Friday, January 13, 2017

2026 World Cup Expansion: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

It might have been a matter of time until the biggest sporting event on the planet was going to expand. The question was when and by how much. On Wednesday, we got that answer. The answer was by 16 and it will happen in time for the 2026 World Cup.

Whether it’s March Madness, College Football Playoff, the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup. They all have one thing in common. They will expand when it makes sense financially. And that’s exactly what FIFA did and they accomplished it with a bang.

Unsurprisingly, there was controversy after the announcement throughout the world. While the 48-team World Cup is met with an overwhelming amount of optimism from countries like Peru, Panama, Albania, Uganda and Bahrain, a few will all be eager to taste the World Cup with a much higher percentage. The one criticism about the 32-team World Cup was it was the same teams qualifying cycle after cycle, and that cinderella runs only happened when a country received a good draw.
There’s a lot to discuss, so let’s begin with the good, the bad and the down right ugly over things regarding World Cup expansion.
The Good
48 teams will mean more education and more tourism for the host country and less importance on the draw that a country is given. World Cup Qualifying’s room for error is razor-thin on the surface, so it does make sense to expand. Even when teams do qualify, there are some, that don’t have a chance of reaching to the knockout stage.

In fact, there is going to be a new format for the 2026 World Cup. Instead of eight groups of four, there will be 16 groups of three. This will eliminate and decrease the chances of “Group of Deaths” that will level the playing field. More importantly, the knockout stage will begin with 32 teams creating a higher chance of different matchups in the early rounds.
The Bad
Despite a 48 team World Cup seeming like a good idea, World Cup Qualifying has instantly become boring for teams like Germany, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Japan and Ghana to name a few. Those countries are regional powerhouses that should have no problem qualifying for 2026.

In addition, the actual World Cup might become diluted with average teams qualifying regularly. As of now, it is too early to say that this will actually come true until we see the Qualifying formats regionally. To continue, the World Cup happens every four years and qualifying for one should be special. A 48 team World Cup isn’t special to qualify anymore.

A huge concern that will come up is the upcoming biding for future World Cups. With the increased number of teams, comes an increased number of games. That means an increased number of millions it will cost to host a World Cup and consequently decrease the number of countries able to bid for World Cups in the future.
The Ugly
16 groups of 3? Who’s brilliant idea was that? It doesn’t take a calculus major at the University of Duke to figure out that groups of three will be a gong-show to say the least.

I present to you Rock Paper Scissorology: Everyone has played it as a kid, rock beats scissors, paper beats rock, but scissors beat paper. In this study, this is what FIFA has gotten themselves into. Let’s say we are in Group M and it features Croatia, Panama and Cameroon. In this group, Croatia would be the favorite but not by much. Well what happens if Croatia beats Panama 1-0, Panama beats Cameroon 1-0, and Cameroon beats Croatia 1-0? All realistic score lines against three competitive teams. At the end of the day, you have a complete three-way tie. This is not too far-fetched from becoming a disastrous situation.
To make stuff even more of a nightmare, FIFA enforced that “their will be shootouts to decide ties.” Unfortunately, my math says that won’t solve much except for exciting back and forth action. In fact, even with shootouts in place, my rock, paper, scissors theory still exists.

Also, with three team groups, there will be a huge advantage to the two teams playing in the final game.For instance, a team might not know if their eliminated until after the final game, which isn’t fair to the odd team out.

 At the end of the day, FIFA had to change something, but I think they made too drastic of a move. Potentially, they should have maybe tested this format in the Europa League or Champions League to see if fans liked it because most fans are puzzled by the format. 2026 is nine years away, and hopefully FIFA hasn’t ruined the most watched month-long sporting event in the world.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

EPL Week 21















FA Cup week is over. Back to the Premier League. It has became awfully tight at the bottom and with Tottenham's 2-0 win over Chelsea last week, the title fight along with the Champions League fight has thickened as well.


The Spurs haven't lost home yet, West Brom will do their best to reverse that trend in the early game. No Monday game this week and six games during the middle window and none of them much bigger than West Ham hosting Crystal Palace. In the late game, Chelsea travel to underachieving Leicester hoping to avoid losing two in a row.


Sunday closes out with a bang with four teams having European competition aspirations Everton hosts Manchester City which is followed by Liverpool clashing with Manchester United.








Saturday, 14 January 2017
Time/ResultHomeAwayVenue                          Time         TV
:Tottenham HotspurWest Bromwich AlbionWhite Hart Lane            7:30AM    TSN1 3

SunderlandStoke CityStadium Of Light         10:00AM    None

West Ham UnitedCrystal PalaceOlympic Stadium         10:00 AM    SN1

WatfordMiddlesbroughVicarage Road              10:0AM      TSN1

Hull CityBournemouthKCOM Stadium          10:00AM      None

BurnleySouthamptonTurf Moor                    10:00AM     TSN4

Swansea CityArsenalLiberty Stadium           10:00AM     SN

Leicester CityChelseaKing Power Stadium    12:30PM     NBC
Sunday, 15 January 2017

HomeAwayVenue

EvertonManchester CityGoodison Park                8:30AM   TSN1 4 5

Manchester UnitedLiverpoolOld Trafford                   11:00AM TSN1 4 5



















Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Bracketology - January 11th

  East                                                                                    Midwest 

1 Villinova  
 1 Baylor 
16  UNC Central /UMBC 
 16 East Tennessee State  / F. Dickinson 
Buffalo 

Indianapolis
8 Notre Dame
 8 Clemson 
9  TCU
 9 Purdue
4  Butler 
 4 Xavier 
13 North Dakota State 
 13 Rider 
Tulsa
Sacramento
5 Minnesota 
 5 Arizona 
12 Bucknell 
 12 Akron 
3   Creighton 
 3 Duke 
14 Arkansas State 
 14 Harvard
Orlando 

Salt Lake City
6  West Virginia 
 6 Illinois 
 11 Miami 
7 SMU 
 7 Maryland 
10 Va Tech 
 10 Arkansas
Greenville

Buffalo
2 Florida 
 2 Louisville  
15 Jacksonville State 
 15 FGCU 
  West 
  South 
1 UCLA 
 1 Kentucky 
16  UC Davis 
 16 Winthrop
Salt Lake City 

Indianapolis
8 Seton Hall
 8 Pitt 
9 Wake Forest 
 9 Dayton
4  St. Mary's 
 4 Virginia  
13 Georgia Southern
 13 New Orleans
Sacramento 
Milwaukee
5 UNC 
  5 USC 
12 New Mexico State 
 12 Marshall
3  Kansas 
  3 Oregon
14 Weber State 
 14 Oakland 
Milwaukee 

Tulsa
6  Cincinnati
 6 Wisconsin 
11 Georgia /Northwestern
11 Texas Tech /South Carolina
7  VCU
 7 N.C. State 
10 Michigan State 
 10 Boise State 
Greenville 

Salt Lake City
2  Florida State
 2 Gonzaga 
15 Belmont 
 15 UNC Wilmington 



On The Bubble 

Last 4 IN 
Georgia 
Texas Tech 
South Carolina 
Northwestern

First 4 Out
Rhode Island
Nevada
Kansas State
Iowa State

Next 4 Out
Penn State
Colorado
Marquette
Michigan 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Looking Back on A Handful of Great Games for Myself as a Sports fan

As 2017 beings, I look back on my life as a sports fan, I believe I must be about a third of a way through my life. Pretty scary when you think of it. I have had lot of great memories as a sports fan which I'll try to break it down as best as I can.

My four favourite teams are the Canucks, Suns Mets and Seahawks. Since 1993, the year I was born there has been only 1 Championship between those four teams but seven Conference Championships.

What I define as a great game is a Game 7 or huge series clinching game that gets the team too the next level.

The order will be numerical as I will go from latest to most current. Keep in mind, I was a Vancouver Grizzlies fan for a long time and therefore wasn't a Suns fan until a few years ago.


1994: Canucks vs Flames Game 7

1994: Canucks vs Maple Leafs Game 5

1994 Canucks vs Rangers Game 7

1999 NLDS Game 4 D-Backs vs Mets

2003 Canucks vs Blues Game 7

2003: Canucks vs Wild Game 7

2004 NFC Wild Card Game Rams vs Seahawks

2005 NFC Divisional Game Redskins vs Seahawks

2005 NFC Title Game Panthers vs Seahawks

SB XL Steelers vs Seahawks

2006 NLCS Game 7 Cardinals vs Mets

2007 Canucks vs Stars Game 7

2011 Canucks vs Blackhawks Game 7

2011 Canucks vs Sharks Game 5

2011 Canucks vs Bruins Game 7

2014 NFC Title Game Seahawks vs 49ers

SB XLVIII Broncos vs Seahawks

SB XLIX Pats vs Seahawks

2015 NLDS Game 5 Mets vs Dodgers

2015 World Series Game 4 Mets vs Royals

All these games have something in common. They were decade defining moments for these four teams. I have always admired how the Suns have played. Up tempo, however I always refused to cheer for them when Steve Nash played for them because Nash didn't want to play for the Canadian Men's National team.

I am 12-9 in these games. 21 games. I have been alive for 23 years. That works out to be just under 1 per year which is pretty good when you think about it. I'm happy with my four teams. Four different cities with four good tourist destinations.




Friday, January 6, 2017

Can the Canucks Win Again Tonight?

For what its worth, today is Friday. The first weekend of 2017 is apon us.. In Vancouver it is brutally cold, but the Vancouver Canucks are steaming hot after winning five in a row and have climbed up the standings as they look to leap frog the Los Angels Kings in the Wildcard race.

I'll be at the game tonight and I'm looking forward to the atmosphere that is in the building.

A win of any kind combined with a loss of any kind by Nashville will see Vancouver fans going to bed in a playoff spot tonight. This would be a remarkable turn of events for a team that seemed doomed for a Top 3 pick on Christmas Day.

The Score App reported that Ryan Miller is expected to start tonight. With how bad the Canucks have been on the road this year, tonight's game is crucial.

I wouldn't be surprised if Vancouver lost tonight. It is going to be tough as Calgary is on a roll as well.

How the next five games go for Vancouver results wise and effort wise will go a long way to determine how much the Canucks have left in the tank in the second half of the regular season.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Bracketology - January 4th

  East                                                                                    Midwest 

1 Villinova  
 1 Baylor 
16  UNC Central /UMBC 
 16 Samford / F. Dickinson 
Buffalo 

Indianapolis
8 TCU 
 8 Notre Dame 
9  Virginia Tech 
 9 West Virginia 
4  Butler 
 4 Oregon 
13 North Dakota State 
 13 Rider 
Tulsa
Sacramento
5 Minnesota 
 5 Arizona 
12 Bucknell 
 12 Akron 
3   Creighton 
 3 Florida State  
14 Arkansas State 
 14 Brown 
Orlando 

Salt Lake City
6  Cincinnati 
 6 Illinois 
 11 Miami 
7 SMU 
 7 Maryland 
10 Dayton 
 10 Georgia 
Greenville

Buffalo
2 Florida 
 2 Louisville  
15 Jacksonville State 
 15 FGCU 
  West 
  South 
1 UCLA 
 1 Kentucky 
16  UC Davis 
 16 Radford 
Salt Lake City 

Indianapolis
8 Arkansas 
 8 Pitt 
9 Wake Forest 
 9 Purdue 
4  St. Mary's 
 4 Virginia  
13 Old Dominion 
 13 Nicholls
Sacramento 
Milwaukee
5 UNC 
  5 USC 
12 New Mexico State 
 12 UT Arlington 
3  Kansas 
  3 Xavier 
14 Weber State 
 14 Oakland 
Milwaukee 

Tulsa
6  Seton Hall 
 6 Clemson 
11 Kansas State / Houston 
11 Auburn / Iowa State 
7  VCU
 7 N.C. State 
10 Michigan State 
 10 Boise State 
Greenville 

Salt Lake City
2  Duke 
 2 Gonzaga 
15 Jacksonville State 
 15 UNC Wilmington 



On The Bubble 

Last 4 IN 
Kansas State
Auburn
Iowa State
Houston

First 4 Out
Northwestern
South Carolina
Nevada
Texas Tech

Next 4 Out
Penn State
Colorado
Marquette
Ohio State 

Friday, December 23, 2016

The IIHF World Juniors Have lost it's Flare

Around this time of year, Team Canada is making their final selections for the annual IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships played between December 25th and January 5th every year. 
The tournament hosts many of NHL's future superstars that will alter NHL Mock Drafts from various hockey experts and scouts as they prepare for the 2017 NHL draft in June. 
It has became a Canadian Tradition as Hockey Canada assembles the best roster they can as they know that anything but a Gold Medal for Canada will be unacceptable especially on home ice where they came away with Gold last time the tournament was held in Canada in 2014. 
The last decade has been Canada's gold mind as many current elite NHLers are playing major roles in various teams right now. From 2005-2009 Canada won gold every year. In fact, from 2004-2011 the Canadian U20 team went on a unheard of run that saw them go 52 Wins 2 losses 3 overtime losses and 1 tie. To make things even more remarkable, Canada's two regulation losses were blown third period leads. 
Canada has came back down to earth in recent years only winning one gold medal since 2009. What has also changed is the anticipation for the tournament. Despite stars still playing for Canada like Connor McDavid in 2015 and Jonathan Drouin in 2014. 
The tournament has became old news the last few years, the question used to be, how awesome will Canada be this year to now a scouting tournament to see which player they want their respective team to have in the upcoming draft. 
In the past, Canada's team usually has a handful of drafted CHL players that were sent back to Junior because they weren't strong enough. However, in the new era of hockey where having speed is a valuable asset, players under 20 have been making NHL rosters quite frequently and therefore don't play in the World Juniors that year. 
This has resulted in a lesser talent pool every year and therefore, has made the rest of the teams catch up to Canada in hockey talent.  For instance, all the U20 players that are holding spots in the NHL are hurting the World Junior talent and making the tournament have way less quality. 
This could be why the anticipation is down. Unless, you follow CHL hockey, none of the 2017 draft eligible players are household names yet which is a major problem when trying to achieve high TV ratings. 
Nevertheless, TSN will still advertise the hec out of it, as they this is their high point to their hockey coverage with no NHL coverage to atleast 2026. They will cover the tournament wall to wall as they bring you the coverage from Toronto and Montreal. 
To tell you the truth though, the tournament has been missing something the last few years and sadly, I'm not sure it will ever be the same.