Belgian Grand Prix

Fastest Friday  Practice Price Fastest Saturday Practice Price Fastest Qualifying Price
Nico Rosberg 5/2 Lewis Hamilton 8/11 Lewis Hamilton 4/9
Amount won/lost on a £1 bet -£1 Amount won/lost on a £1 bet £1.73 Amount won/lost on a £1 bet £1.44
Amount won/lost on a £10 bet -£10 Amount won/lost on a £10 bet £17.27 Amount won/lost on a £10 bet £14.44
Season Total £1 bets -£3.97 Season Total £1 bets £4.33 Season Total £1 bets £6.19
Season Total £10 bets -£39.67 Season Total £10 bets £41.22 Season Total £10 bets £69.01

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Sam Burgess Cannot Win

First things first, I am a league girl, born and bred.  But I don’t blame Sam Burgess for switching codes.  There’s money in them thar fields.  Other than that, he wants to win a World Cup, and England Rugby Union have a greater chance of that than England Rugby League.  Again, I admire a man with ambition.

But the way the English RFU have gone about it means that Sam Burgess is going to get it in the neck whatever happens.

If he gets into the England team for the World Cup, people will say it’s only because the RFU has decided to put him in there to prove a point, that they were right to pay the Rabbitohs the stupid amount it took to bring him to Bath from Sydney.  If he doesn’t, it’s because he’s just a big lump that tackles hard, and isn’t worth the fuss or the money.  And he’s more than just a big lump (although he does big lump jobs very well).

I’m not sure if the mistake the RFU made was paying his transfer fee (because it’s unfair on teams that aren’t Bath), or making it clear that he was being fast-tracked into the England team (which he was).  Either way, they’ve handled this badly.

Champions League Finals, and other sporting finals

I’m a Juventus fan, so my team got beaten by the better team in the Champions League final.  Which is an odd feeling for a fan.  Because it’s not the worst way to lose, it’s not hated rivals, flukey 90th minute goal or anything like that.  But still, it’s aggravating to have to sit their going ‘fair enough, the better team won’.

Because you think back to all those moments, particularly that moment after Morata had equalised and Pogba made that run and got chopped down by a Barcelona player in the box, and that should have been a penalty.  And if the penalty had gone in …

But that’s the nature of being a sports fan, you hang on what could have beens.

However, this line of thinking lead to another thought:-

I may be a Juventus fan, but I am also a football fan, and I think it was probably a fairly good match to watch.  It had flow and stuff.  But a neutral would probably have said that Barcelona were the better team and that they were the more deserved winners.  Now I, for obvious reasons, wouldn’t minded a sneaky Juventus victory.  They’d beaten better teams on the way to the final.

I was reminded of a conversation I’d had with @JTBourne on Twitter (if you like sport, follow him, he writes for theScore and is very funny about a wide range of sports).

It was about one of the semi-finals of the hockey playoffs (if they’re even called that).  There was good team vs less good team and people were saying that less good team were just not working hard enough and their only chance to win was to out-work the better team.  And the point being made that there were limits to what hard work can get you – which is not a popular position, because it obviously should, and we’ve had it drummed into our heads for years that it will – and that sometimes, you just come up against a better team.

And, and this is what set me to thinking, that less good team had even less of a chance, because it was best of seven, and you can out work a team for one match and get lucky at the other end to score, but it’s very hard to do that for seven matches in a row.

So I got to wondering.  Why do some sports have best of seven deciders, and some have winner takes one, takes all deciders?

With some sports, you can see why, because of the physical effort and danger involved in playing the sport.  I’d say both rugbys and American football come under this heading.

Then you have the rest.

There are certain advantages to having best of x series.  You’re more or less guaranteed that the more skilled “better” team will win.  Freak overall results are unlikely.  Tension is maintained over a longer time (i.e. advertising $).

At the same time, there are advantages to one and done series – tension is focus on one night.  Advertisers only have one game to go for (again advertising $).  Each goal counts for more.

So I was discussing this friends, and one of them who is a baseball fan mentioned that in baseball, you need the extra games so you can play your full rotation.  Which was something I hadn’t even thought of, because, with the exception of the Tinker Man, most soccer football managers know who their first 11 + 5 are going to be, so there isn’t the same variety in the teams sent out to play.

I don’t think that football will ever change, nor do I want it to, but if it had been a North American sport, I don’t have a second’s doubt that it would have a best of 7 series final for the Champions League.

About the Dark Lord Armstrong

I did not come easily to liking Darth Lance.  He rode with the wrong team, against my beloved Telekom team.  And he used to beat my beloved Telekom boys.  And I felt that he got more UK coverage than someone else doing just as well, purely because he was an Anglophone.  So, rider riding for the wrong team, riding for the strongest team, and a rider that I didn’t particularly like for any other reason.

Now you’ll notice that I didn’t mention his doping or lack thereof.  That’s mostly because Richard Virenque was my first cycling love and I never really stopped loving him, so I couldn’t really claim any moral high-ground on the doping front when it came to my favourites*.  Either Armstrong was clean, in which case he was incredible, or he wasn’t, in which case he was doing better than everyone else who was also on stuff.  It never made much of a matter to me.

So I couldn’t really join in the howls of indignation when d’affaire Armstrong happened.  And I’d like to point out that he still has never failed a test, he only got caught because half his lieutenants failed tests and because they then ‘fessed up about exactly how systematic doping was in the US Postal/Discovery team.

Then after he got thoroughly stricken from the record, I found myself feeling really awkward because I agreed with Armstrong.  Why was he the only one stricken, when pretty much every other winner around him was also caught doping?  Okay, so Bjarne Riis confessed, so maybe he’s allowed to keep it for honesty (and, in the ASO’s defence, they want to strike him too but the UCI is not letting them), but my darling Jan wasn’t exactly clean (and has also admitted it) so why is he not being struck.  And this is not me picking on people, I love Ullrich like crazy because he’s one of my beloved Telekom boys.

It just strikes me that only removing Armstrong from the record is unfair, since he was by no means the only winner to be on something, illogical, because see previous point, and it hides quite how systematic and complete the doping problem was (is?) in cycling.

*my other one, true and undying cycling love is Alexandre Vinokourov.  I don’t half pick ’em.

An Update

Hi all,

I’ve moved the fulltimesportsfan blog over to WordPress in the hope that it looks better, or at least not eye-bleeding, to people who look at websites on mobiles, after being told that the Blogger page looked terrible via mobile.

If anyone has a mortal hatred of WordPress, do not worry, because the Blogger site will be staying up, and will be updated with the same content, mostly because it’s easier to make tables in Blogger and then copy and paste them into WordPress than to make them in WordPress.  (We’re living in the 21st century, why are none of the major blogging platforms capable of doing tables well?)

Other than that, I hope to be able to present Top Secret Project X soon, along with less secret but significantly bigger Project Y, as well as the usual F1 betting posts.

World Cup 2018 Qualifying Groups (Which May Shade Into A Rant In Parts)

After much drawing of rabbits balls out of hats, we have the European qualifying groups for the 2018 World Cup.  They are:

Group A Group B Group C Group D Group E Group F Group G Group H Group I
Netherlands Portugal Germany Wales Romania England Spain Belgium Croatia
France Switzerland Czech Republic Austria Denmark Slovakia Italy Bosnia-Herzegovina Iceland
Sweden Hungary Northern Ireland Serbia Poland Scotland Albania Greece Ukraine
Bulgaria Faroe Islands Norway Republic of Ireland Montenegro Slovenia Israel Estonia Turkey
Belarus Latvia Azerbaijan Moldova Armenia Lithuania Macedonia Cyprus Finland
Luxembourg Andorra San Marino Georgia Kazakhstan Malta Liechtenstein

Gibraltar are only a UEFA member, not a full FIFA member, which is why they’re not on here, and Russia have pre-qualified as hosts (I think).  Some of the group members are sick of each other, with several being in the same Euro 2016 qualifying groups.  I think that’s a side-effect of the potting process.

I understand why they do that, to help mix everything up a bit in these things, but there’s some thing very fishy about the most recent group drawing rule change, making the “big” teams play in the six-member groups, because the TV companies want more of the “big” teams, even though they might not be pot 1 standard.  Because that’s fair!

I don’t mind when FIFA/UEFA do things like not drawing Spain and Gibraltar together or Armenia and Azerbaijan because of political tensions, because, first do no harm makes sense on these occasions, but TV ratings are not a good reason for doing this.

If you do it straight out of the FIFA rankings, you get:

Group A Group B Group C Group D Group E Group F Group G Group H Group I
Germany Belgium Netherlands Portugal Romania England Wales Spain Croatia
Bosnia and Herzegovina Denmark Iceland France Czech Republic Switzerland Italy Austria Slovakia
Ukraine Scotland Poland Hungary Sweden Albania Northern Ireland Serbia Greece
Estonia Montenegro Faroe Islands Bulgaria Norway Republic of Ireland Israel Slovenia Turkey
Cyprus Latvia Armenia Finland Belarus Macedonia Azerbaijan Lithuania Moldova
Andorra San Marino Malta Georgia Liechtenstein Luxembourg Kazakhstan

Okay, so it means that Germany and Belgium don’t get to play as much which they’d probably complain about, and Austria’s draw sucks something awful, but the groups do seem more even.  I can also see an argument that this kind of rigidly ranking-based draw would make rank mobility less likely.  So you could do it the way the draws used to be done, where top 8 are pot 1, next 8 are pot 2 and so one, but do it clean and not let the TV companies interfere.