A sports dynasty study

Let’s start very simply, with a handcrafted definition of a word that I use for just about every sport to determine sustained greatness.That word is dynasty.

I believe that the best teams and players are those who reach the top levels and defeat the top competition, and get knocked down, and get back up again.

A dynasty is established by a player or sport who leads their group, team/league through to the highest level of competition, through playoffs, up the title game/series, for a period of at least 3 consecutive years.   Should that period be interrupted for 2 years, the dynasty continues, until he/she/they cannot reach the top level a 3rd year.  The dynasty can still continue, tho, if our subject reclaims the top level from another, and only one other to have at least 2 consecutive years at the top.  Again, top meaning league/conference title, up to the overall league championship (World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup), or, for an individual sport that doesn’t have eliminations, winning outright.

A few examples: The Yankees won 8 titles between 1996 and 2003, establishing a dynasty only interrupted by the Indians and Angels, one year each. For the dynasty to continue, the Yankees would have had to win the league by 2006, or, if one other team won (leading to a dynasty) instead in the ‘gap’, and the Yankees reclaimed from there, the streak would continue.  Boston would win in 2004, White Sox in 2005, and the Tigers in 2006, and the Yankees didn’t get back until 2009.  Boston came close to producing a dynasty, having won in ’04 and ’07 but not winning by 2010.   As of this typing, since Boston is fresh as the World Series champion, they have 3 years now to win at least a 2nd league title. Also eligible: The Tigers, who have 2 years (they won in 2011), and the Rangers, who have only 2014 to keep things going and actually make a true dynasty (they won in 2010 and 2011).

Going back in time since the playoff era, here are all the dynasties in the American League:

Orioles (1966-1971)
Athletics (1972-1974)
Yankees (1976-1981)
Yankees (1996-2003)

Minnesota comes close, winning in 1987 and 1991, interrupted by the Athletics in the interim years, but could not win another title by 1995 (skipping the 1994 strike year). Ditto the Indians, winning in 1995 and 1997, interrupted only by those Yankees. After 2003, Cleveland would have had to bookend that streak with a title but they have not been back since.

National League:

Reds (1970-1976)
Dodgers (1974-1981)
Cardinals (1982-1987)
Braves (1991-1999)

Currently, two NL teams are eligilble to build a dynasty: The Giants (winners in 2010 and 2012, and therefore have until 2015), and the Cardinals (2011, 2013, eligibile until 2016).

No dynasties in the playoff era met each other in the playoffs, but of course did meet in the regular season. That would be, as we can guess, Walter Alston’s Dodgers and Sparky Anderson’s Big Red Machine, from 1974 to 1976.  The Dodgers won the season series 12-6, and in runs, 79 to 57.   The margin was different in 1975, as they won just 18 against the Reds, losing in the run department, 69 to 64.   Cincy would be the thorn in the Dodgers side in 1976, as they would win 13 of 18, and outscore LA 77-57.   Couldn’t you just imagine what those contests in 1975 were like? And, that 3-year period, 1974 to 1976 gave us 3 dynasty teams at once.  Maybe baseball was never better than that time. A long way down to the upstarts and parity that baseball has given us since.

Dynasties did collide in the World Series, as you can imagine, in these years:
1970 (Orioles over Reds)
1972 (A’s over Reds)
1974 (A’s over Dodgers)
1976 (Reds over Yankees)
1977, 1978 (Yankees over Dodgers)
1981 (Dodgers over Yankees)
1996, 1999 (Yankees over Braves)

1988 was the first year 2 teams not of dynasty type met in the Series. The Dodgers had a singular year, and still won (courtesy of Kirk Gibson), while Oakland would get back to the series in 1990). Since 2004, no one’s quite dominated, as described above.

Let’s go further back in time to see what dynasties were made before the playoff era.
American League:
Detroit  1907-1909
Philadelphia  1910-1914
Boston 1912-1918
NY Yankees 1921-1943
Washington 1924-1933
Philadelphia 1929-1931
Detroit  1934-1940
NY Yankees 1947-1964

And the NL:
Chicago White Stockings 1880-1886
Boston Beaneaters 1891-1898
Baltimore Orioles 1894-1896
Brooklyn (Bridegrooms-Superbas) 1890-1900
Pittsburgh Pirates (1901-1909)
NY Giants (1904-1913)
Chicago Cubs (1906-1910)
NY Giants (1921-1924)
St. Louis (1926-1934)
Chicago (1929-1938)
NY Giants (1933-1937)
Brooklyn/LA (1947-1959)
St. Louis (1942-1946)
NY Giants (1951-1954)
St. Louis (1964-1968)
LA (1963-1966)

The clashes of titans in the World Series occurred in these years. With less teams and more familiar foes, there was a lot of repeats:
1907, 1908: Cubs/Detroit
1909: Det/Pitt
1910: Phila/Cubs
1911: Phila/Giants
1912: Boston/Giants
1913: Phila/Giants
1921, 1922: Giants/Yankees
1923: Yankees/Giants
1924: Washington/Giants
1926: St. Louis/Yankees
1928: Yankees/Cards
1929-30: Yankees/Phila
1931: St. Louis/Phila
1932: Yankees/Cubs
1933: Giants/Senators
1934: Cards/Tigers
1935: Tigers/Cubs
1936-7: Yankees/Giants
1938: Yankees/Cubs
1942: Cards/Yankees
1943: Yankees/Cards
1947: Yankees/Dodgers
1949: Yankees/Dodgers
1951: Yankees/Giants
1952-3: Yankees/Dodgers
1955: Dodgers/Yankees
1956: Yankees/Dodgers
1963: Dodgers/Yankees
1964: Cards/Yankees


NFL football dynasties in the Super Bowl era:
Packers (1961-1967)
Baltimore Colts (1961-1970)
Cleveland Browns (1963-1968)
Oakland Raiders (1967-1969)
Miami Dolphins (1971-1973)
Vikings (1973-1976)
Steelers (1974-1979)
Cowboys (1975-1978)
Denver Broncos (1986-1989)
Bills (1990-1993)
Cowboys (1992-1995)
Patriots (2001-present)
Steelers (2005-present)
Indianapolis Colts (2006-2009)
So there was a period of 5 years, 1963 to 1967 that included 4 contending teams between 2 leagues, then 1975-76 involving 3 teams, and 2006-09 involving 3 more in the same conference.

Note that I include teams from the AFL that participated in the AFL championship as well.

Football dynasties have clashed in the Super Bowl in these years, Roman numerically speaking:
I (1966 season): Packers over Chiefs
VIII (1973): Dolphins over Vikings
IX(1975): Steelers over Vikings
X (1976): Steelers over Cowboys
XIII(1978) : Steelers over Cowboys
XXVII (1992): Cowboys over Bills
XXVIII (1993): Cowboys over Bills.  These two also had met in the 1993 regular season, week 2.  Buffalo would go 2-0 with a late 13-10 victory in Big D.

As for the current season, the Packers, Giants and Niners are all eligible to further the cause of a dynasty out of the NFC, while, outside of the Patriots and Steelers, last year’s champs, the Ravens have a fresh 2 year grace period)

****
NHL:
Counting Stanley Cup finals-participants from 1967-68 to the present (the first big expansion of the league):
Toronto (1958-66)
St. Louis (1968-1970)
Boston (1970-1978)
Philadelphia (1974-1976)
Montreal (1967-1978)
NY Islanders (1980-1984)
Edmonton (1982-1990)
Detroit (1995-1998)
NJ Devils (2000-2003)

Stanley Cup finals between dynasties:
1968-9: Montreal/St. Louis
1970: Boston/St. Louis
1974: Philly/Boston
1976: Montreal/Philly
1977-8: Montreal/Boston
1983: NY Islanders/Edmonton
1984: Edmonton/NY Islanders

Philly, Boston, Montreal were running dynasties at once from 1974 to 1976. Was hockey any better than this period?

And here’s some 1974 history:

Teams currently eligible to build a dynasty with at least a Stanley Cup finals appearance this season are Chicago & Boston (both through the 2015 season)
Admittedly, info on this is not absolute as realignment took place a number of times over the years, plus I have not secured a firm list that includes only matching division/conference champions.

NBA:
Minneapolis Lakers (1949-1954)
Syracuse Nationals (1950-1955)
St. Louis Hawks (1957-1961)
Boston Celtics (1958-1969)
Minn./LA Lakers (1959-1973)
NY Knicks (1970-1973)
Washington Bullets (1975-1979)
Philly (1977-1983)
LA Lakers (1980-1991)
Boston (1981-1987)
Detroit (1988-1990)
Chicago (1991-1998)
San Antonio (1999-2007)
LA Lakers (2000-2004)
LA Lakers (2008-2010)
Miami (2011-present)

NBA Finals that included a pair of dynasties:
1950: Minn/Syracuse
1954: Minn/Syracuse
1958: St. Louis/Boston
1959: Boston/Minn
1960-1: Boston/St. Louis
1962-3, 1965-6, 1968-69: Boston/LA
1970: NY Knicks/LA
1972: LA/NY Knicks
1973: NY Knicks/LA
1980, 1982: LA/Philly
1983: Philly/LA
1984: Boston/LA
1985, 1987: LA/Boston
1988: LA/Detroit
1989: Detroit/LA
1991: Chicago/LA

There were 3 rivalries ongoing in 1959-1561, and in 1981-1983. Imagine the vitriol between the Sixers and Celtics. Actually, do more than imagine:

Now we’ll swing over to NASCAR, focusing on the Sprint Cup and its own predecessors:

Ned Jarrett (1961-65)
Richard Petty (1964-67)
David Pearson (1966-69)
Richard Petty (1971-79)
Cale Yarborough (1976-78)
Darrell Waltrip (1981-1985)
Dale Earnhardt, Sr  (1986-94)
Jeff Gordon (1995-2001)
Tony Stewart (2002-present)
Jimmie Johnson (2006-present)
Brad Keselowski still can put a dynasty together by 2015, Tony Stewart until 2014.  “Smoke” ‘s dynasty is intact for this reason: He won in 2002, left the maximum 2-year gap, won in 2005, and even though Kes did win in 2012, Tony’s streak is intact unless he fails to regain the title in 2014. Then we can say it ended in 2011.
The Stewart/Johnson battle is the first battle of dynasties since Petty/Yarborough, which put the sport on the national map and beyond, 1976-1978.
www.racing-reference.com says that Stewart and Johnson have raced in the same 420 races. In that span, Johnson managed the better positioning, wins, top 5s and 10.
Here are the 3 races where either of them finished 1-2 to each other with the closest finishes:
2013  Coke Zero 400 at  Daytona 
2006 Aaron’s 499 at Talladega 
 2009 Coke Zero

And as for Petty/Yarborough, they dueled for 520 races, from 1959 to 1988. And the stats are quite even:
Petty had 274 better finishes to Cale’s 246, and had more top 5’s (255-243), top 10s (324-300), and better finishing position (11.4-12.3). Cale outpoints the King in actual wins, though: 82 to 75.
The closest finish between them in a 1-2 finish was in 1976, the Music City USA 420, in Nashville:

IndyCar (since 1996):
Dario Franchitti (2007-2011)

F1 (since 1950):
Juan Manuel Fangio (1951-57)
Jackie Stewart (1969-73)
Alain Prost (1985-89)
Ayrton Senna (1988-1991)
Michael Schumacher (2000-04)
Sebastian Vettel (2010-present)

Interesting that the Prost/Senna duel were the only dynasties that ever clashed here. How did they do in the head-to-head? Glad you asked:  They were part of 141 races together, with Prost getting the better of Senna 71 to 70.   Prost also ranks ahead on all the other categories. In 1988, either driver finished 1-2 to each other 10 times; in 1989, 4 such races.

The closest 1-2 finish between the McLaren-Honda owned racers was the 1988 Hungarian Grand Prix. You watch and guess who won. Here’s Part 1
Part 2:

 

For tennis I’m focusing on the men’s singles Tour championship, currently stylized as the ATP World Tour finals.

Ilie Nastase (1971-1975)
Ivan Lendl (1981-1987)
Pete Sampras (1991-1999)
Boris Becker (1992-1995)
Roger Federer (2003-present)
Novak Djokovic (2008-present)

1994 and 2012 were the only times two players currently in a dynasty met in the finals of the ATP championship match

1994: Sampras/Becker:
2012: Federer/Djokovic:

As for the ladies, here’s the WTA Championship dynasties:
Chris Evert (1972-1977)
Martina Navratilova (1978-1986)
Steffi Graf (1987-1996)
Monica Seles (1990-1992)
Serena Williams (2008-present)
Graf/Seles never competed in the WTA Final but they’ve locked horns 6 times in Grand Slam finals: Seles won twice at the French, once at the Australian. Graf was the victor in their lone matchup at Wimbledon, and two wins at the US Open.
Here’s how the 1992 French Open turned out between them

 

Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum ballots have been delivered to the BBWAA members (read: long-time sportswriters, many of whom have never played the game), and now the countdown to the inevitable question begins again. Who will get inducted next year?
I have slightly expanded my reach of variables, tho still including stats from the venerable website www.baseball-reference.com The 10 variables I use to evaluate all players are these: Black Ink, Grey Ink, HOF Standards, HOF Monitor, JAWS, JAWSpos, WAR, WAR7 (7 year peak score), most similarity scores by career stats, most similarity scores per age. Descriptions for these are in their website’s glossary; no need to repeat here.
The players with the most top 10 ranks are the ones I would vote for. If I have to break a tie, I’ll compare the players involved on a head-to-head basis.
I considered my own formula, the combo of Fear Factor and the Bill James stat % of Offensive Value (and its pitcher equivalent, which is my creation), but will leave this aside for now.
The attached spreadsheet reveals the research on the 36 players on the ballot.
I only counted the top 10 in each category. Here are the benchmarks that were created for each variable based on the ranks.
Black Ink: 100 to 23. Any player scoring under 23 were out of the top 10. Frank Thomas is out at 21. In at 23 is Don Mattingly.
Grey Ink: 336 to 157. In at 157 is Bagwell. Out at 138 is Sammy Sosa.
HOF Monitor: 336 to 171 (Schilling). McGwire is 170 and out.
HOF Standard: 76 to 54 (Mussina). Out at 52: Sosa, Glavine.
WAR: 162.5 to 71.5 (Palmeiro). Out at 70.3 is Trammell.
WAR7: 72.8 to 44.3(Glavine) Out at 43.7 is Sosa.
JAWS: 117.7 to 57.5(Trammell) Out at 55.9 is Edgar Martinez.
JAWSpos: 1 to 11. 11 players in this stat counted here. In at 11 are Edgar Martinez, Trammell, Palmeiro. Out at 14 are Biggio and Lee Smith.
Similarity score by career stats: 9 to 4. 11 players qualified. In at 4 are Raines, Mussina, Glavine. Out with 3 are Larry Walker, McGriff, Frank Thomas, Kent, Luis Gonzalez and Leon Durham.
Similarity by age ranged from 14 to 4 between 9 players and left the cutoff there. In at 4 seasons are Lee Smith and Frank Thomas. Out with 3 are Biggio, Walker, Glavine, Durham.

My vote would go to these 10
Bonds
Maddux

Frank Thomas
Bagwell
Larry Walker
Glavine
Palmeiro
Schilling
Mussina.

First four out: Piazza, Raines, Trammell, Sosa.

In all, 21 of the 36 players received some top 10 consideration, and only 4 of the first timers at that.
I also looked at the players up for the early election via the Veterans Committee. I chose 7 players from the list and compared their numbers to this year’s standard ballot. Only Tommy John and Ted Simmons had any impact for comparison Joe Torre, who likely will be inducted as a manager anyway, got one top 10 entry, as did Dave Parker. Overall, none of those players deserve entry, but surely the executives and other figures will.

What I really want to study, beyond numbers, is see the actual ballots of actual writers and guess how they might vote next. That may be a Part 2 to this post.

Here’s the full spreadsheet

Kentucky Derby 2014 future wager Pool #1 analysis/selections

It’s my favorite wager in horse handicapping. The future wager! I don’t play the exotics,save the occasional exacta. I’m tempted to spread a superfecta at times but that’s so much $ going out, and I do know the payoff is really nice when you can hit. I do know a system that can work, from the folks at http://www.predictem.com But this post is about the wager I’ve done the best with and it’s enabled me to build upon my reputation as a visionary with handicapping.

The future wager, at www.kentuckyderby.com is being contested for the first time during the 2YO campaign of KY Derby contenders. This extra pool runs before the 3 pools that have been in place for years, along with the singular KY Oaks pool. The concept is simple, to wager a win or exacta bet on a horse well before the big race, most of the time at much higher odds than the horse will actually run at post time, if that horse manages to make it through a bunch of prep races and actually start the race. It’s been challenging to pick one out of the first pool in February in prior years, but I’ve done well in the 2nd (which is now the 3rd), taking place in March.

The approach for me is this: I’ll pick 5 horses to win, among the 23 entered in the pool. I might play the exacta using the field to win, and my 5 horses underneath. www.twinspires.com is offering an elite rewards point prize for those who pick the KY Derby winner out of this one pool, otherwise those who pick horse with the most Derby points on the trail gets the share of a million-point prize. 1000 points is equal to $1, and for wagering via Twinspires, you get 4 points for every dollar wagered at Churchill Downs.

Given my current financial status I’m NOT wagering this pool, but I’ll present picks in the manner in which I WOULD wager. The further approach for the later pools are these:
If one of the 5 horses I select gets into the 2nd pool and the odds are higher (worse) than his final Pool 1 result, I will double-down and wager on that horse again, if that horse is still a contender. Otherwise I’ll leave that horse be. Same with Pools 3 compared to 2 and 4 to 3.

Here are the variables I’m working with this year and their explanation:

DOSAGE: Which horses has the best chef-de-race/dosage profile befitting a horse that typically wins at Churchill? To accomplish this, I access two sources of data: www.chef-de-race.com lists the average chef-de-race score for each major race track in the prior year. Chef-de-race, expressed in 5 numbers measures the strength and focus of a horse’s particular run style, whether as a pure sprinter, a deep closer, or somewhere in the middle. There are 2 extra scores included that make a single number to translate the 5 numbers of this expression, plus an extra number that determines the balance of the 5 numbers. What I will do is check out www.pedigreequery.com and look up the numbers of all 23 horses, then rank each horse by the 3 sets of numbers, compare them to the average set by Churchill. Lower differential makes the difference.

AWD: Average winning distance measures just that from the horse’s sire and dam.
CLASS: Who has won at the highest level? Horses are ranked based on the level of race won. Graded stakes (specifically G1 races) get the top rank, down to ungraded stakes, and all other races following that, down to the maiden level at the bottom.

PACE: Borrowing the main component of sabermetrician Bill James’ “Favorite Toy” method, and looking at run style, I determine who has the fastest pace numbers for the moment. For sprinters I use the 1st call of the last 3 races, 2nd call for early-stalkers, overall pace for closers, and stretch call for late runners. I use the Brisnet numbers, as I trust this info much more than I do for Daily Racing Form’s Beyers.

2YO PROGRESSION: This approach comes from Dave Litfin’s book “Expert Handicapping”. h I look for horses who have run at least one before Labor Day weekend at age 2. Then, I look to see if that horse has had an overall pace figure which improved at some point than his best effort before Labor Day. Between those horses, I rank who has won and then by the winning pace number.

DISTANCE: Which horses have won at the longest distance?

For all categories, the top 7 each get a checkmark. The most checkmarks for a horse brands him or her as a horse I’d select.

So, here are the results! I did identify my top 5, presented, Letterman-style:
#5: NEW YEAR’S DAY: Winner of the BC Juvenile with a 92 Brisnet. www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQyAseuQsLU This race is key as he outpaced Havana and Strong Mandate, 2 of my other 4 contenders. That number was his best effort, following 2 maiden races running in the 80s. Has a contending AWD score (Street Cry-Justwhistledixie, out of Dixie Union). The 8.5 furlong win makes him a contender overall. Pace numbers for this early stalker are somewhat low compared to others, and dosage is not quite a match. Also has not run at CD. 14-1 are his odds at the close of Thursday’s wagering.
#4: BOBBY’S KITTEN: Winner of the Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtyTslw8pMQ 3rd in the BC Juvenile Turf. One of the leading dosage scores here. (Kitten’s Joy-Celestial Woods, out of Forestry). The Pilgrim at 8.5 furlongs was won with a 97, one of the top contending post Labor Day wins in the field. 2nd call numbers in last 3 races ranged from 75 to 109. No races at Churchill yet, and AWD numbers a bit lower than the other contenders. Also, no KY Derby Trail points 21-1
#3: STRONG MANDATE: Winner of the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga, 3rd in the BC Juvenile. Contender in AWD (Tiznow-Clear Mandate by Deputy Minister). Here’s the Hopeful win: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hs7StW6wt_c Winning at Grade 1 also ups his chances. Pace average is very high, with 2nd call numbers of last 3 ranging from 98 to 112. Progression number is contending, with the 97 Brisnet score in the Hopeful.. Hasn’t won beyond that 7-furlong distance tho, dosage profile doesn’t quite fit, and has not yet run at Churchill. 27-1

#2: RISE UP: Winner of 4 of 6 lifetime, including the Delta Downs Jackpot, a Grade 3 event. 6th in the Iroquois at CD, winner of both a 100k and 200k ungraded stakes event. Here’s the Jackpot race: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsNdCtQlVSE The 78 score in the Iriquois doesn’t impress but at least he has the race on that track. One of the faster pace numbers (last 3 2nd call numbers are from 102 to 106). The 98 scores at Delta Downs was tied with a horse outside my top 5, and my #1 contender for best performance post-Labor Day. It helps that the Jackpot was run at 8.5 furlongs. Pedigree doesn’t quite match up to the others, and has not faced Grade 1 company yet. 68-1
#1 HAVANA: Leads this field in KY Derby points. Winner of the Grade 1 Champagne http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORtQsL384wc 2nd in the BC Juvenile. Top dosage score from me in the field (Dunkirk-Missy Turtle, by Kyle’s Our Man). 3rd best pace numbers of the field (2nd call numbers run from 103 to 109). The 98 scored in the Champagne is among the most impressive of these colts post-Labor Day. That win came at a mile, with the BC race at 8.5. 20-1
At Thursday’s end of wager, with a mid-Saturday deadline, the ‘all others” are the huge favorite at even- money. with New Year’s Day and Honor Code the next most-favored by the public I don’t care for Honor Code at this moment, as he hasn’t defeated Graded company yet, and, despite his pair of 98 runs in two lifetime races, has not yet run past those numbers. Also, his one win was at the maiden level, for 7 furlongs.
I’ll keep you updated on my selections as we get to Pool #2 in February.

3 boxing matches analyzed via biorhythms/stats

3 large boxing events taking place today. One in Germany, one in China, one in the UK. All 3 matches are given the top 5-star ranking by http://www.boxrec.com (where all the stats below have been generated from; give props). We’ll start westward:

In Manchester, at the Phones 4u Arena, Carl Froch takes on George Groves for the WBA Super World and IBF super middleweight titles.

George Groves, born and bred in London, is the #6 super middleweight in the world and #2 in the UK. He is undefeated in 19 fights, 15 by KO. This is just his 7th fight scheduled for 12. In the previous 6, he has always dispatched his opponent early when he does deliver knockdows, going the distance only twice. Interestingly, all his KOs have been of the TKO variety. This is Saint George’s 2nd world title fight, and the 3rd time fighting in this arena.
3rd man in the ring is Howard John Foster, who was also in this role for George’s majority decision win over Kenny Anderson in 2010, and the same vs James DeGale in 2011, and was a judge in 4 of his fights as well. Foster was a judge for the 2012 Froch/Bute clash and Froch/Robin Reid in 2007, and as ref in Froch/Ruben Groenewald in 2005, each a win for Froch.
Judge Phil Edwards was a ref in Froch’s KO of Yusaf Mack in 2012, likewise in the same result vs Tony Dodson in 2006, and for Froch/Matthew Barney in 2005. The other 2 judges, Massimiliano Bianco and Waleska Roldan, have never been part of these fighters’ prior matches.

George receives a mixed bag of cycles, tho he’s actually under the influence of what’s called a double-critical day in biorhythms. His mental-physical ability are hampered because of the lack of power, and confusion overall in the ring. He’s likely to have some sort of accident, certainly to bleed more than usual. Emotionally he’s also at a nadir and that’s no help to his cause. The passion just isn’t there.
Carl Froch makes his 2nd defense of the WBA Super World super middleweight title. 9 of the last 10 fights for that title had gone to decision. It’s also Carl’s 3rd straight defense of the IBF super middleweight title, which he won defeating Lucian Bute in May of 2012, who, himself, had the title since 2007. The great majority of recent results of bouts for that title are KOs.
Cobra is 31-2-0, 22 KOs, and is based in Nottingham. He ranks as his country’s #1 super middleweight and #2 in the world. Tonight is his 11th straight bout for a title. It’s also his 7th time facing an undefeated opponent, In those fights, he went 5-1-0, with 3 TKOs, 2 decisions, and 1 of his 2 losses, that against Andre Ward.2 years ago. In his last 8 fights, he’s registered just 2 knockouts, plus lost 2 by decision. Here’s a look at the Ward/Froch fight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqhaD_QmfeM
When going 12 rounds, he has registered KOs around the middle stages of a fight; we’ll say 6th or 7th round.


Froch is coming out of a week-long triple-low which sees him on a resurgence physically but not really enough to be for true punching power yet. His psyche is well on the negative side and he’s finding himself prone to make poor decisions. He must rely on whatever power he has to be competitive.
As much as this is a 5 star fight, I don’t see this bout as having 2 fighters anywhere near the top of their game. Given that Froch has the rising physical cycle and free of the critical stage that Saint George is in, I’m predicting a unanimous decision for Froch.
****
Now to Bayern, Germany, and two cruiserweights:
Yoan Pablo Hernandez vs Alexander Alekseev, 12 rounds, for Hernandez’s IBF cruiserweight title. Challenger first:

Alekseev is from Uzbekistan and is based in Hamburg, Germany. He’s the #5 cruiserweight in the world. 24-2-1, 20 KOs. This will be his 5th fight going against a boxer with either 0 or 1 loss. Both of his losses came against such opponents (Denis Lebedev, 2010, Victor Emilio Ramirez, 2009) It’s his 12th fight scheduled for 12. In those fights, he has 2 wins & a draw via decision (his last 3, in fact), 5 KOs (4 by TKO), one KO loss, one retirement each by himself and an opponent. He’s averaging a KO around the 4th round of 12.


Generally positive outlook for Alekseev. Punching will be as strong as it can be, and he’ll make generally OK decisions with those punches. His emotional state is pretty low, so that takes away from the power somewhat. He won’t really feel like himself in the ring tonight. But there’s no doubt as to his athletic ability and focus.
‘Iron Man’ Hernandez makes his 3rd straight defense of the belt, and his 2nd straight in this arena. 27-1-0, 13 by KO. That lone blemish came back in 2008 vs Wayne Braithwaite. Since this, he has scored 8 wins via decision, 3 KOs, 1 TKO, one retirement. The Cuban native is also based in Germany, where he’s fought exclusively.

Doesn’t look good for Yoan, who actually is on a personal high and will feel inspired by the scene, but comes in with virtually no power, and low potential for technical skill success or focus in the ring. He’ll fight with heart but it won’t last.
Judge Mickey Vann had judged Hernandez’s prior fight with Troy Ross in September 2012, and was referee for Hernandez’s title gain in 2011 vs Steve Cunningham (see that fight here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5BWSlx3Qic) and also judged his win over Enad Licina for the IBF intercontinental cruiserweight title in 2009…all 3 were decision wins for Yoan.
I predict a TKO win by the 5th round for Alekseev and a title change,
***
The big fight tonight is in Macau, as Manny Pacquiao takes on Brandon Rios, for the vacant WBO International welterweight title.
Manny comes in after losing his last 2 fights, both in 2012, to Juan Manuel Marquez via KO, and to Timothy Bradley by split decision. It’s his first match in his home country since 2006. Overall he is now 54-5-2, with 38 wins and 3 losses via KO. He’s fought 16 times vs an opponent with either 0 or 1 loss, winning 14, with one such loss to Bradley. He’s averaged a TKO around the 5th or 6th round for his career in 12-round fights, tho he’s not recorded a KO since Miguel Cotto in 2009, highlights of, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JR3k7Fog_5c

About as bad as one could have cycles going in: The potential is low for any chance of Pac Man winning tonight.
Rios is 31-1-1, 23 wins by KO. This is his first fight outside of North America. Pac Man is easily the most experienced fighter Rios has ever fought. Rios is coming off his only loss, decision to Mike Alvarado in 12 back in March. He’s fought 5 other times at 12 rounds, with 3 TKOs, a DQ, and a split decision. His KOs tend to be late in a fight.

These cycles are decent at best. For a boxer, you really want to have those physical and emotional cycles up, or at least pointing up. They are both mired at the bottom, so that’s not helpful. His mental state is pretty sharp, and that may be the x factor.
Judge Michael Pernick also scored Manny’s fight vs Ricky Hatton in 2009 (2nd round KO for Manny),
Neither fighter look like they want to go the distance. The difference for me is that Bam Bam will make better decisions with whatever power he’s got,
I’m predicting a 9th round TKO win for Bam Bam, thinking Manny will just be plain unlucky when the punch comes.

I’ve never watched or cared too much about MMA to consider even tracking for stats and analysis beyond the norm. Still, I like the novelty of answering the big question with these fights: What style wins? Or, what combo of styles are better to win a fight?
I won’t attempt to answer the questions in this post. Maybe at some point I’ll examine lineage of champions and see what their specific paths are. Note to self: do this pronto.

Tonight is UFC 167: Georges St. Pierre vs Johny Hendricks for St. Pierre’s UFC welterweight title.

St. Pierre has defended this title 8 times, second most of any of the league titles. 7 of his last 8 fights have been wins via decision, 24-2 in the octagon, with that last loss coming in 2007. 11th fight in Vegas. Fightmatrix.com ranks him the #2 Absolute all-time fighter and #1 , behind Anderson Silva. Also is the top welterweight and #2 pound-for-pound (from www.sherdog.com )
Styles: Boxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Also holds black belts in Gaidojutsu (recent combo of wrestling, kickbocking and judo) and Shidokan (derivative of Okinawan karate).


Mixed bag of cycles for an athlete..a surge in physical power, feeling more sure of himself tonight,motivation is returning, and he must run with that pure physicality tonight, as his decision-making is at a nadir.

Yves Lavigne is the 3rd man in the ring…who has seen 3 decisions and awarded one TKO with St. Pierre fighting

Johny Hendricks, 15-1, is the top contender for the title
This is his 4th fight in Vegas, along with it is first shot at a UFC belt.
Alternating KOs (mainly from punches) & wins via decision in last 6, following first career loss.
Styles: wrestling (prime strength) boxing, kickboxing


Johny is already at his physical peak but the passion isn’t quite there. His decision making is good and improving strongly. He’ll be able to take care of his opponent but he might be more sensitive to his environs tonight.

This fight is very close to call, but I will give it to the champion, St. Pierre, in a 5-round decision.

****
ESPN with a special edition of boxing on  Saturday, tonight at Glow, Greenhithe, UK, with the main event being James DeGale and Dyah Davis, a pair of super middleweights going 12 rounds for DeGale’s WBC Silver super middleweight title.
DeGale is based in London, fighting with a 16-1-0 record (11 KOs). This is his 2nd defense of the title. 8 12-rounder of his career, going 7-1 (3 decisions, 3 KOs, 1 retirement, and the one blemish a decision loss 21 months ago). When he does end with a KO win, it’s often early in the fight. DeGale is ranked by boxrec.com as the #9 super middleweight worldwide, and #3 in the UK. Tonight is his 3rd match at Glow, where Stjepan Bozic retired in round 4 of 12. That fight was done on short rest for DeGale, coming 25 days after an early KO of Sebastien Demers. Prior to that, at Glow, he outpointed Hadillah Mohoumade for the EBU supermiddleweight title (European)
 

Coming out of a 4-day triple high, he’s going to be quite fuzzy mentally, wanting to think ahead in the fight but he’s going to have such confusion over what to punch, and might get caught with his hands down. But he still has a true boxer’s chance, as his physical and mental cycles remain high to contend.

Davis is 22-3-1, 10 wins and 1 loss by KO.
#23 super middleweight in the world, #4 in the US. Tonight is his first fight outside the US. He has a record of 5-1 against opponents who were undefeated or with 1 loss coming in. Tonight is also his first scheduled 12-round contest. Last 2 fights were KOs, ending a run of 5 decisions. Most of his own KOs have also come early in fights.

 

Triple-high cycles can only suggest he’s very sure of himself, has prime power and skills to master the ring tonight.

Predicting an 8th-round TKO win (or at least the middle rounds) for Dyah Davis.

***
Largest attention of the boxing world (who are not watching UFC, that is) will be watching HBO and Andre Ward vs Edwin Rodriguez. These 2 middleweights, battle for Ward’s WBA “super” super middleweight title in Ontario CA.

Ward is 26-0-0, 14 by KOs. As a 38-year-old he fought once last year, and this is his one fight for 2013 as well. It’s his 10th fight scheduled for 12 rounds. In those fights he has gone 7-0, 6 decisions and one late TKO, breaking a string of 5 decisions. This fight is his first at Citizens Business Bank Arena, but the latest in a long line of fights in his home state. Further, it’s his 5th fight vs an undefeated opponent. As for the title itself, he’s held it since 2009, tho his inactive status took the title away twice, giving it to the top challenger, Carl Froch.
 

S.O.G. has good tactical skills tonight. All three cycles are in the up direction, but emotionally there’s a big hill to climb. He’s got to get over himself and whatever inner demons are lurking. Even if his psyche is a bit troubled, his athletic ability is strong.

Edwin Rodriguez reported over the weight limit, so he’s not eligible to win the title in the ring. “La Bomba” is the world #4 super middleweight per boxrec.com and #1 from the Dominican Republic. Undefeated in 24 fights, 14 by KO. Had a run of 5 KOs in 2009-10, then 2 KOs, 4 decisions, 1 retirement followed. This is his first fight on the West Coast. It’s also his first 12-round fight. Last pure KO win came in 2010.
 

Cycles for Edwin are very good here..just what a boxer needs, power and passion. Tactical skills are lacking tonight; he’ll miss his share of power punches and he’s willing to see the fight through, slugging it out instead of biding time.

Third man is Jack Reiss, who officiated the Ward/Kessler fight in 2009 (Ward winning in 11 of 12), and was a judge in Ward/Pudwill (Ward KO win in round 3 of 10). Judge Steve Morrow scored the Ward/Kessler fight, and also Ward/ Henry Buchanan, 2009 (Ward decision in 12), and Ward/Rubin Williams in 2008 (Ward, TKO/doctor stoppage, round 7 of 10)
It’s a very close fight, and it leans toward La Bomba getting this fight to 12 rounds and having the power to do so.
Rodriguez by decision.

Rafa vs Novak in biorhythms, stats

Rafael Nadal & Novak Djokovic do battle in a few hours, for the 39th time in their careers, at tonight’s ATP World Tour Final championship game. This tournament really is the yardstick by which I measure who really is best on the court, instead of a rank.

Granted it’s pretty exhausting to go through 38 matches and figure which player is better between the top two tennis players in the world. I did make a few attempts, yet could not reach a consensus set of numbers that would point the way to either side winning. What I did was take a smaller, yet much more focused, sample. That sample incorporates the three times they have met while playing on an indoor hardcourt surface. Those occurrences took place here:
2009 BNP Paribas Masters 1000 – Paris (Novak won 6-2, 6-3)
2009 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (Novak won 7-6(5), 6-3 in a round-robin format)
2010 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (Rafa won 7-5, 6-2, also round robin)
From the available stats of the 3 matches, here’s the benchmarks both need to reach to win:

Djokovic’s benchmarks are:
Aces/double faults: +1 (one more ace than double fault)
1st service points won: 72%
2nd service points won: 50%
Break points converted: 50%
Return points won: 38%
Rafa’s benchmarks are these:
Aces/double faults: +4
1st service points won: 65%
2nd service points won: 55%
Break points converted: 41%
Return points won: 36%
Now we’ll look at the biorhythms. First, the world #2:


A small window but an important one: Djokovic is actually in a triple high today! He might make a few blatant errors as he’s still on the influence of a mental critical day, but his game is very strong today. His drive is super high here and will find it easier here than on other days to see a possible 3-set match through.

Here’s Rafa’s cycles:

Rafa’s at the tail end of a triple low which has plagued him all week. Emotionally he’s feeling somewhat better and is more attuned to the crowd and so forth. His pure game is at a nadir and his focus alongsides appears to be lacking.

I’m declaring a straight set (2 sets) victory for Novak.

Stats: http://www.matchstat.com http://www.atpworldtour.com

Golovkin v. Stevens (boxing) in biorhythms, stats

Gennady Golovkin v. Curtis Stevens, 12 rounds, middleweights, for Golovkin’s WBA World and IBO world middleweight titles.

GGG is 27-0-0, an amazing 24 of these by KO. Among titleholders, he has the highest KO percentage. He is the #2 middleweight worldwide by BoxRec. This will be his second time fighting at MSG, the site of his 7th round TKO vs Gabriel Rosado.
All 10 of his 12-round fights have been KO results, with the majority of them coming early, around the 4th round or so.
Golovkin first attained the title in August 2010 over Milton Nunez. Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam and Martin Murray have also had the title, tho not in the ring. Apparently Golovkin will not get to keep the title after this fight, and Murray will be fighting for the interim title in his bout on 12/11 vs Garth Wood.
Golovkin meanwhile has has had a firm hold on the IBF title since 12/11

One of the judges, John Poturaj, judged a prior fight of GGG’s, that being his prior fight at MSG. Poturaj had already scored GGG ahead on points in each round when Rosado’s team resigned the fight.

Cycles are generally good. Very strong physically and mentally, tho feeling stable or connected to the atmosphere in the ring. Athletic ability has been rather strong of late.
Curtis Stevens is 25-3-0, 18 wins and 1 loss each by KO. BoxRec has him as the world’s #13 middleweight, #3 in the US. He’s won 2 of 3 fights going against an undefeated opponent. This is also his first shot at either title.
His other fight at the MSG Theater was an 8-round decision vs Derrick Findley back in April. This is also his 2nd ever 12-round fight, losing the first one by decision to Jesse Brinkley in 2010. Since then he’s KO’d 3 of the last 4 fighters,


Cycles are on the improve for “Showtime” but slow going. Physically he’s getting better but not quite in the groove yet. His mental game is a lot better and he must resort to being tactical. His drive is rather low here, and his pure athletic ability is average at best.

I give the edge slightly to GGG, who should produce a late round KO.