The Sports Report

A Statistical Take on Sports and Politics

The Boots (July 23, 2008)

Boot Up: 2008 Beijing Olympics – The Beijing Summer Olympics start up on August 8th, and the sports media in the United States will be focused on the USA basketball team, looking to win the gold after a disappointing bronze finish in 2004. This year’s USA team is much more organized, experienced, and talented than the team that played in Greece in 2004, and is the clear-cut favorites as of right now. Four teams from each group will advance from the first round to the knockout quarterfinals. Here are the teams, with my picks to make the quarterfinals underlined.

Group A

A1 Argentina – One of the deepest teams in the tournament, led by NBA players Manu Ginobili (San Antonio), Luis Scola (Houston), Fabricio Oberto (San Antonio), Andres Nocioni (Chicago), and former NBA player Carlos Delfino.

Australia – Led by Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut, 2007 2nd rounder Brad Newley of the Houston Rockets, 1997 Vancouver draft pick C.J. Bruton, and current St. Mary’s (CA) point guard Patrick Mills.

A4 Croatia – Led by recently signed back-up point guard Roko Ukic of the Toronto Raptors, and also have 2006 2nd rounder Damir Markota of the San Antonio Spurs, and 2003 New Jersey draft pick Zoran Planinic.

Iran – No notable players.

A2 Lithuania – Led by NBA players Darius Songalia (Chicago), and Linas Kleiza (Denver), with the help of former NBA player Sarunas Jasikevicius.

A3 Russia – Led by Andrei Kirilenko (Utah), 2004 Portland draft pick Sergie Monia, and 2008 Cleveland draft pick Sasha Kaun.

Group B

Angola – No notable players.

B3 China – Led by NBA players Yao Ming (Houston), Yi Jianlian (New Jersey), 2007 2nd rounder Sun Yue of the Los Angles Lakers, and former NBA player Wang Zhizhi.

B4 Germany – Led by NBA players Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas), and Chris Kaman (LA Clippers).

Greece – Led by former Houston Rockets guard Vasileious Spanoulis.

B2 Spain – One of the deepest teams in the tournament, led by NBA players Pau Gasol (LA Lakers), Marc Gasol (Memphis), Juan Carlos Navarro (Memphis), Jose Calderon (Toronto), Rudy Fernandez (Portland), and former Toronto Raports forward Jorge Garbajosa.

B1 USA – Clearly the favorite to win the tournament this coming year, with a roster of PG Jason Kidd, PG Chris Paul, PG Deron Williams, SG Kobe Bryant, SG Michael Redd, SG Dwyane Wade, SF Tayshaun Prince, SF Carmelo Anthony, SF LeBron James, PF Chris Bosh, PF Carlos Boozer, and C Dwight Howard.

This would set up a single-elimination tournament with the following schedule:
B1 USA .vs A4 Croatia plays winner of A2 Lithuania .vs B3 China
A1 Argentina .vs B4 Germany plays winner of B2 Spain .vs A3 Russia

That tournament shows how easy it could be for the United States, if they are able to make it past Spain in the opening round robin. Spain, and Argentina will most likely play each other in the semifinals of the tournament, and there is a possible situation in which the United States never has to play Argentina, but just beat Spain twice. I will be in Spain next week, and it should be interesting to gage the optimism of Soccer Euro 2008 champions going against the Americans.

Boot Down: Indians Chances of Competing in 2008 – Going into their game with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Tuesday night, the Cleveland Indians have around a 0.7% chance of making the playoffs according to average prediction measurements on www.baseballprospectus.com. According to these predictions, the Indians are going to end up somewhere around 75 wins by the end of the season, which means that the Indians would have to play 0.484 ball, in contrast to the 0.449 winning percentage they have had all year. According to Cleveland Indians Vice President of Public Relations, Bob DiBiasio, the Indians will still have a chance to compete for the Central Division title if they remain within ten games of the lead by the end of the month of July. Now, here is my take on the Indians chances of competing for the rest of this season. Without C.C. Sabathia, this team is not in line to be one of the best in the American League. That means that it is rather illogical for them to go on a serious winning streak, because Jeremy Sowers, Paul Byrd, a somewhat-healthy Fausto Carmona, and Aaron Laffey will not do the job. Maybe next year I will be more optimistic about the Indians, but I think they will win between 74-80 games this season, and still be way out of the playoffs.

Boot Up: Cleveland Cavaliers Trade Opportunities – There certainly are many different players that are currently on the NBA trade block that could be helpful to the Cleveland Cavaliers this coming season. Milwaukee Bucks point guard Maurice Williams, Chicago Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich, and New Jersey Nets shooting guard Vince Carter are all rumored to be trade material around the NBA. Milwaukee has acquired a plethora of guards this off-season, adding to their back-court that currently contains Michael Redd, Charlie Bell, Ramon Sessions, Royal Ivey, Tyronn Lue, Richard Jefferson, Desmond Mason, Joe Alexander, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Chicago, on the other hand, may be looking to cut ties with Hinrich after drafting point guard Derrick Rose with the first pick in last year’s draft. New Jersey will probably want to get rid of Carter sometime in the next calendar year, as they prepare to build around their foundation of Devin Harris, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Yi Jianlian, and Brook Lopez, with the possibility for a free agent to be added after the 2009-2010 season. Williams has about $35 million remaining over the next four years of his contract, with a player option for a fifth year, but his scoring abilities would provide an instant threat for the Cavaliers opposite LeBron James. Milwaukee seems ready to hand over their point guard position to young Ramon Sessions, and it would be wise for a rebuilding team like them to dump a big-time contract like they have for the 25-year-old Williams. Hinrich has $36.5 million remaining over the next four years of his contract, but is more of a true point guard than the Cavaliers have had since Andre Miller was in town. It would be difficult to pull off another trade with the Chicago Bulls, but Hinrich is out of place in Chicago. Trading with New Jersey for Carter, and his big-time contract ($48.8 million over the next three years, with a team option for a fourth year), would probably only aid the Nets in their goal of landing a big time free agent in two years. I can’t imagine the Cleveland fan base would be willing to part ways with Wally Szczerbiak’s $13 million expiring contract with New Jersey, but anything could happen. I doubt the Cavaliers make a move this off-season, because other options remain in the near future, and better bargains could appear closer to the trading deadline during the regular season.

Boot Down: Cliff Lee’s Chances of Winning Cy Young – Over the last twelve years in the Major Leagues, the average Cy Young winner has played on a team with a 162-game win average of 90.7 games. Only four times out of these twenty-four occurrences has the winning player’s team had less than 85 victories during the season. The most recent two in the American League were Roger Clemens, and Pet Hengten of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1997, and 1996, respectively. Brandon Webb’s Arizona Diamondbacks won only 76 games in 2006, and Pedro Martinez’s Montreal Expos won 78 games in 1997. This research leads me to believe that the odds of Cliff Lee winning the American League Cy Young in 2008 are very remote. Not only is Lee a pitcher that has never had such success in the Major Leagues (in his best Major League season in 2005, he had a 3.79 ERA, and .697 OPS against, compared to 2.29, and .593 this season), but the Indians are extremely unlikely to win more than 80 games by the end of this season. Pitchers much more likely to win the best pitcher award in my mind include 2003 winner Roy Halladay of the .500 Toronto Blue Jays, or Ervin Santana, or Joe Saunders of the expected 98-win Los Angeles Angels. I do not believe that the Baseball Writers of America will have enough sympathy for Lee, because of the fact he has been the anchor of the most disappointing team in baseball. Had the Indians maintained expectations, and Martinez, Hafner, Sabathia, Westbrook, Carmona, and Borowski all stayed healthy, and in town, Lee would probably be in a much different situation than he is right now.

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July 23, 2008 - Posted by | The Boots | , , , , , , , ,

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