Once Again, the East Will Outspend the West– But in the end, the West Spends the Best

SeahawksIt’s no surprise that the East is slated to outspend the West this free-agency season in the NLF. What is surprising, however, is who the “experts” think will make the best decision in terms of free-agency money allocation.  But, before we get into that, let’s take a look at how the East Coast traditionally spends their money—any sport will do.  What do the Yankees, Eagles, Jets, and even the Cowboys have in common?? Well, for one thing, they consistently spend outside the average for their respective industry. What else do they have in common?? As of late, they haven’t been very successful in bring home the big one—I’m talking about championships of course. Sure, they are sometimes competitive, but apparently not enough..

It seems that in today’s professional sports world of salary caps, payroll restrictions, and player turnover, less is more.  According to a USA Today article, 9 out the NFL’s top 10 free agency spenders will be from the East—with Seattle being the one exception.  Shocker, right? Not really. This happens year in and year out. For many years the NFL’s biggest spenders have been the Cowboys, the Eagles, and the Jets. We all saw how the New York, Philadelphia, and Dallas’ big acquisitions panned out out last year—they didn’t.

It’s been proven time and time again in professional sports that you CANNOT buy a championship team in the offseason—especially through free agency (see the Yankees as another example). To win in the NFL today it takes a complete team effort and no team owner can accommodate for that with a huge checkbook—I’m talking to you Jerry Jones. What these teams need is a leader—in other words a coach—and a talented general manager who sees talent where others don’t.

Teams from the West have thrived on this model for years.  For example, over the past few free agency seasons the San Francisco 49ers have acquired their fair share of free agents, but without breaking the bank. This has left the Niners with plenty of Cap room to spend money on their money maker—defense. No one player is over paid on that staff and egos are kept in check in order to maintain a team mentality. The Oakland A’s, SF Giants, Seattle Seahawks (excluding this year), and Golden State Warriors have also done well with this method.  Can you name more then one or two big money free-agent acquisitions from these teams?? Probably not. Yet they somehow manage to be competitive and in the Giants case, win championships.

Many experts this year already have the Seahawks, Chiefs, 49ers and Broncos—all of which are West Coast teams (KC is in the AFC West)—scoring highest in terms of free agency acquisitions.  In my opinion, the 49ers, Broncos, and Seahawks are all viable teams to win the super bowl this year. So does this prove that the West is better with their money? Perhaps it does.. What do you guys think? I’d love hear what you have to say.  Leave comments below or find me on Twitter @JCConway1

Picture Credit: www.nflrush.com



An AL West Preview–Halos Have the Crown

angels_clinch_al_westThere are three playoff capable teams in the AL West on paper, with the Angels, in my opinion, as the clear front-runner to take the division. No one can deny that Los Angeles will put up some serious power numbers. A lineup that includes Trout, Pujols, Hamilton and Trumbo will be absolutely devastating to opposing pitchers and could potentially put the ball out of the park at a historic rate. Let’s not forget that their pitching staff has a much-improved bullpen from last year and they have solidified their closer as soon as Ryan Madson gets back to full health. Don’t be surprised if this team surpasses 95 wins.

Up next, we have the Oakland Athletics, who under the leadership of Billy Beane have done incredibly well considering the limited resources that the organization has to work with. The A’s have managed to upgrade their roster with the addition of Chris Young, a player with great potential but lacking consistency to perform at a high level. I expect a little regression from the A’s young but talented pitching staff, especially as the league learns how to exploit their weaknesses, but overall I see them competing with the Halos.

The Rangers will battle for third place in this division and I mainly base this argument off of the fact that they lost two HUGE pieces of their teams that went to the World Series. We all know what Hamilton did, but you can’t underestimate the loss of leadership that Michael Young brought to the table and what it will do to this ball club.  Chemistry is vital during the ebbs and flows of the season and teams need a veteran presence to push them along during the dog days. Additionally, there are too many questions marks with the pitching staff for me to have them compete with the Angels – even if Yu Darvish does morph into a true top of the line starter.

The wild card in this division is Seattle. The Mariners have been absolutely demolishing the ball in the Cactus league and there is no doubt that the front office has upgraded it’s lineup. There is enough young talent on both sides of the ball that, if taken a collective step forward, will surprise a lot of people. The hope is that their new acquisitions and emerging players will all have the potential to be above average ball players and Seattle is looking to build a contender around them. Don’t forget about that guy named Felix Hernandez.

And now for the Astros. Two words; Bottom-dwellers.

As always, let me know what you think! Leave your comments and questions below.  If it just cant wait, find me on Twitter @ JCConway1.

Picture Source: http: http://www.lindsayfincher.com/anaheim-angels-al-west-champs.html

The Best of the West–2013 NL West Preview

NL-WestNow that spring training is in full swing (yeah..that’s a pun)) I figure it’s a good time to give the blogosphere what it really wants–obviously that’s my predictions for the two divisions that call the West Coast home.  First, lets look at the NL West.  The NL West continues to become one of baseball’s stronger divisions.  The Dodgers have shown the world that they aren’t afraid to spend big bucks, the Giants have been taking home championships, and the Diamondbacks and Padres are poised to be strong contenders in 2013.

In doing some research for this post, I saw some crazy statistics used to predict who will take the NLWest crown in 2013.  One that I have seen before, and that is used repeatedly, is known as the Pythagorean Expectation.  This statistic is actually very simple, and is calculated by dividing runs scored by runs allowed to arrive at predicted winning percentage.  Using this formula yields a fairy surprising result.

NL West 2013 Projections

SD 88 74 721 664 0.734 3.77
SF 87 75 688 638 0.717 3.61
COL 73 89 811 899 0.781 5.22
ARI 93 69 786 678 0.768 3.85
LAD 97 65 690 568 0.717 3.17


While it’s definitely not unreasonable to think the Padres can end 2013 as NL West champs based on their young talent and solid pitching staff, I’m not sure I agree with this list.  To me, the NL West will boil down to three teams: The Padres, Giants, and Dodger. As a Giants fan, it pains me to admit this, but Im taking the popular pick and have the Dodgers winning the West this year.  It’s the obvious choice–I know—but I don’t think you can deny a team with that much talent for long.

Baseball is about team chemistry more than any other sport, and the Dodger have yet to establish that chemistry. However, I can’t help to think that this year will be a break out season for LA.  They’ve had more time to jell as a team over the course of the off season, and baring a bunch of injuries, the Dodgers can put a talented lineup on the diamond day in and day out.  Their offense is one of the toughest in all of baseball–Kemp, Gonzalez, Ethier, Crawford, and Hanley pose a hufe threat to opposing pitchers.  On defense LA has Kershaw, Greinke, Billingsley and Beckett—again one of baseballs best units.

As I’ve mentioned before, the baseball season is about endurance, and if the Dodgers stay healthy they are set up for success in 2013.  What do you guys think? Feel free to leave your predictions below, and until next time, follow me on Twitter @JCConway1.

Picture Source: http://www.fromthestretch.com/2012/08/27/the-nl-west/

Watching ESPN Can Be a Tough Task for West Coast Sports Fans

The San Francisco Giants have taken baseball’s top spot for two out of the last three years.  Both times, beating a media proclaimed “unbeatable” team from the East in the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers.  As a Giants fan, I cant tell you how frustrating it is to watch networks like ESPN and MLB cover the Giants.  Even when the Giants were up 3-1 and 3-0 in each World Series respectively, the geniuses at both networks couldn’t explain how the Giants could dominate these east coast juggernauts.

I can confidently say that I heard every excuse in the book during those few weeks— everything from a long lay-off, to the cold weather playing a role in the Giant’s victories.  Not one analysis gave the Giants credit for continuing to win over and over, and refused to give in to the inevitable fact that the Giants were simply a better team—better bullpen, better leadership, better chemistry, better defense, better starting pitchers, better coaching, etc, etc.  I can go on all day.

How is it possible that what the Giants did last season wasn’t more of a media spectacle? In 2010, the Giant’s theme was “torture”—taking every game down to the last out. In 2012, the Giants took that to the next level facing 6 elimination games in two playoff series—a MLB record best.  If you love sports, to watch the Giants run last year was truly magical.  They found themselves with their backs against the wall time and time again, yet always seemed to find a way to win the games they needed to the most.

Sadly, in much of the country, this fairy-tale story went unnoticed.  While the Giants played their hearts out, the media’s focus was on the ALCS—which in comparison was a terrible series to watch. The Tigers sent the Yankees packing in a series sweep and yet the media couldn’t help themselves but to declare them “unbeatable”. According to them, Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, and Justin Verlander could not be denied a championship.  Well, what about Buster Posey, Matt Cain, Marco Scutaro, Bruce Bochy, and Pablo “the Panda” Sandoval??  Fortunately for Giants fans like myself, these experts were dead wrong and Giants sit atop of Major League Baseball once again.

Aren’t the people on these networks supposed to be unbiased?? Sure doesn’t seem that way to me.  Have you noticed any biased reporting in the major sports outlets like ESPN?? Feel free to air your grievances here.  Until next time, follow me on twitter for West Coast updates @JCConway1.

The NL West is the New AL East.

Let’s get real here; Americans love to hate certain teams in sports.  In football, it’s the Cowboys.  In basketball, it’s the Lakers.  And for much of baseball’s history it’s been the Yankees.  Nowadays, however, that has all changed. The Los Angeles Dodgers have become America’s new team to hate (well guess what America—I’ve always hated them).

To me, this makes perfect sense.  As I mentioned in a previous post, power is shifting to the West–especially in baseball.  The East no longer has a stronghold on the media’s attention and people are becoming more interested in West Coast teams than ever before.  With great power, comes great responsibility (and haters for that matter).

If you’re a baseball fan and your team didn’t play in the AL East, I’d be willing to bet there is a good chance you hated that division—in particular, the Yankees and Red Sox. Traditionally speaking, teams in the AL East dominate headlines, acquire best talent, and win multiple championships.

The NL West has won two out of the last three championships and now boasts the league’s largest payroll.  As this division continues to grow it will garner more media exposure, which will eventually get under the skin of fans from competing divisions and lead to hatred (or jealousy).  So, will America eventually hate the NL West like they have the AL East?  I’d say yes!

If America is looking for a villain, they have one in the Dodgers.  Just as with the Yankees, American’s don’t necessarily appreciate the big spenders (unless you’re a fan of that team).  And if America is just tired of the same team winning it all, they can be assured that the Giants will be a contender for the foreseeable future in that regard.  To me, all the ingredients are there for America to end up hating the NL West.  Another way to think of it is the Dodgers are the new Yankees and the Giants are the new Red Sox.  What do you guys think?? Do you think America will end up despising the West like they do the East now?  Feel free to leave your comments.