#newtwitter and the Future of the Web

Twitter has opened things up for anyone to “build a better Twitter”. I’m not really sure what the point is – either Twitter’s admitting their site sucks or it works just fine and there’s no need to use something else…
-From the introduction to Da Tweeter.

I didn’t get any of my proposed book on the Internet written over the summer, and quite possibly never will. Already on the way out, the kairotic moment for the book may now have passed. This is partly because the Internet has substantially matured; for much of the time I was thinking of writing the book, it would have been trivially easy to state the Internet’s importance (and often stated), but now the book would be much more of a look back than taking place during the Internet revolution and how it changes our lives. I had planned for the book’s subtitle to be How the Internet Changes Everything; now it might be How the Internet Changed Everything.

But also, many of the points I would have made may now be shifting substantially. I had an entire chapter planned dedicated to showing how the free nature of the Internet could threaten the foundation of capitalism, at least for the transmission of information, including an analysis of Marxist theory as applied to the Internet. (I’m not a communist, but communism may do a better job than capitalism of describing what happens on the Internet.) But if the recent provocative cover story of Wired is correct (and it’s been skewered to hell and back by the blogosphere), the free Web may be in decline in favor of the non-free world of apps accessing the broader Internet, in which case capitalism is completely safe and the first decade of the new millenium will soon pass into history as the Decade of the Fad of Free.

Again, most of Chris Anderson’s points have been debunked by the (admittedly Web-based) blogosphere, but there is a salient point to be explored behind the rhetoric. In retrospect, the 2007 debut of the iPhone may mark the beginning of, if not Web 3.0, at least Web 2.5. The iPhone introduced an alternative model to the free exchange of information that grew out of the web and social media sites. Even netbooks had browser software separate from whatever operating system they ran that handled all your surfing; the iPhone effectively merged the browser and operating system to such an extent it was conceivably possible to be very active on the Internet without entering the actual Web browser. The iPhone made each site its own distinct identity, its own program, stored on the phone itself rather than repeatedly loaded from the server, to present its information and capabilities however it wished without conforming to the Web’s standards, permissive though they may be.

When I first joined Twitter, I expressed skepticism about the usefulness of programs such as TweetDeck for connecting to Twitter, thinking them redundant to the site itself. Virtually the instant problems with IE8 drove me to Firefox, I set about trying to use an add-on to post to and use Twitter. I don’t believe I have found the right FF add-on – TwitterBar, the most popular add-on, only allows you to post to Twitter from the address bar (not check Twitter messages), and the two Twitter add-ons I’ve actually installed, Friendbar and Lu.ly, have unnecessary animations and graphical complexity that bog the browser down. (Friendbar tells me of a new message by playing a chime and reversing the colors – reasonable – and then engages in a fade effect back to normal colors I can’t turn off.) I haven’t used FF in months because I’m waiting for it to get back to an acceptable speed for the level of Internet usage I engage in, and I refuse to install betas.

I didn’t run off to add-ons like Friendbar because of any problem with the Twitter site. The Twitter site works just fine, though “infinite scrolling” is a welcome innovation in new Twitter. But I don’t want to have to leave a tab on Twitter all the time, where it’s not visible all the time, or constantly press the Twitter button in my Favorites bar to load up Twitter off the Internet hogging up space on my tabs. I want to be able to keep up with people’s tweets in real time, whenever I want to, at the click of a button at most, and I want instant ability to post to Twitter any time, whenever it strikes the mood. I don’t want to have to pull up Google Reader on one of my tabs; I want to quickly pull up a sidebar and see all my RSS feeds’ current status, like Internet Explorer and Firefox’s Feed Sidebar add-on let me do, or even see all the RSS feed updates I want to see without even lifting a finger. (I still don’t understand why an SMS-equipped smartphone needs a separate app to access Twitter – I must be the last Twitter user to actually txt the site – and apparently, Twitter didn’t either.)

There are some Web sites and some elements of the Internet that are, quite simply, bigger than the browser. They may or may not appropriate the Web for their experience, and they may even be heavily connected to and be dedicated to bringing you the Web, but they are broader than the Web, they are not inherently part of the Web, they only connect to the broader network known as the Internet. So I think a lot of the bloggers who are saying “silly rabbit, Facebook and Twitter are web sites!” may be missing a point that Wired admittedly doesn’t really make. If they stopped being Web sites tomorrow, it might be a sea change, but it wouldn’t be a catastrophe. There’s now a war going on between the Web’s ideals of openness – epitomized by HTML5 – and the return of walled gardens.

So much as I might have once thought otherwise, I don’t think the rollout of “new Twitter” – introduced in a blogpost literally titled, “A Better Twitter” – will necessarily bring people back to the site from other apps. In fact, Twitter is jumping aboard a long bandwagon away from the paradigm of hypertext, and towards a paradigm of getting as much as possible out of every individual page, thus robbing the Web of its critical feature. Changing the URL on the address bar is more useful for direct links than once you’re already at the site; the less you need to use the back button, the better. (“Google Instant” is another sign of this paradigm shift, and that’s a site inextricably linked with the Web.)

Beyond that, the new Twitter is more of a cosmetic change than anything else (a cosmetic change my netbook might be a little slow to properly appreciate), though certainly not a bad one. Even a fairly basic change in functionality that might have accompanied it – tweets updating in close to real time instead of just an alert that they exist – isn’t there (in fact tweet lists seem slow or at least difficult to refresh in general). Twitter was out to add one feature: added functionality to the pages for individual tweets.

One aspect in particular – the ability to follow a conversation from a single page – could almost finish off the old retweet system. The major strike against the new Twitter-backed system was the inability to add your own commentary to tweets, and using this new forum-like aspect of replies, you could make your retweet a reply that people can click and see the tweet responded to… except a) you still have to make it an @reply to make it a reply to a tweet, despite the addition of an interface that could conceivably make that unnecessary and b) there is no way to make sure followers see your tweet if they don’t follow the person you’re responding to. In general, Twitter seems to have missed the broader implications of some of the changes they made; other media, like images and videos, are displayed directly on the tweet pane now, obviating the need for a link and indicating Twitter realizes such things are core to Twitter’s being now and bigger than the tweets themselves (and Twitter for iPad applies this to an even broader extent), but all links still count against the 140 characters (and aren’t very useful in text messages), keeping link shortening services like bit.ly in business.

New Twitter isn’t ultimately much of a big deal, though it certainly is welcome. But it doesn’t really enter into a lot of larger issues Twitter finds itself in the thick of. And even as Twitter shores up the front of the free Web, it does so by making the Web more app-like. Time will tell how this battle shakes out, or how Twitter continues to evolve the service.

I guarantee I wouldn’t be writing this post if it weren’t for Twitter.

On Friday, after his last day guest-hosting PTI, ESPN’s Bill Simmons tweeted:

6pm SportsCenter never ran our PTI segment? Sad that America missed my extended Bautista/Lohan natural assets argument. #whoopsmaybethatswhy

I’m not sure this has ever happened, that SportsCenter has bumped out the Big Finish for reasons other than breaking news they need to give full-press coverage to. What’s more, the podcast conspicuously leaves out the bonus argument that’s part of the SportsCenter segment right before the Big Finish itself.

So I have to ask: will Simmons EVER be asked to do PTI or some other ESPN show ever again? Even if the Big Finish was bumped just for the discussion being off-topic as opposed to inappropriate…

Can the FedExCup be saved?

Another FedExCup has come and gone. The PGA TOUR’s TV partners have been shoving it down golf fans’ collective throats for months, showing every golfer’s rank in the standings at every event as though anyone cared, trying to get people revved up for the “Playoffs”, and it still didn’t go over with golf fans.

The FedExCup was supposed to be golf’s answer to NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. Finally, golf would have its own season-long points chase culminating in a “playoff” event to crown a champion. It hasn’t worked out that way. After the first two FedExCups ended anticlimactically, the PGA TOUR (as it pretentiously capitalizes itself) decided they didn’t want to risk even the slightest chance of the Cup being decided before the TOUR Championship was even played, and adopted a bizarre system where the values of the Playoff events ballooned to five times the normal levels, and the points weren’t reset until the TOUR Championship itself, at which point anyone in the top 5 could win the Cup. Was the TOUR Championship an event held at a course appropriate enough to crown the champion of the entire year in golf? Who the hell knows.

All I know is that NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup doesn’t seem to have been negatively affected by the possibility of someone all but locking up the title before the final race. I also know that guaranteeing that the FedExCup would come down to the last event hasn’t actually gotten anyone more excited for the FedExCup. It doesn’t help that Tiger Woods was out of the running this year, but no one cared last year either, when Tiger won the whole thing.

What’s the difference between the Chase and the FedExCup? What is NASCAR doing right that the PGA TOUR is doing wrong? Some of it is elements outside the TOUR’s control; NASCAR already had a tradition of a season-long points chase, and golf owes virtually all its popularity to one man right now. No one cares about the vast majority of people competing for the FedExCup, and the PGA TOUR has made it worse by inviting over a hundred people to partake in their “playoffs”, virtually ensuring no one any good is going to be on the bubble not to get in. Wow, way to make your non-majors matter! No wonder you moved the reset to the last event!

The points system doesn’t help – golf fans mocked it roundly when it first came out for its complexity (winners received 4500 points!). At the same time that it moved the point where the points reset, the TOUR also decided to make the points more user-friendly. It did this by reducing the points for a win… to 500. Wow, that’s nice and intuitive. Granted, the TOUR needs to make room in their points scale for the 70 players that make the cut. NASCAR only needs to make room for 43 or so, so they get away with awarding 190 points for a win. The TOUR would probably be awarding 300 points if it wanted to be proportional about it, but it can do even better.

How about this: 100 points for a win.

It’s a nice, round number – everyone and their mother is familiar with 100, and can conceptualize it in terms of percent. The World Golf Rankings use 100 for a win in a major, let alone a regular event; complex modifications aside, what’s wrong with the points system you already had? I’m not going to be using the World Golf Rankings points system, though, and I’ll explain later how I cram 70 players into 100 points.

2nd place receives 50 points, a bit less than the World Golf Rankings and a lot bigger drop-off than the 20 points from a higher number in NASCAR. If they lose in a playoff, they get 70 points, reflecting the fact that outside the US Open, most golf tournament playoffs involve choosing one hole that may or may not be representative of the entire course.

3rd place gets 35 points, 4th 30, 5th 25, 6th 21, 7th 18, 8th 15, 9th 12, and 10th place receives 10. Ties receive the highest possible number of points. Yes, I know money is awarded by taking the average of the tied positions, but the money list does that because it has a set purse; the amount of money it awards in total is predetermined. For points standings, do you really want to ask casual fans to do all that addition and division to decipher the points standings or determine how many points each golfer will get? And is there anything less user-friendly than fractions of a point?

Beyond 10th place, points are awarded based on strokes, not positioning; subtract one point for each stroke behind 10th to a minimum of 1 for anyone who makes the cut. This is one of the biggest sources of confusion in existing ranking schemes: in most golf tournaments, most of the players who make the cut tend to cluster around a few scores, resulting in massive ties. By awarding points for these positions based on position, the number of points awarded is almost based on chance, even using the money list’s system. This way, mid-table golfers know every stroke is worth one point – no more, no less. And setting a hard minimum of 1 also gets rid of those horrible fractional points.

What about majors? 150 points for winning a major, 100 for playoff losers, 75 for second, 50 for third, 40 for fourth, 30 for 5th, 25 for 6th, 20 for 7th, and the same as before for the rest. THE PLAYERS Championship awards 125 for winning, 80 for playoff losers, 60 for 2nd, 40 for 3rd, and the same as before for the rest. World Golf Championship events award 110 for winning, 75 for playoff losers, and the same as before for the rest. Events held the same weekend as bigger events give winners 25 points, 20 for second place (playoff or no), 15 for 3rd, 12 for 4th, 10 for 5th, and deductions for strokes behind 5th to a minimum of 1 – though beyond a certain point, you shouldn’t get benefit of the doubt for squeaking past the cutline and then crapping out at an event the best players were spending somewhere more important. Again, no fractional points.

How exactly the championship is awarded is a thornier issue, although the current approach surely isn’t it. The purest approach is to not do any reset or jacking up of the points, but then you need to be prepared for the championship being well in hand at the final event, and maybe even the winner not showing up there at all. You could just do successive cutlines without resetting the points standings, so each “playoff” event counts the same as any other, but that’s unlikely to affect the top players.

Do you have a four-event playoff, and reset the standings beforehand? Maybe, but you need to make sure the events are balanced – some courses have higher roughs, some wider fairways, some are longer than others. Make sure you have enough of a balance of challenges as you do the rest of the year, so everyone is challenged evenly and someone has to be a very good all-around golfer to take enough of a lead to skip an event.

This is something I’m not sure NASCAR has figured out – near as I can tell there isn’t a single road course in the Chase, and while I know correlation doesn’t imply causation, I can’t shake the feeling that it’s not a coincidence that the advent of the Chase has coincided with Jimmie Johnson’s literally unprecedented run of dominance. Also, in accordance with the notion of providing a balance of challenges, have only one cutline and cut only the top 70 or 30. (Or maybe two, with a second cutline where you go from 70 to 30.

Do you bring only the top 15-30 players or so to the TOUR Championship, and have that event be winner-take-all? Maybe, but if so, you better make damn sure you push it as a fifth or sixth major, at least on par with the PLAYERS. Put it at storied courses like Pebble Beach (the course also needs to do a good job of teasing out the best all-around golfer rather than being an outlier), hand out major-level money or more, do everything you can to make sure golfers and fans see it as one of the top six most important events and prizes of the year. Only enjoin it with other events in a “playoff” if a) you do cuts without resets as above, or b) the cutline for the playoff events is determined entirely by the order of finish on the course that week. A low cutline also ensures it succeeds in its real goal, encouraging participation and success in the TOUR’s “other” tournaments.

In retrospect, it may have been a mistake for the TOUR to leave ESPN in favor of the Golf Channel as its sole cable partner; heaven knows ESPN wouldn’t just shove it down our throats but send it out the other side. The TOUR is left hoping the Comcast/NBC merger not only goes through but succeeds in creating a true competitor to ESPN. It’s also still an open question whether or not non-head-to-head sports like the PGA TOUR or NASCAR should even have “playoffs” given the need to balance fair competition with a dramatic finish. And in the end, will anyone care if Tiger doesn’t care? Will anyone care if there is no Tiger? Will anyone care about golf if there is no Tiger?

Adventures in crazy lineal titles

Most of the time, the college football lineal titles don’t change hands the first few weeks as all the good teams play cupcakes. Someone forgot to tell the 2006 Boise State title.

It freakily ended the season in the hands of non-bowl-eligible Washington, so perhaps an early change is to be expected, but it has changed hands every single week this season. Hopefully now that it’s in the hands of big-boy Oklahoma it’ll stay in place the next several weeks, at least until the Red River Rivalry.

All lineal titles are now properly updated.

Belated remarks on BYU going independent in football

The biggest loser in the Not-So-Great Conference Shakeup of 2010 may be the Mountain West, who got screwed through no real fault of their own whatsoever.

Yay, the Pac-10 may singlehandedly destroy the Big 12! We could wind up with the Kansas schools or even more, and then the BCS would HAVE to let us in to the party! Oh wait, they called off the dogs – well, at least we got Boise State out of the deal, although now that’s a wash because the Pac-10 is adding Utah to complement Colorado and become the Pac-12. Oh well, at least it’s a wash…

…except BYU has just lost its biggest link to the Mountain West and wants to go independent in football and join the WAC in other sports! But wait, we’re adding Nevada and Fresno State to effectively destroy the WAC! But wait, BYU is STILL leaving, only they’re joining the West Coast Conference in other sports instead of the WAC! Nooooooooo!!!!!!!!!

(Incidentially, the one underplayed angle in all this is the surely-salivating-to-ESPN-execs-tongues prospect of regular BYU-Gonzaga games in the West Coast Conference. Though BYU is rarely if ever the best team in the Mountain West, it is one of the Mountain West’s stronger teams in basketball, and Gonzaga has to like the prospect of having a legitimate playing partner other than St. Mary’s.)

The Mountain West is left with 10 teams, one more than before, but only two BCS-caliber programs instead of the present three: TCU and Boise State. Nevada and Fresno State are good teams in football, by non-Boise WAC standards, but at best they’re on the level of an Air Force: they’ll sneak into the Top 25 sometimes, but they’ll rarely make true national headlines. (Air Force knocking off BYU being an exception.) That won’t help the Mountain West’s case for becoming a BCS conference or dissolving the system. In fact, BYU’s move by itself could make the system stronger than ever, especially if they get a BCS auto bid (which could be a smarter move than you might think precisely for that reason).

But why would BYU make the move? Notre Dame is under heavy pressure to join a conference at some point, so BYU is bucking the trend by leaving one. Of course they weren’t getting much help getting into the BCS by staying in the Mountain West. But the big thing BYU is banking on is its status as the Mormon university. They are banking on becoming the new Notre Dame, Notre Dame West, with every game getting national coverage and a truly national following. They want to leverage their BYU network and turn it into a national powerhouse. (It’s unlikely any football games would air on BYU TV, but the mtn. deal prevents even non-football sports from airing on BYU TV.)

The success of BYU’s declaration of independence depends heavily on whether or not BYU can put together a schedule at least as good as what they had in the Mountain West, and the outlook is staggering. If you’re going to set yourselves up to be the new Notre Dame or Notre Dame West, it makes sense to set up a rivalry with the real Notre Dame. Throw in Texas, Oregon State, and Utah, and that’s four games against teams in BCS conferences, with an eye for more. Good luck getting that in the Mountain West. And BYU has signed a deal with ESPN, which means the full ESPN hype machine will be in full effect and BYU games will regularly be on a platform with wider availability than Versus. All that’s left is recruiting.

If BYU can continue to recruit and play at the same level that they have been in the Mountain West, and regularly play in BCS games, independence will suddenly look like a viable prospect and Notre Dame can start saying “I told you so”. This could be the move that ultimately sets up the next great conference shakeup and finishes off the Big 12. The Pac-10 and Big 10 are too tightly-knit to lose any teams to independence, but they and the SEC may be the only reasonably invulnerable conferences, and even then Nebraska and Penn State have to consider the possibility (though the Big Ten Network revenues may be too much to resist).

(USC will definitely be tempted if probation and Lane Kiffin don’t prevent the program from maintaining its Carroll-era heights, especially compared to the rest of the Pac-10 – and if a team that lost its upperclassmen and can’t go to a bowl is still ranked in the polls and that ranking is warranted, I guarantee USC will win a national championship the first year off probation.)

If Texas decides the outlook is right, they could jump to independence in a heartbeat (just look at how much more money it makes in all sports than the next non-Big 10, non-SEC, non-Notre Dame school), with Oklahoma following (though the Big 12 could stay together after all if enough other teams follow suit). Other teams that were once both independent and powerhouses before the 90s shakeup – Florida State, Miami (FL) – could bolt as well, which is bad news for the ACC. With ten members, the ACC could stay alive, if not taken very seriously and looking like the new Big East (though Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Boston College, and a few others are good teams), but the Big 12 would be down to eight pissed-off members, who might start looking at other conferences or at independence themselves.

But that’s trying to predict the unpredictable. Right now the future involves the impending destruction of the WAC, which is down to six teams and couldn’t even field a conference if Hawaii leaves. If the WAC can keep Hawaii in the fold they will try to replenish their numbers, probably with potential playing partners for Louisiana Tech from Conference USA and possibly the Sun Belt, but if it can’t a lot depends on what the Mountain West decides to do next, and whether they want to go straight to a football championship game or wait for better options than the WAC’s castoffs (like the Kansas schools should BYU’s defection eventually cause the Big 12 to implode).

If they do decide to go for a championship game, they will and should take Utah State and New Mexico State (the former is already rumored to be Mountain West-bound). Both, along with MWC-bound Nevada, are among the WAC’s best teams in basketball (when all is said and done the Mountain West’s new lineup would have had five teams in the NCAA Tournament last year), New Mexico State brings New Mexico’s in-state rival in-house, and while Utah State’s potential playing partners are both gone it does re-establish the Mountain West’s foothold in the sizable Utah market. That leaves Idaho, San Jose State, and Louisiana Tech. LA Tech likely joins Conference USA; Idaho and San Jose State, two of the worst college football programs in the nation, may have no choice but to go to FCS or shutter their football programs entirely. Perhaps the Big Sky or Summit League will take Idaho (although most of the Summit’s schools don’t play football so if Idaho keeps the football program the Big Sky may be the only option). The Big West may be the only geographic and cultural fit for San Jose State, and most if not all of their schools don’t play football, so their football program may be screwed unless they or Idaho want to go to the Great West.

Then begins the process of keeping a close eye on how BYU does financially and athletically over the next decade, as the future of college football may lie in their hands.

A new set of college football rankings for us to play with!

That feeling is in the air… it’s college football time again, and with it comes the return of all-out obsessive coverage on Da Blog. Both lineal titles (college and NFL) have been belatedly updated, including the new 2009 Boise State title and Super Bowl XLIV title. (I’ll have a post on the new holder of 2006 Boise State coming soon.) Although my Da Blog Poll came out to two votes to keep the College Football Schedule to one to junk it, I’m getting rid of it anyway. I need all the free time I can get to work on other things, and along with the College Football Rankings, starting Week 3 I’ll be premiering a new college football concept that has a lot more reason to premiere at the point any two teams can be connected to one another through a series of games… and one that could prove to be a lot more time-consuming than the Schedule ever was.

I started thinking about this with regards to combat sports like boxing and MMA, which I may extend this concept to eventually. If any sport has a more confusing title situation than college football, it’s those two (and horse racing), with all the different weight classes, not to mention all the different sanctioning bodies in the former. But for all the confusion over who the champ is, how the champ is determined is fairly straightforward: to be the man, you have to beat the man. So long as the champion does not lose, that person will remain the champion. This is taken to the point where lists of rankings will actually separate out the champion from the ranked fighters. No matter how strong a record you may rack up, to be the man, you have to beat the man. The championship system in combat sports is predicated on the notion that the result of a single fight is representative of which fighter is better overall. The same principle should be in play for ranking fighters below the champion.

Now, in what other sport is this the case? I don’t just ask this rhetorical question because I already created the college football lineal title on the same notion. You regularly hear the argument that Team A is better than Team B because Team A beat Team B, even if it was by one point in overtime at home. In a sense, this is the philosophy behind the BCS Title Game, as well as, to a lesser extent, the Super Bowl. (In most other sports a series of games determines the champion, removing some of the uncertainty and ambiguity of a single game.) You take what you think is the top two teams, pit them against each other, and the winner is the champion, as well as considered “better”.  As I pointed out last year, 2005 USC may well have been as good as ESPN said they were when they infamously started comparing the Trojans to all the great teams of the past, but we take it as given that Texas was the better team, because they beat USC. And BCS arguments are regularly settled by comparing whether one of the teams under discussion beat the other.

So I’m introducing what I call the line-of-sight rankings, to bring if not objectivity, at least consistency to the criteria we already use to argue about college football. Every team is situated below all the teams it lost to and above all the teams it beat. Obviously, there will be contradictions in the rankings, and in those cases we’ll have to throw out some games. We’ll determine what games to throw out in this order:

  • If two or more different contradictions can be resolved by throwing out a single game, throw out that game. Throw out the game that resolves the most contradictions, except that if a game is the most recent game for at least one team, it is considered to resolve one fewer contradiction than it actually does.
  • Otherwise, always eliminate home-team victories before neutral-site games, and neutral-site games before road-team victories.
  • Among games of similar siting, for every full 10 points of the margin of victory, add one to the week number. Then eliminate the game with the lowest week number, but do not eliminate a team’s most recent game. In event of a tie, eliminate the game with the smaller margin of victory. If there is still a tie, add the total number of losses for the winning team to the total number of wins by the losing team, and eliminate the game where that number is higher. If there is still a tie, remove the prohibition on eliminating a team’s most recent game, and if that does not help, subtract the losing team’s C Rating from the winning team’s C Rating, and eliminate the game where that number is lower.

Because every team doesn’t play every other team in college football, there will still be ambiguity in the rankings. If a team’s worst relevant loss is to the #5 team, and their best relevant win is to the #10 team, where between those two numbers is the team itself ranked? I settle these situations as follows:

  • If there is a “pod” of only one team as described above, including undefeated teams, rank the team directly ahead of the best team beaten in a relevant win. Winless teams are ranked directly behind their worst relevant loss. The team in question will have the rank of their worst relevant loss in parenthesis or, if undefeated in relevant games but not #1, have their entry boldfaced.
  • If there are two or more “pods” of multiple teams each that can be ranked a certain way between any two teams (or at the top or bottom of the rankings), or if there are two individual teams that can be ranked between another two teams but whose ranking vis-a-vis one another is unclear, break them up and rank them separately, within their own pods. Each team’s rank is listed as their best possible ranking except at the top of the rankings, when it is their worst possible ranking. In the case of the individual teams, they are listed as tied and in C Rating order unless one has a lineal title.

I’ll whip out the first rankings Week 3, when they become meaningful, and we’ll see how they play themselves out over the course of the season, and how much work they add to my already heavy workload.