Now that we've been pestering you all by tweeting, sharing, spamming, and pretty much all-out begging for you to participate in our pre-season MLS standings survey, we feel it's only fair that we share it with you! Thanks to you guys, we got hundreds of votes, so I first want to say thank you for all that. Thanks. Part of the exercise was to see what you all thought of how the table will shape up more than 35 weeks from now. Yes, there were transactions that happened in the middle of the polling, and it probably changed the way we thought about how to rank teams in some cases. But crazy as it might seem, the poll produced results showing definitive tiers between teams. There are a lot of various theories about how one might go about making "power rankings," and while it's a pretty arbitrary endeavor---who is to say that any result is right or wrong?---I think common sense could easily rebuff the three people who voted Chivas USA with a #1 overall finish in the West. That's just crazy.
The other side of the exercise was to, come November, make a point. Perhaps an obvious point that can go without saying, but a point. The idea that, during the pre-season, we could accurately project standings is contemptible (but it will be interesting to see how you all do collectively). Basically, I get agitated when I see a narrative that states "Who would have seen this coming?" or when someone makes a grand claim that "No one thought 'Team X' was going to be this bad!" Who decided he could speak for everyone? Now, we can speak for, at least, a few hundred people at the end of the 2014 season when we say, "Who could have seen Chivas doing so well? Oh, it was you three!" (Just kidding. That won't happen.) The individuals who participated in this project are mostly those of a select, niche community---well, and my mom---and you will (hopefully) help me with my agitation.
Speaking now as to specific methods of organizing and ranking the standings from the poll results: if you scrape a bunch of opinions from fans of various teams and get perspectives of supporters from 400+ backgrounds and locales, I believe it's possible that you can sift through some of the bias that often occurs when just a few people share opinions. It's a crowdsourced cocktail made without disposition, and still delicious. While it's far from perfect, I find it's a pretty good barometer.
While we plan on releasing the final results of the said crowd sourcing project in two weeks (March 7th), we're also in the process of putting together our pre-season team previews. We've got a great pool of writers that have taken a lot of time to put this together, and have also been helping us gather data that should yield even more new statistics and analyses this year. This isn't just about us generating content. It's an opportunity for these guys to get a shout out for all that they've done. Most will be joining us on a podcast next week where you'll get to hear from them and hopefully get an introduction of sorts.
We will publish the team previews beginning this afternoon in the order in which the clubs scored on the survey, from worst to first, alternating between Eastern and Western Conference. Posts will go up each day until the beginning of the season.
Happy 2014, everyone!