Monday, August 31, 2009

For the Punters: Keep Hope Alive

By El Chupa

After a difficult weekend, El Chupa has the following observations for our brother and sister wagerers.

Remember that the reason it is so difficult to make any money is the odds. Picking a likely winner is fairly easy, but picking one where the payout is even remotely worth the risk is very hard. The house always wins. And it's certainly the case that the house sets the odds in its favor not only for individual games, but also in order to steer bettors to certain matches. Man U at home vs Portsmouth is a no-brainer, and the house stands to make very little or even lose money if it is heavily played. So, they set the odds such that even the most die hard Man U troglodyte will lay off and look elsewhere. Do that for enough matches and the number of matches worth betting on gets smaller and thus attract the most attention.

The Luchametric is about to undergo a major revision. We're still very confident in the metric as a measure of a team's production, but we've learned a lot over the last few weeks and it's time to introduce some long-considered changes. Look for the new metric in the next few days.

MLS Parity: The Crew lost to NY yesterday. WTF? SEA lost at home to TOR. WTF? DC beat CHI at CHI. WTF WTF?! It's enough to make one give up on the beautiful game altogether. But a quick crunch of the numbers revealed just how much parity there is in the MLS this season and last season as well. Look for El Chupa's analysis in the next few days. Bottom line? Any team in the MLS can beat any other on any given night. LA and NE are both surging, but we really don't think they are better than the other top teams. We think that there are several teams (HOU, CLB, LA, NE, DC, CHI, SEA, even TOR) all of which are pretty much even. It makes for very frustrating attempts at sound wagers. If the best team in the MLS can't go into NY and beat the worst team, I don't give a damn about home field advantage, then something's fucked up. Either football is not the beautiful game but is in fact a completely stupid game, or the MLS has achieved a sort of parity that keeps each franchise in the hunt for the post-season thus generating revenue for each team and the league, but a parity that levels the playing field to such a point it makes for boring, stupid soccer with teams struggling just to create chances, goals and wins. We want competitive football, not every single team to be average, which is what you get when there is nothing BUT parity in the league. Think about it--parity means everybody is "average" as no one is better or worse than anyone else. Sounds like communism to me.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

For the Punters: Upcoming EPL Matches

By El Chupa

A lot of great matches this weekend, not too many opportunities for high percentage wagers. But we can offer our loyal reader(s) three decent possibilities:

West Ham at Blackburn - Take West Ham at +200. This one puzzles us. West Ham lost to Tottenham but soundly beat Wolves. Blackburn has two losses including one to Sunderland. Most importantly, West Ham is near the top of the LM ratings and Blackburn at the bottom. We think the books have this one dead wrong and there is a great opportunity for the punter to make a high percentage killing. Of course, the West Ham thugs' performance outside Upton Park this week after the Millwall match hasn't helped the Hammers' image. El Chupa's EPL Pick of the Week. UPDATE: Our resident EPL expert, Dr. Bumba, says Blackburn's coach is top notch and that his players will walk through fire for him. He claims a draw is more likely. We shall see.

Hull City at Wolves - This one could go either way but we like Wolves at home here given their win at Wigan, their ranking over Hull in the LM, home field advantage, and the Even odds. UPDATE: Dr. Bumba claims Wolves is still an unknown quantity and even at home he likes Hull City. Again, we shall see.

Arsenal at Man U - This one could go either way as well, and the odds are good no matter who you take. CAVEAT EMPTOR - Fabregas is iffy, but the Red Arses look deep and strong this year. If you are looking for a gamble that is a sound bet which could certainly pay off (but could also not pay off) take Arsenal and the win at +200 and enjoy the match on FSC. Kramer says : "That's some sweet action!" UPDATE: Dr. Bumba and El Lucha finally agree on something: Aresenal to win.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

For the Punters: Upcoming MLS Games

By El Chupacabra

El Chupa has seen the lines and has discovered some possibilities for punters to make astute wagers this week on MLS matches. Here's our advice, with more to follow.

TOR at SEA - Take SEA and the negative and earn a modest percentage on a high percentage win for SEA at home. SEA is in a bit of a nose dive but so is TOR and we think SEA is the far better club. The Luchametric tells us so.

RSL at KC - REVISED: It is tempting to take RSL at +200 but they absolutely stink on the road. KC's recent form, contrary to what we thought, has been dismal. And they are fully capable of losing at home. RSL just crushed CVS but their recent form is uneven. This one is probably too close to call. Although if you like to gamble rather than wager. RSL to win is some sweet action; they need another win toot sweet to keep their playoff hopes alive.

CVS "at" LA - LA to win is even money in the line and CVS just played a tough game on the road against RSL where they were absolutely crushed. Even money on LA to win even though it's hard to say if either team has home field advantage in this game is decent action. CVS has not beaten LA this season while LA has one win in their two meetings.

Crew at NY - The early line has our boys at a modest -105. Give me a break. The best team in the MLS hands down and one whose recent form is truly excellent against the worst team in the MLS whose recent form is awful but for one win that was a near draw at that. This might be surest thing of the week, but the negative odds precludes us from making it our pick of the week. Of course, we thought Man U vs Burnley last week was a no-brainer as well. Caveat Emptor. And Let's Go Crew!

The rest of the games are too close for comfort in our view and could easily go either way or end in draws. Betting on a draw is like kissing your sister, only paying her for it in the bargain. That's called incest. Can you spell incest boys and girls? Let's hope not.

EPL Luchametric Update: My Arse

By El Chupa
We've updated the EPL rankings through Liverpool's dismal performance at home against Aston Villa yesterday. Since we've now made it clear that our loathing for Liverpool FC and it's knuckle-dragging fans is close behind that of only Toronto and the Italian and Mexican Men's National Teams, we take heart in knowing that the soccer gods are on our side. Is it only coincidence that Liverpool lost their first match since destroying our beloved World Soccer Daily broadcast? Of course not. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster and our brother and sister pirates in the World Football Nation for that one. Villa owes us big time.

Oh, Aresenal is still on top. Duh. And for all the doomsayers in the British press who are already counting Liverpool out, give me a break. It's August for Christ's sake you limey monkeys. Go to the dentist already.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Luchametric Update: Crew Rule

By El Chupa

After this weekend's games it's become clear who the best and most consistent team in the MLS is at this juncture: our own Black and Gold. As I brush a tear from my eye and gaze in wild wonder at the joy I have found I have only this to say: We're rich Beotch! But seriously, we also now have one to two games in hand compared to our closest rivals. Nice.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Liverpool Scum Succeed

El Luchador has always tried to remain neutral in maters of English football. But, now come the Liverpool horde to dismantle the best soccer radio show in North America, and we must now take sides.

Steven Cohen is not the most thoughtful or compassionate or self-aware football warrior in our ranks. But he is among the brightest, most knowledgeable and articulate English commentators on the game in this hemisphere. And his partner, Kenny Hassan, is the most sober and substantive Scotsman in the world football commentating community next to Bobby McMahon.

Their show, World Soccer Daily, for 7 years has been the epicenter of American soccer culture. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. soccer fans listen in through pod casts and satellite radio every day.

About 5 months ago, Steven made some off-colour and ill-advised statements about the 96 Liverpool fans who perished under the feet of their own brethren on Sept. 15, 1989, in what has come to be known as the Hillsboro Disaster.

Most fans of the world’s game know that there is a segment of the Liverpool fandom who are drunken, knuckle-dragging, violent, ignorant, specimens who swim in the shallow end of the homo sapien gene pool.

Ever since Steven’s comments this spring, these Liverpool fans have put on a campaign to destroy the show. They started by getting advertisers to pull out. This went on for several months, and took a financial toll on the show. The Liverpool troglodytes ultimately succeeded by resorting to physical, personal threats to Hassan and Cohen and their families. And they announced today that this was their last show.

“I believe that if this goes on, people are going to get hurt, people are going to get killed, and it’s just not worth it, it’s simply not worth it,” Cohen said.

“It’s just a stupid crusade,” said Hassan. “Tell people don’t listen to the show, but to harass us off the air, families and the threats and stuff, it just went too far.”

So, here comes the irony. There are decent Liverpool fans, but they have been made irrelevant by fuck heads who have now destroyed the best English-language football show this side of the Atlantic.

If you are a living, breathing, thinking, aware, human soccer fan in the United States, then there is only one conclusion. Down with Liverpool. Down with the Kop. Remember the 96, but never support the Reds. ‘Till I Die. Till We Die.

EPL Luchametric Ratings Updated

By El Chupacabra

The EPL Luchametric Ratings have been updated in time for this weekend's game. Remember, they are based on scant data and it is very early in the marathon EPL season. El Chupa can tell you this, however: of the big four, Chelsea is playing extremely well, mind-blowingly so. They are swarming all over their opponents on the pitch and in the stats, out shooting them and gaining corners and other chances at a shocking rate. Of the top teams from last season, they are the only one who look like they haven't missed a beat. Remember, this is a team who were bounced out of the UEFA Champions League by Barca by a mere whisker, and most Chelsea fans think game two was stolen from them. El Chupa thinks Barca was and is the better team, but we feel Chelsea's pain.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

LA Woman: Mojo Rising--Crew Finally Near the Top

Love Donovan (the player, not the singer, although Hurdy Gurdy man is da bomb and my band used to do a mind-blowing version of Season of the Witch), hate Beckham. But LA is clearly a different team than they were earlier in the season. El Luchador knew this; El Chupacabra did not. El Chupacabra lost what he thought was a very sensible wager yesterday--El Chupacabra is clearly a moron. But, hey, freaking Burnley beat Man U yesterday as well. So, all punters need to remember that the games are played on the pitch and not on paper.

The Crew is not a whisker behind Chicago in the power rankings. LA, however, is quickly rising through the rankings and the standings. The rest of the MLS needs to look out. With Houston, Seattle and Chicago showing clear signs of mortality, the September 26th tango with LA could prove to be a huge match for the Crew and a preview of the playoffs. CLB 'till I die O my brothers and sisters.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Introducing El Luchador's EPL Power Rankings

The 2009-2010 EPL season is underway and we are pleased to offer our loyal readers the official Luchametric Power Rankings for that storied league. The metric is very similar to the MLS metric with slight differences in certain areas due to the availability of certain data which are not available for MLS games and vice versa (we've been able to add corners against, for example, but have lost assists for the time being) . The numbers will fluctuate wildly the first few weeks of the season, but we had the data and spreadsheets ready so we decided to go ahead and post them. In addition, we discovered this weekend that using last year's data to rank the teams was virtually useless, as it's clear some teams are much better (Spurs) and some much worse (Aston Villa) than last year.

Not surprisingly, Arsenal's six away goals in their away win put them at the top of the heap. It is, of course, extremely early.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

And Where You Go We'll Follow ...

The MLS home unbeaten streak continued Saturday with Columbus' impressive 2-0 victory over Red State swine Dallas.

Here the Queen of Nordecke leads the celebration. Columbus 'till I die O my brothers and sisters. 'till I freaking die.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Crew Still Rising

This week, the Crew move in to second place in the Power Rankings. There now is significant daylight between the Black and Gold and the rest of the league, and the difference between the Crew and Chicago is negligible. The team has played extremely well since the All-star break and we think it is no fluke. They looked exceptionally organized and patient against San Jose on Saturday. With tough games coming up in the next few weeks, we'll really see if this club has what it takes to repeat as MLS champions. CLB 'till I die. . .

Oh, before I forget, we've noticed that the MLS is updating the stats from week to week, taking SHTs and SOGs away from some teams, and adding them in some cases. So there will be minor fluctuations in the metric as a result.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Introducing El Luchador's Player Rankings: Schelotto and Cunningham on Top

As the table above reveals, the most productive player in the MLS this season, at least in terms of sheer offensive production per game (Min Played/90), is Jeff Cunningham of FC Dallas. Our own Willie Schelotto is fifth per game but tops in terms of OVERALL production for the entire season. Take away Cunningham's four goals last weekend and he drops out of number one but stays in the top 10. Obviously, that game could be a fluke, but we have to stay true to the numbers our little black boxes give us.

Speaking of which, the Luchametric Player rankings are based on a weighted metric that takes several variables into account. After a complete review of the 2008 season and the 2009 season through the All-star break, it’s become apparent that on average the league’s leading offensive players score about .14 goals for every shot taken, and about .34 goals for every Shot on Goal. These numbers were arrived at by looking at players who scored at least one goal during the 2008 season and who played a minimum of 1300 minutes or were below the 1300 minute minimum but scored at least five goals (one goal above the league average for scorers for that year). We then included the top 30 goal scorers from 2009. These averages mean that among goal scorers, or among players most likely to participate in a scoring opportunity regularly (players whose job it is to contribute offensively), such players score 14% of the time when they shoot, or 34% of the time when they manage to put a shot on goal. Players (and by extension, teams) who generate more scoring opportunities and convert them at a better rate are better on the offensive side of the ball than others (duh).

Accordingly, it’s possible to start measuring something we’ll call Offensive Production, or each player’s offensive contribution to his team, as follows:

Offensive Production = Goals + Assists + (.34xSOG) + (.14SHT)

This formula gives us a raw number to use for comparison, taking into account not only successful scoring chances (Gs and As) but also every opportunity each player participated in. Note that assists are in fact goals (or they wouldn’t count as assists), and that we’re factoring in SHTs and SOGs as well because we want to get a sense not only of the sheer number of goals contributed by a player (G ), but also how many goal scoring opportunities a player has created or participated in via either an assist (A) or a shot, especially a SOG. But clearly, neither a SHT nor a SOG is worth as much as a goal or an assist, so we count them but weight them differently. Remember, we want a measure of how productive a player is, not simply how successful he is. Goals are the result, but we know that great players create opportunities for themselves and others that don’t show up as Gs in the box score.

Further, we know that scorers will get more opportunities to score and thus more SHTs and SOGs by virtue of being the principal targets for their respective teams’ midfielders and defenders. So, we also want to factor in how much more efficient they are than other scorers. We can do this by determining how good they are at turning SHTs and SOGs (which are a measure of not only their own prowess but also of their team’s ability to get them the ball) into Gs. We can do this by adding in the actual percentage of SHTs and SOGs that a player in fact turned into a goal multiplied by the average number of SHTs and SOGs a scorer in the league typically takes. Now our formula gets a little more complicated:

Offensive Production = [(Goals + Assists + (.34SOG) + (.14SHT)+ (Player G/SHT% * league AVG SHTs)+(Player G/SOG%*League Avg SOGs)

Now we have a formula that credits how many Gs the player scored; how many As they achieved; how many SHTs they participated in; how many SOGs they participated in; AND how good or EFFICIENT they were at converting SHTs and SOGs to Gs. These additional variables are important because the difference between an average striker in any league and a truly great striker (Etoo comes to mind) is that the latter are DEADLY. Give them an opportunity to score, and they will convert a far greater percentage of those opportunities than will anyone else. But we're not done.

Finally, we have noticed that the league's top producers also have a much higher percentage of SOGs relative to SHTs. How many times have you watched a player get a perfectly played ball and then blast it over the top of the goal or far wide or just plain muff it? Well, the numbers tell us that great players don't do that nearly as much. Among the leagues LEADING scorers (not just everyone), the average % of SHTs turned into SOGs is 44% (for all players who take SHTS it is much less). So, we add one more variable:

(Player's SOG% *(league avg number of SOGs))*.34

Remember that the league average for SOGs becoming Gs is .34, so we're simply giving a player credit for efficiency relative to the league average. This tells us how many MORE goals than average a player scores due to the fact that he is a more efficient converter of SHTs to SOGs. The final metric looks like this:

Offensive Production = [(Goals + Assists + (.34SOG) + (.14SHT)+ (Player G/SHT% * league Avg SHTs)+(Player G/SOG%*League Avg SOGs)+(Player's SOG% *league avg number of SOGs)*.34))

This gives us a raw number telling us how productive a player has been overall. We then divide that number by games played (number of minutes played/90) and we get the Luchametric Player Pro/GM rating.

In the above table, Cunningham is the highest ranked player PER GAME. But in terms of sheer production, it's our very own Willie Schelotto. Well done my son. The force is strong with you.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bad-Ass Crew Rising

Thanks to their significant win at Colorado on Saturday, the Crew now have a Luchametric rating above the league average and are in second place in the League table, two points behind Houston. Seattle has dropped precipitously due to their horrible showing at San Jose. We like this Crew team. The win away at COL tells us that they are one of the stronger teams in the league and are finally getting the consistent results we've expected all year. The boys face some tough games in the final 10 games of the season, including matches against Seattle, Houston, Chicago, LA and D.C. They need to score PTS away against SJO and NY and play tough at home if they are to emerge at the top of the table and in the play-offs by year's end. Columbus 'till I die.