Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Guilty Pleasures

January 8, 2015

I think all of us have some kind of guilty pleasure when it comes to what we watch on TV (if we watch TV), from reality shows to soap operas to, well, whatever. Essentially, there are shows that we watch that we wonder why in the world we watch them, and are kinda embarrassed to admit to others that we watch them.

For me, right now, I guess my guilty pleasures are … poker and darts. I did sometimes watch poker when I had cable before, mostly when there was nothing else on, and found myself wondering why I watched it at all, or why I was having such a hard time changing the channel. But this time around, I find myself actually seeing that poker is on and deciding to watch it directly, potentially even if there might be something else on. That being said, I’m not alone, as the ratings for poker on ESPN used to be higher than that of hockey.

But what I’m finding most amazing is darts. Not the ratings, necessarily, but the reception it gets in Great Britain, where it plays/broadcasts from. It’s really big business. The matches, from what I’ve been seeing, move from venue to venue … and are packed. And they don’t look like tiny clubs either; they may not be stadiums, but they certainly hold a good number of people. And there’s a lot of trappings involved in darts, too. They have intro walks, intro music, nicknames, cheerleaders, and all sorts of other things. The World Championships had a 250,000 pound top prize. It’s amazing that a sport like darts can get that much attention.

As sports, the poker that you generally see is the game that, in my opinion, requires the least skill: Texas Hold ‘Em. But it’s all about reading players, knowing the percentages of your hand, what draws you have, and what hands your opponent could have based on that hand, and how likely they are to call a bluff or bluff themselves. So there is some strategy there that makes it interesting.

As for darts, it’s a fairly interesting high-scoring sport, because you have to be the first to get to 0 from (usually) 501 … and you have to get there exactly. Which means that you do want to get as high a score on each set of throws as you can … but also want to set up easier finishes, since you have to end on a double or a bullseye to win, so it involves sometimes taking lower scores that leave you with a more even remainder.

I’m not sure how long this will last, as my interest in poker is already flagging a bit (I only really pay attention now when interesting players are on) and I think that the same will happen soon to darts. And then it will be on to the next guilty pleasure …

NHL Playoff Predictions: Summary

June 14, 2014

So, with the Los Angeles Kings winning the Stanley Cup last night, my final record is 7 – 8, just a touch under .500. A bit disappointing, but still in the same range as a coin toss.

It was a closer series than a 4 – 1 series win would make it seem, but the Kings managed to win games that were at least games that the Rangers could very well have one, if not games that they really deserved to win. 3 out of 5 games in the series went into overtime, and the Kings won all 3. Only 1 of the 5 games was settled by more than a goal. The Kings went up 2 – 0 without having led for a single second in the series. I think that you can say that the Kings were full marks for their win, but that they weren’t dominate. They just managed to come up big when they absolutely had to.

Well, that’s it for this year, and that’s it for hockey until October.

Why do I bother?

June 2, 2014

So, last night I decided to try and stay up to watch the Chicago-L.A. hockey gamewhich I obviously had a vested interest in. However, since I still do have to get up early I was able to watch to what would have been the end of the game, but it wouldn’t have been a good idea to try to watch the overtime, especially since I had no idea when it would end. So, I ended up going to bed before I knew what the final score was, ended up dozing off during the third period, and essentially only ended up being a bit tired today because I slept less than I should have. And this seems to happen to me a fair bit when I try to stay up to watch games. So, tell me again why I bother?

NHL Playoff Predictions: Finals

June 2, 2014

Well, the third round was worse, with me going 0 – 2 leaving me at 6 – 8 for the season so far. It seems that having followed the sport over the season and knowing things about the teams actually matters when making predictions. Who knew?

So, despite my being unable to get over .500 for this year, I’m not going to throw in the towel. At least I can try to make a comeback with my final prediction. And so, in the Stanley Cup finals between the L.A. Kings and the New York Rangers, I’m going with …

the L.A. Kings. Correct

Sure, they had a very hard fought series against Chicago, and so there’s a risk that they’ll run out of gas. That being said, I predicted that they’d run out of gas in almost every other series, and they didn’t, at least in part because they get more time off than you’d expect. They don’t play until Wednesday, and after that don’t play again until Saturday, which means that they get an extra day of rest in there instead of playing every other night. L.A. has come back from being down 3 – 0 and won a hard fought series when up 3 – 1. And I really do think that they’re the better team when compared to the Rangers.

Overall recprd: 7 – 8

I’ve got a bad feeling about this …

May 18, 2014

So, after deciding to back Montreal in the East because I “had a feeling” … they dropped the first game 7 – 2 and Carey Price might be injured.

Oh, what a feeling …

NHL Playoff Predictions: Round 3

May 17, 2014

Well, I had a pretty poor second round, going 1 – 3 leaving me at 6 – 6 for the year. Well, at least I’m still at .500. Of course, these are the rounds that are always harder to pick, so let’s see how I do down the stretch.

Eastern Conference:

Montreal vs Rangers Incorrect

This is a very tight series to call. Both teams have been good, both teams have great goaltending, both teams have beaten teams they shouldn’t have … really, they’ve both had great runs. So, you could really flip a coin here and be no more likely to pick the right team than a deep analysis would. So, I’m going to go with Montreal. No real overwhelming reason; it just feels right.

Western Conference:

Chicago vs L.A. Incorrect

Picking the home teams killed me in the second round; picking all the visiting teams would have had me go 3 – 1. And the Kings have showed a lot of determination in these playoffs. But Chicago are the champions and are at least as good a team, and are at least a bit rested, which should be a factor. So I think Chicago should pull it off.

Round: 0 – 2
Overall Record: 6 – 8

NHL Playoff Predictions: Round 2

May 1, 2014

So, my record in the first round was a respectable 5 – 3. At least I was over .500. The interesting thing about that was that in the East I went with all of the teams that had home ice advantage and went 3 – 1, while in the West I went with all of the teams that didn’t except for one — Colorado — and went 2 – 2. You could say that maybe I should have picked more teams with home ice advantage except that the one team that I did pick that had home ice advantage lost their series.

Anyway, moving on to Round 2:

Eastern Conference:

Boston vs Montreal Incorrect
Pittsburgh vs Rangers Incorrect

Boston is just an overall better team than Montreal, so they should be able to pull it off.

Fleury wasn’t exactly stellar in the first round, but Pittsburgh still has a lot of offense and the Rangers just came through a really tough series against what I’d at least consider to be a weaker opponent and almost lost it. Pittsburgh should be able to pull it off unless Lundqvist stones them.

Western Conference:

Chicago vs Minnesota Correct
Anaheim vs L.A. Incorrect

Chicago is an overall better team than Colorado was, so they should be able to beat Minnesota, especially since Minnesota would have just come through a tough series.

Anaheim and L.A. is a close one. L.A. won’t give up since they know they can come back from anything, and Anaheim has choked in the past. But I think that Anaheim will be able to run L.A. out of gas and win the series, although if it goes to Game 7 my money would be on L.A.

Round: 1 – 3
Overall Record: 6 – 6

NHL Playoff Predictions: Round 1

April 14, 2014

Last year, I tried to predict the outcomes of each round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and did pretty well. More interestingly, I actually did get exactly one series wrong in every round. Yes, that’s literally, not on average. This year, I’m following hockey and sports in general less, so it should be interesting to see how I do this year.

As always, my predicted winner will be in bold.

Eastern Conference

Boston vs Detroit Correct
Tampa vs Montreal Incorrect
Pittsburgh vs Columbus Correct
Rangers vs Philadelphia Correct

Detroit, as they proved last season, are a team that can surprise you. They work hard and can come up with wins when they need to. But eventually you get beaten down by sheer talent, and Boston has that, and experience. They should pull it off.

Tampa/Montreal should be close, but Montreal has not been known for doing well in recent playoff outings, and I don’t see any reason for that trend to not continue.

Barring another Fleury collapse, Pittsburgh has the talent to easily get past Columbus.

Rangers/Philly is another close series, but it’s hard to bet against Lundqvist, especially since he’ll be motivated by this maybe being his last chance at a championship.

Western Conference

Colorado vs Minnesota Incorrect
St. Louis vs Chicago Correct
Anaheim vs Dallas Incorrect
San Jose vs Los Angeles Correct

Colorado seems to have a good team, which should give them the edge in the first round, at least.

St. Louis backed into the playoffs and are struggling right now, while Chicago still has a great time and a lot of experience. The Blues will have to wake up in a hurry and even then would be in tough.

It’s a complete bias on my part, but Anaheim in the past has had a number of early exits and a few good runs. Dallas has some good experience and so might be able to give them a run for their money.

Same bias against San Jose: I know them more for choking than for succeeding. The Kings also have a lot of experience and will jump on any weakness San Jose demonstrates.

Overall record: 5-3

Take Two …

August 26, 2013

I watched and talked about the amateur Lydia Ko winning the Canadian Open last year.

Well, she came back this year and did it again. Going away. Again.

She seemed a bit more serious and to have a little less wonder this year, which is sad. But once she turns pro — and she will, eventually — she should be a force on the LPGA tour for years to come.

The most remarkable thing? Over the past two years, she’s had to forfeit almost a million dollars in prize money, because she’s an amateur. That’s a pretty large chunk of change to give up.

NHL Playoff Predictions: Summary

June 25, 2013

So, I guessed wrong in the finals, taking Boston over Chicago. I’m relatively happy either way; the only team in the final four that I had a problem with was Pittsburgh. So, my overall total this year was an amazingly good 11 -4. I’ll take that. Although, as pointed out before, this left me with a very interesting pattern: I got exactly one series prediction wrong in every round. So if you bet the farm on Chicago assuming the trend would continue, congratulations!

So, that’s it for hockey this year. See you next season!


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