Why Soccer For RealGM

We launched our soccer page on Tuesday. Here is an article from Executive Editor Christopher Reina explaining why. 

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Fourth of July and the United States is playing Brazil at Stanford Stadium in the Round of 16 of the 1994 World Cup. Alexi Lalas, Cobi Jones, Tab Ramos, Tony Meola and company were fortunate to merely be in the same stadium as Brazil, but it took the eventual champions until the 72nd minute before Bebeto broke through for the lone goal of the match.

This was the second soccer match I had ever attended, with my first being a Group Stage rout of Cameroon by Brazil two weeks earlier.

That World Cup was an important breakthrough for the United States’ relationship with soccer, but it was still early days and the technology of the time wouldn’t allow us to see below the tip of the iceberg. It would take the arrival of club competition on television and the ability to read about it extensively on the Internet for it to become fully suitable as an object of fandom to those of us in the United States.

NBC is now paying $83 million per season to broadcast the Premier League, while Fox recently renewed its contract with UEFA for the Champions League. The incubation period for soccer in North America has been over for several years.

Depending on your cable package or streaming deftness, the number of soccer matches you can watch per week now is immense, but it still felt more like rare event viewing in 2002 when I became obsessed with Real Madrid and their march toward the Champions League Final. Real had won it in 1998, beating Zinédine Zidane and Juventus, and again in 2000 against Valencia, but this was Zidane’s first season at the Bernabéu following a then-world-record transfer fee of $66 million.

Real had acquired Zidane as a follow-up to Luis Figo from Barcelona in a $60.1 million transfer one year earlier and it was remarkable the depth of talent on the club at that time.

Zidane’s goal for the ages in the 45th minute would stand as the game-winner to break a 1-1 tie against Bayer Leverkusen. Zidane hit the left-footed volley on a Robert Carlos lob pass that seemed to float in the air forever into the left top corner of the net.

Zidane played with the type of imagination and grace that transcends sports and this was when he was at the supreme peak of his powers.

The World Cup opened two weeks later, with Ronaldo and Ronaldinho leading Brazil to an anticlimactic 2-0 win over Germany in the final. Ronaldo scored the lone goal in Brazil’s 1-0 win over Turkey in the semifinals and scored twice in the final.

When I arrived in Spain a few days later on the fourth of July in 2002, eight years after that World Cup in the United States to begin a summer study abroad, Ronaldo was on the front page of every major newspaper with rumors of his looming transfer from Inter Milan to Real Madrid.

Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant had just completed their threepeat with the Lakers, while the Yankees were in the midst of their most dominant streak since the early 1960s, but a club loading up like Real with so many of the world’s best players was still astonishing.

David Beckham arrived in 2003 from Manchester United, which retroactively marked a level of absurdity for the Galácticos strategy and results began to elude Real. They had won La Liga in 2003, but the Champions League became a wasteland just as Barcelona began its ascendancy.

The discernible takeaway was that the best soccer players in the world have the opportunity to be teammates like they’re on an All-Star team and they do so relatively early in their careers. Even if they don’t come up through the academy of a major club like Lionel Messi with La Masia, they rarely toil for more than a season or two with duds before a transfer.

Wayne Rooney became a teenage sensation for Everton in 02-03 and was sold to Manchester United ahead of the 04-05 season for £25.6 million.

LeBron James, just a few months older than Rooney, played with the Cleveland Cavaliers for seven seasons from 03-04 until 09-10 before he could move on to a more viable situation. Rooney won three Premier League titles and one Champions League title with United during that time in which the Cavaliers reached the Finals just once.

LeBron had to go to China for the 2008 Olympics to fully realize what his basketball life would be like to play with similarly talented players. Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are slumming it when they leave their loaded club teams to play for love of country in comparative superstar loneliness.

I neither prefer institutional parity or dynasties in sports, but the ability to watch the unquestioned best at their craft almost always increases the entertainment quotient.

European soccer is undergoing considerable change with the implementation of Financial Fair Play Regulations, as well as a similar advanced analytics that we have also seen in basketball, baseball and football.

The FFP was triggered in part due to the new American owners bringing over a closed system of US-style sports socialism. It remains unclear what impact it will have in the long-term as many have doubts about its sustainability and the nuance of how teams will work within those constraints.

The advanced analytics has helped anyone who chooses to embrace it improve their understanding of the game, while also not completely compromising ‘the beautiful game’ aesthetics that rightly remain so beloved. There is considerable randomness and a level of unpredictability to soccer, but take-ons per 90, total shots ratio, key passes, etc. have entered the lexicon to make the game more vivid.

RealGM went live nearly 14 years ago as a response to NBA trade rumors that were reported in the mainstream media without any semblance of plausibility. Trade Checker made reporters accountable to the rules of the collective bargaining agreement and we could then have a more intelligent conversation about player movement, which we found is one of the most exciting aspects of following sports on the granular level.

Unlike the very rules obsessed NBA, soccer remains susceptible to absurd rumors since anything remains theoretically possible with its open, unrestricted system.

We are helpless in inoculating against those types of reports as we did with the NBA, but our aim in expanding into soccer is to bring a similar spirit with as much focus dedicated to the how and why of success and failure of clubs and players to Wiretap, along with original articles that focus heavily on roster composition. We want to offer precise information that makes you as prepared and knowledgeable as soccer sporting directors.

We are hopeful that our experience covering basketball, baseball and football from the perspective of actual decision-makers adds a new viewpoint of value to the world of soccer/fußball/fútbol/football.

Click here to check out RealGM Soccer.

Also follow our soccer page on Twitter.

RealGM Radio

Daniel Leroux, Sportswriter at RealGM, hosts RealGM’s weekly radio show. This week Danny discusses the 2014 Sloan Sports Analytics conference with Ian Levy of Hickory-High.com and Hardwood Paroxysm, as well as Arturo Galletti of BoxScoreGeeks.com. Click here to listen for free and subscribe to the podcasts on iTunes. 

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New Features on RealGM

RealGM has been working on many new features over the past few years and here are a few that we are the most proud to share with all of you.

Updated Roster Pages

Our roster pages have been greatly enhanced and now include future free agent information, current free agent rights held, draft rights held, future draft pick obligations, awards, depth charts and how the team acquired every player on its roster.

Roster Composition

One of our most unique new features is the ability to study how teams constructed their rosters. These roster composition pages showcase how each player was acquired (draft, trade or free agency) and how many players were selected in the first round or second round or went undrafted.

You can also create custom search criteria, such as the number of players acquired via free agency on teams that won the championship or look at how teams that had an average roster age over 30 have historically performed.

The custom search area has many different categories to create a very specific search based on the parameters you select.

Future Free Agents

Our new free agent page is searchable all the way to the 2018 offseason and includes the player’s age at the time of free agency, type of free agent, statistics and agent. You can also narrow down the list of free agents to a specific team.

Each free agent season also has a position view to give you a better handle on that season’s crop of free agents. For example, search by player position or view the list in alphabetical order.

Free Agent Details on Player Profile Pages

Free agent information is now included on the RealGM profile page of every NBA player.

On the profile page of LeBron James, for example, his early termination option for 2014, player option for 2015 and unrestricted free agency in 2016 are displayed.

For a player on his rookie contract such as Anthony Davis, the team options for 2014 and 2015 are displayed, along with his restricted free agency for 2016.

Future Draft Pick Details

RealGM has completely rewritten and reformatted all draft pick information with concise descriptions of all first- and second-round pick ownership and conveyances. Note that only a pick that originated with a team or will or could potentially be conveyed to a team will be listed under the team. “Pass-through teams,” where a team neither originally held nor currently holds the pick, but did previously, will not show this pick listed. However, any pass-through teams will be noted in the “via” parenthetical of the descriptions that appear under the original and current owners of rights over such pick.

Draft Simulator 

One of the earliest features on RealGM was our Draft Simulator and this year’s version has several new upgrades. We now include the draft picks from the previous year by the team On The Clock, along with the players selected at that slot in the three most recent drafts. Also featured on this page is the team’s depth chart and upcoming selections.

Draft Search

Our brand new Draft Search enables you to create your own search criteria, such as centers that were selected directly from high school and International players with five or more years of service.

We have a lot of new projects in the pipeline that we will be releasing in the coming months.

 

NBA Playoffs on RealGM

PER

The NBA is well into Round 1 of the 2013 Playoffs and because it’s fun to compare performances in the current season to performances in past seasons, it’s worth looking into the following features on RealGM.

Check out the players ranked with the highest PER this playoff season by selecting ‘NBA’, ‘Player Stats’ and choosing ‘Advanced Stats’ and ‘Playoffs’ from the dropdown menus.

Anthony Randolph with the Denver Nuggets has the highest PER to date in this season’s playoffs with 35.77 PER, though Stephen Curry has the highest amongst players with more significant minutes.

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Historically, the highest PER since the 92-93 playoffs goes to LeBron James with 39.06 from the 08-09 season. This can be found by searching ‘Individual Seasons’, ‘Historical Season’, and selecting ‘Advanced Stats’ and ‘Playoffs’ from the dropdown menus. 

These pages offer player rankings in other categories also such as FIC, Offensive Rating, Defensive Rating, Assist %, etc. 

Win Shares 

Another unique feature we suggest checking out is the player rankings in Win Shares. From the ‘Player Stats’ page, select ‘Misc. Stats’ from the dropdown menu.

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Stephen Curry has the most Win Shares this playoff season with 1.11. However, Curry has a way to go to surpass Tim Duncan’s historical record of 5.94 Win Shares from the 02-03 season.

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Check out the other players who have made the list. 

Individual Playoff Stats by Team

Check out your team’s playoffs stats page throughout the playoff season by visiting their team page and selecting ‘Player Stats’ and then ‘Playoffs’ from dropdown menu. This feature displays the playoff leaders, player averages and team stats in several categories. 

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NCAA Conference Tournament Summary

The RealGM Tournament Page lists all NCAA conference tournament games.

Within the tournament links, such as the 2012-2013 West Coast Conference Tournament, you will find detailed information including tournament brackets, participants and schedule.

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(Above: Gonzaga coach Mark Few)

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You can find a printable tournament bracket on the Yearly Brackets Page allowing you to record your predictions.

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Historical tournament stats can be found for each conference by clicking on ‘Stats’ and selecting ‘Historical’ from the dropdown menu.

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We hope this RealGM feature helps you enjoy the NCAA tournament season!

RealGM Team Transaction Pages

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With the NBA Trade Deadline wrapping up on February 21st, take a look at your team’s transaction history.

On the RealGM Team Transaction Pages, each team page has a clear timeline for any and all transactions dating back to the 1993 NBA season.

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All trades are categorized by transaction type, including free agency and signing trades.

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Select the season from the dropdown menu and compare the team’s transaction activity from year-to-year. Below is a chart created from information taken from the Spurs transaction page.

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All-Star Weekend

With the 2013 All-Star Weekend underway, take some time to explore some of the features RealGM offers from previous All-Star events.

The general All-Star Page lists results, box scores, MVPs, Dunk Champions and 3-Point Champions from previous seasons dating back to 1984. 

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(Above image of Isiah Thomas during the 1984 All-Star Game where he was awarded MVP).

Detailed All-Star Stats are listed back to the 1984 season with standard statistical categories. For example, Kevin Durant has the highest points per game (PPG) average with 28.3. 

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For more team-specific detailed All-Star information, RealGM breaks its down with Historical All-Star Selections by team.

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View previous Rising Stars Challenge Selections by team to see how players began their careers at All-Star Weekend.

How about checking out which teams have had the NBA’s best dunkers? RealGM has the Dunk Contest Selections broken down by team.

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Enjoy RealGM’s All-Star Pages throughout the weekend!