Friday, October 3, 2008

Power Rankings -- Week 6

Another week of pure havoc, with the three top teams in the East combining to score only 0.5 / 3 match points when facing three of the lower four, leaving the East Standings in pure turmoil. The West had quite a bit of its own chaos, with the bottom team upsetting the top team, and really little seems to be impossible when trying to guess exactly who will get the coveted playoff positions which are still very much up for grabs.

1st: Queens Pioneers (5.0 – 1.0) (+0 from last week). While the 10 – 0 dream may be dead, I doubt the Pioneers are fretting about that as all their attention is likely on this week's big showdown with second place New Jersey who they now lead by only one point. While a win next week will give them a hammerlock on the division crown, a loss will put them in a dead heat for it, and I think they're going to take every route to ensure the former occurs. (Win Division: 63%, Make Playoffs: 100%), (Combined Current Record of Remaining Opponents: 13.5 – 10.5)

2nd: San Francisco Mechanics (4.5 – 1.5) (+0). After getting pummeled 3 – 1 by Boston in a match that could well have been 4 – 0, the Mechanics decided a repeat performance was in order, just with them on the opposite side as that's what basically transpired in their fair thrashing of Arizona. Combined with Dallas's loss, they now are back where many have expected them to finish, alone at the top. Their position is far from sturdy though, with rejuvenated Seattle paying a visit next week and having the ability to pull into a tie with them with a victory. (54%, 99%), (12 – 12)

3rd: New Jersey Knockouts (4.0 – 2.0) (+1). An interesting recent match for the Knockouts as they had to like their chances to win based on their previous meetings with Baltimore so escaping with a miracle draw might not have been the way they'd have chosen things to transpire from the start, but when you get a miracle the best thing to do is to accept it for what it offers, which in this case happens to be continued sole second place in the East. One can't help but wonder whether the all important showdown with Queens next week might see the second appearance of the fearsome lineup Benjamin + Gulko + Ippolito + Ng. It does seem if there was ever a time to use it, this would be it. (19%, 94%), (12.5 – 11.5)

4th: Dallas Destiny (3.5 – 2.5) (-1). A tough loss for the Destiny, but as has been shown, it seems inevitable for every team to experience adversity from time to time, and the true test is how well they can weather those hard times, and it should be interesting to see just how they do that against a Philadelphia team who might have regained a good deal of confidence. (18%, 73%), (12.5 – 11.5)

5th: Seattle Sluggers (3.5 – 2.5) (+1). I'm glad to see that despite most people's disagreeing with it, that my faith in ranking the Sluggers highly last week merited itself somewhat, being the only 0.500 team in the West to emerge from the mass of teams with a victory. If they can continue to this trend, it will be the division title they will be craving, not a mere playoff spot, and obviously knocking off San Francisco this week would be a rather giant step towards doing that. (19%, 71%), (11.5 – 12.5)

6th: Miami Sharks (3.0 – 3.0) (+1). A tough ending to a tough match probably left Miami fans a bit disappointed, but they still garnered a half point and are in good playoff position still. At the same time, any slip up can be so costly when everything is so razor close in the league, and letting the win escape yesterday might well prove to haunt them. Luckily, Miami has plenty of chances to redeem themselves, but it won't be easy as the strength of the rest of their schedule shows. But with the way both Becerra and Rodriguez are performing, I still really like their chances. (5%, 55%), (14.5 – 9.5)

7th: Carolina Cobras (3.5 – 2.5) (+3). Carolina continues to defy everything I've said about them over and over, and maybe it's time to just acknowledge that they're obviously a better team than I've been giving them credit for. While clear third was obviously better than I expected for them, that's exactly where they are, but they can hardly rest on their laurels, next week facing off against the Kingfishers, who account for one of their two defeats and then New Jersey who hope to be tied for the division lead at that point. (10%, 77%), (12.5 – 11.5)

8th: Boston Blitz (3.0 – 3.0) (-3). The Blitz, like their last week's opponents the Mechanics, also decided to basically reverse their previous week's match, but this time not in a good way, suffering their worst defeat in recent memory to a team they'd routinely dominated in the past. Like many other things, anomalies like this are always a part of the league, and luckily for them, a rematch against their old foes, the struggling New York Knights with the chance to perhaps eliminate them from post-season contention altogether, should be just the right motivational assignment to put them back on the right track. (8%, 70%), (9 – 15)

9th: Chicago Blaze (3.0 – 3.0) (-1). Another solid performance from the Blaze, but again solid may not be good enough as it's simply too close everywhere and the margin of error is so low that teams need not merely be normal, they need to be superlative. Fortunately, the one team the Blaze really demonstrated the ability to do exactly that against, Tennessee, is their next foe, but I have a feeling this time, it won't be quite as easy. (3%, 51%), (13 – 11)

10th: Arizona Scorpions (2.5 – 3.5) (-1). I'm sure getting really blown out by the Mechanics wasn't the result the Scorpions were aiming for after a couple of tragic results left them with a draw instead of a win the week before, but as always, they have little time to lament over it as they are nearing do or die time. (1%, 38%), (13 – 11)

11th: Philadelphia Inventors (2.0 – 4.0) (+1). Philadelphia is clearly a team which just wants to keep you guessing as after finishing second last year, starting 1 – 4 probably wasn't what most expected, and then to end that streak by blowing out the one team they'd never had any success in the league against, well that's just a bit...odd. Nevertheless if ever a win could get a seemingly defeated team back into the mix, it seems like this could be it, but next week's match against defending champion Dallas isn't going to be any easier. (0%, 30%), (11 – 13)

12th: Tennessee Tempo (2.0 – 4.0) (+2). Only their second win in history, but what a win, defeating the defending Champions who were using one of their better lineups. A giant step of progress for the Tempo, and I'm sure they wouldn't like to stop it there and redeeming themselves from their previous sweep against Chicago would obviously be a huge step into doing just that. (0%, 13%), (12.5 – 11.5)

13th: Baltimore Kingfishers (1.5 – 4.5) (-2). I've often noted that teams which continually shoot themselves in the foot late in their matches are the ones who will really suffer in the end, and this year I have to say the team most guilty of that has to be Baltimore, with this most recent match being the most extreme example. While there playoff hopes are still alive, they grow dimmer quickly. (0%, 23%), (9.5 – 14.5)

14th: New York Knights (1.0 – 5.0) (-1). I remember writing New York off several times last year, and they proved me wrong. Well I guess I have to set myself up for the ridicule from doing that again, as I feel this time we're not going to see a miraculous finish by them to score a narrow playoff birth. But hey, they've proved me wrong on things of this nature more than a few times, so fans are probably safe in pre-ordering their seats for the Knights' postseason matches. (0%, 6%), (10 – 14)


HA81 said...

Hi Arun, just thought I would drop by. Did you say this week was pure havoc in the USCL? No Arun, that wasn’t havoc. Havoc is where your insurance saleman tells you that your homeowner’s policy is cancelled and you don’t know why, the dog makes an appearance to start barking, you try to apologize / explain the dog barking as just saying ‘hello’ in dogese to the insurance guy, he doesn’t have a problem with the pup, the barking has disturbed something though as a swarm of bees suddenly appears in the middle of your front room which is why he is cancelling you. All of that with the phone ringing, smoke alarm and washer buzzing in the background. That is havoc. The USCL saw pure competition this week, perhaps you could call it chaos. Considering the results, form Wednesday especially, I admire the stoutness of your rankings. A couple of thoughts.

You are still stuck on showing the teams respect, league official and all. Is it possible that you are showing too much respect? Think about it, New Jersey ties with a lower ranked Baltimore team and goes up one place while Baltimore goes down 1! That is simply too much respect. Then you did it again with Miami and Chicago, it seems to me that you penalized Baltimore for not winning a match they should have and reward Miami for the same thing. This is just silly. Finally, Dallas loses to Tennessee and goes down 1 place? I couldn't agree more that Dallas is one of the best teams in the league and no one would be surprised if they repeated, but this is a case of keeping the cards WAY to close to the vest. You need to let the readers know that these are your rankings and you are not going to tolerate sub standard performances.

Next, I guess I just can’t figure out what is “power” in power rankings. Not just yours, but the “computerized” stuff that is coming from bioniclime ( please, can I call him $6Mlemon?). What is it you are ranking? The chances to win a championship? The relative strengths of the teams? What? Another thought, I think you can add quite a bit of legitimacy to your rankings by hinting at what might happen to a teams rating with a particular performance. It is pretty clear that unless they lose Queens is going to be number one next week, but what happens if both Queens and SF lose? Intrigue, eh!

Arun Sharma said...

Thanks HA81. Here's what I think

Well havoc vs chaos, I don't know it's just semantics to me, but that word is good enough for me even if it is too strong!

Showing respect is definitely something that I do, and whether it's too much, I honestly don't know, I just go by my instincts which point me in a certain direction. In regards to NJ going up a place given their result vs BAL, in terms of relative result you are absolutely right. At the same time, you say Dallas should go down more than one point for their loss, also a very reasonable thing to think. But then the simple question I have is: Which team would YOU put in third place if you believe neither NJ or Dallas deserves to be that high? In my opinion, putting any team other than those two in that spot would be placing too much emphasis on the most recent match, something I really try to avoid given how many anomalous results do occur in the league.

As for "it seems to me that you penalized Baltimore for not winning a match they should have". I personally hadn't really taken that into account much when ranking them (it was more about the final result they actually had of course), but I don't think penalizing a team for drawing a match they absolutely should have won (like Arizona the previous week) is at all an unreasonable thing to do. Generally given the balance in the league, you only get so many chances for wins, and a team which doesn't capitalize on their chances may well be worthy of being penalized even if their overall result seems positive in comparing the teams. In any case, with Baltimore, yes considering their record compared to NJ's, in that sense it's certainly reasonable to say they shouldn't have gone down for drawing them. But even if their result in that sense was positive, two of the teams that were behind them, Philadelphia and Tennessee, simply had a better result than them and now have a better record (kind of the "havoc" I was referring to, almost all the lower teams doing well), and that was the real reason for their drop.

In regards to what my rankings are, I don't have a good answer to that. They are simply as I said instinctive, and I don't really have an exact set of criteria I take into account when determining them, I simply mix all around the factors I know of, and then decide where I feel each team deserves to be. Given that bioniclime does a completely computerized ranking while mine is pretty much opinion, that seems to be a good contrast :)

As for what happens to teams' position based on their next week's ranking, I can see where you're coming from, but frankly I don't see how you can do that. As noted above, even when a team has a good result if those near them have a better one, they still might suffer in ranking overall and vice-versa. There just are too many possibilities in that regard to really given any clear indication of how each of the three possible results for a team in a given week might affect them since that's so dependent on how the teams near to them in ranking do also.