• Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played And Games Are Won

    Posted by on January 28th, 2011 · Comments (7)

    I’ve been reading Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won and loving it.

    Steven D. Levitt, the co-author of Freakonomics, said this book is “”The closest thing to Freakonomics I’ve seen since the original” and that’s dead, solid, perfect.

    It would not shock me if Scorecasting went on to be one of the best books of 2011, period, as well as being one of the best sports books of this year. This book is intelligently written and yet extremely entertaining at the same time. Scorecasting is just as enlightening as…wellagain… Freakonomics; but, it’s all about sports. I highly recommend checking this one out. Related, below is the description of this book via the publisher as well as some links to reviews for Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won that I thought were right on the money.

    What this book is about:

    “SCORECASTING: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won”, by Tobias J. Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim digs into the behavioral dynamics and then delivers readers from the sports clichés and misstatements that have dominated for decades. Leave your anecdotal evidence at the door. Emotion means little here. With a combination of first-rate analysis and first-rate storytelling, Moskowitz (a University of Chicago Booth School of Business finance professor) and Wertheim (a writer at Sports Illustrated), assess the most deeply-rooted “truisms” that haunt the games we love.

    Does defense truly win championships? Is there really such a thing as momentum in sports? Does icing the kicker work? Are the Chicago Cubs cursed? Can you really quantify the subjective aspects of sports, like officiating?

    Moskowitz and Wertheim challenge all those sports clichés that we accept as articles of faith. Test the unconventional strategies. Reveal the hidden influences. Mine the relevant data. Moskowitz and Wertheim go beyond the numbers to explore the biases and brain functions that affect nearly every pitch, pass and penalty. SCORECASTING introduces readers to omnipresent game-changers like “hindsight bias”, “loss aversion”, “omission bias”, “ref bias” and our deepest desires to conform to the group.

    SCORECASTING confirms what has long been assumed. Consider:

    · Officials are biased…but not for the reasons you think.
    · The key to long-term focus and creative play: job security.
    · Luck doesn’t make us smarter or dumber, only lucky or unlucky.
    · There’s no I in team, but there is one in elite player. You better have one or more if you want a title.
    · Using all four downs in football is still considered sports heresy. Wrongly, but everyone punts, right?
    · Tiger Woods is, in fact, mortal—and for reasons having nothing to do with Thanksgiving of 2009.

    It also breaks new ground that is as controversial as it is statistical accurate, like:

    · Why the home field advantage really exists.
    · Why the first pick in the entire NFL draft is worth less than the first pick in the second round.
    · Why umpire-monitoring technology is wrecking home field advantage in baseball.
    · Why players and coaches are plagued by the compulsion to avoid losses at the expense of acquiring gains.
    · Why cold weather teams are no more likely to win at home when the weather is brutally cold, nor are warm. weather teams more likely to win at home when the temperature is awfully hot.
    · Why the strike zone on 3-0 pitches is 188 square inches larger than it is on 0-2 counts.
    · Why the Cubs are actually less unlucky than the average team in baseball.
    · Why momentum doesn’t exist in sports.

    If we question the conventional wisdoms in sports and master the empirical data, we will have predictability where there was none before. The authors prove time and time again, that teams ignore data and human behavior at their own peril.

    Some other reviews on Scorecasting:

    Comments on Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played And Games Are Won

    1. Raf
      January 28th, 2011 | 9:43 am

      “I love this book. If I told you why, the NBA would fine me again.” —Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks

      LOL :D

    2. satchel
      January 28th, 2011 | 1:20 pm

      I really need to read this book. Mr. satchel and I were recently talking about some of these subjects while watching the NFL playoffs – like why coaches are so conservative on 4th down (Mr. satchel said, no coach ever got fired for punting) and what the true origin of home-field advantage is. Really looking forward to reading it now.

    3. Rob Mains
      January 28th, 2011 | 3:41 pm

      Steve, would you characterize this as some recent sabermetric books–written well, but mostly stuff you already knew–or are you learning a lot of new stuff?

    4. January 28th, 2011 | 8:24 pm

      Rob Mains wrote:

      Steve, would you characterize this as some recent sabermetric books–written well, but mostly stuff you already knew–or are you learning a lot of new stuff?

      Rob. It’s not a sabermetric book, at least I would not call it that. (It’s all sports, not just baseball, and outside of LI and some other things like Pitch FX, it doesn’t call upon a lot of sabermetric data on the baseball stuff it covers.)

      For sure, there’s new stuff to be learned by reading this one. And, yes, it touches upon some things that many of us may have thought about, or thought were true, and then gives you the data/findings to confirm or dispell the notion that they are true. It’s fun stuff. And, well written – not dry, not at all.

    5. KPOcala
      January 28th, 2011 | 9:05 pm

      I’ve always believed that the biggest reason for home field advantage is that many of the visitors are on the prowl for something, um, different. The players at home are “guarded” by their “guardians” with more resources at their disposal. Naaaaaaaaaaaah…… Does sound like an interesting read…

    6. January 29th, 2011 | 8:26 am
    7. Raf
      January 29th, 2011 | 9:25 am

      KPOcala wrote:

      I’ve always believed that the biggest reason for home field advantage is that many of the visitors are on the prowl for something, um, different. The players at home are “guarded” by their “guardians” with more resources at their disposal.

      It was a sad day around the league when the Expos left Montreal. :D

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