Friday, August 26, 2011

UEFA Champions League Preview

Today was the Draw for the Group Stage of UEFA Champions League for 2011/12 season, as 32 teams sat and waited for their fate during the season.  The world's biggest tournament outside of FIFA World Cup, as players get famous for leading their club teams to total victory in Europe. There were funny moments during the draw like being confuse on rather a team will be in Group D or B and the awkward English to Spanish translations; where the host were talking to the players on their seasons. There will be pressure from everyone to do well in this tournament. I will predict the finish of each team their respected group in the order last to first from A to H.
Last place in the group: SSC Napoli, Trabzonspor, FC Otelul Galati, Dinamo Zagreb, Genk, Olympiacos, APOEL, and Viktoria Plzen. Do not worry on trying to pronouncing or looking them up as they will be finish by the fifth game of Tournament. In fact, I will be shock if they finish with more than 5 points within their respected groups.
3rd Place in the Group: Villarreal, CSKA Moscow, FC Basel, Ajax, Bayer Leverkusen, Arsenal, Zenit St. Petersburg, and BATE. The good news for these clubs is they will continue to play in a European tournament, the bad news is it the Europa League (the lower tournament next to the Champions League).
2nd Place in the Group: Bayern Munich, Lille, Benfica, Lyon, Valencia, Borussia Dortmund, Shakhtar Donetsk and AC Milan. For some of these clubs they would win their group if they did not run into stronger clubs. Other clubs will finish 2nd place in their groups by default.
The Group Winners a.k.a The favorites to win the Champions League: Manchester City, Inter Milan, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Marseille, Porto, and Barcelona. These clubs are for real; they want to win the thing. Their fans and owners expect them to win it; there is no way around it. Anything short of at least the Quarterfinals is absolute failure and the world knows it.
The Group that is hard to predict Group F with Olympiacos, Arsenal, Borsussia Dortmund, and Marseille. With Arsenal for some reason selling their best players like they in a bankruptcy sale, this group is in a tale spin in terms of easy bets.
The Group that is easy to predict Group A with Napoli, Villarreal, Bayern Munich, and Manchester City. In case you have not notice about Manchester City is they are juggernauts, they brought the best talent money can buy. In two English Premier League matches, they have seven goals are already and nothing seems to stop them. I do not see any of these clubs trying to stop, in fact the only ones that can stop them is themselves.
The Most Entertaining Group: Group E with Genk, Bayer Leverkusen, Valencia and Chelsea. This group is very different from main stays like Chelsea and Valencia to underdogs like Genk each club has their own style and will be very entertaining at least. And let the good times role.
WINNER: Chelsea! Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich slowly stopping to care about domestic affairs all the focus is on winning Europe's biggest club prize. Failure is not an option with this club and they will win at all cost.
I do not know about you, but I cannot wait for the group stage matches to start in three weeks time.     

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Life in the Promotions and Demotions system

  If there is one thing I want educators and parents to let go is the whole you cannot learn anything from playing video games. I learned things from video games are: time management, money management, team work and the crude world of sports. These lessons are only useful if they are being applied everyday; similar to things learned in the classroom. What I mean is, you can learned all the geometry, physics, Japanese, and algebra all you want, but it is does not matter if you do not use them often. The thing I learned from playing FIFA 10 is sad to me in the world of sports.
  See, I was one of those jaded baseball observers who had to watch crappy teams in the month of September collecting money and hope for next season. September is usually when teams who are out the playoff race play games of no significance and ruin the experience for the fans. So when I saw European soccer how much the end of the season games means for everyone from the top teams to the bottom teams, I thought it will be awesome. Especially since teams that in the bottom in the league will be force to down to a lower league within their country. It's like seeing the Kansas City Royals going from Major League Baseball down to AAA Minor League Baseball. That type of pressure made the games important as fans hate to see their team play in the lower leagues. All of this change when I read this article on about relegation and promotions system, but all things need to be experience in order to get it.
 One of the things I love to do when I have my hand on a sport video game is to play franchise mode or something similar to it. In FIFA 10, I am playing Manage Mode; when you are in charge of the day to day operations of a soccer club and keeping with the Board of Directors' expectations. The team I am using is a German team called MSV Duisburg, a team in the German 2. Bundersliga  League (2nd German Division). As I play them I got them promoted to the top German league (The Bundesliga) a great accomplishment outside helping the Buffalo Bills winning the Super Bowl in Madden. That's when the hard part begins.
  1. The reducing of the margin of error during the season. In soccer most leagues play at least 30 games (or matches) per season and having no playoffs make it harder to have sluggish starts or have long win-less streaks during the season. Which means a lot of stress on the players to play well throughout the season.
  2. Talent: Let's face it, just like a minor league baseball players who got the call up the big leagues may have issues catching up to the talent level at first. No means to question rather or not they are inferior who just destroyed inferior talent or a good player who is brought up too soon. Same as the promotion of teams from lower leagues. They may have the will to play, but not necessary the talent to win or stay in the top league.
  3. It cost lots of money. I going to be honest, you need players who can play in the big leagues and with European soccer leagues do not have drafts to control their younger players for a few years, it cost money not only to keep them but also buy players to your team stronger. Any demotions will be heart aching for the players, managers, owners and the fans as everyone loses everything.  
It was a beautiful dream for baseball, but after seeing it myself it is one thing that should not be a reality.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Oklahoma's Kool-Aid

Another college football is coming and there is a lot of Kool-Aid drinking going on. The media, boosters, students, and fans are having high hopes for their teams. We should stop and think on why we are drinking the Kool-Aid of an awesome season ahead.
Oklahoma's Flavor: Lemonade
Why give them this flavor? Well, they are an easy team to cheer for and have that sweet and sour taste in your mouth. They are Ranked number 1 in the USA TODAY Coaches' Poll all because they have sixteen return players on offense and defense. This makes everyone feel comfortable in choosing then as favorites for not only for the Big 12 (now the new Big 10) but also for a National Championship run.
Why should we not drink this flavor? Different team, same coach so let us look at the coach in hand. Bob Stoops who manage to loose games where they are heavy favorites to the likes of LSU, West Virginia and gave rise to Boise State. So we should feel comfortable with picking them to win the national championship; I don't think so.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Trade Reaction

This blog post is being dedicated to the Tigers-Twins deal earlier today. 

There are times in professional sports in America, decides to trade a player within a division or conference. The reason for it is that there are no other options to relieve themselves of the player in question. Here are the four reactions in different points of view after the trade:

The Giver's GM: Being on the real, we believed Player X had nothing left in the tank, we are stuck with their bad contract so we had to do something about it. There is basically no harm done by trading one of players to our main rival; besides if we knew he was still good, there is no way we are trading him to one of our main rivals just for them to ruin our season.
The Receiver's GM: We believe said player we are getting have something left in the tank, and the fact Player X will be pissed-off that his previous team, just traded him to a random team. I feel he will have some "F--- You" games in him.
The Giver's Fan Base: This depends on how popular and/or good he was before the trade. If Player X was very popular and good, then we will be pissed off from you lack of loyalty to us. If Player X was bad and unpopular then all we have to say is "It's about time, you guys did something to remove him."
The Receiver's Fan Base: Something is not right here. Why our team trade for a player in our division or conference? Sure, he will be pumped up playing against his old team, but normally will that not be enough to win games. This is just is not right. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Now, That's What I Called Cheating

In the rule of law, in order to prove someone guilty of crime, the accused MUST fulfill all requirements for the crime they are accused of. For example in general cases of battery the elements or rules are 1.) the intentional causing 2.) bodily contact that is 3.) harmful or offensive to the victim without the 4.) victim's consent. If one of these elements or rules are proving wrong by the defense, then the accused is free from said charge. A fitting example is when two boxers are fighting, both of them had consented to cause bodily harm to each other; meaning no one can accuse anyone of battery after the fight. Why am I writing this? See in an ESPN Magazine report says, a major league pitcher accusing the Toronto Blue Jays of stealing signs during home games. I do have an issue with the situation in hand, but it is not for the reasons you think.
Cheating is always a problem no matter what field of life people are in. Now, it is time to fix the rules of cheating. Like our battery example, cheating will have elements or rules, but shorter and the accused defender must meet all four in order to be a cheater.
  1. The accused must be fully engage to the act of cheating, and not trying to cheat. It does not make sense in trying to cheat, just cheat already.
  2. Said cheater must truly benefit from the act of cheating, there's no point in cheating on a test, if you get a C instead of an A. In the Blue Jays' case, they should be at least 15 games over .500 at home instead of struggling to reach that mark if they are cheating.
  3. Finally, said cheater must be CAUGHT in the act by a high power or by the victim with at least two witnesses. Just because someone accusing others of cheating, does not mean they are cheaters until proving guilty.  
Finally some ground rules on cheating and hopefully no one will not continue to spray the word cheater around for no apparent reason.