Saturday, October 11, 2008

Power Rankings -- Week 7

So with only three weeks remaining in the regular season, the finish line is now beginning to come into sight for our teams, but most of them still have a lot of work to do in those three weeks to make those dreams a reality.

The difference in the two divisions is really beginning to become transparent now as with the West having a big edge in the Interleague play this season, it's obvious based on the current standings that there is a fair difference in records required to reach the postseason in each division. In the East, with Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore all languishing, unless one of the former two can manage to get an unlikely 2.5 – 0.5 (or 3 – 0 for Baltimore), a record of 4.5 – 5.5 will definitely make the playoffs in the East (and even if one of those teams should manage as such, such a record still might make it should Boston falter). However, in the West, given that Miami, Chicago, and Seattle do not play any matches amongst each other in the final three weeks, it seems reasonably likely that all of them, along with Dallas, will manage to have a 0.500 or better record at season's end, meaning a record of 5 – 5 may well not make the playoffs in the West. So let's see how this all plays into my rankings this week.

1st: San Francisco Mechanics (5.5 – 1.5) (+1 from last week). So the Mechanics reclaim the top spot, and I'm sure they'd like to keep it that way en route to claiming the division title. That will almost certainly come down to their big showdown a week from now against Dallas as a win or even a draw there will make them nearly certain to capture the West then. Of course, with a loss, their slight tiebreak edge over the Destiny will likely mostly (or completely) vanish with that loss making it anyone's game, something which they obviously need to take every step possible to avoid. (Win Division: 61%, Make Playoffs: 100%), (Combined Current Record of Remaining Opponents: 10.5 – 10.5)

2nd: Queens Pioneers (5.5 – 1.5) (-1). A big hurdle cleared by the Pioneers, and though they didn't achieve a victory that would have likely all but sewn up the division, they obviously had to be happy still with coming away with a draw after the way the match seemed to be swinging. The division is now theirs for the taking, but the upstart team from Carolina, now in second, may well try to throw a wrench in those plans in their next week's rematch. (67%, 100%), (11.5 – 9.5)

3rd: Dallas Destiny (4.5 – 2.5) (+1). Another strong win by the Destiny, again showing they aren't going to go out quietly while trying to defend when their Championship, repeatedly winning matches that most believe them to be underdogs in. They can hardly rest on their laurels though since as mentioned above, the playoffs are still not a lock for them, and they now will have three consecutive matches with teams all of whom are fighting hard to overtake them or not allow the Destiny to overtake them, clearly making each of those matches a rather big and important challenge. (21%, 86%), (13.5 – 7.5)

4th: New Jersey Knockouts (4.5 – 2.5) (-1). A draw with Queens is certainly a fine result even if they were obviously hoping for more which would have locked up their playoff spot and allowed them to mostly control their destiny as to the division title. The former should still be a formality, and while they might need outside help to claim the division, second place versus third place is hardly trivial either, and this week's match vs second place Carolina may determine exactly that. (18%, 98%), (10.5 – 10.5)

5th: Carolina Cobras (4.5 – 2.5) (+2). I kept thinking that Carolina's magical run would end, but this run clearly doesn't seem to be one that will end short of a playoff spot as they've now all but locked that spot up. Like their Knockout opponents, who they are currently deadlocked with, I'm sure their focus now has to be on trying to make it in at least second place, but they also have a real chance to claim the top spot, as they get another crack at the Pioneers in the following week, and being the only team to defeat them this season, the dream to win the division could well become a reality. Of course that essentially involves beating New Jersey and Queens in consecutive weeks, something I would never have guessed them capable of, but they've proved me wrong on too many other things to discount the possibility. (14%, 96%), (12 – 9)

6th: Miami Sharks (4.0 – 3.0) (+0). Miami returned to their early season ways with another 3.5 – 0.5 blowout to put themselves in prime playoff position. They definitely have to like the fact that they have a fair to big tiebreak edge over all their nearest competitors, Dallas, Chicago, and Seattle. Of course, on the flip side, they also seem to have the hardest remaining schedule of any of those teams facing Dallas, New Jersey, and San Francisco, but it's clear based on their numerous blowouts how strong a team they really can be so I definitely like their chances. (9%, 75%), (14.5 – 6.5)

7th: Chicago Blaze (4.0 – 3.0) (+2). Another team whose big win this week has put them in a very good position and has to be feeling good about their chances. On the other hand, their lead for the final playoff spot is a minuscule half a point only, and with them facing league leading Queens this week, it could evaporate rather quickly should things go wrong. (7%, 70%), (12.5 – 8.5)

8th: Boston Blitz (3.0 – 4.0) (+0). So it looks like their will be no three-peat for the Blitz being Eastern Champions, and they have to be concerned about their playoff prospects. Fortunately, due to the East's structure, they are still very likely to make it despite their current losing record. Even if that's the case though, I have a feeling they will view the rest of the regular season as more than simply a battle to just make the playoffs. One of the things which I felt made Boston so strong the previous two years was their sense of personal pride in what they did, and obviously this season they can't be feeling as good in that regard. Their final regular season matches will probably be played not only with the goal of reaching the postseason, but to regain the confidence which made them so strong in previous years which will be huge in translating them into winning playoff matches even if they are the ones facing draw odds this time. (1%, 76%), (9 – 12)

9th: Seattle Sluggers (3.5 – 3.5) (-4). Despite a better record than their Blitz counterparts, the Sluggers clearly have a much tougher road to make the playoffs (which is why I've put them lower here). Things unfortunately can change so rapidly in such a tight league, with there being so much talk of them having a good chance to be tied for first with a win this week, but unfortunately the opposite result left them currently altogether out of the playoff spots! They also must be concerned that their tiebreaks are far inferior to both Miami and Chicago and so almost certainly need to overtake one of them rather than merely tieing them in match record to make the postseason. Their main edge seems to be that, by current records, they have a much easier schedule than any of the teams they are in the dogfight with, but given the league's parity, it's very hard to tell if that can be enough. (2%, 48%), (7 – 14)

10th: Arizona Scorpions (2.5 – 4.5) (+0). Two consecutive blowout losses by the Scorpions were obviously not the results they were looking for going into the home stretch, and they definitely have no more margin of error as another loss certainly eliminates them, and even going 2.5 – 0.5 will likely require them to have some outside help to make it. They have to be grateful to still be alive, but rattling off three wins in a row is hardly an easy task for any team. (0%, 17%), (11 – 10)

11th: Philadelphia Inventors (2.0 – 5.0) (+0). A tough loss to the Destiny has also left the Inventors on the brink of elimination. They also will need to aim for a 3 – 0 record (which should be enough to make it for them, while like the Scorpions, 2.5 – 0.5 will probably need some help). They do have a nice advantage over the Knights in facing Boston again, as if they should pull off that needed record to end the season, they will likely defeat Boston in the process of doing so, making them much more likely to make it with the 2.5 – 0.5 finish. (0%, 17%), (9.5 – 11.5)

12th: New York Knights (2.0 – 5.0) (+2). New York's mission is clear, go 3 – 0, no two ways about it. As their tiebreaks are miserable, the chances of them getting in by going 2.5 – 0.5 are fairly low unless they get a good deal of outside help from those teams facing Boston. It's even possible for them to not make it with a perfect record as if Boston can manage to go at least 2 – 1 and Carolina and New Jersey can both snare at least half a point out of their last three, that won't be enough (barring a huge shift in tiebreaks while this occurs). But the mission is still clear, even if the prospects are dim. (0%, 9%), (8 – 13)

13th: Tennessee Tempo (2.0 – 5.0) (-1). Like the previous teams, it's very simple for the Tempo: win the rest and hope that 5 – 5 is enough to make it in the West. Obviously, like those preceding them, fairly dim prospects, but we've seen too many miracles in the USCL to discount any possibility, and the biggest hurdle on route to doing that should be in their showdown with the Mechanics this week. (0%, 4%), (10.5 – 10.5)

14th: Baltimore Kingfishers (1.5 – 5.5) (-1). It may be too late for the Kingfishers as a 3 – 0 record may not even make it to the promise land now, but if they can pull that off, given they will have to defeat Boston on their way, they definitely have a realistic chance of making it if Boston's other two opponents can hold them to less than 1.5 – 0.5 (also assuming that Philadelphia doesn't go on a rampage while helping do exactly that). Not the brightest of spots obviously, but given the choice between slim and none, I think most would take slim any day. (0%, 4%), (7 – 14)


HA81 said...

Hey! I think you forgot something! Arun!!! Buddy! Aren't you forgetting a piece here? Here i am, ready to come to your defense, tight league, stiff competition, varying lineups, all kinds of extra variables, no clear way to determine probable outcomes and all that, and you just up and drop the ball? I seem to remember two weeks ago stating that the Sluggers situation was so tough that ranking them 6th was utter foolishness and being rebuffed by both you and Greg that the Sluggers had the easiest schedule which would work to their distinct advantage. Now, two weeks later you are painting the picture of desperation for the Seattle squad. Hey, don't you owe me me an atta' boy or a shout out or something? You know, throw the peons a few crumbs or something.

Finally, you show some class by moving Carolina up. To be honest, I don't think they have a squad that is likely to win in the playoffs (not 3 matches anyway), but they are a real fun bundle in the regular season. I never talked about the Chicagoans because I was uncertain about their makeup, but we are going to find out as they have Queens and Dallas in the final 3 weeks. One more point Arun, didn't you pick Philly to beat the Destiny this past week? I guess phone calls from certain people can have that kind of effect. Let me tell you, there is only one team east of Post Falls Idaho or south or Troutdale Oregon that I ever root for and that is Philly, but there was no way they were going to beat the Destiny. Last comment about any of the teams is about the Mechanics; they are beneath contempt for their post match statements and actions this past week.

Wrapping up, keep up the good work and looking forward to your rebuttal to me.

Great stuff Arun!!!

Anonymous said...

Really, HA81? What I saw was equally biased stuff coming from both the Sluggers website and the Mechanics'. What seems out of line is your taking such umbrage with a player explaining what they saw.

HA81 said...

I would certainly rather debate rankings with Arun, since it his blog I don't want to detract from his content. What I will say, sir or madam, is that equally biased is an interesting term. The Mechanics insinuated that the Sluggers took an action that was contrary to the rules or ethics of the USCL on their blog and the Sluggers blog contained an answer. Since the Seattle retort was based on no knowledge other than what Mr. Bhat provided, it seems the only equally biased notion here is that he spoke without engaging his gray matter.

Anonymous said...

ha81, you are abusing your right to free speech

Anonymous said...

You think HA81 is paranoid? Scary.

Anonymous said...

who is this ha81 and why is he allowed to post here? for that matter why is he allowed to write for the seattle team? don't they realize how badly he reflects on their team?

Anonymous said...

Seattle seems to have a cool group of players. Why is this ha81 guy speaking at all? He isnt USCF rated, isnt familiar with USCL at all. Does the commissioner pay for this guy to speak and write non-productive things for the league