sure they will be prepared.

I actually think, if you want to project who might be undervalued for next year, guys that just bomb away might be more valueable. The consensus, from what I’ve read so far, seems to be that guys are going to scale it back to hit the fairways more. It’s unlikely they will hit significantly more fairways with this strategy, but the 20 yards they give up even with a more penal rough is probably not worth it.

Thanks to PGATour.com, where I got all the stats.

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POST DUBAI TOP-64

It will be a few days before I can objectively discuss a somewhat important issue in why I keep losing on everything that happens after the tournament starts, but right now I’m still pretty pissed off at Big Shot Bob. If you count the Bogey on the last hole in Spain, I’m basically on the wrong side of a 30 unit swing because of his shenanigans lately.

Anyway, here is my world top-64 post Dubai(Basically two full years). Ranked by top overall over two years, but 2008 and 2009 individually are included.

Anyone who knows anything about golf knows why 64 is an important number, at least for me. Alex Noren should be in the top-50 of the OWGR’s after this week, so he stands a very good chance to make it into the WGC Match Play, which would be ideal.

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COLLEGE HOOPS ROUND-UP

#12 Cal 70(+3.5), #15 tOSU 76
Don’t be fooled by the somewhat close score in this game. After the 6:44 mark in the first half, Cal never had it within the number again.

VCU 82(+3.5), #17 Oklahoma 69
Leading by 10 at half time with a robust 7-15 shooting performance from beyond the arc in the first half(OU was 2-12) this smelled like a sure defeat to me. Not surprisingly VCU cooled off in the second half from three(2-10) but Oklahoma stayed cold shooting a UCLA-like 5-26 from beyond the arc. OU wasn’t all that good from beyond the arc last year, so it could be a long year without Griffin inside.

Ole Miss 67(+3.5), #6 Villanova 79

This one had all the makings of all those one-sided early season contests that look unpopular, but in the end have no chance of winning. It wasn’t exactly that, but I officially gave up after the first three offensive for Villanova gave them an 8-0 lead with two shots made off offensive rebounds and a three pointer off a turnover. Unofficially, I kept coming back between Bears commercials and witnessed a pretty terrible game in between. I’ll leave the toughness factor of Villanova up to Jay Bilas, but I’m willing to say there are easily 6 better teams in College Hoops.

I’d say Colorado looks pretty good tomorrow afternoon(3 PM EST), after Gonzaga challenged what should be an over-rated Michigan St. team on ESPN last week.

YTD results: 3-4 -1.19

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