Friday, November 28, 2003

What A Looong, Strange Trip It's Been

So finally, I have reached the end of the BAP World Series. The journey has been long, cost me family and friends, even dropped me from Hall of Fame to All-Star on Aaron's Baseball Blog (the best of all baseball blogs) list. Yet I soldier forth, through changes of seasons and flurries of trade rumors, in search of a kernal of truth.

Just to review, what I did was to see how some of the major stats faired at analyzing game data and predicting the actual winner of each game. I did this not only for OBP, Slugging, OPS, Batting Average, and Secondary Average, but also two of my own creations, Bases Advanced Percentage (BAP) and Batting Average plus Secondary Average. The idea behind this study was that any stat of vital importance to the result of a baseball game would be able to accurately predict a high percentage of results. For example, if OBP is so important, then the team with the higher OBP in any game should win a high percentage of the time. And while a study of 38 games is a small sample, it is at least the 38 most important games of the year, played by the very best teams, so I think the sample has validity.

Here are the Final Stat Playoff Standings

BAP 33-5
BA+SecA 32-6
SLG 30-7-1
OBP 30-8
OPS 29-9
BA 28-10
SecA 26-12

There are a few major conclusions I can draw from this:

1. BAP reigns Supreme. This is the third contest of this kind, and BAP has won all three. It is clearly the best stat of all those studied at predicting winners based on game data.

2. Batting Average plus Secondary Average (I've got the name! BASA! BASA!) performed as well I hoped, beating all of the more well known stats. It's a small study, but it makes intuitive sense, is easy to use, and even brings value back to the most historical and most recently bashed stat, Batting Average.

3. This is the first time that OBP has done respectably against Slugging, and did it just barely, winning the last two games while SLG lost the last two. It still hasn't beaten Slugging though, and so for me, the jury is still out. But what I see over and over again is that in close, low-scoring games, the kind of games that any championship team needs to win, OBP comes up short more often than Slugging. Over the course of nine innings, a walk and a homer back-to-back can beat ten baserunners spread throughout the game. It comes down to this:

Aside from not creating an out, a single or a walk does very little to produce runs, independent of what other players on the team do.

Isn't this a similar criticism to the one that has devalued Runs and RBI? Most stat people ignore those two completely now, because they are so dependent on the actions of teammates. But isn't the value of a single, or even more so a walk, dependent on the actions of teammates? How much value is it to a team to have a player go 3 for 3 with three singles and a walk when the team as a whole only has seven hits?

4. The fact that OPS did worse than both OBP and SLG demonstrates how poorly OPS brings those two stats together. If those stats complimented each other, you would expect the results to be similar to BASA, where separately Batting Average and Secondary Average don't perform well, but they cover each other's weaknesses so effectively that they combine to be one highly effective stat. OPS does just the opposite.

Coming Sunday Night - The 2003 BASA All-Stars!

Here's the results for the final two World Series games:

Florida 6 NY 4
OBP - FL .371, NY .350
SLG - FL .387, NY .432
OPS - FL .758, NY .782
BAP - FL .556, NY .625
EBs - FL 4, NY 7
BA - FL .290, NY .324
SecA - FL .194, NY .162
BA+SecA - FL .484, NY .486

An odd combination. Only OBP and Secondary Average analyze the data correctly.

Florida 2 NY 0
OBP - FL .263, NY .226
SLG - FL .235, NY .241
OPS - FL .498, NY .467
BAP - FL .447, NY .250
EBs - FL 6, NY (-1)
BA - FL .206, NY .172
SecA - FL .118, NY .138
BA+SecA - FL .324, NY .310

Everyone gets it right except for Slugging and Secondary Average.

BAP For Beginners

Dave's Email

Sunday, November 23, 2003

A Pathetic Performance

I am now reduced to this. Using my emails to pass for an entry. Got an email from Joe, a BAP believer, and I thought I'd share it with you here. Not because I say anything particularly interesting in response, because I don't, but I realize that part of what I say to Joe I could say to all of you. Besides, Joe leaves a couple of good links that I'm going to bash first chance I get. So thanks Joe, I'll send you a cut of the ES profits.

Hey Dave,

I was reading some articles that said that OBP is
around twice as important as Slugging Pct. When
looking at your Bap scores I just know that shouldn't
be true because the team with the higher slg pct wins
more often. I was wondering what are your thoughts on

Here are the links to the articles
How Full of S is OPS?

More On-Base Weight Need For Better OPS, by Rob Neyer

Hey Joe,

Thanks for the articles. I'm with you, and I'm going to respond in more detail to this on the blog, when I post my BAP World Series Wrapup, maybe Thanksgiving morning. I've got all of these stats that I've calculated, including the start of the next BAP project, but just don't have any time to publish them. I've got a Union contract vote tomorrow - I'm a counter - and former Dead member Phil Lesh tickets for Tuesday, so the earliest will be Wednesday night, but it might not be until Friday. It's coming though. I swear.

Thanks for hanging in there.

Dave's Email

Monday, November 17, 2003


The timing is perfect. Just as the Eisenberg Sports College Football Championship (The ECF) knocks Ohio State out, The BCS pulls them back in.

One of the founding principles of the ECF is that there is just no way an overtime win at home should count as much as winning at home in regulation. It is the feeling here that any team that is of national championship caliber should be able to protect it's own field, and shouldn't need an extra period to do it. The Ohio State Buckeyes have lost one of the three (only three!) road games they have played so far this year, and have won two games in OT at home, back in September to NC State, and this past weekend to Purdue. Under the ECF Rules, an OT win at home counts as a Half-Acceptable Loss, so with two of those plus the Acceptable Loss on the road, that's two Acceptable Losses, which is unacceptable, which means Sayonara Buckeyes.

Of course, the BCS Blunder shouldn't matter. The Buckeyes open as 7-point underdogs in Ann Arbor this weekend, and I suspect that the Blue will dispose of them quickly. But if Ohio State should win, and screw USC out of it's Sugar Bowl birth, there's some consolation for you Pete Carroll, and all you Trojans fans:

You're chances of winning an ECF title improve if you don't go to the Sugar Bowl.

USC has already accomplished the killer ECF requirement. You must, at some point in the season, defeat a Top Ten team. The Trojans took care of that right away, clobbering the Auburn Tigers way back at the start of the season. It is not USC's fault if they don't get to play Oklahoma. If they go undefeated the rest of the way, they're an ECF Champion.

The same goes for TCU. The Horned Frogs would have won a share of the ECF last year except they couldn't get a game against a Top Ten Team. This year they are in the exact same position, except that the football Gods seem destined to put them in a BCS game, giving them their golden opportunity.

Understand this (to borrow a phrase from Peter Gammons). Who the ECF Champions are is in no way meant to be my opinion of who the best team in college football is. Any fan with any sense knows that the best team is Oklahoma. The point of the ECF is that unless there's is a tournament there is no way to determine absolutely who the best team is. The ECF tries to set the standards extremely high, so if at the end of the season a team still qualifies for the ECF Championship, we can say with all honesty that this team has done nothing, NOTHING, during the course of the season that would make us think that they couldn't win a tournament. That's the definition of an ECF Champion.

So good luck Oklahoma, USC, and TCU. You may all be Champions here.

ECF Rules

Dave's Email

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Crazy Busy

Been trying to keep up with work, union business (in the middle of a big contract fight), babysitting, leave raking, yadda, yadda, yadda, and so I just haven't found time to write. Meanwhile, in my head I've written about the following items:

College Football Weekend Wrapup
The conclusion to the BAP World Series
The next great BAP project (It's way cool. That is, if you think any of the BAP stuff is cool).
Joining SABR.
The All-Star Boston SABR lineup.
Bigot Bill Singer.
The blown up synagogues in Turkey.
Phil Lesh (I have tickets for next week).
The second half of the NFL season.

Of course, I probably won't get around to writing about all of those - some will be dated by the time I get to them, and I've had enough of that with the BAP World Series - but it's nice to have ideas. So be patient everyone. when real-life stops rearing it's ugly head, I'll be back.

Dave's Email

Thursday, November 13, 2003

BAP - The World Series

Here's games 1 through 4:

Florida 3 NY 2
OBP - FL .297, NY .368
SLG - FL .226, NY .364
OPS - FL .523, NY .732
BAP - FL .500, NY .526
EBs - FL 7, NY 3
BA - FL .226, NY .273
SecA - FL .226, NY .273
BA+SecA - FL .452, NY .546

A rarity. Every stat analyzes the game stats incorrectly. Imagine how the Series changes if the Yankees had won this game, as they clearly could have.

Florida 1 NY 6
OBP - FL .212, NY .417
SLG - FL .188, NY .613
OPS - FL .400, NY 1.030
BAP - FL .333, NY .667
EBs - FL 4, NY 0
BA - FL .188, NY .323
SecA - FL 0, NY .387
BA+SecA - FL .188, NY .710

Every stat gets it right.

Florida 1 NY 6
OBP - FL .257, NY .341
SLG - FL .324, NY .424
OPS - FL .581, NY .765
BAP - FL .389, NY .585
EBs - FL 2, NY 2
BA - FL .235, NY .182
SecA - FL .088, NY .485
BA+SecA - FL .323, NY .667

Every stat but Batting Average gets it right.

Florida 4 NY 3
OBP - FL .262, NY .313
SLG - FL .405, NY .364
OPS - FL .667, NY .677
BAP - FL .477, NY .469
EBs - FL 3, NY 4
BA - FL .244, NY .273
SecA - FL .190, NY .159
BA+SecA - FL .434, NY .432

OBP, OPS, and Batting Average all get it wrong.

The Stat Playoff Standings

BAP 32-4
BA+SecA 31-5
SLG 30-5-1
OBP 28-8
OPS 28-8
BA 27-9
SecA 25-11

It's all over but the shouting. Only two games left.

BAP For Beginners"

Dave's Email

Monday, November 10, 2003

BAP On The Warpath

Slowly but surely, I'm catching up with the BAP numbers, the 2003 Playoffs being my own personal blog triathalon. I've got the last two Marlins-Cubs game today, and one of the two I want to talk about a bit. That game is Game 6, the one loser Cub fans blamed on one of their own, instead of their team. First, here are the stats:

Florida 8 Cubs 3
OBP - FL .341, Chi .343
SLG - FL .333, Chi .333
OPS - FL .674, Chi .676
BAP - FL .659, Chi .472
EBs - FL 10, Chi 4
BA - FL .250, Chi .303
SecA - FL .194, Chi .091
BA+SecA - FL .444, Chi .394

Only BAP, BA+SecA, and Secondary Average analyze this game correctly. There's nothing especially noteworthy about that, until you look at the final score. The Marlins won by FIVE runs! If OBP and Slugging are so important, how can they not analyze a game correctly in which there is such a wide gap in runs scored?

This brings me back to one of my main gripes with the Stat Community. Everyone tries to take certain stats and determine how important they are over the course of a season, but a season is just a large collection of games. If a stat doesn't prove to be the most useful for measuring the winners of individual games, then how important is the stat at all? Now, I understand that no stat can get every game correctly, but BAP is establishing that there are gaps in what OBP and Slugging measure. Take for instance, the seasonal stats for the Royal and Twins:

OBP - KC .336, Min .341
SLG - KC .427, Min .431
Runs - KC 836, Min 801

Backers of those two stats will tell you there is some margin for error, that no percentage can predict a run total exactly. Even BAP is like that. But the Royals were able to find one more run for every 4.63 games of the season, even while getting on base less often, and hitting for less power. Would BAP make up all of the difference? Unlikely, but who knows? I would be willing to bet that it at least would close the gap quite a bit, and yeah, maybe the Royals would have a higher BAP score then the Twins.

Let's get back to the Cubs-Marlins game. The Marlins had 10 EBs in that game, which is a high total but not unreasonable for what the Marlins had put up so far in the playoffs, but check out what happened, BAP-style, in that now infamous top of the eighth:

M Mordecai flied out to left. (0 EBs)
J Pierre doubled to left. (0 EBs)
L Castillo walked, J Pierre to third on wild pitch by M Prior. (1 EB)
I Rodriguez singled to left, J Pierre scored, L Castillo to second. (0 EBs)
M Cabrera safe at first on error by shortstop A Gonzalez, L Castillo to third, I Rodriguez to second. (3 EBs)
D Lee doubled to left, L Castillo and I Rodriguez scored, M Cabrera to third. (0 EBs)
K Farnsworth relieved M Prior.
M Lowell intentionally walked. (0 EBs)
J Conine hit sacrifice fly to right, M Cabrera scored, D Lee to third, M Lowell to second. (3 EBs)
T Hollandsworth hit for C Fox.
T Hollandsworth intentionally walked. (0 EBs)
M Mordecai doubled to deep left center, D Lee, M Lowell and T Hollandsworth scored. (1 EB)
M Remlinger relieved K Farnsworth.
J Pierre singled to right, M Mordecai scored. (1 EB)
L Castillo popped out to shallow right.
(8 Runs, 5 Hits, 1 Error) FLORIDA 8, CHICAGO CUBS 3,

There are 9 EBs in this half-inning, 8 total bases, and three walks. You tell me which stat might be the most important. It all comes down to this:


Something else is going on there, folks. Welcome to the wonderful world of BAP.

Here's Game 7.

Florida 9 Chicago 6
OBP - FL .381, Chi .229
SLG - FL .526, Chi .485
OPS - FL .907, Chi .714
BAP - FL .643, Chi .571
EBs - FL 3, Chi 2
BA - FL .316, Chi .182
SecA - FL .342, Chi .364
BA+SecA - FL .658, Chi .546

Every stat gets it right.

The Stat Playoff Standings

BAP 29-3
BA+SecA 28-4
SLG 27-4-1
OBP 26-6
OPS 26-6
BA 26-6
SecA 22-10

Unless there's a collapse of Cubsian proportions, BAP stands to win. The only real challenger is BA+SecA, another ES creation (I think) that I'll talk more about at a later date. And how about Batting Average? Maybe it's not so overrated after all.

BAP For Beginners

Dave's Email

Sunday, November 09, 2003

The Best Of Both Worlds

We'll give you a little of both today, The College Football Weekend Wrapup, and BAP scores for the last two Cubs-Marlins games. Because the football stuff is very current, and the baseball numbers are extremely late, we'll start with the football, and come back with the baseball this evening.

This weekend's college football games shook out some of the pretenders for the oblivious, as Miami, Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Iowa all lost. Of course, the Eisenberg Sports College Football Championship (the ECF) already had those teams eliminated, so if you're a regular reader here you were a step ahead. The news in the polls and BCS this week will be about the climb of TCU into serious BCS contention, and about some of the new Top 5 teams, like Ohio State. You'll certainly hear talk about the freight train that is the Oklahoma Sooners, and how the USC Trojans solidified their hold on #2 without even playing.

All of these teams - Oklahoma, Ohio State, USC, and TCU - are still in contention for the ECF championship, as are Boise St, Northern Illinois, and Miami-OH. TCU has made the miraculous jump to contender even with that half-assed schedule of theirs, because the pollmasters and the BCS seem destined to give the Horned Frogs the Top Ten opponent they failed to put on their own schedule.

Not that it matters of course. TCU will get crushed like ants within sight of a four-year-old if they ever get into a BCS game. But what about the others? Suppose the Sooners drop the Big 12 Championship Game? Ohio State is going to be an underdog at Ann Arbor, and USC could certainly lose their bowl game with who ever they get matched up with. Who becomes the ECF Champion if all of these teams are eliminated?

This brings us to the final ECF rule. Here it is:

8. The Everyone is Eliminated Rule - If by some chance, at any point in the season or after the bowl games, all 117 teams have been eliminated, there will still be at least one ECF Champion. The way the ECF Champion is chosen is by the following rules:

a. Only bowl game winners are considered.
b. The first game of every team is eliminated.
c. If any team or teams would now qualify for the Championship, they would be declared the ECF Champions.
d. If no team qualifies, then the second game of every team would be eliminated. If there is anyone who would qualify, they would now be considered the Champions.
e. If no team qualifies, weeks from the beginning of the season will continue to be eliminated until we have a winner.

So, if our current contenders are all defeated, where can we look to find this year's Champions? Here they are, in order of who would come up first under the "game elimination" scenario of Rule #8. The number in parenthesis for each team is the number of games that must be "eliminated" for them to qualify for the ECF:

1A. Michigan (4 games) - The Blue have been eliminating Big Ten opponents left and right, and have only a game at Northwestern before taking on the Buckeyes at home. If Michigan were in a conference that had a Championship game, they would still be an ECF contender.

1B. Mississippi (4 games)- They have LSU at home, then go to Mississippi State. Winning both of those games would put them in the SEC Championship game as well.

3. Pittsburgh (5 games)- At West Virginia, at Temple, and Miami at home. Losing to Notre Dame on their own field has cost them dearly.

4A. Tennessee (6 games) - Miss St, Vandy, at Kentucky. No real danger here for the Vols until the SEC Championship, if they go.

4B. Florida (6 games) - at South Carolina, Florida State. Has anyone''s fortunes changed for the better this season more than Ron Zook's? After a rough start with a young team, the Gators have beaten LSU and Georgia, get the Seminoles at home, and can still win the SEC Championship.

4C. Florida State (6 games) - NC State, at Florida. The Seminoles defeat to Clemson yesterday didn't have much of an effect on The ECF standing. They had already been eliminated, and yesterday's loss qualifies as an Acceptable Loss. It's still the home loss to Miami that buries them.

4D. LSU (6 games) - At Bama, At Mississippi, Arkansas. I have trouble seeing the Tigers getting through these three games undefeated.

Well, what the hell, might as well rank them all. Here's my Top Ten, with Top Ten meaning the Top Ten to Win a Share of the ECF Championship.

1. Oklahoma
2. USC
3. Michigan
4. Ohio State
5. TCU
6. Mississippi
7. Pittsburgh
8. Tennessee
9. Florida
10. Florida State
11. LSU

With a big gap between teams 2 and 3, and 4 and 5.
ECF Rules

Dave's Email

Saturday, November 08, 2003

BAP Scores

Oklahoma is ahead of Texas A&M 49-0, at the half. As good as time as any to update some BAP scores. Here is the unfinished portion of the Sox-Yankees series.

Boston 3 New York 2

OBP - Bos .300, NY .297
SLG - Bos .481, NY .313
OPS - Bos .781, NY .610
BAP - Bos .433, NY .432
EBs - Bos (-3), NY 1
BA - Bos .222, NY .188
SecA - Bos .296, NY .313
BA+SecA - Bos .518, NY .501

Every stat but Secondary Average analyzes the information correctly. The BAP score is very close largely due to Trot Nixon failing in an attempt to steal home.

NY 4 Boston 2

OBP - Bos .250, NY .316
SLG - Bos .333, NY .212
OPS - Bos .583, NY .528
BAP - Bos .579, NY .472
EBs - Bos 3, NY 10
BA - Bos .182, NY .212
SecA - Bos .242, NY .121
BA+SecA - Bos .424, NY .333

Only BAP, Batting Average, and OBP get it right.

Boston 9 New York 6

OBP - Bos .447, NY .341
SLG - Bos .619, NY .513
OPS - Bos 1.066, NY .854
BAP - Bos .681, NY .683
EBs - Bos 6, NY 8
BA - Bos .381, NY .308
SecA - Bos .381, NY .436
BA+SecA - Bos .762, NY .744

BAP suffers a rare defeat. Secondary Average loses again.

New York 6 Boston 5

OBP - Bos .267, NY .318
SLG - Bos .500, NY .585
OPS - Bos .767, NY .903
BAP - Bos .622, NY .636
EBs - Bos 6, NY 1
BA - Bos .250, NY .268
SecA - Bos .386, NY .391
BA+SecA - Bos .636, NY .659

The game that threw my BAP recording keeping so out of whack, as I just couldn't stand to look at it until now. Every stat analyzed this game correctly, putting them all one step ahead of "My Brain Is" Little.

The Stat Playoff Standings

BAP 27-3
BA+SecA 26-4
SLG 26-4
OBP 25-5
OPS 25-5
BA 25-5
SecA 21-9

There are now only eight games left to do, two Marlins-Cubs games and the World Series. BAP hangs on to what appears to be a slim lead, but it is one that it has held since the beginning.

BAP For Beginners

Dave's Email

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Theo For A Day - Shopping Manny

Last week, when the Red Sox put Manny Ramirez on waivers, the reasons for doing so seemed singular, and clear: it was an attempt to clear salary space. But in the following days, stories broke about Manny asking to be dealt, and teammates of Manny's relayed private conversations in which Manny expressed his unhappiness with the Boston Experience. It became a complete media assault on all things Manny, as his previous indiscretions were also brought up, and a very real anger at one of the best hitters in baseball boiled over.

Now it seems clear that the bridges are burned. Sure, the next manager (Glenn Hoffman?!) could play an "Us against the World" card in Spring Training, but it seems more likely that management will try to make everyone happy and move Manny, at almost any cost. With all of that in mind, the question becomes this:

How will the Red Sox trade Manny Ramirez, and what will it cost them?

Every team in baseball had a chance to take Manny and his contract and passed, so now we know that in order for a deal to be made, the receiving team must be able to unload some salary on the Sox. Every team with the slightest interest in acquiring Manny is going over all of their worst contracts right now, and trying to figure out just how many of them the Sox will take off of their hands in order to solve what has become a Manny Problem.

So, what kind of team is likely to be involved in a Manny deal? I think it's safe to say that it would be a team with big, ugly contracts of their own to dump, and one that would be capable of taking on a substantial amount of salary. Let's assume it's not the Yankees, because a deal of this proportion would be the biggest thing since Babe Ruth. Who's left? Here are some scenarios that I think are at least possible. Please keep in mind that this is just for fun. If you have some ideas of your own feel free to send them over.
All contract information comes from MLB Contracts.

1. The New York Mets

Manny Ramirez and a minor leaguer for Tom Glavine, Cliff Floyd, and Mo Vaughn.

I love this one. Combined, the Mets trio makes 60.5 million over the next three years, meaning that the Mets would only have to pay for the last two years of Manny's contract. The Mets get a leftfielder who is twice the player that Floyd is, and a better health risk. They get to finally save face on the Mo Vaughn contract, and they get out from under one of the last bad contracts of the previous regime. The Mets also get a low A-ball prospect to help out with their rebuilding program. The Sox get a very expensive lefthanded starter (Glavine finished 38th out of 48 NL pitchers who qualified for the ERA title)with local roots who can fill in at the back of the rotation, another bat for the outfield, and can even mend some fences by bringing Mo back for some community work.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

Manny Ramirez and a minor leaguer for Shawn Green, Darren Dreifort, and Todd Hundley.

Combined, the three Dodgers make 66.5 million over the next two years, a huge amount. Because of this, The Dodgers actually get to save money in the short term. Green has become a disappointment, and Dreifort hasn't been healthy in a while, throwing only 155 innings the last two years. The Red Sox get an outfielder who might benefit from returning to a hitter's park, and are willing to gamble on Dreifort. They take the short term hit in order to be free and clear in two years.

3. Cincinnati Reds

Manny Ramirez for Ken Griffey Jr. and Danny Graves

The Reds aren't a team that is likely to take on payroll, but Griffey and Graves are still owed 79 million, 66.5 just from Ken. It only costs the Reds 21 mil to add Manny to Kearns and Dunn for five years. The Sox gamble on Junior, who can be put at DH or Fenway's left field if and when he's healthy, and Graves, who was a talented reliever for many years but was awful out of the rotation, finishing 47th out of 48 NL pitchers who qualified for the ERA title.

Colorado Rockies

Manny Ramirez for Larry Walker and Denny Neagle

Walker and Neagle will make a combined 54 million over the next two years, so the Rockies would actually benefit financially over that time period. Walker will be 37 next season, and had only an .898 OPS playing in Coors. Neagle was expensive, terrible, and hurt, 7 games and a 7.90 ERA.

5. Arizona Diamondbacks

Manny Ramirez for Luis Gonzalez and Randy Johnson

This seems unlikely because the Snakes always cry about money, but Gonzalez and the Big Unit will make 62 mil over the next three years, so that's a wash for that time period. The D-Backs decide to gamble on their young pitching, cut Johnson loose, and get the big bat they most desperately need. Hillenbrand batting cleanup? Come on. The Sox payroll climbs briefly knowing that if Randy is healthy they can win the World Series this year, and if not they are done with all but 10 mil after two years.

So there it is. All National League teams, which is curious. What do you think?

Dave's Email

Sunday, November 02, 2003

The Race Is On

Last year, when Eisenberg's College Football Championship Rules (the ECF) were being run and tested for the first time, it ended with six potential Champions entering the bowl games. Actually, it was five, because TCU had no chance of being declared a Champion because they had violated the Top Ten Rule (see rules for explanation), but even this number seemed normal. The ECF, after all, was designed to declare Champions "In The Absence Of A Tournament", not as something superior or even equal to a tournament. Having several champions was basic to the structure of the whole thing, because without a playoff system, there really is no way of knowing who the best team is. Anyway, the five teams with a chance to be ECF champions were all BCS teams - Miami, Ohio State, USC, Iowa, and Oklahoma. When the dust settled, we were left with the trio of Ohio State, USC, and Oklahoma as the winners.

Why is any of this important now? Two reasons. First, we have only just passed the first weekend in November, and there are only nine schools still eligible in any way for the ECF, only four with any real shot of becoming a Champion, and only three teams that are also BCS-eligible. That brings us to our second reason. Can you guess which three BCS-eligible teams are also still alive in the ECF hunt? That's right, last year's Champions - Ohio State, USC, and Oklahoma.

Let's take a look at the teams that are left, their schedules the rest of the way, and their chances of finishing as an ECF Champion:

Teams Who Have Beaten, Or Will Have A Chance To Beat, A Top Ten Opponent:

1. Oklahoma - The Sooners are everyone's favorite right now, but they still have a ways to go. They will play five more games - Texas A&M, Baylor, at Texas Tech, the Big 12 Championship Game, and their bowl game. The Sooners have the luxury of being able to drop a close one at Texas Tech and still survive, but losing any of the others will eliminate them. Odds: 8-5.

2. USC - They have the easiest schedule of anyone, playing at Arizona, then getting UCLA and Oregon St at home. They are the safest of all of the teams to be alive at their bowl game, but then they might have to play Oklahoma. Odds: 2-1.

3. Ohio State - The Buckeyes have Michigan State and Purdue at home, then have to go to Ann Arbor. They have no room to stumble again, having used up their maximum level of Acceptable Losses, and I'm thinking they may lose two of those three games. Odds: 10-1.

4. Bowling Green - The Falcons have beaten two Top Ten teams - Purdue and Northern Illinois - but they still have as many as six games left, including fellow ECF survivor Miami-OH on Tuesday. That's right, Tuesday. Too far to go I think, but it should be fun to watch. Odds: 12-1.

Teams That Will Probably Not Get To Play a Top Ten Opponent:

TCU, Louisville, Miami-OH, Northern Illinois, and Boise St. Louisville's last gasp of hope died earlier this evening when TCU finished only 12th in both polls. The two teams meet on Wednesday.

So in the end, it looks like we may have a singular ECF Champion this year, the winner of the Oklahoma-USC Sugar Bowl game. But for that matchup to happen, eight games have to be won between them. A tall task, to be sure.

ECF Rules

Dave's Email

Saturday, November 01, 2003

The Folly of Florida State

With all of the Red Sox news this week, I didn't get to do my College Football Weekend Wrapup on Monday, or the Weekend Preview on Wednesday. Saturday morning is late, I know, so this won't be a full WP. But there's some points that need to be covered, so I'll do a quick rundown here.

The very best part of Eisenberg's College Football Championship (the ECF) is that it recognizes that all wins are not equal, and more importantly, that all losses are not equal. Winning in overtime at home is not equal to winning in regulation, losing at home is not equal to losing on the road, losing by 20 is not equal to losing by 3, etc., etc. And yet one of the stories today is that Florida State Seminoles are ranked #5 by both polls, and #3 by the BCS, even though they were throttled on their home field by the Miami Hurricanes.

The fact that it was Miami who did it will get a lot of play in the national media, but it misses the point: No team that is to be considered a National Champion, that could have possibly won a National Tournament, should lose a home game. Ever. The Seminoles were knocked out of the ECF weeks ago, yet they are a couple of upsets away from being the top team in the land. Ridiculous.

And because wins and losses are not all equal, the implications of today's "Showdown Saturday" are not equal for everyone else, either. Before we get into today's games, here is the rule for Unacceptable Losses:

A. Definition of Unacceptable Losses - An Unacceptable Loss immediately eliminates you from ECF Championship contention. This is what constitutes an Unacceptable Loss:

- 1. Any loss on your home field, in regulation or in overtime.
- 2. Any loss in regulation on a neutral field.
- 3. Any loss by 17 or more points on the road.
- 4. Any loss to a non-Division 1A opponent.

So who's in danger today of being eliminated from the ECF, and who isn't? Let's get to work.

At Oklahoma -15.5 Oklahoma St
At USC -12 Washington St

These two games are very similar. The Sooners and Trojans must win in order to survive. The Cowboys and Cougars must be sure to make a game of it, staying within 17 points. Remember, the rationale behind this is that NO team would be favored in Oklahoma or USC. If Oklahoma St or Washington St loses a relatively close one, it doesn't prove they are the lesser team. However, each team would have to stay perfect the rest of the way in order to become ECF Champions.

At Michigan State +4 Michigan - Michigan seems to be on a mission to knock every other Big Ten team out of the ECF. The Spartans need to win in regulation to survive.

Ohio State -7 at Penn St - The Buckeyes have reached their maximum number of Acceptable Losses and must win in regulation today.

Georgia -2 Florida - The Bulldogs must win the World's Largest Cocktail Party, because it is on a neutral field.

Miami -3.5 at Virginia Tech - The Hurricanes will be the big story if they lose tonight, but as long as it is close, they will still be very much alive in the ECF. There's no shame in losing a close game at Virginia Tech.

At N Illinois -15.5 Ball St - The Huskies must win, but doesn't look like any trouble here.

I will have the Weekend Wrapup tomorrow. Assuming Manny isn't traded.

ECF Championship Rules

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