Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Last Year of 2 Classes in Basketball

The boys basketball Class AA playoffs started on Tuesday night. It will be the last two class tournament as the IHSA decided to expand into four classes in 2008.

There was controversy when the tournament divided into two classes back in 1972, but the tournament continued to be successful. However, I think the latest change may have a lasting effect on the tournament's popularity.

Back in 1972, the IHSA didn't put into place an arbitrary class system. They simply recognized a state of affairs that already existed. There was a huge disparity between the quality of basketball played between the smaller downstate schools and the bigger urban schools.

Hebron, with a an enrollment of 98 students, was a great story. But a small school winning the state championshiop in a one class system was not likely to happen again.

So for the past 35 years, if you wanted to know who the best team in the state was, you simply had to follow the AA tournament. But as the IHSA moves to a four class system, that will no longer be the case. We won't know who has the best team in the state. I have no doubt that many years the 3A team might be better than the 4A team, but they won't have a chance to prove it on the court.

We've seen this happen in football which has expanded into a ridiculous 8 classes. No one knows who has the best team, and no one can keep track of all the state champs.

Now basketball titles will also be cheapened.

As it now stands, teams that will compete with each other in conference, will enter separate state tournaments. Does that make any sense?

At least we'll still have the city tournament. Until they decide we need more city champs, too.

Oh and the punchline:

The class-expansion vote comes after a recent survey of member schools showed 64
percent approval for the move. Fifty-seven percent of member schools (426 of
752) responded to the survey, which the IHSA released Dec. 20.

The IHSA made this historic change at the behest of only 272 of the 752 member schools. So there was not an outcry for a change, nor a reason for one.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Colleges :: Illinois among five NCAA locks

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Colleges :: Illinois among five NCAA locks

Not quite. I'm not quite sure why Herb Gould would make such a statement. If he pays any attention at all he would know that Illinois is probably in right now but far from a lock.

If Illinois loses Saturday and in their opening round BT tournament game they will not be an at-large selection. I don't think this will happen, but it is certainly possible. Therefore, they are not a lock in any sense of the word.

Even the one expert Gould consults, Jerry Palm of, lists Illinois as an 11 seed, which should tell you all you need to know about their "lock" status.

There are at least 30 websites the make bracket predictions and a majority of them have Illinois as one of the last teams in. My guess is Gould spends so much time actually travelling and watching games that he doesn't get to do a lot of bracketology research. In this case, the blogger sitting at home in his pajamas is more likely to have an informed opinion than the reporter on the scene.

Friday, February 16, 2007

2006 Run Distribution v. 2005 Run Distribution

I plan on posting the 2006 run distributions in three phases: against the 2005 team; against the AL average; and against the rest of the AL East.

Run Scored Distribution - % of Games

I posted these charts at the end of August but wanted to post the final numbers. Obviously, the 2006 did a much better job scoring runs. The 2005 squad was able to score fives and six runs many more times than the 2006 team. While that was often good enough for the 2005 team, the offensive output of the 2006 was still superior.

Run Scored Distribution - Win %

The winning percentages of the 2005 team in low scoring games was phenomenal and not repeated in 2006. As you can see in the chart above, the Sox just needed to score 3 runs in 2005 to achieve at least a .600 winning percentage and they didn't do too shabby when they only scored two runs. The reason they had so much succes in low scoring games in 2005 was because the pitching was much better.

If we look at how many games each team would be predicted to win with league average pitching (run distribution X league winning percentage at that run level)* the 2006 Sox come out ahead 88.6 to 80.4, a full 8 games better.

Run Allowed Distribution - % of Games

You can see why the Sox won so many of those low scoring games last year. The pitching staff yielded 3 runs or less in 49.38% of their games last year compared to 35.42% in 2006. As for the high scoring games, the Sox gave up 7 or more runs in 32 games last year. In 2006 that number was to 46.

Run Allowed Distribution - Win %

This chart shows how the 2006 Sox were able to win some games even when the pitching gave up runs. In 2005, the Sox only won 7 out of 45 games (15.6%) in which they gave up more than 6 runs. In contrast the 2006 Sox won 14 out of 61 (23%).

Overall, the expected wins by the 2005 pitching staff with a league average offense would have been 92.11 games compared to 82.04 for the 2006 team, a full 10 wins better.

What I found interesting however, is the fact the 2005 team actually had a better winning percentage than the 2006 Sox in games where they allowed either 4 or 5 runs. This should not be the case as the 2006 team had a much better offense. I'm not sure if the discrepancy can be fully explained. I would chalk it up to the small sample size (42 games in 2005, 37 in 2006), lucky bounces (or clutchness if you believe in such things), and a lockdown bullpen. In 2005, it always seemed that the Sox played with the lead and did enough to hold on for nine innings. In 2006, it always seemed, the Sox were digging out of holes created by their starters.

Like I said, I don't think it can be fully explained. Yet, at the same time it doesn't really surprise me that the 2005 squad had a better record when they allowed between 4 or 5 runs. I always expected the 2005 team to pull out the close ones and felt the exact opposite watching last year's squad.

* for example, AL teams won 59.1% of their games when they scored 5 runs. The Sox played 14 of these games and would be expected to win 8.27 games (14 x 59.1%). Adding up all their games would give their offense 88.6 wins.

Friday, February 02, 2007

In Defense of Tank Johnson

Bill Plaschke, Jay Mariotti, and others, have taken their turns ripping into Tank Johnson. They believe the Bears, the NFL, and the legal system, have been too lenient on Tank. Not only do they not believe he belongs in Miami, but I get the feeling they would be happy to see him in jail.

But for what exactly? I don't want to minimize his legal problems, but the least you can say is that they are not felonious.

Legal Issues
He was first arrested 18 months ago when a valet at the club Excalibur noticed Tank put a gun in the glove compartment of his car. The valet called police who went in and arrested Tank inside the club.

Now packing heat in your car might not be the brightest idea, but it seems to be somewhat common amongst black athletes. This is not something that should be condoned by anyone, but it's hardly a major crime. Tank pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge and received 18 months probation and 40 hours community service. He should have bargained for 12 months probation.

Then, as everyone knows, police raided his house in Gurnee and found six guns. Tank was then arrested for not having Illinois Firearm's Owner Identification Card. Now, this is a card you can receive by mailing in a form along with five dollars. This is an administrative oversight, not a serious crime! These are misdemeanor charges, and it boggles the mind that this justified a police raid and forcible entry into Tank's house.

Those are the extent of Tank's legal problems and I don't think they justify prison, home confinement, or suspension from the league. If anything, Tank has been treated worse by the legal system because he is a football player, not better.

Now I know there are other aggravating circumstances including:

Tank was arrested last February outside another night club after telling a cop,"You ain't the only one with a Glock. If it wasn't for your gun and your badge, I'd kick your ass."

Now, I think that is actually pretty funny as you can be 99% sure the cop was being a prick. I would say 100% but I am sure there is a nice cop out there that I just haven't met. Charges were later dropped after this arrest.

Tank's buddy was arrested after the raid on his his house for marijuana possession.

I don't think marijuana is a big deal and I am not going to pass judgment on those who use it anymore than I would pass judgment on someone who drinks martinis.

There were firearms in plain sight of Tank's children.

Now, this is troubling, but we really have no idea if this is true. The police have to cover their asses after over-reacting with a police raid and need something to justify their heavy-handed actions. Anything they say has to be taken with a grain of salt.

Tank's buddy was killed at a nightclub.

This is the one I don't get. How in the world is Tank responsible for this and what is wrong with going to a nightclub? It's not like getting shot at a nightclub is a common occurrence and it's not like Tank frequented clubs in shady neighborhoods. He was hitting trendy clubs in the River North neighborhood, one of the least likely places you will get shot in Chicago. He has no moral or legal culpability for the death of his friend.

Tank may, or may not be, a good person, and he sounds like a pretty shitty neighbor. But nothing he has done deserves the vilification he has received in the press.