Friday, July 5, 2013

Summer Plans

The European professional leagues completed their 2012/13 seasons over a month ago, but here in Seattle summer doesn’t really start until the July 4th weekend.  There’s something automatic about the weather where all of the sudden it turns from gray-and-drizzly through June to warm-and-sunny in early July.  That turn came about a week early this year, with the Seattle area experiencing 90-degree weather all last weekend.  In most sections of the United States this wouldn’t be a big deal, but this once- or twice-a-summer warm up is something Seattleites soldier through given most of our residences do not have air conditioning.  Perversely, this can make the office a welcome respite from the heat on days as warm as this past weekend!

It is with this unofficial start of summer that I felt it would be good to outline my plans over the next month or so to the regular readers of my material.  As some of you know, I do all of my statistical analysis and writing in the evenings and on the weekends.  This is not my primary job, as by day I am a senior engineer at a local transportation firm.  The ability to write about soccer analytics as a secondary career affords me certain freedoms to explore topics I might not be able to pursue if it were my primary source of income.  Such an approach also has its limitations, most of which revolve around time.  Balancing the myriad of writing commitments I have made, future projects, my day job, and a family is challenging.  Every so often this means all of these commitments can’t be maintained at the same rate, and one must be temporarily put on the back burner for the sake of the others.

This summer I will be taking a bit of a break from my primary writing gig at Forbes.  There is no good time to take such a break, as there is no real offseason for North American soccer writers given the summer tournaments and the domestic league’s calendar that runs from March to December.  There can only be a “better time” to take a break, and it seems the month of July is one of those given no “major” tournaments are being contested.  The decision to take a break doesn’t come lightly.  It is no secret that in today’s media world part of the game involves regularly contributing to various sites to stay relevant.  There seems to be an intense pressure to never take a break at most websites that leads to minimal time to breath and think, and instead the emphasis is on continuously pushing out material.  This isn’t a complaint, but more a realization all online contributors must deal with at some point that can be challenging given longer-term goals one has for their writing.  I am lucky in that I have a very supportive editor at Forbes who understands the need to take a break, recharge, think about things differently, write a bit in a format not suited to online consumption, and then come back bigger-and-better than ever.

This break will allow me to focus on writing the first few drafts of a few chapters for a forthcoming book and take a weeklong family vacation with my wife and daughters.  I can’t say much more about the book at this time given it is in the early stages, but it does represent a culmination of my first several years of writing that I will be very happy to see published in the future.  It will also be a new writing format for me, having already tackled blogging and periodical long-form writing.  As such, it requires a different skill set and bit more intense, long-term focus that can’t be achieved with regular blogging commitments given my limited free time.

I’ll still be on Twitter, and you will see one or two previously committed pieces from me.  These will, however, be an exception to the general rule of writing silence from me over the next month.  Focusing on these chapters over the next month or so will allow me to come back to blogging in time for the start of the next Premier League season and the run-in within MLS, hopefully with a few new ideas and certainly a renewed energy having completed a major item in from my life’s bucket list.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for brand new material from me in a written format you can head over to Amazon and buy These Turbulent Times: Liverpool FC’s Search for Success.  I am very honored to have one of my pieces for The Tomkins Times included in Paul Tomkin’s “best of” collection, and I was honored further to provide an additional few hundred words of retrospective commentary on the piece’s predictive capability.  If you’re a Red or happen to just like good writing worthy of compensation I’d highly recommend getting a copy of the book.  You all know I am a Gooner at heart, but I am very proud to have many Liverpool friends, especially those within the Tomkins Times community.

I hope you all have a rewarding, exciting, and restful summer.  I’ll see you again in August!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

On Forbes - Premier League Table Predictions (Post Match Day 11)

The Premier League has now completed 11 matches, which means they're slightly over a quarter of the way through the season.  I took a look at each team's odds of finishing in each table position, and wrote a post at Forbes based upon my findings.  Enjoy!

Sounder At Heart - Forget The Numbers: A View On The MLS Conference Semifinals

Two weeks ago I was asked to write a piece for Sounder at Heart on the Sounder's chances of making it to the MLS Cup and my overall thoughts on the team.  Previous to the post I had debuted my attempt at a predictive model that attempted to forecast who would make it to the end of the 2012 MLS Cup playoffs, which has been pretty much wrong this playoff cycle.  In that piece I explained why I felt the Sounders were a long shot to make and win the Cup, and yet why I very rarely listen to the numbers when I enjoy watching the Sounders.  Read the post if you want to see me take some very fair lumps and perhaps understand my love for the sport beyond the numbers.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

On Forbes - MLS Knockout Round and MLS Cup Predictions

My latest post for Forbes uses my MLS playoff model to predict who will win the knockout round matches this week, as well as the likelihood of each team winning the MLS Cup. Everyone knows that San Jose is the favorite to win it all, but what's their actual likelihood of winning the Cup? Who else is likely to win it, and what is the range of likelihoods each team has at winning the Cup? You will have to click on the link above to find out.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

On Forbes - What is Champions League Worth To Arsenal?

Many people laughed when Arsene Wenger declared at last Thursday's AGM that "fourth place was like a trophy" for the Gunners. In this post I explain why Arsenal can only compete for third or fourth place given their player expenditures, and the impact not qualifying for the Champions League would have on the club.

Appearance on the Soccer Perspectives Podcast

This week I appeared on the Soccer Perspectives podcast to discuss my recent posts on how the MLS playoff format penalizes teams who participate in extra-league competitions like the CONCACAF Champions League and US Open Cup. My segment picks up around the 3 minute mark, and involves a 20 minute conversation with the podcast's host.

Monday, October 22, 2012

On Forbes - How the Two-Legged Conference Final Will Impact MLS Cup

My latest post for Forbes examines how the 2012 changes to the MLS playoffs conference finals format will impact the likelihood of certain teams winning an MLS Cup.  It uses data from the last nine MLS post season tournaments as input to a 10,000 run Monte Carlo simulation.  The results quantify just how much of a penalty teams that play additional competitive matches via US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League will pay in the revised playoff format.