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Keeping keepers kind
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Kevin (Kirksville) - Friday 04-06-07 13:07
Proposal: remove the bonus modifier for a goalie playing aggressive or dirty.
This proposal is not aimed at any one player or team, just noting a league-wide trend. I use keepers on A or D regularly, especially my backups specifically because of the all the upside and very little downside to the circumstances. Despite this, I do believe the league would be more fun and better off in both match dynamic and resource management if this change were brought about.

1) There is no counter. Every tactic has a counter-tactic that can gain an advantage over it in the right circumstances. Top FWs, WGs, and MFs can be marked down to decrease their game impact. There is no way to trump a GK's SL. Since it can't be diminished by any player or tactic, there is also no need to have the ability to boost the keeper's SL.

2) The odds are stacked in the GK's favor already. On equal SL, GK's have a better chance of stopping shots than FW's, and especially any other player, do of scoring (60/40 in GK's favor if equal SL).

3) The GK a- or d-advantage is unfair because shooters on aggressive or dirty don't have their shooting SL increased, just their effective SL for determining area stats. Even if they get more shots on aggressive due to higher area stat contributions, they still shoot at their original SL. GK's block at their new effective a- or d-SL, NOT their original. A GK already in the 30's in SL can go up in the 40's and stay there for an entire match, making scoring very improbable for most squads.

4) With the increases in T11 power at the expense of T17 strength by several clubs, the need for investing in a #2 GK is decreased. A top GK peaking out in the mid- to high-30's SL is very hard to score on (especially when aggressive) at the expense of needing more SL to keep that player in top shape than would be spent on a high-20's SL player. The extra SL can come from the backup GK, as that player can be maintained in the high-teens or low-20's with minimal detriment. By playing the backup on "a" every third or fourth match or as a consistent sub, they act as a 25+ SL player and you don't have to worry about DP because he's going to sit the next match anyway. The slightly increased odds of giving up a PK are far outweighed by the constant increase in ability to stop any shot coming their way.

5) The option of playing "d" to increase injury odds would not be removed, just the "save SL" bonus that the goalie gets. The notion of a goalie being better by being very aggressive or dirty doesn't sit well with me anyway. If anything, a goalie on "d" would be easier to score on in actuality, since that would require him to drift further out of the net to chip at a player or else be going after the player instead of the ball and sometimes taking a non-ideal angle if going for both the player and the ball.

End effect on league play (speculations of course):
1) Increased bidding on top GK prospects helping to keep league revenue under control. Especially by those top clubs who are still likely to nab the top keepers, only now they're even more valuable and that will in theory open up more chances for the poorer clubs to get B-level players.

2) More comebacks in games, since the sub-and-stall tactic will still be effective but no longer as sure of a thing since the 45-effective-SL keeper won't be between the sticks anymore for those T11 clubs who score 3 goals in 30 minutes and then can afford to sub and give up 10 shots in the next 60 minutes since there's no way more than 1 or 2 are going in.

3) More teams will have to invest in better backup GK's since they won't get the bonus to pad the mid-range guys from B- to A-level any more. This will keep the number of 35+ SL shooters from increasing any further, as it has appeared to be doing at a pretty quick rate recently, as those extra 4-5 SL will need to sunk into the GK or defense.

4) In cup matches that come down to PK's, the outcomes will be decided no longer by who simply has the most steroids in their GK, but will swing back toward who has the higher number of quality shooters. Sure, the GK is still critical and a better GK will still be more likely to bring victory. However, without the bonus even the league's top GKs have a decent chance of letting PKs in, so having good shooters at #3-#5 will significantly increase in importance (which the teams that pour all resources into their top GK are less likely to have so it evens out more between the more powerful T11 clubs and the deeper T14 clubs - even if just in the rare PK circumstances).

Tim (Zaragoza) - Friday 04-06-07 16:03

I freely admit to making full use of this fact, and while it would sting a bit, I think Kevin is right that it is too much advantage and should be removed.

Steve (Asteria) - Friday 04-06-07 19:07
Most decent teams have two decent GKs. And with two GKs you can always play aggressive every game. The straight red rule makes it more dangerous (especially in SESL with lots of strict homer referees) but is probably still worth the risk.

How about letting GKs add a little (0.25?) to GP and so give you a reason to play aggressive or dirty.

Robin (Ayers Rock) - Saturday 04-07-07 19:02
In my humble opinion GK's should not have the option to play A or D.

In the real world outfield players sometimes play A or D , but it does not apply to GK's.

Phil (Missouri) - Sunday 04-08-07 18:34
Okay, I'm just thinking out loud here, so don't everyone bust a fingernail on the keyboard rushing to punch me in the head. :-) Personally, I agree with Kevin in principle. GK's in real life always give 100%--it's the nature of the GK mentality--so the idea of allowing them to give extra effort via aggressive or dirty play is foreign to the game. oh, um, no offense to "foreign" people...which in this case may actually be me! :-) Okay, back to the point. GK's always give 100%, and allowing above and beyond is unrealistic. Plus, as Robin said, a GK playing aggressive or dirty toward other players really does take him away from his GK duties. Now, for the "practical" question...

How does this impact the real play of the game? Although Kevin references several teams in the league using this tactic, I honestly have no idea who they are. Like Tim, I admit that very recently I have adopted the maneuver, but in my case it was only in fear of others doing unto me first before I could do unto them. :-) Plus, I have two relatively weak GK's of equal strength (22 and 24 SL, 27 and 30 on agg.). Here's what I do know...this does play as somewhat of an equalizer for weaker teams that would in no way be competitive against a stronger team. I reference NYT vs. MLB recently in our rematch. Going by memory and not checking the facts, Jay posted an SL 30 GK in our second leg, and though MLB was clearly (in Jay's words) the stronger team, the game results in a 1-1 draw.

My only concern with Kevin's plan (a plan that I generally support otherwise) is that we may be eliminating a method for a weak team to poke a superior team in the eye. I hated the draw with NYT, but should bigger teams be able to win all the games...just because?

Just thinking out loud here...
Willy (Montevideo) - Monday 04-09-07 9:27
In my humble (Div 2 manager) opinion I think that you are missing the point here... If you can make a FW play 'a' and get better shooting SL why should the GK not be able to play 'a' to get better stopping odds...?

You still risk more PK's and cards called against the GK (which is a bigger risk for the team than loosing a FW to suspension), and with the new red card mod we will have to think it twice before just playing them 'a'...

(Thinking out loud): if this change was made I would put more priority in increasing the SL of my GK's which would mean the rest of my team's SL would hurt resulting in a lot less goals (both for and against...)...

Welcome to "Calcio the Italian way"... lot's of exciting 0-0 matches... ;)

Steve (Asteria) - Monday 04-09-07 12:13
You don't get better shooting SL, Willy, just better OFF. The same goes for when a FW is marked - you lose OFF and the FW is less likely to get the shot, but if he does then he shoots with his "natural" Shooting SL.
Kevin (Kirksville) - Monday 04-09-07 14:35
Steve's reply highlights my #1 complaint about the current system as I originally noted. Forwards don't actually shoot at the increased SL, they just get more offense which gives more chances to shoot. Goalies actually DO stop shots at a higher rate of success, and they can't be marked down in any way to counter this effect.

As for Phil's post, I can't say for sure how many teams are doing this on a regular basis since I haven't gone through every match report. I have gone through all of my own though, and here's what I can accurately say:
KIN played in 43 matches this season, and faced a keeper on aggressive or dirty in 24 of those. Over half of my matches I was facing keepers getting stat boosts.

In looking through them all, two matches in particular stand out because they hurt a lot when they happened. In a 1-0 loss to SSG right before mid-season aging, we had better stats across the board and outshot him 7-2. However, because my SL 29 FW's were shooting against a GK at effective SL of 45(!) nothing got through. Against GS late in the season, we lost 2-3 after outshooting him 12-6 in the match, with his GK effectively on SL 36 stopping most everything thrown his way.

Should the bigger teams win "just because?" No. Upsets will still happen and any manager can use good tactics/marking combos to have a shot in most games. Most players still get the 25% boost in area stats to even the playing field and generate more shot chances or decrease the other team's shots. What I don't like is that a team can invest in just one player and build a virtual wall across the goal so that even an SL 30 FW can have only a 10% chance of scoring against them under the current league calculations.

Were this only used in trying for the occasional upset that Phil (and myself) so enjoy, fine. When (based on what my team saw this season) it's being used in more than half the games, it points to a statistical advantage that the managers in this league have caught onto. For myself, since I routinely play my backup GK on aggressive to get the stat boost (since I don't worry about suspensions or EL if he's off the next two games anyway), upsets are LESS likely to happen as the teams I'm resting the top GK against still face a keeper with effective SL 25% greater than it would have been otherwise.

Steve (Asteria) - Monday 04-09-07 16:28
I played my GK's aggressive or dirty in every game except NYT (where I didn't think it necessary), MT (where I lost 3-0), ES twice (MSWL Cup - ES were so weak that I decided it wasn't worth a suspension), BN (with a minute to go I knew they were going to NMR).

I can't say how many games they won or saved but I do know that an aggressive GK only cost me one match - the 1st leg against SSG where he was sent off. The game where I conceded two penalties and lost - the penalties were not given away by my GK.

Only the new straight red card will make me think twice about aggressive GK's - I nearly always play them in SESL and Flatnz as well. To me it's a no brainer especially as EL is not a problem.

I disagree with Phil about it being a leveller for the weaker teams. With very few exceptions the stronger teams have the better GK's and so will gain more from aggressive play, making it even harder for the weaker teams to score.

The problem with doing away with aggressive GK's is that the super FW's will score even more goals.

Tim (Zaragoza) - Monday 04-09-07 17:17

As Kevin noted before, you can mark FWs, reducing the chance of them being allocated a shot. Pouring SL into a FW isn't an automatic goal guarantee in the same way that pouring SL into a GK is a goal hinderance.

Phil (Missouri) - Monday 04-09-07 18:32
To reply to Steve...even if stronger teams use the GK on agg, can't the weaker team still use that method to defend against an onslaught?

Here's more thinking out loud: why not allow FW's to shoot at the higher SL when playing aggressive?
Willy (Montevideo) - Monday 04-09-07 20:29
I agree with Phil! If a change needs to be made let's increase the shooting SL to the 'a' level. That way you can increase performance at the higher risk of suspensions and PK's and the more EL consumption to any player.

MT has played every game this season with the GK playing 'a'.

Kevin: if it is ok to play your backup GK in 'a' it should be ok to play any GK in 'a', why would it only be ok to play lower SL backups in 'a'?

If we all decide to not play GK's in 'a' I would honor the rule but if I have 2 good GK's why would I not play them 'a' every time???

Kevin (Kirksville) - Wednesday 04-11-07 10:53
The only reason I wouldn't play the starting GK on "a" all the time is if his SL is greater than the backup's on aggressive. You get two-thirds of matches at the higher SL then, instead of just half. You can still play the #1 keeper aggressive for a few key matches without fear. If both GK's are roughly equal, then I see no reason to not play them aggressive every match and switch them out accordingly. Unless the odds of both bookings and PK's for "a" or "d" go up around 200% or more, the benefits will continue to far outweigh the possible consequences.
Tim (Zaragoza) - Wednesday 04-11-07 23:38

Why not allow FW's to shoot at higher SL when playing aggressive?

An aggressive player can't shoot better than their skill of shooting. In RL an aggressive player is actually more likely to miss, as they tend to concentrate on power rather than placement. Coaching should directly influence a player's ability. I don't think you should be able to coach a player to a certain level, then click a button and suddenly have him 20% better. At the moment aggression in the field only influences area stats (how likely you are to get shots, or your opponent is), injuries and cardings , and that is how it should be.

(I suppose you could increase the shooting SL by 20% if you reduced the on target chance by, oh, 60-80%. Personally, I'd rather have my a, n or p player contribute to area stats accordingly, but always shoot at his real SL.)

This is not the case for a GK. A click of a button and hey, presto, he's suddenly performing beyond his coached ability. Shouldn't happen.

I also agree that taking it away would make high SL rookies more valuable. That's what I've been trying to say about the worth of rookies since... forever! The only way to get extra SL beyond coaching should be that starting SL. (And for those who want to be pedantic, no I'm not referring to the influence on area stats, injuries or cardings - they aren't players' ability. They are just a reflection of players' determination.)

Doesn't it benefit weak teams to be able to play their GK aggressive and hold off stronger teams?

Clearly the first area of importance to work on then is the GK. Make sure they are a star, even if no-one else is. Presumably the response is then that the top teams will have all the best GKs, so what is the poor little guy supposed to do? The answer is; so how exactly is that any different to the present situation? But the difference between a 30 and a 35SL GK is 10% extra chance to save. On aggressive, that's 36 and 42, 12% extra. The little guy is actually better off without the aggression. (If he gets a shot.)

But the real guts is that it should be formation and tactics as well as GK that reduce scoring chances, not just GK.

Willy (Montevideo) - Thursday 04-12-07 0:32
Ok, I'm convinced. GK's should not be allowed to play a. Should be easy to code by just taking out the option to adjust the agg. I think that the whole argument can apply to also not allowing the GK's to play p. (Yes, NMR's will do a little better... ;)

Phil (Missouri) - Saturday 04-14-07 13:39
While I support this proposition, I have to comment about certain comments..."In RL an aggressive player is actually more likely to miss...." Isn't it just as easy to say that "in RL an aggressive player is actually more likely to work to create a clean shot?" I mean, there's no more evidence for one than the other.

"The little guy is better off without the aggression..." I appreciate that argument, Tim. It makes sense your numbers do support that argument to an extent. However, it also seems like the weaker teams have been able to use this strategy to inflict a "draw" and salvage a single point. And, in the case with KIN in the Cup, it really hindered their play. (Well, that and playing the other 10 guys on aggressive.)

Overall, it's pretty clear that the GK on "a" or "d" really does fundamentally change the entire game, and to that extent it is less fun. That's why the rule should go, in my opinion. What really concerns me, though, is the lack of concern for weaker teams through the decision-making process. Let me phrase that differently so as not to upset anyone: As I see it, there are two approaches to PBEM games. One is a "number crunching approach" and the other is a more light-hearted "for the fun of it approach." I'll be the first to step up and say that the former is the better manager. I'll also freely admit that I'm not one of those guys. Clearly, Al, Alon, Kevin, Tim, Steve, and a whole host of the rest of the group are in the "number crunching category." There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, there's a great deal right with that, given your collective and individual success. I would wager that myself and Jay are in the "for the fun of it category" simply because our brains work with the intangibles of the game better than the objective formula portion of the game. We might say there's a "type A" and "type B" manager, and obviously those of us in the latter category are "B managers." :-)

When a rule like this comes along (and it's a good proposal, don't get me wrong...necessary for the good of the game), I see changes made that, increase the chances of the strong teams and undermine the upset. When I look around me, I find that many of the type B's are gone or dwindling. In my humble opinion, I think that there needs to be a balance between the two approaches. The "numbers approach" offers predictability and stability. Without it, the game would be no fun. Just a craps shoot. (Kevin was with me in Vegas...he'll testify about my craps shooting abilities. Both of us did, however, enjoy a small degree of success at blackjack.) On the other hand, we have to maintain some degree of unpredictability for the game to remain fun and sporting for all.

So, I do believe that this is a good rule and it is necessary for the good of the game. On the other hand, I am hopeful that as we make these changes, we'll bear in mind the overall welfare of all teams and managers in the game.

Thanks for your time!

Graham (Barcelona) - Thursday 04-19-07 6:23
Can I add a tuppen'orth into the mix as a type B manager who occasionally looks at the type A stuff (but not often).

I think I disagree with the notion that an aggressive keeper cant or wouldnt be putting more effort into his job. An aggressive keeper in real life may throw his body into the mellee to grab a ball, where otherwise to avoid a foul/penalty he may simply have punched the ball away out of the box, or relied on a defender to challenge. An aggressive keeper may well try to grab the ball away from a lone strikers feet (risking a penalty by being seen to impede the player) rather than simply stand his ground and block a shot. There are other occasions in "RL-land" where a keeper can play more aggressively than normal.

So in short I think I disagree with the notion that aggression is really just an outfield players characteristic.

But I'm a type-B and probably always will be.


Graham (Barcelona) - Thursday 04-19-07 6:26
I should add that perhaps in the case of penalties (and maybe other situations that I havent thought of in the 10 minutes I've been thinking about it) I'd be all for the keeper only getting their real SL instead of their effective SL, as theres little you can do "aggressively" or dirty as a keeper in that situation.


Rob (Boston) - Thursday 04-19-07 17:54
There's a ton of strong arguments here. My opinion on the matter is that GKs should be allowed to play "a" or "d" as it has been clearly defended that this is a realistic trait (taking FWs out at the legs, diving into a crowd rather than hanging back and waiting to see what develops, etc). However, GKs should be treated the same as shooters - their shot-stopping ability should be based on their normal SL, not their adjusted SL.

Now, with that notion, it would seem that it's pointless to play a GK on anything other than n as their SL is not counted towards area stats. I think this needs to be looked at too. If a keeper is more aggressive, they are going to get into the mix more and come out of the net more to break up potential scoring opportunities (coming out near the 18 to punch out a corner, or coming at a break-away striker) as opposed to a passive keeper, who will hang back more in the net and wait for the play to develop. Both keepers may have the same chance of stopping a shot when it occurs, but the aggressive keeper is going to break up opportunities before they become shots. When I was in playing shape (a long, long time ago), I fit into the passive keeper category (which may be quite shocking for those that know me!). I stayed close to the net more often than some of my counterparts, and thus faced more shots.

So, continue to allow the use of "a" and "d". Stop the GKs from getting an advantage to stopping shots when playing "a" and "d", but GK's SL should factor into the GP area stat (.25 sounds right to me).

Willy (Montevideo) - Thursday 04-19-07 23:02
Brilliant Rob!!!
Tim (Zaragoza) - Tuesday 04-24-07 23:50

After ruminating on it a bit more, I think that the varying aggressions are not so unreasonable, given that should you play P to save energy, GK saving ability goes down. (Who said 180?)

I do like the idea of having GK ability influencing GP. I know that the GK's who've read when to come out, when not to, when to pass back, when not to - and then told me in a loud clear voice what their opinion on the matter was - made a big difference at the defensive end of the field.

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