Monday, June 18, 2012

Dictator Demetriou Deflects Frees Farce

Warning: this post has a high nerd factor of 9.98 out of 10. Proceed at your own risk.

Round 12 and the issue of umpires' decisions has raised its ugly head yet again after another West Coast game. Instead of acting on the blatantly lopsided Eagles' free kick count, Demetriou deflects criticism by launching a tirade against Twitter and a couple of Blues players' innocuous tweets. Well played sir.

Just to highlight the pointlessness of Demetriou's censorship of players on Twitter, take a look at any game broadcast, in any season. Listen to the commentators rubbishing the umpires' decisions.  It happens every single week, without fail. Here's a couple from the West Coast vs Carlton game where the umps aren't treated too kindly.

BT and Richo on the Judd 50 metre penalty:
"How is that a 50 metre penalty?" "That is ridiculous".

On the Jack Darling stage act, where he did in fact give himself a one-potater-two on his chin:
"The umpire was right there". "That is professional acting".

Surely, Mr Demetriou, commentators on national TV carry just as much, if not more, influence than players do on Twitter, where there is a limited audience. Now I know the media aren't under your employ, but I'm sure if they were you'd be the first to censor them too to satisfy your dictatorial tendencies.  And what a boring game we'd have. 

The likes of BT, Richo, Bruce and Dennis, as well as Ralphy on Twitter, are rubbishing the umps every week, so why get on the players' backs for a slip of the tongue or tweet? I'll tell you why. And this is where you're very clever Mr Demetriou.  It's a red herring to get everyone off your back about what is becoming the biggest problem for the AFL.  The West Coast Eagles playing the umpires for all their worth. And the Geisch and your good self seemingly powerless to do anything about it.

West Coast Con Job

Sure, the Joseph holding the ball decision and the Judd 50 were shocking decisions and already well documented. But one decision that went largely unnoticed was the Gibbs tackle on little Luke Shuey early in the game. It was initially around the arms. Shuey shrugged it by lowering his body and raising his arms, Gibbs's tackle slipped higher, his arms level with Shuey's neck but at no stage did Gibbs arms move off Shuey's arms on to his neck. Yet still the high free was given, seemingly because the umpire perceived high contact. It was a trained move by Shuey, one he does every week, and the reason why his free kick count in 2012 is 34 frees for and only 7 against.  There is no doubt that free kicks, by weight of volume, are winning matches of footy for the West Coast Eagles this year.  And that the Weagles train like hell to max their free count each week. And I reckon the Selwoods have had a chat to their bro.

The ratio of "Frees For" (FF) Vs "Frees Against" (FA) sees West Coast as a clear statistical anomaly after round 12 this season.  You would expect teams' ratios to approach 1 to 1 as the season wears on. But these stats below, and a closer examination of individuals stats, show that the smart players are milking the system, and its paying major dividends in close matches.

Here we have the table of Frees For Vs Against for all teams after Round 12, from the most favourable count to the least.

West Coast
FF 263
FA 166
Ratio 1.58

Port Adelaide
FF 246
FA 215
Ratio 1.14

FF 216
FA 191
Ratio 1.13

Greater Western Sydney
FF 235
FA 217
Ratio 1.08

Western Bulldogs
FF 196
FA 187
Ratio 1.05

FF 238
FA 231
Ratio 1.03

FF 201
FA 197
Ratio 1.02

FF 203
FA 205
Ratio 0.99

North Melbourne
FF 198
FA 204
Ratio 0.97

FF 224
FA 232
Ratio 0.97

FF 225
FA 234
Ratio 0.96

FF 181
FA 189
Ratio 0.96

FF 205
FA 218
Ratio 0.94

FF 179
FA 193
Ratio 0.93

FF 197
FA 216
Ratio 0.91

FF 192
FA 214
Ratio 0.90

Gold Coast
FF 183
FA 207
Ratio 0.88183

FF 205
FA 234
Ratio 0.88

For those who prefer pictures, a quick look at the free kick ratio on a graph makes compelling viewing. All teams except West Coast are comfortably within a 0.8 to 1.2 ratio tolerance.  Then you have West Coast way off the charts at 1.6.

For the statistically minded, when you round off these free kick ratios to one decimal place, we have 6 teams at the harshly done-by end with a ratio of 0.9, eight teams on the expected middle value of 1.0, and three teams who have done well with a ratio of 1.1.  This approximates the beginnings of an evenly shaped bell curve, for which you really need a minimum of 30 pieces of data.  We have only 18 teams, and I've only mentioned 17 so far.  Then, you have West Coast.  Miles out to the right, on not 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 or 1.5, but 1.6. Off the charts, or an outlier as they say in the classics, as can be seen by this bell curve graph.

A statistically significant difference with 99.95% confidence. Or, something fishy's going on. Now we know they've been called "the Ducks" for all the head-high frees they seem to get, and there's been a lot of talk about the home crowds at Subiaco affecting the umpires' decisions.  Nice try, but this doesn't cut any ice with me. Sure, it might affect the umps slightly, but what about the other interstate home crowds? They have the same advantage. Then if you look at the Eagles' away games, you'll find that their ratio of Frees For vs Against is almost exactly identical to their home games.  Their home free kick count is 160 to 97 with a ratio of 1.65. Their away frees total is 103 to 69, for a ratio of 1.5, still way above what any other team has. As for the Ducks call, it hasn't affected the way the umps call the game.

An examination of individual player totals shows that the clear advantage West Coast has been able to generate in this area is due to just a handful of players.   The following players are dominating the free kick ratios:

FF 34
FA 7
Ratio 4.86

FF 28
FA 10
Ratio 2.80

FF 20
FA 10
Ratio 2.00

FF 17
FA 7
Ratio 2.43

FF 17
FA 11
Ratio 1.55

FF 16
FA 10
Ratio 1.60

You have a mix of small forwards, midfielders, and tall forwards / ruckman. Take away these seven, and West Coast's ratio is back to roughly 100 frees for and against and an even ratio of 1 to1, or 1.0, and middle of the pack.

The frustration experienced by coaches, players and fans who front up against the Weagles is palpable.

So, Geisch and Demetriou, get your magnifying glass out this week and watch these boys, especially the Selwoods, Hams and Shuey. The big question is, if a tackle starts clean, but ends up high because the player getting tackled forced it high, is it a free.

Umpies' Pets by Club

It's worth noting that  Joel Selwood's free kick count is 26/9. The Selwood 3 brothers' total is 58/28.  A bit of collusion going on there in the off-season you would think.  Another standout is Freo's Mayne with 16/1.

Adelaide; Wright
FF 10
FA 3
Ratio 3.33

Brisbane; Brown
FF 12
FA 4
Ratio 3.00

Carlton; Murphy
FF 14
FA 5
Ratio 2.80

Collingwood; Pendlebury
FF 15
FA 4
Ratio 3.75

Essendon; Watson
FF 20
FA 9
Ratio 2.22

Fremantle; Mayne
FF 16
FA 1
Ratio 16.00

Geelong; Selwood
FF 26
FA 9
Ratio 2.89

Gold Coast; McKenzie
FF 15
FA 2
Ratio 7.50

Greater Western Sydney; Giles
FF 20
FA 12
Ratio 1.67

Hawthorn; Rioli
FF 16
FA 3
Ratio 5.33

Melbourne; Jones
FF 17
FA 13
Ratio 1.31

North Melbourne; Petrie
FF 18
FA 11
Ratio 1.64

Port Adelaide; Hartlett
FF 17
FA 7
Ratio 2.43

Richmond; Deledio
FF 15
FA 4
Ratio 3.75

StKilda; Riewoldt
FF 23
FA 7
Ratio 3.29

Sydney; McGlynn
FF 16
FA 5
Ratio 3.20

West Coast; Shuey
FF 34
FA 7
Ratio 4.86

Western Bulldogs; Cross
FF 19
FA 7
Ratio 2.71

Free kick stats after round 12.

West Coast Eagles record to date. They haven't lost a free kick count yet, Essendon the only team drawing level with them when they slaughtered the Eagles by 9 goals.

Away Games
WB v WC (87-136)
12   19

GWS v WC (69-150)
8    23

RI v WC (97-107)
17   21

ES v WC (113-52)
19   19

BR v WC (102-100)
13   21

69   103

14   21

Home Games
WC v MB (166-58)
32   12

WC v HA (51-46)
33   23

WC v NM (120-95)
29   15

WC v STK (121-91)
25 - 16

WC v FREO (84-36)
18   10

WC v CA (79-69)
23   21

160   97

27   16

2012 TOTAL:
FF: 263  FA:166

FF: 24  FA: 15

Stats source:

Disclaimer: This has been an Uglybustards Report, so don't get any of it confused with the facts.

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