Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I will be interviewed on Dallas radio station KRLD 1080 today at 3:20 pm (Central), to discuss the Rangers' and Giants' streakiness heading into tonight's World Series opener. You can listen live online at this link. For an idea of the things I may be discussing, see the last several postings below.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

In Friday night's 6-1 victory over the New York Yankees to close out the American League Championship Series in six games, the World Series-bound Texas Rangers got a home run from Nelson Cruz in the fifth inning. That home run gave the Rangers at least one homer in all 11 of their playoff games this season, their previous series against Tampa Bay having gone the opening-round maximum five games (game-by-game log).
An item in today's Texas preview notes mentioned the team's 10-game (at the time) postseason homer streak, adding that it was the Rangers' "longest home run streak since they homered in 10 straight games from April 6-17, 2009." The notes did not say what Major League Baseball record was for this type of streak. Regardless of whether the World Series opponent for Texas is Philadelphia or San Francisco, the Rangers will have to hit against arguably the toughest pitching staff they have faced all year.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Here are some of Texas Ranger pitcher Cliff Lee's numbers for the 2010 postseason (which consists of two wins over Tampa Bay and one tonight over the Yankees):

Innings pitched:  24
Strikeouts:  34
Earned runs allowed:  2
Walks:  1

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Some brief college football news from today's action:

Michigan State has now reeled off seven straight wins to start a season for the first time since the Spartans' famous 1966 campaign.

Oklahoma State won its first game at Texas Tech since 1944. The two schools met only sparingly until becoming Big 12 conference mates in 1996, however, so the Cowboys' losing streak in Lubbock is not as long as the 66-year gap would suggest. I've tried looking up the historical record of games between the teams, but there seems to be some conflicting information. Suffice it to say that Oklahoma State (formerly Oklahoma A&M) had a winless streak in Lubbock of 10 losses and either 1 or 2 ties, before today. Including today's game, Cowboy kicker Dan Bailey is now a perfect 13-for-13 on field-goal attempts this season, which includes two successful attempts from 50-plus yards in OSU's game prior to facing Texas Tech.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Minnesota has had a lot of success making the baseball postseason in recent years. But once there, the Twins have been unable to come up with wins. Last night, the New York Yankees beat the Twin Cities crew, 6-1, to sweep the teams' opening-round MLB playoff series, 3-0.

As stated in this Minneapolis Star-Tribune article:

The Twins have lost 12 postseason games in a row, the second-longest streak in major league history. The Red Sox had a 13-game postseason losing streak from 1986 to 1995, and the Twins now seem to have their own Curse of the Bambino.

Minnesota's skid started in 2004. That year, the Twins actually took the opener of their series with the Yankees (behind star pitcher Johan Santana, who later moved to the Mets), before dropping three in a row. That was followed by a three-game sweep in 2006 at the hands of the Oakland A's, followed by another sweep last year, by the Yankees. This year's repeat sweep by the Yankees thus brought the Twins' playoff losing streak to an even dozen.

Blogger John Tauer has already weighed in on the mathematical aspect of the Twins' losing ways, noting that the probability of 12 straight losses with an assumed .50 probability of winning each time is 1-in-4,096 (.50 to the 12th power). Tauer argues for the plausibility of .50/.50 prior win probabilities in the baseball playoffs because of the narrow range of ability levels between the participating teams (regular-season winning percentages ranging only narrowly, from .556 to .599).

UPDATE (November 7, 2010): I've just returned from attending an academic conference in downtown Minneapolis. Though the Twins have had a lot of postseason difficulty (as detailed above), one thing that should bring a lot of enjoyment to fans in the Twin Cities is the team's new ballpark, Target Field. I walked around the facility, which just completed its first season of play, but it appeared to be closed (except for the gift shop), so I couldn't get close to the playing surface. Here's a montage of photos I took (you can click on it to enlarge). If the Twins could add an up-and-coming Rod Carew-type hitter, that would certainly help!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Defending college football national champion and No.1-ranked Alabama had its 19-game winning streak ended today at South Carolina, 35-21. The length of the stretch falls a little shy of the top 50 college-football winning streaks. However, taking toughness of competition into account, the Tide's roll would have to rank above many longer streaks for overall impressiveness.

The Southeastern Conference (SEC), in which the Crimson Tide participates, is in the midst of what has to be one of the strongest runs by a league in college-football history. Not only have the last four national champions come from the SEC (Florida 2006 & 2008, LSU 2007, Alabama 2009). There are several other SEC teams (varying in quality by year) that can give an opponent a tough day at the office (Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee).

Of Alabama's five straight wins to open the current season, three were against teams ranked at the time: Penn State (No. 18), Arkansas (No. 10), and Florida (No. 7). South Carolina came into today's game ranked No. 19 and will undoubtedly move up!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Texas Tech University's women's volleyball team ended its 64-match Big 12 losing streak tonight, with a five-game win over Kansas (details at my VolleyMetrics blog).