Monday, October 31, 2016

Melog Rankings: Pre-Paris 2016

Here we go.

Andy Murray won the 500-point title in Vienna last week, further narrowing the gap between himself and Novak Djokovic. Novak still leads by nearly 2000 points in this week's ATP rankings, but there's a caveat to that: he's the defending champion at both the Paris Masters and the World Finals, and because of a quirk in the ATP rankings (the previous year's Finals are removed a week before the next year's take place, which is a week earlier than any other event), Murray could leapfrog him in the rankings as early as this week and grab #1 for the first time in his career.

There's action down the line as well, particularly from last week's other titlist, as Marin Cilic grabs the Basel crown and climbs into the ninth spot in the 2016-only rankings, which will determine entry into the World Finals. (The player occupying the #9 spot will qualify for the eight-man field because Rafael Nadal, who's in the top 8, has shut down for the year due to injury.)

And there's a strong argument to be made that neither of those things was the coolest event of the last fortnight. The week before last in Stockholm, Juan Martin del Potro secured his first title since January 2014, further cementing his comeback after years of health problems.

With all of that in the books, let's get to the numbers!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Melog Rankings: Post-Shanghai 2016

The Asian swing is usually one of Novak Djokovic's favorite parts of the tennis season. In particular, he has dominated the 500-point tournament in Beijing like nothing else, having never lost a match there. In 2015, he won both Beijing and the Shanghai Masters, providing yet another exclamation point on a season full of them.

This year? This year, Djokovic pulled out of Beijing with an injury, and lost in the semifinals in Shanghai. And that actually overstates his performance; there were so many early upsets in Shanghai that Djokovic didn't face an opponent in the top 40 until the semifinals, where he lost in straight sets to Roberto Bautista Agut. Meanwhile, both the Beijing and Shanghai titles were instead captured by Andy Murray. Murray, who entered the month over 2000 points behind Djokovic in ATP ranking points for 2016, returns to Europe trailing by just over 900, within relatively easy striking distance of the year-end number 1 spot.

And in the Melog ratings. the upheaval is even bigger.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Game of the Day (10/6/91)

On the last day of the 1991 baseball season, all four division titles were locked up, and there were no other playoff spots up for grabs because no other playoff spots existed.

So there wasn't much at stake in any of the games played on this particular date - except, of course, for professional pride. And in the case of Brewers 6, Red Sox 3, there were two starting pitchers looking to put exclamation points on excellent seasons - Milwaukee's Bill Wegman hoping to extend his career high total of 15 wins, and Boston's Roger Clemens trying to seal a third Cy Young award after having been robbed in the previous year's voting.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Game of the Day (10/5/91)

On October 5, 1991, the Atlanta Braves won their eighth game in a row, 5-2 over the Astros, while the Dodgers were shut out 2-0 by the Giants for their third straight defeat. The results put the Braves two games ahead of the Dodgers in the standings - and since October 5 was the second-to-last day of the season, the Braves wrapped up the year's final division title.

Meanwhile, in the American League, the dreadful Yankees were facing the Indians, who were much worse. The starters were Eric King, who would pitch seven seasons in the majors (including four in which he was almost exclusively a starter) without ever qualifying for the ERA title, and Eric Plunk, who was making the last start of his career but would spend the remainder of the '90s in major league bullpens. If you had asked me to guess which man started for which team, I would have picked Plunk on the Indians (he pitched there for seven years), and I would have been wrong.

But these two unimpressive squads combined to produce Indians 7, Yankees 5 (12), which sounds pretty impressive... and was actually better than it sounds.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Game of the Day (10/4/91)

Tigers 4, Orioles 2 (14). Detroit's Scott Aldred and Baltimore's Mike Mussina were born almost exactly 6 months apart, and were 23 and 22, respectively, when this game took place. Both pitched partial seasons in 1991 - Aldred started 11 games, Mussina 12. And... well, Mussina pitched about 50% more innings, and Aldred gave up more runs. Which gave a pretty accurate indicator of how their respective careers were going to play out.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Melog Rankings: Early October 2016

There were no Grand Slams played in the last three weeks. Nor were there any Masters events, or any 500 point events. There is no Grand Slam in the immediate future, either. So based on the ESPN school of tennis watching, not much is going on at the moment.

On the other hand, the last three weeks have included the Davis Cup semifinals, in which Argentina defeated the defending champion British on the strength of Juan Martin del Potro upending Any Murray in five sets, and in which Marin Cilic and Croatia upset France. And after that,there were four 250-point events played, two in Europe and two in Asia - and three of the four were won by players claiming their first title, the oldest of whom is 22 - and two of those three titles were secured with victories over top-10 players in the final, including one upset of the recently-crowned US Open champion.

The lesson is the same as usual, really: There's always something going on in tennis.

Game of the Day (10/3/91)

There were only five major league games played on October 3, 1991. When the total is that low, the selection is often not terribly impressive when it comes to excitement.

On the other hand, sometimes five-game days give you White Sox 13, Twins 12 (12). Minnesota started Kevin Tapani, who was closing out a season in which he had arguably been the best starting pitcher on a division champion; Chicago started Greg Hibbard, finishing up a year in which he had barely held onto his spot in the rotation.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Game of the Day (10/2/91)

Mets 9, Pirates 6 (11). New York's Pete Schourek and Pittsburgh's Randy Tomlin were both reasonably effective, reasonably young starters. For no reason that was immediately apparent at this point in time, Schourek's career would last just about twice as long as Tomlin's.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Game of the Day (10/1/91)

Phillies 6, Cubs 5 (13). Chicago's Frank Castillo faced Philadelphia's Tommy Greene. Both were young pitchers, and both would end up between 5 and 10 WAR for their careers. Greene had the bigger highlights (a no-hitter, a 16-4 season for a pennant winner), but Castillo would last over twice as many innings.