Parcells on Belichick’s genius

This post is just a snapshot that I’m going to use to get a conversation started about Bill Belichick’s genius. I had recorded EPSN’s 30 for 30 film, The Two Bills, but then my PVR broke down, needed to be replaced, and I lost the recording.

All I have is this one note that I really want to expand on one day when I can sit down and watch the film again, notebook, pen and remote in hand.

The note I jotted down quotes Bill Parcels responding to a question about Bill Belichick’s abilities:

“Bill has this reservoir of players in his head… He’s a genius…”

That’s all I’ve got for now.

And perhaps seeing the film again is not going to help me get a full explanation of Parcell’s statement. I guess that for that I’d need to talk to Parcells and maybe even Belichick himself, to figure out how his head really works. How he thinks. What he sees. How he pictures. How he decides.

What exactly does Parcell’s mean by “reservoir of players”?

Are players like pieces in a complex game of chess?

More on this at a later date…



2018 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

The 2018 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference opens today in Boston.

I attended last year but won’t be able to be there this year.

Luckily the fine folks at SSAC provide free access to their content online, and so I will be watching the panels and reading the papers as they become available.

I will share my thoughts on the conference in future blog posts.

Renting your own player

Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos came up with an interesting way of describing the Toronto Maple Leafs handling of the James Van Riemsdyk situation.

JVR is a pending unrestricted free agent and there are many who think that the Leafs should get something for their asset before they lose him for nothing to free agency. The thing is that it looks as though the Leafs want to go as far as possible in these coming Stanley Cup playoffs if not try to win the whole thing. For that they’ll need to keep a player of JVR’s quality and yet as Kypreos says, I don’t think they actually want to give JVR a big contract in the future. The reality then? What Kypreos says:

“I don’t think the Leafs are prepared to do what Washington did for T.J. Oshie, who had to go eight years. I think it’s inevitable that the Leafs may just be looking at renting their own player.” (Sportsnet)

It’s a great new idea and a fun term for something that could become commonplace in an era where teams are starting to balk at pricey, long-term contracts: “rent” your own player.

Making the Cubs special again

It may sound corny and obvious but I believe that championship teams require heavy doses of “specialness”. According to  ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, specialness is exactly what baseball’s Chicago Cubs have been addressing:

“While overhauling their pitching staff, the Cubs didn’t make one significant or even small change to their position-player base, save not re-signing outfielder Jon Jay. They retained all the depth that has made them special over the last few years, while allowing some hitters to mature after a “hangover” season for the entire team. This was the smart move, because a team that once again wants to play more than 162 games will need every part of its young core. The Cubs retain a chance to be special on offense while accumulating enough arms to compete for the pennant again. “(ESPN)

Rogers was writing a piece that focused on the Cubs’ acquisition of Yu Darvish. I think he is correct in saying that Darvish makes the Cubs pitching staff and indeed the whole team more special than it was last year.

Wenger on how Aubameyang looks

I’ve been an outspoken critic of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger for many years now but can still find in him moments worth reflecting on. Recently Wenger spoke about how his new signing, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, looked after arriving from Dortmund in the January transfer window:

“He looks to be a happy boy. Has a positive smile and very professional attitude. I met him a few times before by coincidence and he looks highly focused on his job. He looks a guy who needs to be completely focused, involved in his team.” (Guardian)

This is the eye test at work but it sounds to me like Wenger is genuinely convinced by Aubameyang.

For what it’s worth, I too like the “look” of Aubameyang in an Arsenal jersey. They haven’t had a player of his ilk for many a year. Given the subtractions of Sanchez and Walcott, Aubameyang’s addition, plus that of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, improves the Arsenal team picture as they chase a Champions League spot.

Pochettino built Spurs with less

I’ve become a big fan of Tottenham and am therefore a big fan of their manager, Mauricio Pochettino, and even their unpopular owner, Daniel Levy.

The Guardian’s  explains how smartly Spurs have been built:

“It has been down, in large part, to the alchemy of Mauricio Pochettino who, since his arrival as manager in the summer of 2014, has spent a net £40.25m on permanent transfer deals. To reinforce the point, that it is £40.25m over eight windows. By way of comparison, Arsenal – under Arsène Wenger – have shown a net spend of £163m in the same period. Pochettino has still pieced together the most exciting Spurs team in years.” (The Guardian)