Saturday, July 11, 2015

Baseball Realignment

Can all of us who are not hardcore baseball fans acknowledge that MLB's current alignment is pretty stupid? Why do they adhere to the two "league" system? They're not even remotely separate; there is always an interleague series ongoing thanks to the balanced 15-teams-in-each-league structure. Why the heck is a team like Seattle playing in a geographically-aligned division with teams in Texas when, unlike hockey, baseball actually has enough teams in the Pacific time zone to have an entire division out there?

Wouldn't the following completely geographical alignment be much better?

Arizona Diamondbacks
Colorado Rockies
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Los Angeles Dodgers
Oakland Athletics
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
Seattle Mariners

Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox
New York Mets
New York Yankees
Philadelphia Phillies
Pittsburgh Pirates
Toronto Blue Jays

Atlanta Braves
Houston Astros
Miami Marlins
St. Louis Cardinals
Tampa Bay Rays
Texas Rangers
Washington Nationals

Chicago Cubs
Chicago White Sox
Cincinnati Reds
Cleveland Reds
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Milwaukee Brewers
Minnesota Twins

Designated Hitter
Abandon the stupidity of different rules for different stadiums. Everyone has a DH.

Unbalanced Divisions
In order to get up to 8 teams in all 4 divisions, I would move the Nationals into the Northeast and expand into any two of San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Puerto Rico, and Nashville.

Every team plays at least one series in every stadium over the course of the season. Probably about 10-12 games against division opponents and 4-5 against everyone else.

Top 2 teams in each division make it, followed by the next 4 best teams overall. The best team overall faces the 16th seed, 2nd against 15th, etc... The teams with the better records get home field advantage in every series.

All-Star Game
By abandoning the "Two-League" format, you lose the AL-NL battle. How about the World Series champs against an all-star team made up from the other teams? Or just do like hockey and have two captains pick sides? It's an all-star game, and while it's necessary because of sponsors and kids like it, it's inherently stupid, so acknowledge that fact and eliminate the "importance" of an exhibition game.

Voila, I have fixed baseball. MLB can go ahead and get in touch with me via Twitter to find out where to send the check.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Drafts of the Past: The 3rd Rounds of the Lombardi Era

The 3rd round picks, Lombardi has made will go pretty quick.

74th pick: goalie Jeff Zatkoff
I guess Lombardi didn't trust his selection of Jonathan Bernier 11th overall this season? Zatkoff played a season in Ontario and 3 in Manchester but never got into a game with the Kings

86th pick: center/right wing Bud Holloway

Spent a season split between Ontario and Manchester and then two full seasons in Manchester. Scored 108 points in 153 games in those two seasons, but never got a call-up to the Kings. He split for Sweden with Oscar Moller and the two played together with Skelleftea AIK from 2011-12 to 2013-14. He played in Bern in the Swiss league last year.

82nd pick: center/right wing Bryan Cameron
Never made it into the Kings system, currently toiling in the ECHL with Alaska.

63rd pick: center Robert Czarnik

Spent 3 years in Manchester, but the Kings traded him to Montreal last season.

74th pick: defenseman Andrew Campbell
Spent 2008-2009 through 2012-13 with the Monarchs and finally got his chance with the Kings last season when he got into 3 games in the NHL. He is in the Coyotes' system now and played 33 games with the Desert Dogs this past season (and 40 with their AHL squad). 

88th pick: left wing Geordie Wudrick
Never made it into the Kings system. Split this past season between the ECHL and the SPHL.

84th pick: defenseman Nicolaus Deslauriers
A highly touted prospect who the Kings decided was not particularly good at defense and moved to the left wing because of the dearth of LW prospects in the system. The Kings traded him and Hudson Fasching to Buffalo for Brayden McNabb in March 2014. He played every game this past season with the Sabres, scoring 5 goals and 10 assists.

70th pick: center Jordan Weal
With 69 points in 73 games this season and 22 in 19 playoff games en route to the Calder Cup championship and playoff MVP honors, Jordan Weal has made a strong case for getting a serious shot at the Kings roster next season. I don't know if he can come up and make an impact anywhere near what Toffoli and Pearson have done in the last two years, but he is going to get a chance to be a top 6 winger in Los Angeles in 2015-16.

80th pick: center Andy Andreoff
Andreoff finally got his chance with the Kings this past season after two full seasons in Manchester. He didn't really impress with only 3 points in 18 games, spending most of the season in the press box, but he will probably be retained as a 4th line center going forward.

82nd pick: center Nick Shore
Shore will get a shot at Stoll's job next season, despite a rookie campaign almost as unimpressive as Andreoff's, 1 goal and 6 assist in 34 games, replacing Mike Richards. He did have 18 points in 19 playoff games with Manchester, helping them to their Calder Cup championship, but during that run he was obviously outshone by Jordan Weal.

2012- none
2013- none

90th pick: center Michael Amadio
Sent back to North Bay of the OHL, Amadio jumped from 38 points in 64 games his draft year to 71 in 68 this past season. I'm sure he'll get another year in junior before moving on to Manchester in 2016, but this kid looks like he may be one to look out for in a few years.

In total, Lombardi has taken 11 players in the 3rd round. Only 3 have ever skated with the Kings, 1 of whom played only 3 games, and none has even played the equivalent of a half season in an L.A. uniform yet or contributed to either of the Stanley Cup championships. Deslauriers proved a valuable asset in acquiring McNabb. Weal still looks like he is going to be a valuable member of the Kings and Amadio may well prove to be as well.

Drafts of the Past: The 2nd Rounds of the Lombardi Era

A few months ago I wrote up a retrospective look at Dean Lombardi's track record in First Round draft picks, which you can view here, if you're so inclined (I recommend it, it's a pretty good read, if I do say so myself). With the 2015 draft approaching and the Kings holding their highest pick in five years (with all the success this team had between 2012 and 2014, it really does feel like it should have been longer than that since they were a lottery team), it felt like a good time to pick up again and review the team’s 2nd round selections during his tenure.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Can the Dynasty be Salvaged?

That was a pretty short dynasty, eh?

The buzzer just sounded, ending not only the Kings' final road game of the season, but also their chance to be the first repeat Stanley Cup winner since 1998. The 3-1 loss to the Flames was their 3rd in a row on this season-ending Western Canadian road swing. The Kings pretty much needed to win every game on the trip but instead they lost them all, and in the process became the 3rd team since Expansion to win the Cup one year and miss the playoffs the next, joining the 1970 Montreal Canadiens, 1996 New Jersey Devils, and 2007 Carolina Hurricanes in a pretty infamous club. (Although, it should be noted, the Habs and Devils went on to win the Cup again within the next five years!)

So what happens now to a team that despite having been outside the playoff bubble most of the season was all along considered a Stanley Cup favorite by many?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Clinching Playoff Berths

I'm so tired of talking heads on TV saying how the Kings haven't clinched a playoff spot until so late in the season the last 3 years.

In 2012, they clinched their spot during their 81st game out of 82, but they also finished the season 5 points clear of the 9th place Flames, so it's not like they were really in jeopardy of missing the playoffs. They were always in the hunt for the division crown and it was always teams chasing them for a playoff spot, not vice versa.

In 2013, they clinched with 4 games left (albeit in a shortened season, so if you extrapolate out, that's like 7 games left). They finished that season 5th in the West, but only 4 points clear of the 9th place Columbus Blue Jackets.

Last season they finished a full 11 points ahead of the top team who missed the playoffs, the Coyotes. They still didn't clinch their spot until April 2, the day of their 77th game.

Here's why I'm sick of this bullshit drivel from mostly NBC Sports (and probably to a lesser extent Puck Daddy): NOBODY CLINCHES UNTIL THE LAST FEW GAMES!!!

The New York Rangers clinched a playoff spot today. They're the first team to do so in 2015. And there are 8 games left. There simply isn't enough separation between the top teams and the 9th place team (Obviously, in order to clinch you have to have a point differential that doubles the number of games the 9th place team has left. And also hold an advantage in the tiebreakers that can't be matched by that team.)

And it's not like you get to stop playing hard and rest once you've clinched. The Rangers, for instance, want to get 1st place in the Metro division. They want the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They want to win the President's Trophy and establish home ice advantage in every round of the playoffs.

Pretty much every team that clinches is still jockeying for playoff seeding. All that matters is that at some point, you do clinch that playoff spot.

(Oh, and just fyi, the Kings clinched in their 81st game in 2011 [7th seed, 3 points ahead of 9th place Dallas] and with 4 games left in 2010 [6th seed, 11 points ahead of 9th place St. Louis].)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Admiring the Detroit Red Wings

When the Kings won their second Stanley Cup championship in three seasons last June, talk of a dynasty was not far behind. Along with the Blackhawks, also winners of two championships this decade, the Kings were the NHL's model franchise.

Investigating the Kings' 1st Round Draft Picks in the Lombardi Era

Dean Lombardi was hired in April 2006 to resurrect the Los Angeles Kings from the scrap heap into which Dave Taylor had led the franchise. Under Taylor, the team had failed to advance beyond the second round of the playoffs (but of did they ever come close in 2001) and to even make the playoffs since 2002. Despite spending heaps of money coming out of the lockout in acquiring players like Jeremy Roenick and Pavol Demitra, the Kings collapsed down the stretch, losing 11 of their last 17 games (even that free fall was not as epic as the end of the previous season before the lockout when they dropped a franchise record 11 consecutive games to finish the year, in the process falling from the playoffs and going into the lockout season in the worst fashion possible).