Monthly Archives: October, 2013

World Series win gives Red Sox a turnaround for the ages

The 2004 World Series Trophy in City Hall Plaz...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not only did the Boston Red Sox give their hometown fans a gift by allowing them to celebrate a World Series title in Fenway (a 95-year wait), but their victory over the St. Louis Cardinals has given the Angels, Blue Jays, Brewers, Giants, Mariners, Mets, Padres, Phillies and Rockies a glimmer of hope as these teams approach the 2014 MLB season. (The glimmer may be somewhat smaller for the Astros, Cubs, Marlins, Twins and White Sox.)

The Red Sox became the 14th team in MLB history to win the World Series a year after finishing with a winning percentage under .500. In 2012, the Red Sox were 69-93 (a .426 winning percentage). Their .426 winning percentage the year prior to their World Series title is the lowest in major league history.

Here’s a rundown of the teams that won World Series the year following a sub .500 season.

World Series champion year, Team (previous season winning percentage)

2013: Boston Red Sox (.426 in 2012)

2002: Florida Marlins (.488)

2001: Anaheim Angels (.463)

1996: Florida Marlins (.494)

1990: Minnesota Twins (.457)

1989: Cincinnati Reds (.463)

1987: Los Angeles Dodgers (.451)

1986: Minnesota Twins (.438)

1968: New York Mets (.451)

1964: Los Angeles Dodgers (.494)

1958: Los Angeles Dodgers (.461)

1953: New York Giants (.455)

1932: New York Giants (.468)

1913: Boston Braves (.457)

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Seattle Seahawks: No offense, no problem!

English: Pete Carroll at the USC 2005 National...

Pete Carroll (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you would have told Seattle head coach Pete Carroll that his Seahawks would only collect 135 yards in total offense in their October 28 game against the St. Louis Rams, he might have responded, “How bad did we get beat?”

Fortunately for Carroll and the Seahawks, Seattle was still able to come away with a 14-9 win despite the dismal offensive display. Consider this: Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson had almost two-and-half-times more yards in his record-setting game on Sunday than the Seattle offense had on Monday night. Johnson, in his 329-yards receiving game against the Cowboys had more yards last Sunday than 16 NFL teams in Week 8! But let’s get back to Seattle.

You would think that having less than 135 yards in total offense would not be a good omen. The Seahawks’ win was only the 28th time since 1970 (AFL-NFL merger) that a team with 135 or fewer total yards of offense won a game. The last time it happened was in 2010 when the Miami Dolphins amassed only 131 total yards of offense in a 10-6 win over the New York Jets. Since 2000, teams with 135 or fewer yards of offense in a game have won 13 and lost 60 (a .178 winning percentage).

Let’s expand the parameters a little. Let’s take a look at how well teams have done when they have gained less than 200 total yards in a game since 2000. There have been 468 times since 2000 that an NFL team had less than 200 yards of offense in a contest; in those games, that team won only 67 times, a .143 winning percentage. The Cleveland Browns had the most games with less than 200 yards of offense since 2000 with 37. They won only one of those games.

Here are the number of games each team had less than 200 yards of total offense in a game since 2000. Their record in those games is listed in parenthesis.

Cleveland: 37 games with less than 200 yards of offense (1-36 record in those games)

San Francisco: 28 games (4-24)

Buffalo: 25 games (3-22)

Chicago: 24 games (5-19)

Arizona: 22 games (5-17)

Oakland: 21 games (2-19)

Carolina: 19 games (2-17)
Cincinnati: 19 games (1-18)
Seattle: 19 games (4-15)

Baltimore: 18 games (7-11)

New York Jets: 17 games (1-16)
St. Louis: 17 games (2-15)

Detroit: 15 games (2-13)
Houston: 15 games (3-12)
Miami: 15 games (5-10)
Tennessee: 15 games (6-9)
Washington: 15 games (1-14)

Tampa Bay: 14 games (3-11)

Dallas: 13 games (1-12)

Kansas City: 12 games (1-11)
Philadelphia: 12 games (1-11)

Atlanta: 11 games (0-11)

Jacksonville: 10 games (1-9)

Minnesota: 9 games (2-7)
San Diego: 9 games (1-8)

New York Giants: 8 games (0-8)
Pittsburgh: 8 games (2-6)

New England: 7 games (1-6)

Indianapolis: 6 games (0-6)

Denver: 3 games (0-3)
Green Bay: 3 games (0-3)

New Orleans: 2 games (0-2)

There have been five games since 1970 where a team gained less than 100 yards of offense and still won the game. The five games:

* Tennessee over Jacksonville, 24-17 in 2006. Titans had 98 offensive yards.
* Oakland over Pittsburgh, 20-13 in 2006. Raiders had 98 offensive yards.
* Houston over Pittsburgh, 24-6 in 2002. Texans had 47 offensive yards.
* San Francisco over Atlanta, 10-3 in 1977. Forty-Niners had 97 offensive yards.
* Minnesota over Green Bay, 3-0 in 1971. Vikings had 87 offensive yards.

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2013 World Series: Boston leads 3-2… what’s next?

The Boston Red Sox celebrating their clinching...

Is another celebration brewing in Boston? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Boston Red Sox are one win away from winning the 2013 World Series. They won last night 3-1 and now go back home to try to end the series in front of their hometown fans. The series continues on Wednesday night.

So, can the Cardinals win two games on the road to steal the series from the BoSox? Or, are the Red Sox about ready to celebrate? Let’s try to put some numbers to the crystal ball. The Red Sox and Cardinals were tied at 2-2 after four games. It was the 21st time since 1960 that the World Series was tied at two games apiece. So how did the previous 20 series end after Game 5?

In the previous 20 series tied at 2-2, five ended with the team winning Game 5 and Game 6. In seven of the series, the team that won Game 5, lost Game 6, but won Game 7 to clinch the series. In eight of the series, the team that lost Game 5 went on to win Games 6 and 7 to win the World Series. Bottom line: The team that won Game 5 after the series was tied at 2-2 won the World Series 12 times and lost eight. While this bottom line stat favors the Red Sox, the most frequent scenario in the past 20 series tied at 2-2 was that the team that lost Game 5 won the next two games and the series (that happened eight times of the 20).

But let’s dig a little deeper and look at what has happened since 1990. There were seven World series since 1990 where the two teams were tied at two games apiece going into Game 5. Four times (1991, 2001, 2002 and 2011) the team that lost Game 5 went on to win the next two games and the series. Twice (1996 and 2003) the team that won Game 5 also won Game 6 and won the World Series. The only time since 1990 that the team that won Game 5, lost Game 6 and then came back to win Game 7 was in 1997.

The above stat seems to favor the possibility of the Cardinals coming back to win Games 6 and 7. One problem… In those four games above where the team that lost Game 5 went on to win Games 6 and 7 to clinch the world championship, the team that won Game 5 was the home team. The Cards were the home team last night and lost Game 5. In the two cases where the road team won Game 5 in a World Series tied 2-2 since 1990, both times the away team that won Game 5 (which the Red Sox were last night) went on to win the World Series (once the series went six games; the other time the road team won Game 6 but the home team rebounded with a Game 7 victory).

That’s a lot of numbers and scenarios. Is it possible for the Cardinals to win two games on the road to win the series? There is a glimmer of hope because it has been done before. The last time it happened was in 1979 when the Pittsburgh Pirates, down 3-2 in the World Series, had to win Games 6 and 7 in the Baltimore Orioles ballpark to win the championship. They won Game 6 by a score of 4-0 and won Game 7 and the World Series with a 4-1 win in the finale.

Can the Cardinals take a piece of history and repeat the Pirates 1979 World Series comeback?

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Hello NBA 2013: Which teams are on the rise?

New York Knicks vs Oklahoma City Thunder

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 2013-14 NBA season begins tonight as the Miami Heat will try to become the first team to three-peat in the league since the Lakers did it in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

There’s a good chance the Heat will be one of the teams at the end of the season challenging for the title, but what about a team or two to keep an eye on for this season? Here’s a look at the teams that made the biggest improvement in winning percentage last season (and those who dropped the most).

Biggest gainers last year
1. Brookyn Nets +.265 (from .333 in 2011-12 to .598 last season)
2. Golden State Warriors +. 225 (from .348 in 2011-12 to .573 last season)
3. Charlotte Bobcats +.150 (from .106 in 2011-12 to .256 last season)
4. Denver Nuggets +. 119 (from .576 in 2011-12 to .695 last season)
3. New York Knicks + .114 (from 545 in 2011-12 to .659 last season)

Biggest drops in winning percentage
1. Orlando Magic -.317 (from .561 in 2011-12 to .244 last season)
2. Chicago Bulls -.209 (from ,758 in 2011-12 to .549 last season)
3. Phoenix Suns -.195 (from .500 in 2011-12 to .305 last season)
4. Philadelphia -.115 (from .530 in 2011-12 to .415 last season)
5. Boston Celtics -.085 (from .591 in 2011-12 to .506 last season)

While the Nets had the biggest gain in winning percentage last season, two teams increased their winning percentage for the fifth straight season last year. The Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder each increased their winning percentage again last year over 2011-12, giving them five straight seasons of an improved winning percentage. For the Grizzlies, they have gone from a .286 winning percentage in 2007-08 to .293, .488, .561, .621 and .683 last season. The Thunder have gone from .244 in 2007-08 to .280, .610, .671, .712 and .732 last season. The Los Angeles Clippers improved their winning percentage last year for the fourth straight season, while the Nets and Knicks last year improved their winning percentage for a third straight year.

Last season the Dallas Mavericks were the only NBA team to finish the season at .500 (they were 41-41). Sixteen teams were above .500 and 13 teams were below the .500 mark for the season. For the San Antonio Spurs, their winning percentage of .707 last year gave them 16 consecutive years with a record above .500, longest streak in the NBA. They are followed by Denver (10 straight seasons above .500), Los Angeles Lakers (8), Houston (7), Boston (6) and Atlanta and Miami with five.

In the sub.500 category, the Minnesota Timberwolves were only 31-51 last season (a winning percentage of .378) It was the eighth straight year under .500 for the ‘Wolves, longest current streak in the league. They are followed by Sacramento (7) and Detroit, Toronto and Washington each with five straight sub .500 seasons.

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Who will beat the Kansas City Chiefs? Ten stats you might not know about the teams that beat the unbeatens

Kansas City Chiefs logo

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With their 23-17 win over the Cleveland Browns, the Kansas City Chiefs became the 21st team since the start of the Super Bowl era (1966 NFL season) to start the season 8-0. The Atlanta Falcons in 2012 started the season 8-0, but eventually lost in their ninth game of the year, a 31-27 defeat at the hands of the New Orleans Saints. Two teams, the 1972 Miami Dolphins and the 2007 New England Patriots, went through their seasons undefeated.

So, will the Chiefs join the Dolphins and Patriots with an undefeated season? If not, who will be the first to defeat them in 2013?

The other 18 teams lost one or more games in their journey to try to finish the season with a perfect record. Here’s a look at 10 stats you might not know about the teams that eventually defeated the teams that started 8-0 (or better). We’ll call these teams the “Unbeaten Busters” or UB for short.

Just for the sake of clarity, the 18 teams that started the season 8-0 (or better) and then lost a game (or more) before the regular season ended were: 1969 L.A. Rams, 1973 Minnesota, 1975 Minnesota, 1977 Dallas, 1984 Miami, 1985 Chicago, 1990 N.Y. Giants, 1990 San Francisco, 1991 Washington, 1998 Denver, 2003 Kansas City, 2005 Indianapolis, 2006 Indianapolis, 2008 Tennessee, 2009 Indianapolis, 2009 New Orleans, 2011 Green Bay, 2012 Atlanta.

1. Divisional games: In only five of the 18 cases did the undefeated team lose to a team from within their division. The five: The 1977 Cowboys lost to division rival St. Louis Cardinals; the 1990 San Francisco 49ers lost to the L.A. Rams; the ’90 N.Y. Giants lost to the Philadelphia Eagles; the 1991 Redskins lost to the Cowboys; and, the 2012 Falcons lost to the division-rival Saints.

2. Outside their conference: In only four of the 18 cases did the undefeated team lose to a team in the other conference. In 2011 the NFC Green Bay Packers lost to the AFC Kansas City Chiefs. In 2006, the AFC Indianapolis Colts fell to the NFC Cowboys; in 1998, the AFC Denver Broncos lost to the NFC Giants; in 1985, the NFC’s Chicago Bears lost their only game of the season to the Miami Dolphins of the AFC.

3. Day of the game: Fourteen of the 18 games where the undefeated team finally lost were played on Sunday. Three were played on Monday Night Football, and one game was played on Saturday.

4. The next game after the loss: After being beaten for the first time that season, seven teams also lost their next game.

5. At home or on the road? Ten of the 18 teams had their undefeated season end on the road; eight lost their first game of the year at home.

6. Points scored by the UBs: Seventeen of the 18 UBs scored 20 or more points in their win over the undefeated team. The only exception was in 2011 when the Chiefs defeated the unbeaten Packers by a score of 19-14.

7. Points scored by the undefeated teams: Thirteen of the 18 undefeated teams scored under 20 points in the game they lost to break their unbeaten streak. One team, the 1975 Minnesota Vikings, scored 30 points in their first loss of the season to the Redskins.

8. Point differential: Twelve of the 18 games were decided by one score (eight points or less). The biggest blowout was in 2008 when the undefeated Tennessee Titans lost 34-13 to the New York Jets. Only one of the 18 games went into overtime; that occurred in 1984 when the Dolphins lost their first game of the season to the San Diego Chargers, 34-28.

9. The multiple UB franchises: The Dallas Cowboys franchise could be called the ultimate “Unbeaten Busters.” The Cowboys have beaten a team that started 8-0 on three occasions: 1991, defeating the Redskins; 2006, defeating the Colts; and 2009, defeating the Saints.

10. UBs with losing records: You would expect that a UB would be a team with a solid record, most likely above .500. That hasn’t always been the case. In fact, six of the UBs had a record under .500 when they defeated their unbeaten opponent. They were:

* 1984: The Chargers were 5-6 when they beat the 11-0 Dolphins.

* 1990: The Rams were 3-7 when they beat the 10-0 49ers.

* 1998: The Giants were 5-8 when they beat the 13-0 Broncos.

* 2003: The Bengals were 4-5 when they beat the 9-0 Chiefs.

* 2011: The Chiefs were 5-8 when they beat the 13-0 Packers.
* 2012: The Saints were 3-5 when they beat the 8-0 Falcons.

The Chiefs next game is at Buffalo on Sunday, November 3. They then have their bye week and get back on the field November 17 in an AFC West battle at Denver.

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