Thursday, October 29, 2009

Top Chef Stats: Who's For Real?

Wikipedia has a great and detailed statsheet on every Top Chef season - you can find the main page here. I thought I'd take a quick look at this season's Final Six and how some of them stack up to past contestants. Going by the authoritative Noffke Power Rankings, here they are:

Kevin "Red Beard" Gillespie - 4 wins, 6 total top finishes, 4 quickfire wins. One low.

Michael Voltaggio - 2 wins, 8 tops, 1 QF win, one low.

Bryan Voltaggio - 3 wins, 6 tops, no QF wins, no lows.

Jennifer - 1 win, 5 tops, 3 QF wins, two lows.

Eli - 0 wins, 4 tops, 1 QF win, one low.

Robin - 0 wins, 1 tops, 2 QF wins, three lows.

A couple of numbers jump out at you right away. First off, Kevin and Michael have been pretty dominant this season. Kevin's four elimination and four quickfire wins lead both of those categories. Meanwhile, Michael's eight times in the top category for eliminations is pretty huge.

His older brother, on the other hand, has been a model of consistency. With three elimination wins versus zero times on the bottom, he has been the safest bet of any contestant. At the same time, he has no quickfire wins and fewer times in front of the judges for the right reasons than his li'l bro.

Jennifer's three Quickfire victories trails only Kevin in that category, but her two-in-a-row in the bottom indicates a downward spiral reminscent of Jamie from last year.

On that topic, here is who our top contestants most closely parallel from previous seasons.

Season Two's Sam won three Quickfires, but by the six-contestant divider had many more low finishes (three) than Redbeard, plus only one win and five top eliminations. Season Three's Trey won three elimination challenges by Episode Eight, but was shut out in the Quickfires. Harold from Season One, arguably one of the most dominant competitors from past seasons, had just one win before the final, and only two total QF's.

Looking at these numbers, it's pretty amazing how consistent the top three this year have been. The best comparison for any of them can be found in S4's Richard Blaise, a personal favorite of mine. Through the six-elimation episode, Blaise had three wins and five high finishes to go with three QF wins, but also had a pair of bottom finishes.

On the opposite end, it's worth noting that bottom finishes don't necessarily doom you. Season One's Tiffani made it to the final following two straight bottoms (pay attention, Jennifer!)

And the chef I most compare to Robin, S4's Lisa, had SIX times facing elimination before making it to the final, with only one win out of two highs, and not a single time in even the top three of a QF.

So a couple of things stand out here, after this half-assed analysis.

First off, the Voltaggios and Kevin are easily the best chefs in Top Chef history, statistically speaking. Nobody has come close to these three in consistent high achievement.

Secondly, Robin doesn't deserve to still be around, but Angry Dyke Lisa deserved to be around even less a couple of years ago. This just goes to show that creating drama will make you stick around even when your food hasn't pulled its weight.

I'm looking forward to a great final as the Brothers Volt go head to head to see who gets to try and knock off Redbeard from his deserved throne as the finest chef in TC history.

Bob Knight Declines Indiana HOF Invite

Story at ESPN.

I definitely had high hopes that The General would come back for this honor, and at first was pretty upset that he was turning it down despite the fact that nobody who sent him packing is still in power at the University, unless they're a trustee.

But I guess his reasoning, that it would be a big news story and detract from the other honorees, one of which is his longtime friend and fellow legend Jerry Yeagley (he coached the IU soccer team to six national championships, I believe), is pretty legit.

Still, I would love to see a reconciliation between Knight and Indiana sometime down the road. It's too bad it won't be this year.

Hey-a! It's-a the Euroleague! I Want A Pizza!

... from our overseas correspondent Alec Kinczewski, an exciting slice o' Euroleague basketball action. Bonus points if you can identify two American expats and where they went to school.

Top Chef Power Rankings (10/28/09)

So last night was service at head judge Tom’s restaurant. Tom’s restaurant is a steak place in the MGM Grand, so as soon as all the Chef’s got in, they start figuring out what kind of meat they want. Then the curve ball comes. Special guest judge Natalie Portman is a vegetarian. All the chef’s had to adjust and some rose to the challenge while others failed. Mike I was sent packing. I can’t disagree with the choice because none of the judges liked his dish and the main protein wasn’t even a protein, which was not cooked correctly. Throughout the season he has done nothing to impress outside of knowing how to cook a cactus so to send him packing wasn’t a bad choice.

Top Shelf

Kevin “Red Beard Gillespie

Red Beard went two for two yesterday winning both the elimination challenge and the quick fire. Mike V was disappointed he didn’t win saying he could have made Red Beard’s dish in 20 min. I think the main reason Red Beard won was that his vegetarian dish had substance to it which is something vegetarian judge Portman was looking for. Red Beard also delivered the line of the night while they chef’s were treated to dinner. One chef said, “It’s not an accident Kevin’s fat,” to which Kevin responded, “Yes, it’s a personal choice.”

Bryan Voltaggio

Bryan was very disappointed in himself this week and even seemed flustered for the first time. He was running low on time and was unable to plate his entire dish. The judges were not particularly over whelmed or under whelmed as he was the only chef who did not go see the judges. Even with his brothers recent surge, the overall seasons performance leaves Bryan in the two spot

Mike Voltaggio

Mike being bitter and angry is a growing trend on the show. I am not sure if he is trying to use this as a tactic, or if the stress and length of the season is starting to weigh on him. He had another good night with what seemed like the second best dish on the show.

Could Go Either Way

Jennifer Carroll

I moved her down one category after her recent poor run. I was debating about dropping her below Eli, but she has been better then him throughout the most of the show. If she continues her struggles she could easily be sent packing, but she is also one of the better chef’s on the show.

Best of the Rest

Eli Krishtein

Eli had a top finish last night. He has been consistent throughout the show, producing good dishes but not good enough to win. With Jennifer’s recent struggles, his chances of making the final 4 have improved. Unless he completely bombs I don’t see him getting cut next week; so then the week after, he could make a winning dish and make his way to the finals.

Chopping Block.

Robin Leventhal

As I discussed earlier, I don’t disagree with Mike I getting cut, saying that, Robin has been the 2nd worst chef on the chopping block a crazy amount of times. She keeps skating by, and now I don’t see any chefs who will screw up bad enough to let her continue to get through.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Getting off the Writer's Block

Well, it's been a crazy couple of weeks, between barely missing the Time list and posting a monster 215 point week in fantasy (last week). Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ray Rice, Chad Ochocinco... and my HOMEBOY, Thomas Jones!

Now that Shonn Greene is replacing Leon Washington, can't wait for the pundits to say that he's going to take the majority of the carries for the Jets.

TJ the last three weeks - 59 carries, 378 yards, 4 TD. Ball don't lie.

Anyway, I'm sure that Noffke has read this already, but Stewart Mandel has his College Football Mailbag up on CNNSI, and the headliners are the Iowa Hawkeyes! You gotta understand, I'm not exactly an Iowa fan, but I always root for the Big Ten to do well overall, so it's great to see that Strength of Schedule has the Hawks ahead of Florida, Alabama, and Texas in the BCS computer rankings. Mandel has an excellent explanation.

My Big Ten Power Rankings for Week Nine:

1. Iowa - Looking like they've got that magical feeling right now. Get Indiana at home this week with a chance to drive another stake into the evil heart of Vampire Bill Lynch.

2. Penn State - They keep on cruising towards an at-large BCS berth and, also, ruining the bowl season for every bowl-eligible B10 team behind them if they get it. Dominated Michigan last week. Tough road date at Northwestern. This would be a great chance for the 'Cats to play spoiler and give their season a massive boost at the same time (and their bowl-winning prospects!)

3. Ohio State - They get a gimme against New Mexico State (???) this week, after crushing Minnesota. With a pair of losses, they are out of the BCS hunt, but they could look awfully good in the CapitalOne Bowl!

4. Michigan State - Sparty continues their midseason surge despite a narrow loss to Iowa last week. Next three games (@ Minnesota, Western Michigan, @Purdue) are going to decide the season. They need to win all three to quiet the doubters.

5. Wisconsin - Wisconsin makes me want to fall asleep. Let's see, 5-2 (2-2), just had a bye week, get a surging Purdue squad this week... have lost their last two to the cream of the conference. Alamo Bowl, get ready for the BADGERS! I probably won't watch.

6. Northwestern - A spirited, come-from-behind win at home jumps NU back into the bowl game hunt. But can they continue the momentum with #12 Penn State coming to Evanston? They better, because after that comes a road date at Iowa, then the rivalry game at Champaign, before closing out at Wisconsin. At 5-3, NU has got to win two of those games to guarantee themselves a bowl. Big game at Ryan Field this week.

7. Purdue - Here by virtue of their two game winning streak, including the huge upset against Ohio State. Apparently the Boilers don't have a lot of give-up in 'em. Who knew? A .500 finish would make a lot of West Lafayettians very happy this year.
8. Michigan - Freshman quarterbacks. Ouchies. A couple of winnable games coming up at Illinois and then home against Purdue, but this defense is porous and the offense is disjointed. Good teams have an easy time containing their explosiveness. Delaware State? ehhh... not so much.

9. Minnesota - It's one thing to lose to Penn State and Ohio State, both on the road. It's another to lose by a combined 58-7. That's just a two week extended beatdown. Still alive for the postseason, but need to win against Michigan State this weekend to make anyone optimistic. A huge slide for the Golden Gophers.

10. Indiana - Much as I want to put them last, the Hoosiers did demonstrate the things they can do well at Ryan Field last week. Namely, make big plays. Ray Fisher had a TD return, and WR's Tanden Doss and DeMarlo Belcher continued to flash big-play potential. Also, Darius Willis had a 70-yard run to open the game, followed by the obligatory benching and six straight runs into the defensive tackle. Jammie Kirlew also spent a disturbing amount of time in the Northwestern backfield bugging Mike Kafka. Indiana Plus: Good Players!

Indiana Minus: TERRIBLE COACHING!!!! Seriously, Bill Lynch used his last timeout with over seven minutes left in the 4th quarter as Northwestern was roaring back, got stuffed on 4th down from the NU 33 with the game on the line (call a short pass! or a run! not a 20-yard out!), then was forced to try and kick a 59 yard field goal with 0:05 left on the clock and a first year kicker with nowhere close to that kind of range.

11. Illinois - Ron Zook looks like Andrew Klein from Entourage after his wife found out about the cheating. At least ten times a game. This team is awful.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I'm a Little Miffed

I am a little confused and offended. Today, Time Magazine came out with a list of the top 25 new blogs of 2009. ArmchairSuperstar was not listed. With our immaculate analysis of all things Sports and our ever expanding fan base, as well as the professionalism that we display on a daily basis, I do not understand how we are not number 1, let alone top twenty five. Well you know what Time Magazine? Here is some professionalism for you: Go F*** Yourself!

Random Trivia of the Week.

In Honor of the Bulls starting this week we are having a Bulls trivia question. This year's Bulls team is being led by reigning rookie of the year Derrick Rose; can you name the other two Bulls’ players who won the award and the year they won it?

The answer will be in the comments on Wed.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Week 7 Picks

Sorry, no power rankings this week. I was busy at school and then I had an engaged encounter all day Friday and Saturday. Anyways, here are my picks:

Greenbay @ Cleveland: Greenbay 24-17
San Diego @ Kansas City: San Diego 38-21
Indy @ St. Louis: Colts 41-17
Minnesota @ Pittsburgh: Steelers 31-21
New England @ Tampa Bay: New England 45-13
San Francisco @ Houston: Houston 27-20
New York Jets @ Oakland: Oakland 17-13
Buffalo @ Carolina: Carolina 27-10
Chicago @ Cincinnati: Bears 31-17 (Cedric Benson 34 rush yards 2 fumbles we're in his head)
Atlanta @ Dallas: Atlanta 27-24
New Orleans @ Miami: Miami (Upset Special) 24-21
Arizona @ New York Giants: Giants 35-21
Philadelphia @ Washington: Philly 37-14

My Record Last Week: 9-5
My Overall Record: 33-25 (.568)

Fodor's Record Last Week: 7-7
Fodor's Overall Record: 33-24 (.578)