Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Midweek Mailbag

Well Well well... it seems like the San Diego Chargers have picked up former LSU QB Jarrett Lee. I know a TON of haters who said that he was garbage as a qb, and yet the Chargers, who have a pretty darn good qb themselves, seem to think he was worth the effort and the money. How do you see him shaking out? - Cory L., Raceland, LA
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I wouldn't read too much into this signing. Lee was not drafted so the Chargers picked him up as an unrestricted free agent. Now it's not unheard of for undrafted quarterbacks to succeed in the NFL (Kurt Warner), but it's not typically a glowing endorsement to have the starting quarterback for Chattanooga picked over you. And while Lee would seem to be a fit for the third quarterback slot on San Diego, the past two seasons the Chargers have only carried two quarterbacks. And I'm not sure I see Lee beating out Rivers or backup Charlie Whitehurst to earn himself a roster spot. Stranger things have happened though and if Lee shines in the preseason there's always a chance he sticks or someone else sees him and takes a liking to his potential. Bottom line, I'd hold off on getting your personalized Jarrett Lee Chargers jersey for the time being.

Pep Pep Pep, all the news today is about Pep stepping down from Barcelona. The man has a standing offer from the Russian Billionaire who owns Chelsea to come in and take over whenever he wants. Just how good IS Pep Guardiola really? - Cory L., Raceland, LA

It's hard to say. How good is Phil Jackson? Joe Torre? Bill Belichick? It's certainly easier to win when you have the best players, but that doesn't mean it always happens that way. The numbers in this case don't lie though. Under the former Spanish national team player, Barcelona doubled its number of Champions League trophies with wins in 2009 and 2011, claimed three straight Spanish league titles, won two Club World Cups, two European Super Cups, three Spanish Super Cups and one Copa del Rey. His record is 176-21-46, with a 625-178 goal difference. And if that's not enough for you, this graphic really says it all:
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And while some might say anyone could succeed with Barcelona, there's no denying they were better with him than they were before he got there:

Okay, as i'm writing this the Red Devils of Man U are 3 points clear of their cross-town rivals Manchester City. The deciding game is gonna be played on Monday. City wins and they pull up level on points, but go ahead on goal difference. Man U wins, and it's pretty well all over. How do you see this one shaking out? - Cory L., Raceland, LA
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I'm going to say Manchester City in a 1-0 shocker and the goal's going to come from someone unexpected like Vincent Kompany. Something like that... Ok, clearly I need to work on the timeliness of my responses, but that said, Manchester City now controls its own destiny. If they win out, it'll take a miracle for United to overcome the +8 goal differential that separates the two clubs. It's not all smooth sailing for City though as they must get through Newcastle on the road first. City did beat Newcastle 3-1 when they met back in November, but Newcastle has a lot on the line so don't expect them to lay down. City then closes out their schedule hosting QPR, but they only beat Rangers 3-2 the last time they met. Meanwhile United has a bit of an easier slate hosting Swansea City and finishing up their season at Sunderland. United defeated both clubs by identical 1-0 scores the first time around, but they're going to need to be in full attack mode to give themselves a chance. It's hard to believe that United faded so quickly as they went from reeling off 8 straight victories to losing 1-0 to Wigan, drawing 4-4 at home against Everton and then suffering last weekend's 1-0 loss to City, all in a span of 4 matches over the past 3 weeks. For United to have a chance to get back in the race, they're going to need to need to play better on both sides of the ball, and get some help from Newcastle.

Are regular season stats pertinent to NBA Playoff basketball? One example of many: "Boston is 5-1 when Rondo and Allen are not in the lineup." Or what about how Chicago did during the regular season without Derrick Rose? - Garrett M., Boston, MA
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I think it depends on the statistic in question. How the Celtics did during the regular season with both Rondo and Allen out of the lineup in itself tells you very little other than that the Celtics CAN win games without them. But you don't know who they're playing, who they other team had in the lineup, etc. so there's really too many variables to draw a conclusion from that statement alone. The same can be said for the Bulls without Derrick Rose. Yes, we know they CAN win without him, but can they beat Philadelphia without him RIGHT NOW? That's not something that statistic is going to tell you. Now there are some stats that do translate. If players or teams are hot or cold heading into the postseason, that can mean something. If teams were terrific at home or awful on the road all year, that can tell you something. But ultimately, none of that stuff scores you any points in tonight's game. Plus, because teams approach playoff games differently than they might approach a regular season game, that can cause all your stats to be thrown out the window as well. So yeah, ultimately I wouldn't put too much stock in most of your regular season stats because any given team on any given night could throw all your projections right out the window.

So with Tottenham's win Sunday they move back into that hotly contested and highly coveted fourth place in the Premier League. With two weeks left in the season and with Chelsea playing Newcastle this week, how do you see this shaking out? - Cory L., Raceland, LA

We're under an hour from finding out. Today's Chelsea - Newcastle match at Stamford Bridge will go a long way in deciding the race for 4th as you can see in the graphic below.
Now Chelsea has the advantage because they're playing at home, but they're also poised for a letdown after a huge win over Barcelona last week in the Champions League Semifinals. Newcastle on the other hand just got buried 4-0 by Wigan Athletic, who despite their strong form in recent weeks aren't about to be confused with the Blues. So I think you give the edge to Chelsea, especially because they already beat Newcastle 3-0 earlier this season. Chelsea then goes to Liverpool before finishing the year at home against Blackburn Rovers. Conversely, Newcastle gets to host Manchester City and then travel to Everton where Tim Howard and company are unbeaten in their last 7. Which brings us to Spurs who go to Bolton and Aston Villa and then finish at home against Fulham. Which the schedule in their favor, unless they slip up I see Spurs wrapping up 4th place and heading to the Champions League.

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