Thursday, February 24, 2011

SCORECASTING: Recommended Reading

One of the benefits to being "a recognized opinion-maker in Boston Sports" is that I get free books to read and toss away or be excited about from PR people promoting the book. This is a peculiarly inefficient way of developing "buzz" or "word of mouth" for a hard copy book which might other wise be ignored. But, hey, who am I to complain.

One of the downsides to this is that I get offered books that turn my stomach (I was offered a clip show book about Derek Jeter, and basically said I wouldn't blow my nose with it, because, well, I don't like the guy). Another downside is that i have to disclose under FTC Rules which are stupid, primarily because I am the only person that follows them, that I got a free book that I am going to talk about.

But, here's one that I highly recommend: Scorecasting, by Tobias and Wertheim. It's out now.

You should both read it and buy it.

Through statistical analysis of a granularity and depth which will amaze and mystify, it shows, among other things:

1. Refs in all sports favor the home team, unconsciously, for the most part.

2. Always go for it on "4th and two"

3. Why team chemistry matters.


Sadly, it fails to explain why J.D.Drew doesn't get arrested for stealing money every week when he deposits his paycheck, or why Larry Lucchino manages to sell 54,892 eight dollar beers on game days using only 17 kegs, but maybe they are awaiting Scorecasting 2.0

There's a lot of great stuff in the book. It is lucidly written, and shows a real sports fan's sensibility, whilst dealing with a lot of data that you probably didn't know existed.

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