Category Archives: SPORTS 101

NFL Positions 101

In the NFL teams must contain a 53 man roster at the start of the regular season. Each player in the NFL plays a particular position on offense or defense and has a certain job to do. There are only 11 men from each team allowed on the field, so there are 11 positions in offense and 11 positions in defense, and a few others for special teams. As I go on to describe each position be sure to refer back to the picture above and pictures below to get a better visual of where the position might be, but keep in mind that coaches design different plays that may place a certain player in a different location. Coaches can also run plays that have more of a certain position and less of another, so you may see more tight ends, more linebackers, or even more linemen to take the place of another position the coach will take out for a particular play.

Offense Positions:

Center (C) – The center is in charge of starting the play by snapping the ball to the quarterback. The center is also responsible for blocking defensive players on the other team to keep them from getting to the offensive player with the ball. The center is the player that is in the middle of the Offensive Linemen on the line of scrimmage.

Offensive Linemen – there are 4 different types:

  • Left Guard (LG/G) – The guard must block the defensive players from getting to the quarterback or any teammate that has the ball. If the guard needs to he can “pull”. This is when the guard moves from his position beside the center to be near the ball carrier and block for him. A guard will only “pull” on certain plays like “traps” – when the ball carrier will run inside, “sweeps” – when the call carrier runs outside, or “screens” – a passing play. The left guard is lined up on the left side of the center on the line of scrimmage.
  • Right Guard (RG/G) – has the same responsibilities as the left guard but is lined up on the right side of the center.
  • Left Tackle (LT/T) – The tackle must block for both running and passing plays. The tackles must work hard to block the defensive players from getting to the quarterback. If the quarterback is right-handed it is the Left Tackle’s job to protect the quarterback from being hit from behind, also known as the quarterback’s “blind side”. This tackle that has to protect the quarterback’s “blind side” is usually they more skilled offensive lineman. Tackles can also “pull” during a running play if there is a tight end on his side. Left tackles line up on the left side of the left guard.
  • Right Tackle (RT/T) – A right tackle has the same responsibilities as a left tackle. But if the quarterback is left-handed it is the right tackle’s job to protect the “blind side”. A right tackle is lined up just on the right side of the right guard.

Quarterback (QB) – The quarterback has the most important offensive job. He must receive the ball from the coaches and talk to them about what play to run. Then the quarterback informs his teammates that are on the field in a huddle. Then the quarterback breaks the huddle and the team takes their positions. The quarterback can stand in two different positions: 1.) “Under Center” – the quarterback is directly behind the center so that he can receive the ball in a hand-to-hand pass or 2.) “In the Shotgun” – the quarterback is lined up at a distance behind the center for a small pass. After the quarterback has the ball he has 3 options: run the ball himself, hand it off to another ball carrier, or throw a pass to a player down field. The quarterback must think and act quickly before the defensive players on the other team get to him.

Wide Receiver (WR) – Those that run distances and get open to catch a pass from the quarterback. Wide receivers are considered specialists in pass-catching, but are occasionally asked to block sometimes too. Wide receivers stand on the far outside of the linemen near the sidelines to start the play.

Tight End (TE) – A tight end is a mix between a wide receiver and a lineman because they can block or catch passes. Tight ends start on either side of and directly next to the tackles on the line of scrimmage.

Running Back – players that line up behind the offensive line to receive the ball from the quarterback for a rushing play.  There can be from 0 to 3 running backs used for a play. If there are no running backs used the play is said to have an “empty backfield”. There are 4 different types of running backs depending on where they line up:

  • Tailback/halfback (TB/HB) – the player that is the primary ball carrier for rushing plays. They can also catch passes if necessary. Tailbacks line up behind the fullback.
  • Fullback (FB) – the player that is the primary blocker for the ball carrier. This player is usually larger and stronger than the tailback.  Fullbacks line up closer to the line of scrimmage than a tailback would so they can block. Fullbacks can also catch passes if needed.
  • Wingback/Slotback (WB/SB) – a running back that starts behind the line of scrimmage on the outside of the tackle or tight end. These players are only found during certain offensive alignments.
  • H-back – a modified tight end that lines up just behind the line of scrimmage.

Defense Positions:

Defensive Linemen – 4 to 5 types:

  • Defensive Left Tackle (LT/T) – can also be known as defensive guards. They are required to rush the passer, or in other words they must try to get to the quarterback and tackle him before he passes the ball. Defensive left tackles are lined up on the defensive line of scrimmage more to the left end side across from the offensive right guard.
  • Defensive Right Tackle (RT/T) – has the same responsibilities as the defensive left tackle but is lined up to the right end of the line of scrimmage across from the offensive left guard.
  • Defensive Nose Guard – A nose guard has the same responsibilities as a defensive tackle but is only used in rare formations. The nose guard lines up directly across from the center so that they are pretty much nose-to-nose.
  • Defensive Left End (LE/E) – The defensive left end must try to stop the quarterback from passing the ball or stop any offensive runners that were given the ball. The faster of the two defensive ends is usually placed on the side of the quarterback’s blind side. If the quarterback is left-handed their blind side would be their right side so the faster defensive end would stand on the left side (opposite of the quarterback’s right side). The defensive left end starts to the left of the defensive left tackle.
  • Defensive Right End (RE/E) – The defensive right end has the same responsibilities as the defensive left end, but starts on the right side of the defensive right tackle.

Linebackers – stand behind the defensive linemen and obtain different responsibilities depending on where they are standing.

  • Middle Linebacker (ML) – The middle linebacker calls out the plays and is required to react to any changes of the offense. The middle linebacker must also be able to stop any running backs that get past the defensive line, stop any pass plays through the middle, or rush the quarterback if given the opportunity. The middle linebacker stands in the middle of the defensive linemen and is like the quarterback of the defense.
  • Outside Linebacker (OL) – They are mostly responsible for covering the offensive tackles. Some teams refer to their outside linebackers as other names like “right outside” and “left outside”, or “strongside”/”Sam” and “weakside”/”Will”. They may also be asked to rush the quarterback, or cover a running back to keep them from catching a pass. Outside linebackers stand on the outside of the defensive linemen.

Defensive backs – Defensive backs are responsible for covering wide receivers and tight ends to keep them from getting the ball during a pass play, stop any ball carriers that get past the defensive linemen, and can attempt to catch any passed balls for an interception. Defensive backs stand behind the defensive linemen or outside near the sidelines. Defensive backs are also known as the “secondary” and are the last line of defense. There are 3 different types of defensive backs:

  • Cornerbacks (CB) – Cornerbacks must cover the wide receivers and keep them from catching the pass from the quarterback. The cornerbacks can swat the ball away or catch it themselves. During a rushing play the cornerbacks must tackle the ball carrier, direct him back to the middle to be tackled, or force him out-of-bounds. Cornerbacks mostly start behind the defensive line on the outside near the sidelines.
  • Safety (S) – Safeties help cover offensive players to keep them from getting the ball. There are usually 2 safeties on the field, one being the strong safety and the other being the free safety. The strong safety is stronger and larger to help stop/tackle the offensive players during running plays. The free safety is smaller and faster to help cover the offensive players that run a distance to catch a long pass. Safeties are the defensive players that stand farthest back from the line of scrimmage.
  • Nickelback and Dimeback (NB/DB) – an extra defensive back that will take the place of a linebacker. When a team feels they need extra help in pass coverage they will take out a linebacker and put in an extra defensive back, this formation is called a “nickel” because of the fifth defensive back. If there is six defensive backs the formation is called a “dime package”.

Special Teams:

Sometimes there are special plays coaches like to run or need to run. For these special plays there may be a special team or position that is needed. Some special positions include:

Kicker (K) – comes in only to kick the ball for kickoffs and/or field goals. The kicker will always kick the ball off a tee or from a “holder”. In rare occasions a team’s kicker will also punt.

Holder (H) – holds the ball in an upright position on the ground for the kicker to kick. The holder will normally be 7 to 8 yards back from the line of scrimmage. The holder is usually the team’s backup quarterback or punter.

Long Snapper (LS) – a specialized center that snaps the ball at a much further distance to the holder or punter during kicking plays.

Punter (P) – a player that catches the ball from the long snapper and drops it from their own hands to kick it a distance down the field. A punter is normally only used during a fourth down to push the opposing teams defense further down the field and away from the offensive team’s in-zone (touchdown area).

Punt Returner and Kick Returner (PR/KR) – defensive players that are put in to catch the kicked ball of a punter or kicker. After they catch the ball they will run it back up the field as far as they can. These returners are usually the fastest players on the teams.

Upback – used during punting plays and will be positioned 1 to 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage somewhere between the long snapper and the punter, but not directly in-between the two. The upback calls for the snap to begin the play. The upback is mostly used as a last line defensive blocker for the punter, but can also catch the snapped ball on fake punts and run it himself or throw it.

Gunner – is used on the punting or kicking plays to quickly run down the field to tackle the punt returner or kick returner on the opposing team. The Gunner starts by lining up near the sidelines were he is less likely to be blocked.

Now you know the positions in the NFL and their responsibilities. I hope this helps you understand the game more.

Resources:

http://www.fuzilogik.com/Sports-Library/Football-NFL/Player-Positions-In-Football.html

http://football.about.com/cs/football101/a/positionoff.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_football_positions

http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/player-positions-in-american-football.html

http://football.about.com/cs/football101/a/bl_101downs.htm

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MLB Postseason 101

MLB postseason starts when the regular season games (162 games) are over, usually in the first week of October. October baseball, also known as the “Fall Classic”, is some of the best baseball there is. But how do you know which teams get to play in the postseason? And what is a wild card?

To fully understand which teams get to play in the postseason, you need to understand the MLB Standings. Read MLB Standings 101.

Postseason teams:

When the regular season games are over, each teams’ win-loss record will show who gets to play in the postseason. Looking at the MLB Standings, the team with the best record in each division is guaranteed a spot in the postseason. This is a total of 6 teams, 3 in each league. There are also two wild card teams chosen from each league. After the 3 guaranteed teams are taken out of the league, the next two teams with the best record in each league will be the wild card teams in the postseason.

For example this is the MLB division standings after the 2012 season:

According to the 2012 standings, the guaranteed postseason teams are the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics (As) in the American League; and the Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds, and San Francisco Giants in the National League. The wild card teams in the American League are the Baltimore Orioles and the Texas Rangers having a record of 93-69. In the National League the wild card teams will be the Atlanta Braves with the record of 94-68, and the St. Louis Cardinals with a 88-74 record.

Tiebreakers:

If there are any tied records the teams will play a tiebreaker game to claim a spot in the postseason. If both teams will contain a postseason spot regardless and a tiebreaker game is not necessary, then a list of tiebreakers will be taken into account to determine which team contains the higher spot. The tiebreakers are:

  1. Head-to-head winning percentage during the regular season / series winner – This is the team that won the most regular season games when the two teams played each other.
  2. Higher winning percentage in intradivision games – The team with the best winning percentage in their own division. In other words the team that won the most regular season games played against other teams in their own division.
  3. Higher winning percentage in the last half of intraleague games – The team with the best winning percentage in their league during the last half of the season. In other words the team that won the most regular season games played in the last half of the season against teams in the same league.
  4. Higher winning percentage in the last half plus one intraleague game, provided that such additional game was not between the two tied clubs. Continue to go back one intraleague game at a time until the tie has been broken. – The team with the highest percentage of wins in the last half of the regular season, including the last game of the first half of the season played against a team in the same league. These games do not include any games the two tied teams played against each other in the regular season. If the teams are still tied 1 intraleague game will be added to the percentage until the tie is broken. (Tiebreakers were taken from MLB.com with my explanations)

Home-Field Advantage:

The home-field advantage is given to the team with the higher record. This means the team with the higher record will get more games played on their home field than the team with the smaller record. If the two teams are tied then the list of tiebreakers will be used to determine which team will get home field advantage. But as the series progress the home-field advantage rules change. I will explain as I explain each series in the Postseason Series section.

Postseason Matchups:

First, each league will play the teams in their own league until only one team in left. Then that team will play the team of the other league in the final series of the postseason. For each league, the team with the best record will take the 1st seed, the second best record is the 2nd seed and the 3rd best record will have the 3rd seed. To start the postseason the two wild cards in each league will play one another. The winner of that game will move on to the first full round of the MLB playoffs. The wild card team will play the 1st seed, and the 2nd seed will play the 3rd.

To further understand the matchups here is a look at the 2012 bracket before the postseason started:

Postseason Series:

There are 4 series/rounds in the MLB postseason:

  1. Wild Card – The two wild card teams in each division will play each other in 1 game, a winner-take-all game. This game will take place on the home field of the team with the higher record. The winner of that game will move on to the division series.
  2. Division Series: American League Division Series (ALDS) and National League Division Series (NLDS) – The 1st seed team will play the wild card team, and the 2nd seed will play the 3rd seed in a best-of-five series. The first team to win 3 games will advance to the league conference series. The home-field advantage is given to the team with the higher record. There are two different formats to play this series, 2-2-1 or 2-3. Usually it is the 2-2-1 format where the team with home-field advantage will host games 1, 2 and 5; and the other team will host games 3 and 4. This year, 2012, the format was changed to 2-3. The 2-3 format is when the team with home-field advantage will host games 3, 4, and 5; and the opposing team will host games 1 and 2.
  3. Conference Series: American League Conference Series (ALCS) and National League Conference Series (NLCS) – The two teams in each league will play each other in a best-of-seven series. This means the first team to win 4 games will progress to the World Series. In this series the home-field advantage is given to the team with the higher record unless a wild card team has advanced and is playing a division winning team with a lower record, in which the home-field advantage is given to the division winning team. This series is played in a 2-3-2 format. The team with home-field advantage will host games 1, 2, 6, and 7; while the opposing team hosts games 3, 4, and 5.
  4. World Series Championship – the conference series winners, or league winners, will play each other in a best-of-seven series played in the same 2-3-2 format. The first team to win 4 games will be the season champions. In this series the home-field advantage is given to the league that won the All-Star game played earlier that year. The team with home-field advantage will host games 1, 2, 6, and 7; while the opposing team hosts games 3, 4, and 5.

The winner of the World Series is the Championship team for that season. The winners are presented with the Commissioner’s Trophy after the last game is played.

Resources:

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/standings/postseasonpicture.jsp

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/standings/

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120907&content_id=38029316&vkey=news_mlb_nd&c_id=mlb

http://baseball.about.com/od/seasonstructur1/tp/playoffsformat.htm

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120907&content_id=38029316&vkey=news_mlb_nd&c_id=mlb

http://baltimore.orioles.mlb.com/schedule/index.jsp?c_id=bal#y=2012&m=10&calendar=DEFAULT

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NFL 101, Understanding the Game

Today I will take you from start to finish of an NFL game explaining it as best I can.

Coin Toss:

About 3 minutes before the start of the game, the captains from each team will meet an official in the middle of the field for the coin toss. The visiting teams’ captain will call the coin (heads or tails) before it is tossed. The winner of the coin toss with get to decide if their team will receive the ball or kick it first, and which goal his team will defend.

The team that starts the game kicking off will start as the defending team. The team that starts the game receiving will start as the offensive team.

Start – Kickoff:

An NFL game always starts with a kickoff. The football is placed on a kicking tee at the defensive team’s 30-yard line. The defensive team’s kicker will kick the ball down the field. When the ball is kicked the defensive players will start to run down the field to tackle the offensive player with the ball. The offensive team’s kick returner will catch the ball and run up the field as far as possible, while his teammates try to hold off the defensive players and make a clear path.

When the kick returner is tackled, where ever the ball lands will be the yardage it will start from for the next play. If the kick returner catches the ball in their end zone he can 1.) run it out of the end zone and as far up the field as he can, or 2.) take a knee to stop the play, which means the ball will then be placed at the offensive 20-yard line for the start of the next play.

Offense:

A team is considered offense when they are in possession of the ball. The offensive team has the job of keeping control of the ball and trying to get past the defensive players on the opposing team to complete a First Down or get a touchdown. Wherever the ball lands the play before is where the next play will begin.

Defense:

A team is considered defense when they do not have possession of the ball. The defensive team must hold back the offensive team and try to keep them from getting a 1st down or touchdown. The Defense must protect their team’s end zone and keep the other team’s offense away from it, so they do not score a touchdown.

Switching Rolls:

The offense and defense switch from team to team all throughout the game. There are many different ways teams can switch roles:

  • No first down – The main way is to keep the other team’s offense from completing a first down. If a team’s defense stops the other team’s offense from getting a first down in 4 plays then the defense will become offense.
  • Points scored – If a team’s offense scores points from a field goal or touchdowns they will then become defense.
  • Turnovers – When a team’s offense accidentally turns over the ball to the other teams defense from either an interception or fumble.
    • Fumble – If the offensive player that has the ball drops it, all players on the field work hard to be the one to recover it. If a defensive player recovers it, the defense will become offense.
    • Interception – When an offensive player throws a pass to a teammate but a defensive player catches the ball.

First Down:

All movements or progress on the football field during a game is measured out by yards. Wherever the ball lands after the starting kick off, 10 yards is measured out from that location. You will find two orange and black markers on the side of the field held by two officials and mark each first down. The offense gets 4 downs/plays/chances to get past those 10 yards with each new down starting wherever the ball lands from the play before. Between the two first down markers on the side of the field you will see another marker with a number on it that indicates the down that is being played.

  • They did it. If the offensive reaches the 10 yard mark, they complete that “1st down” and it starts again with 10 yards being measured from where the ball landed.
  • Couldn’t do it. If the offensive team does not get close enough to the first down mark by the 3rd play, they have the option to either punt it or run it during the 4th play. If they punt (kick) the ball it will travel further down the field pushing the defensive team further away from the offensive team’s end zone. If the offensive team runs it in hopes they cross that line, they only have that one play to do it, or the defensive team will get the ball where it lands for the next play and become the offense.

Points:

The object of the game is to score as many points as possible. There are different ways to get points in football:

  • Touchdown = 6 points. A Touchdown is the best way to score the most points. This is when a player carries the ball crosses the goal line of the other team’s end zone. When a touchdown is scored by a team they are also given the chance for extra points by 1.) kicking a field goal for 1 extra point , or 2.) run the ball into the other team’s end zone for 2 extra points (much harder to do).
  • Field Goal = 3 points. A field goal is when the offensive team kicks the ball through the defensive team’s goal post. The ball must make it over the crossbar of the goal post, and in between the upright posts. A field goal is usually kicked when the offensive team is unable to complete a first down by the 3rd down, but feels they are close enough to make a field goal (usually about the defense’s 45-yard line or closer).
  • Safety = 2 points. A safety is when a defensive player tackles the ball carrier of the offense in the offense’s end zone. The two points are then given to the on defense.

Time:

Each NFL game is divided into 4 quarters that are 15 minutes each. In between the 1st and the 2nd quarter there is a 2 minute beak as well as between the 3rd and 4th quarter. There is a 12 minute break between the 2nd and 3rd quarter that is called the “halftime”. The 2nd and 4th quarter begin where the game left off the last play of the quarter before, while the 1st and 3rd quarter start with a kickoff.

During a game the clock is stopped for each time a player goes out-of-bounds with the ball, when an incomplete pass occurs, when an official calls a penalty, and when a play ends. At the end of each play the offense has 40 seconds to strategies, call a new play, and snap the ball to begin the play. If the offense goes over this time an official will call a penalty known as a “delay of game”.

When the game is over the team with the most points wins. If there is a tie the game goes into overtime which is 15 minutes. Overtime begins with a coin toss to decide which starts with possession of the ball. The first team to score wins the game.

Resources:

http://www.nfl.com/rulebook/cointoss

http://www.nfl.com/rulebook/beginnersguidetofootball

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USA Olympic Basketball 101

The Olympics happen every four years and is a great opportunity for athletes all over the world to come and compete against the best. In the Olympic’s Basketball competition many different countries put together a team of their best players to compete.

In 1974, the USA Basketball organization was created, but at that time, it was known as the Amateur Basketball Association of the United States of America (ABAUSA). The professional basketball players were not allowed to play in international competitions as ruled by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). But Boris Stankovic did not feel that the rule was fair, so he did what he could to convince the FIBA to change it. Stankovic based his argument on two reasons, he said, “Our competition was closed to the NBA players, but no one else. That seems immoral. The second is very simple. Our feeling is that only by playing the best players in the world can everyone else make progress. If you are from another country and you can run a race against Carl Lewis, maybe you don’t have a chance. But you still want to run.” On October 12, 1989 the rules were changed and the ABAUSA became known as USA Basketball. In the next Olympics, in 1992, the USA team was created with the top NBA players and one college student. The team became known as the “Dream Team” and changed basketball forever. Since 1992, basketball became more popular all over the world.

USA Basketball is an organization made up of other organizations that are divided into 5 categories. These categories include:

    1. Professional
      • National Basketball Association (NBA) – as of 1989
      • National Basketball Association Development League
      • Women’s National Basketball Association
    2. Collegiate:
      • National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
      • National Collegiate Athletic Association
      • National Junior College Athletic Association
    3. Scholastic
      • National Federation of State High School Associations
    4. Youth
      • Amateur Athletic Union
    5. Associate
      • Athletes In Action
      • Basketball Travelers
      • College Commissioners Association
      • Gazelle Group
      • Harlem Globetrotters
      • International Sports Exchange
      • Latin-American Basketball League of Los Angeles
      • National Amateur Basketball Association
      • National Association of Basketball Coaches
      • National Basketball Players Association
      • National Junior College Basketball Coach Association
      • National Junior College Women’s Coach Association
      • National Wheelchair Basketball Association
      • USA  Deaf Sports Federation
      • United States Armed Forces
      • Women’s Basketball Coaches Association

In USA Basketball there is a Board of Directors that is made up of 11 members. The Board of Directors are responsible for the selection, training, and fielding of USA teams that will be competing in international basketball competitions sponsored by the FIBA, and national competitions. These competitions include the Olympics, FIBA World Championships, FIBA American Championships, Pan American Games, World University Games, U19 and U17 World Championships, and the Nike Hoop Summit.

There is a lot that goes into the process of Olympic Basketball. Only 12 teams earn an Olympic berth, meaning earn a place in the Olympic games and getting the chance to compete. Two spots are saved and automatically given out to the country that is hosting the Olympics (who usually gets the first berth), and the other is given to the reigning FIBA World Champion. Then seven berths are given to the champions of each FIBA tournament in the five geographic divisions. These include

  • Two from Europe
  • Two from North and South America
  • One from Africa
  • One from Asia
  • One from “Oceania” – essentially, Australia and New Zealand

The other 3 spots are given to the top 3 countries from the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. The process of qualifying for a berth to the Olympics takes place during the years between each Olympics.

After the 12 countries are decided, in the summer of the Olympic year, the players are chosen by the Board of Directors and the training begins. Some may think that picking the players for the USA Olympic team would be easy, just pick the top players in the NBA. Well it is not exactly that simple. Some of the NBA players are from other countries and during the summers, when the season is over, they will return home to play for their home country. For example, just to name a few, Dirk Nowitzki returns to Germany and will play for Germany’s basketball team,  Tony Parker returns to France, and Manu Ginobili returns to Argentina. When the teams are picked they are then divided into two pools, Group A and Group B, and will compete against each other in a few practice games. When the Olympic games begin each team will play the other 5 teams in the same pool during the first round, called the preliminary round. In the Olympics each team is rewarded 2 points for a win and 1 point for a loss. At the end of the preliminary round the points are added up and the top 4 teams from each pool will progress to the quarterfinals, which is the first of the knockout rounds till the medals are determined. The 8 teams will compete is a win or go home scenario, which continues into the semifinals and finals. The third place team will win the Bronze medal, the Silver goes to the second place team, and the first place team receives the Gold.

To give you an idea of how many NBA players go to play for their home countries here is the team rosters for the twelve 2012 Olympic teams:

Group A:

United States of America (USA): Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers), Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), LeBron James (Miami Heat), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder), Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder), Deron Williams (Brooklyn Nets), James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder), Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks), Andre Iquodala (Philadelphia 76ers), Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets), and Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Argentina (ARG): Pablo Prigioni (New York Knicks), Manu Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs), Carlos Delfino (Milwaukee Bucks), Luis Scola (Phoenix Suns), Juan Gutierrez (CB Granada – Spain), Facundo Campazzo (Penarol – Argentina), Heran Jasen (MMT Estudiantes – Spain), Marcos Mata (Penarol Mar del Plata – Argentina), Andres Nocioni (Caja Laboral, ACB – Spain), Leo Gutierrez (Penarol de Mar Del Plata – Spain), Federico Kammerichs (Regatas Corrientes, LNB – Argentina), Martin Leiva (Penarol)

France (FRA): Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs), Nando De Colo (Valencia, ACB – Spain), Nicolas Batum (Portland Trail Blazers), Boris Diaw (San Antonio Spurs), Kevin Seraphin (Washington Wizards), Yannick Bokolo (Gravelines-Dunkerque, LNB – France), Fabien Causeur (Cholet, LNB – France), Mickael Gelablae (BC Khimki Moscou, PBA – Russia), Yakhouba Diaware (Pallacanestro Varese, LegA – Italy), Florent Pietrus (Valencia Basket Club, S.A.D. – Spain), Ali Traore (Lokomotiv Kouban-Krasnodar – Russia), Ronny Turiaf (Miami Heat)

Lithuania (LTU): Sarunas Jasikevicius (Panathinaikos – Greece), Martynas Pocius (Real Madrid – Spain), Linas Kleiza (Toronto Raptors), Darius Songaila (Blancos de Rueda – Spain), Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto Raptors), Mantas Kalnietis (Zalgiris Kaunas – Lithuania), Rimantas Kaukenas (Montepaschi Siena – Italy), Renaldas Seibutis (Lietuvos Rytas – Lithuania), Simas Jasaitis (Lokomotiv-Kuban – Russia), Jonas Maciulis (Montepaschi Siena), Paulius Jankunas (Zalgiris Kaunas), Antanas Kavaliauskas (VEF Riga – Latvia)

Nigeria (NGR): Anthony Skinn (Ironi Ashkelon – Israel), Chamberlain Oguchi(Panateras de Miranda – Venezuela), Al-Farouq Aminu (New Orleans Hornets), Ike Diogu (Captinas de Arecibo – Puerto Rico), Alade Aminu (Elan Chalon, LNB – France), Richard Dean Oruche (Academica – Puerto Rico), Ade Dagunduro (Stella Artois Leuven Bears – Belgium), Derrick Obasohan (Joventut de Badalona – Spain), Ejike Christopher Ubjaoa (Janseh Tarabor Qomi – Iran), Koko Archibong (LTI Giessen 46ers – Germany), Ekene Ibekwe (BBC Bayreuth – Germany), Olumide Oyedeji (Quingdao Double Star – China)

Tunisia (TUN): Marouan Kechrid (US Monastir – Tunisia), Mourad El Mabrouk (Eszahra Sport – Tunisia), Macram Ben Romdhane (Etoile Sportive du Sahel – Tunisia), Mohamed Hadidane (Stade Nabeulien – Tunisia), Salah Mejri (Etoile Sportive du Sahel), Marouan Laghnej (J.S. Kairouan, D1 – Tunisia), Omar Abada (E.S.R. Rades – Tunisia), Lassaad Chouaya (Club Africain – Tunisia), Amine Maghrebi (Eszahra Sport), Amine Rzig (Etoile Sportive du Sahel), Radhouane Slimane (An Nasr Dubai, D1 – United Arab Emirates), Mohamed Ghyaza (ES Rades – Tunisia)

Group B

Austrailia (AUS): Adam Gibson (Gold Coast Blaze – Australia), Patrick Mills (San Antonio Spurs), Brad Newley (Valencia Basket – Spain), Matt Nielsen (BC Khimki, PBL – Russia), Aleks Maric (Panathinaikos Athens, A1 – Greece), Matt Dellavedova (St. Mary’s College), Peter Crawford (Townsville Crocodiles – Australia), Joe Ingles (Regal FC Barcelona, ACB – Spain), David Barlow (UCAM Murcia Basketball, ACB – Spain), Mark Worthington (Gold Coast Blaze), Aron Baynes (Ikaros Kallitheas, A1 – Greece)

Spain (ESP): Jose Calderon (Toronto Raptors), Juan-Carlos Navarro (FC Barcelona, ACB – Spain), Rudy Fernandez (Real Madrid, ACB – Spain), Pau Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers), Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies), Sergio Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Victor Sada (FC Barcelona), Sergio Llull (Real Madrid), Fernando San Emeterio (Caja Laboral – Spain), Victor Claver (Portland Trail Blazers), Felipe Reyes (Real Madrid), Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder)

Brazil (BRA): Marcelo Machado (Flamengo, NBB – Brazil), Leandro Barbosa (Indiana Pacers), Guilherme Giovannoni (Barsilia, NBB – Brazil), Tiago Splitter (San Antonio Spurs), Nene Hilario (Washington Wizards), Marcelinho Huertes (Regal FC Barcelona, ACB – Spain), Raul Neto (Minas Tenis Clube, NBB – Brazil), Larry Taylor (Flamengo – Brazil), Alex Garcia (Brasilia), Marcus Vieira (Pinheiros – Brazil), Anderson Varejao (Cleveland Caveliers), Caio Torries (Flamengo)

China (CHN): Jianghua Chen (Guandong Southern Tigers, CBA – China), Shipen Wang (Guandong Southern Tigers), Yue Sun (Beijing Aoshen Olympian Ducks, WCPBL), Jianlian Yi (Dallas Mavericks), Zhizhi Wang (Bayi Rockets, CBA – China), Wei Lui (Shanghai Sharks, CBA – China), Ailun Guo (Liaoning Hunters – China), Li Yi (Guandong Southerm Tigers), Fangyu Zhu (Guandong Southern Tigers), Jinhui Ding (Zhejiang Wanma Cyclones, CBA – China), Peng Zhou (Guandong Southern Tigers), Zhaoxu Zhang (Shainghai Sharks)

Great Britain (GBR): Andrew Lawrence (College of Charleston), Kyle Johnson (Long Island University), Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls), Joel Freeland (Portland Trail Blazers), Pops Mensah Bonsu (Besiktas – Turkey), Nate Reinking (Mons Hainaut, D1 – Belgium), Mike Lenzly (Cez Nymburk – Czech Republic), Andrew Sullivan (Mersey Tigers, BBL – Great Britain), Kieron Achara, Robert Archibald (Unicaja Malaga, ACB – Spain), Daniel Clark (Estudientes Madrid, ACB – Spain), Eric Boateng (Peristeri, A1 – Greece),

Russia (RUS): Vitaliy Fridzon (Khimki Moscow Region – Russia), Aleksey Shved (Minnesota Timberwolves), Victor Khryapa (CSKA Moscow – Russia), Andrei Kirilenko (Minnesota Timberwolves), Timofey Mozgov (Denver Nuggets), Dmitriy Khvostov (Khimki Moscow Region), Anton Ponkrashov (CSKA Moscow), Evgeny Voronov (CSKA Moscow), Semen Antonov (BC Nizhny Novgorod – Russia), Sergey Monya (Khimki Moscow Region), Alexander Kaun (CSKA Moscow)

Resources:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1272807-olympic-basketball-2012-team-by-team-rosters-brackets-medal-predictions#/articles/1272807-olympic-basketball-2012-team-by-team-rosters-brackets-medal-predictions

http://www.ksee24.com/olympics101/Olympics-101-Basketball-161161405.html

http://www.usabasketball.com/history/why_can_pros_compete.html

http://www.usabasketball.com/about/members.html

http://basketball.about.com/od/internationalbasketball/a/How-Basketball-Teams-Qualify-For-The-Olympics.htm

http://www.usabasketball.com/mens/national/12_moly_results.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/7904053/London-2012-Olympics-basketball-guide.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basketball_at_the_2012_Summer_Olympics

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MLB Stats 101

What are Stats?

Stats are numbers or averages that show how good a player is. In Major League Baseball each player has a set of stats. The stats include batting, fielding, and pitching. Fielders have batting and fielding stats while pitchers have pitching and batting stats.

BATTING STATS:

Each player’s batting stat is charted and the summary looks like this:

  • G – (Games) number of games a player has appeared in
  • AB – (At Bats) number of times a player bats
  • R – (Runs) number of times a batter safely makes it to home plate
  • H – (Hits) number of time a batter hits the ball and safely makes it to base.
  • TB – (Total Bases) the number of bases a batter safely makes it to, and or passes
  • 2B – (Doubles) number of times a batter hits a ball and safely makes it to 2nd base
  • 3B – (Triples) number of times a batter hits a ball and safely makes it to 3rd base
  • HR – (Home Runs) when a batter hits a ball and safely makes it all the way to home plate, this is always when the batter hits the ball over the fence in the back field
  • RBI – (Runners Batted In) number of runners that safely cross home plate because of balls that the batter hits.
  • BB – (Bases on Balls) number of times a batter gets to walk to 1st base, this is when the pitcher throws 4 balls before he throws 3 strikes to the batter, or when the pitcher hits the batter with the ball. Also known as “Walks”
  • IBB – (Intentional Bases on Balls) number of times a pitcher intentionally walks a batter by throwing 4 balls on purpose or hits the player with the ball on purpose
  • SO – (Strike Outs) number of times a batter strikes out, this is when the pitcher throws 3 strikes before he throws 4 balls
  • SB – (Stolen Bases) number of times a runner successfully steals a base
  • CS – (Caught Stealing) number of times a runner is caught trying to steal base and is tagged out
  • BA or AVG – (Batting Average) H divided by AB
  • OBP – (On-Base Percentage) (H+BB+HBP) divided by (AB+BB+HBP+SF)      note: HBP – hits by pitch; SF – sacrifice fly balls
  • SLG – (Slugging Percentage) TB divided by AB
  • OPS – (On-Base Plus Slugging) OBP + SLG
  • GO/AO – (Ground Outs/Air Outs Ratio) the ratio of a batters outs      note: GO- number of ground balls hit that result in an out for the batter; AO – air balls that are hit by the batter and caught by a player to get the batter out

Other batting stats:

  • 1B – (Singles) number of times a batter safely makes it to first base.
  • AB/HR – (At Bats / Home Run) at bats divided by home runs
  • BB/K – (Base on Balls or “Walks” / Strike out Ratio) – the number of base on balls divided by the number of strikeouts equals the ratio of walks-to-strike outs
  • XBH – (Extra Base Hits) –  Add number of doubles (2B) plus triples (3B) plus home runs (HR)
  • FC – (Fielder’s choice) the number of times the runner safely reaches base because the fielder tried for an out of a different runner
  • GDP or GiDP – (Grounded into Double Play) number of times the batter hits a ground ball that becomes a double plays
  • GS – (Grand Slam) number of times the batter hits a home run when the bases are loaded
  • HBP – (Hit by Pitch) the number of times the batter is hit by the pitch and gets a walk to first base
  • K -(Strikeout) number of times a batter strikes out. This is when the batter does not swing at a ball that was thrown in the strike zone, the batter swings and misses, or a foul ball is hit for a total of three times.
  • LOB – (Left On Base) the number of runners left on a base at the end of an inning
  • PA – (Plate Appearance) the number of times the batter makes it to base in any circumstance
  • SH – (Sacrifice Hit) number of time the batter bunts and is thrown out at first, but allows a runner to make it to the next base safely or score at home plate
  • TA or TPA – (Total Average) according to MLB Statistics Glossary, TA is calculated by AB + BB + HBP + SF + SH + number of times reached base on a defensive interference
  • TOB – (Times On Base) the number of times the batter makes it to base from a hit, walk, or a hit-by-pitch.

FIELDING STATS:

Each player’s fielding stat is charted and the summary looks like this:

  • POS – (Position) the position the player plays on the field
  • G – (Games) the number of games the player has played in
  • GS – (Games Started) the number of games the player has started in
  • INN – (Innings at this Position) the number of innings the player has played this position
  • TC – (Total Chances) the number of chances the player gets to make a play with a ball that was hit
  • PO – (Putouts) the number of times the player catches a ball that puts out the batter
  • A – (Assists) the number of times the player catches the ball and throws it to a teammate to get the batter or runner out
  • E – (Errors) the number of times the defensive player, or player on the field, makes a mistake that allows the runner to get to an extra base
  • DP – (Double Plays) the number of times a player on the field gets the ball that was hit and throws it to a teammate that gets a runner out and then throws it to another teammate that gets another runner out.
  • RF – (Range Factors) the sum of (PO+A)*9 divided by INN of that particular POS
  • FP or FPCT – (Fielding Percentage) the effectiveness of a player calculated by (A+PO) divided by TC

Other fielding stats:

  • PB – (Passed Ball) for the catcher, this is when the catcher drops a ball and a runner makes it to the next base or score
  • TP – (Triple Play) the number of times a fielder participates in one play that ends with getting three runners and/or a batter out

PITCHING STATS:

Each player’s pitching stat is charted and the summary looks like this:

  • W – (Wins) the number of times the pitcher’s team gains the lead while the pitcher is pitching and goes on to win the game
  • L – (Loss) the number of times the other team took the lead while the pitcher was pitching, and the other team never lost the lead, and went on to win the game
  • ERA – (Earned Run Average) ER times Innings in a Game divided by Innings Pitched
  • G or GP – (Games Pitched) the total number of games the pitcher has pitched in
  • GS – (Games Started) the total number of games when the pitcher was the starting pitcher for his team
  • CG – (Complete Games) – the number of times the pitcher pitched the whole game
  • SHO – (Shutouts) the number of times the pitcher pitches a complete game and does not allow any runs. When there are two or more pitchers in a game that do not allow any runs, it is not considered a shutout. The pitcher must be the only pitcher in the game for it to be considered a shutout.
  • SV – (Saves) the number or times the pitcher enters the game while his team is ahead and finishes the game with the lead, is not the pitcher that caused the lead or win,  and either (a) entered the game for the last innings when his team was leading with no more than three runs, (b) entered the game with a runner on base, or at bat, or on deck that could tie the game, or (c) or pitches well for at least three innings.
  • SVO – (Save Opportunities) the number of times the pitcher is given the opportunity to save a game for his team
  • IP – (Innings Pitched) the pitcher is only credited for 1/3 inning for each out he gets. So Innings pitched is the total number of out the pitcher got divided that by 3
  • H – (Hits) the number of times batters get a hit from the pitcher’s pitches
  • R – (Runs) the total number of runs scored while the pitcher is in the game, also including the runners that made it to base while the pitcher was in the game and went on to score in that same inning after the pitcher had left
  • ER – (Earned Run) the number of runs the pitcher allows. An earned run from a pitcher includes every time a runner reaches home plate due to a hit, sacrifice bunt, sacrifice fly, stolen base, putout, fielder’s choice, base on balls, hit batter, balk or wild pitch; and does not include the times a runner reaches home plate due to a fielder’s error
  • HR – (Home Runs) the number of times a home run was hit from one of the pitcher’s pitches
  • BB – (Base on Balls) also known as a “Walk”, the number of times a pitcher pitches 4 balls and allows the batter to walk to first base
  • IBB – (Intentional Base on Balls) the number of time the pitcher intentionally pitches 4 balls before 3 strikes and allows the batter to walk to first base
  • SO – (Strikeouts) the number of batters the pitcher gets out by pitching three strikes
  • Avg or BAA – (Batting Average Allowed) the number of hits the batter gets off the pitchers pitches by the total number of the batters at-bats equals the average number of times the batter gets a hit off the pitcher
  • WHIP – (Walks and Hits/Innings Pitched) the number of walks plus the number of hits the pitcher allows divided by the number of innings the pitcher pitched
  • GO/AO – (Ground Ball /Fly Ball Ratio) the pitcher’s GO divided the pitcher’s AO equals the pitcher’s ratio of ground balls to fly balls

Other pitching stats:

  • #P/IP – (# of Pitches/# of Innings Pitched)number of pitches divided by the number of innings the pitcher pitched equals the number of pitches per inning
  • #P/GS – (# of Pitches/Games Started) number of pitches divided by the number of games the pitcher started equals the number of pitches thrown per start
  • #Pit – (# of Pit Pitches) number of pitches thrown in the pit
  • 2B – (Doubles Allowed) number of doubles the pitcher allows
  • 3B – (Triples Allowed) number of triples the pitcher allows
  • AO – (Fly Outs) the number of times a fly out ball is hit from the pitcher’s throw
  • AGS – (Average Game Score) the pitcher’s average game score
  • APP – (Appearance) number of appearances
  • BABIP or BIPA – (Batting Average on Balls In Play) this is the batting average against the pitcher that results in a plate appearance, not including home runs
  • BB/9 – (Bases on Balls per 9 Innings) number of walks or bases on balls allowed by the pitcher divided by the number innings pitched and multiply that by 9
  • BF – (Batters Faced) the total number of batters the pitchers faced
  • BK – (Balk) the number of illegal pitches the pitcher throws and/or any other illegal actions while on the mound
  • BS or BlSv – (Blown Save) number of time the pitcher enters the game in a “save” situation, meaning the pitcher’s team is ahead or winning the game at that time, and the pitcher allows a run that ties the game
  • CGS – (Complete Game Losses) the number of times the pitcher pitched the whole game and his team losses that game
  • CS – (Caught Stealing) the number of time the pitcher catches a runner trying to steal base and gets that runner out
  • G – (Games Pitched) the number of games the player has pitched for
  • GF – (Games Finished) the number of games the pitcher was the final pitcher of his team
  • GIDP – (Grounded into Double Plays) the number of times the pitcher throws a pitch that is grounded and results into a double play.
  • GO – (Ground Outs) the number of times the pitcher throws a ball that is grounded by the batter and is turned into an out by a fielder(s); this does not include bunts
  • GS – (Games Start) the number of games that the player is the first pitcher of his team
  • GSH – (Grand Slams) the number of time the pitcher allows the batter to hit a home run with the bases loaded
  • H/9 – (Hits / Innings) the number of hits the pitcher gets divided by the number of innings the pitcher pitches multiplied by 9 equals the average of hits the pitcher allows per 9 innings.
  • HB – (Hit Batsman) the number of times the pitchers has hit batters with a pitch
  • HLD – (Hold) the number of times the pitcher enters a game in a save situation, gets at least one out, and leaves the game with his team still obtaining the lead
  • I/GS – (Innings/Games Started) take the total number of innings a pitcher pitches when he starts a game and divide that by the number of games the pitchers starts.
  • IR – (Inherited Runners) this is the number of runners already on base when the pitchers enters the game
  • IRA – (Inherited Runs Allowed) the number of runners that were already on base when the pitcher entered the game that made it all the way to home plate safely to score a run
  • K/9 – (Strikeouts per Nine Innings) take the total number of strikeouts the pitchers records and divide that by the total number of innings the pitcher pitches and then multiply that by 9
  • K/BB – (Strikeout/Base on Balls Ratio) take the number of strikeouts the pitcher gets and divide that by the number of walks the pitcher allows
  • LIPS – (Late Inning Pressure Situations) this is the batting average allowed by the pitcher in the 7th inning or later when the other team is leading by 1 run, tied, or has the chance to tie or lead the game with the next runner on base, at bat, or on deck
  • LOP – (Left on Base) the number of runners left on a base when the pitcher gets a batter out
  • MB/9 – (Men on Base per 9 Innings) the number of hits and bases on balls the pitcher allows divided by the number of innings the pitcher pitches and multiply that by 9 to get the number of men on base per 9 innings
  • NP – (Number of Pitches) the number of pitches a pitcher throws
  • OBA – (On-Base Against) add all the number of hits, base on balls, and batters hit by pitches allowed by the pitcher. Then divide that number by the opposing batters’ at-bats, bases on balls, batters hit by pitches, and sacrifice fly balls
  • ORuns – (Opponents Runs) the number of times the opponent team scores a run while the pitcher is pitching.
  • PA – (Plate Appearances) the total number of times the opposing batters safely make it to a base while the pitcher is pitching. This includes all at-bats, bases on balls, batters hit by a pitch, and sacrifice flies.
  • PFR – (Power/Finesse Ratio) the number of strikeouts and walks the pitcher allows divided by the number of innings pitched
  • PIT – (Pitches Thrown) the number of pitches thrown by a pitcher, also called a Pitch Count
  • PK – (Pick-offs) the total number of times a the runner steps off of their original base and is tagged out before he can return while the pitcher is in the game.
  • P/GS – (Pitches/Games Started) the number of pitches a pitcher throws divided by the number of games the pitchers starts
  • P/IP – (Pitches/Innings Pitched) the number of pitches the pitcher throws divided by the number of innings the pitcher pitched
  • RA – (Run Average) the number of runs completed while the pitcher is in the game divided by the number of innings pitched times nine
  • RBI – (Runs Batted In Allowed) the number of runners batted in the pitcher allows
  • RW – (Relief Wins) the number of times the pitcher was not the starting pitcher of the game, and is either credited as the most effective relief pitcher by the scorer judge, or is the pitcher while his team assumes the lead and keeps it till the end of the game
  • SB – (Stolen Bases Allowed) the number of times runners have safely stolen base while the pitcher is pitching
  • SLG – (Slugging Percentage Allowed) the number of times the opposing batter make it to base  while the pitcher is pitching divided by the total number of at-bats the batter has while the pitcher is pitching equals the slugging percentage of the batter while the pitcher is pitching
  • TB – (Total Bases) the total number of times a batter safely makes it to a base while the pitcher is pitching
  • TBF – (Total Batters Faced) the total number of batters the pitcher pitches to
  • TP – (Triple Plays) the total number of triple plays that a cure from a batted ball while the pitcher is in the game
  • UR – (Unearned Run) the number of runs scored that were not earned by the runner’s team but are due to an error or interference on the field
  • WP – (Wild Pitches) the number of times the pitcher throws that pitch that is too high, low, or wide of home plate making it hard for the catcher to field, and allows one or more runners to advance to the next base or score
  • WPCT – (Winning Percentage) the number of wins the pitcher receives divided by the total number of wins and losses the pitcher has
  • XBA – (Extra Base Hits Allowed) all doubles plus triples plus home runs hit against the pitcher

Resources:

http://espn.go.com/mlb/statistics

http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Baseball_statistics

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?page=stats/glossary

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/official_info/baseball_basics/abbreviations.jsp

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The Texas Silver Boot

The Silver Boot is a trophy rewarded to the Texas team that beats the other the most each year. The Lone Star series or Silver Boot series is an interleague matchup of rivalries, meaning one team is in the National League (Houston Astros), and the other is in the American League (Texas Rangers).

The Boot sort of got its started in 1992 before interleague games were played. The Astros and Rangers started an end-of-Spring Training game giving these two Texas teams a chance to play each other and the winning team would receive a trophy. The trophy went to the Texas Rangers the first year, but it was not as glamorous as it is today. In 1992 the trophy was just a regular leather boot painted silver. This Silver Boot trophy is referred to as Silver Boot I.

In 2001 the Texas teams matchup took to a new level when the two teams were scheduled to play each other in the regular season for the first time, interleague play was now introduced. For the new experience and change the two teams got a new trophy, Silver Boot II. This trophy was a glass cut boot outlined with silver and had a crystal ball under the toe of the boot. Since 2001 the two teams have been scheduled to play each other in 2 series (6 games) each year, and the team with the most wins would take home the Silver Boot or in the event of a tie the team that had the most runs scored would win. In 2001 the Rangers won on run differential and the manager, Jerry Narron accepted the trophy on the field after the game. This was the only time the trophy was ever presented to the winner on the field. The Astros came back and won it the next two years, 2002 and 2003. In 2004 the Lone Star series ended in a tie again but after runs were counted up the trophy went to the Rangers, but when it was received in the mail it was shattered.

In 2005 the teams got Silver Boot III, which is the one still awarded to the winner of the Silver Boot series today. Silver Boot III is a size-15 cowboy boot cast in silver with a hand-made spur attached. In 2006 the Houston Astros won the Silver Boot series to receive Silver Boot III for the first time, and possibly the only time. The Texas Rangers have won the Silver Boot series the past 5 years (2007-2011). It is also looking like the Rangers will win it again this year. The Rangers and Astros have already played 1 of the two series this year resulting in the Rangers winning 2 of the 3 games. The second and last part of the 2012 Lone Star series starts today June 15, 2012. If the Rangers win 2 of the 3 games they win the Silver Boot. If the Astros win all 3 games Houston will win the Silver Boot. If Houston wins 2 of the 3 then it will end in a tie and will refer to the run differential. But that is not the true story here.

This year could possibly be the last year for the Silver Boot III trophy and the Lone Star series. Next season the Houston Astros will relocate to the American League West, the same division as the Rangers. This means the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros will play more games against each other in the regular season. But it is not the relocation of the Astros that is causing talk of getting rid of the trophy, it is more of the fact that no one seems to care anymore. The current owners of the Rangers and Astros are considering the possibility of retiring the trophy because they no longer feel that the two teams are rivals any more. Rangers general manager, Jon Daniels said, “It has to be a rivalry on the field for it to be meaningful.”

Currently no decision has been made on this matter. I hope that the owners decide to keep this tradition going. As a fan, I enjoy the Lone Star series and love traditions like these. I also find it fun to watch these series each year with my friends that are Astros fans. I do not believe it would do any harm to keep the tradition alive.

How do you feel? Do you think the Astros and Rangers should retire the trophy or would you like to see it continue?

Update:

The Texas Rangers won all 3 games agains the Houston Astros in the second series of the Lone Star series. The Rangers win the Silver Boot for the 2012 season.

Resources:

http://texas.rangers.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120516&content_id=31456234&vkey=news_tex&c_id=tex

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080516&content_id=2712533&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lone_Star_Series

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NBA Playoffs 101

In the NBA there are a total of 30 teams and only 16 get to go to playoffs each year. There will be 8 teams in the Western Conference and 8 teams in the Eastern Conference that will battle it out for a chance to win the Championship. Playoffs start after the regular season is over, normally around the middle of April.

The first thing you need to understand is how the standings work. Please refer back to my previous blog: NBA Standings 101.

When the regular season is over, each team’s record is compared to the other teams in the same conference. It does not matter the records of the teams in the other conference, so the Western Conference teams are not compared to the Eastern Conference teams or vice versa. Also it is important to know the team with the best record in each division.

In each conference a team’s final record and their ranking in their division compared to the other teams records and rankings will determine the team’s seed. A seed is a team’s position in the playoffs being number 1-8 in each conference.

Each conference has 3 divisions. The teams that finish first in their division will be no lower than the 4th seed. The team that finished the regular season with the best overall record of their conference will take the number 1 seed. The other 2 division winners in that conference will be placed in the 2, 3, or 4 seed. The other teams in each conference will be ranked according to their win loss record. Only 8 teams in each conference go to the playoffs, so there are 7 teams in each conference that do not get to go. Once the teams have been placed in their seed the playoffs will being. Each conference will play the teams in the same conference till there is only one left to play the other conference’s winner.

In the playoffs there will be a total of 3 series. Each matchup in all three series will play 7 games. The best of 7 wins, so the team that wins 4 games moves on to the next round. If a team wins 4 games before all 7 are played that series will be over early and the team will wait for the other matchups to finish. Also the team with the least amount of losses, compared to who they are matched up with, will have home court advantage. This means they will get 4 of the 7 games played on their home court, 3 will be on the other team’s home court.There are two ways the leauge will have the the series lay these 7 games. One way is 2-3-2: the matchup will start with 2 games on the home team’s court, then 3 at the other team’s court, and back to the home team’s court for 2 more games if all 7 games are needed. The other way is 2-2-1-1-1: the match up will start with 2 games on the home team’s court, then 2 games at the other team’s court, back for 1 on the home team’s court, then 1 on the other team’s court, and then 1 on the home team’s court to finish.

The 1st series is called Round 1. In round 1 the 1st seed will play the 8th seed, 2 seed plays the 7 seed, 3 seed plays the 6 seed, and the 4 seed plays the 5 seed. (8–1, 2-7, 3-6, 4-5). The team that gets best of 7 (wins 4 games) will advance to the next series called Round 2, or Conference Semifinals.  In this round there are 2 matchups in each conference. The winner of the 8 and 1 matchup will play the winner of the 4 and 5 matchup, and the winner of the 3 and 6 matchup will play the winner of the 2 and 7 matchup. After these 2 matchups are over only 2 teams will remain in each conference and will move on to play each other in the 3rd round called the Conference Finals. The first team to win 4 games out of 7 in this matchup will be the winners of their conference and will advance to the Finals, the last series, to play the other Conference Finals winner. The team that wins best of 7 games will have won the playoffs and be the new NBA Champions.

Here is a look at how last summers playoffs went:

The NBA Champs receive the Larry O’Brien Trophy, and one player will be awarded Finals MVP (most valuable player).

Resources:

http://www.nba.com/canada/basketball_u_on_the_playoffs-Canada_Generic_article-18056.html

http://www.mademan.com/mm/how-nba-playoffs-work.html

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NBA Standings 101

The NBA has a total of 30 teams. These teams are organized in two different ways, conference and divisions. First the teams are divided in two conferences, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Depending on where each team is located decides which conference that team is in. Looking at the map below you can see the logo of each team and where they are located. The teams to the left of the red line are in the Western Conference and the teams to the right of the line are in the Eastern Conference. Each conference contains 15 teams.

You see the two conferences again in the map below. Instead of logos this map just has the name of the City that contains an NBA team. If the team is in the Western Conference they will be in the red and if the team is in the Eastern Conference they will be in the blue. This map also shows each division in the NBA. Each conference can be further broken down into 3 divisions. The divisions in the Western Conference are Northwest, Pacific, and Southwest. The divisions in the Eastern Conference are Central, Atlantic, and Southeast. Each conference has 3 divisions which contain 5 NBA teams.

During the season each team is ranked by a win loss record. This record will determine the standings. The team with the most wins and the least loses will be ranked at number 1 in their conference standings. If there are any teams in the same conference or division that have the same record the league must look at the tiebreakers to figure out which team will take each position.

Tiebreakers in order:

  1. Division winner. This is the team that won their division.
  2. Better record in head-to-head games. Looking at the record of the games when the two teams played each, the one with the most wins takes the higher position.
  3. Higher winning percentage within division. This is the team with the best record against the teams in their division only.
  4. Higher winning percentage against playoff teams in own conference. This is the team with the best record against the playoff teams in their own conference only.
  5. Higher point differential between points scored and points allowed. This is the total of all the points a team scores during the season minus all the points scored against the team during the season.

To find out where your favorite team stands in the standings each season you can go to http://www.nba.com/standings/ . To the left of this website you can change the order to conference or division standings. At the beginning of each season these records start at 0-0.

Resources:

http://www.nba.com/standings/team_record_comparison/conferenceNew_Std_Cnf.html

http://www.nba.com/canada/Basketball_U_on_the_Playoffs-Canada_Generic_Article-18056.html

http://espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/matchups

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