Scorecasting “The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports are Played and Games Are Won”
Written by Tobias Moskowitz and Jon Wertheim a senior writer for Sports Illustrated
Moskowitz is a Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago and Wertheim a senior writer for Sports Illustrated and they have authored an interesting book that makes for an entertaining read.
The book follows the template of a number of other texts published over the last few years that look to statistics to prove or disprove some of our commonly help believes.
Moskowitz and Wertheim’s effort is tilted very much to the traditional North American sports but soccer makes much more than a cameo appearance.
The book motors along and addresses a wide array of topics while puncturing some of balloons of conventional wisdom along the way.
Without spoiling the read they go after a number of sacred cows such as defence winning titles, every cliché ridden coaches favourite “no I in team” (although as someone once murmured under their breath in a team talk “but there is an “a” in asshole), and home field advantage.
The last one was particularly illuminating and tells us that away teams might be better off with an official who is hard of hearing rather than spending any time questioning his eyesight.
An associated piece to “home field advantage” is what happens to teams with running tracks surrounding the pitch – let’s just say that it is not good news for West Ham as they look to take up a new residence post 2012 Olympics.
The chapter on how Dallas’ drafting tactics under Jerry Jones changed the way NFL teams approached the draft got me thinking whether or not someone was looking at MLS statistics in this regard. Dallas realized that high draft picks were overvalued – in some cases vastly overvalued – and that by focusing on lower picks they could get much greater value.
MLS does not write big cheques to high draft picks but nonetheless the performance of picks at different levels over the last 15 years would make for an interesting read.
It is something I have said before but I will repeat. I continue to be amazed by the effort that North American soccer reporters put into analyzing players and reporting on who might go first, second or whatever in the draft.
The exercise seems quite pointless as my gut tells me that there is no more correlation between a high first round draft pick and success and a low one and success.
There again maybe someone can point me in the right direction and I may have to slaughter one of my sacred cows.
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