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Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won Paperback – January 17, 2012


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Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won + Mathletics: How Gamblers, Managers, and Sports Enthusiasts Use Mathematics in Baseball, Basketball, and Football + Sports Analytics: A Guide for Coaches, Managers, and Other Decision Makers
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; Reprint edition (January 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307591807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307591807
  • ASIN: 0307591808
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

“Defense wins championships!” So declared a triumphant Michael Jordan in 1991, invoking a hallowed sports mantra. But Jordan’s assertion melts into cliché when Moskowitz and Wertheim expose it to statistical calculations revealing that, regardless of the sport, offense proves just as decisive as defense. Indeed, in their wide-ranging iconoclasm, the authors repeatedly poke arithmetic holes in what everyone in sports supposedly knows. Typical is their number-crunching assault on the popular explanation of home-field advantage as a consequence of visiting teams’ road fatigue. Home teams win, the authors demonstrate, chiefly because referees tend to see plays their way—especially when the crowd of spectators grows large. Parsing of data illuminates off-field behavior, too, explaining which athletes use steroids and which ones use marijuana. Even the curse hanging over the Chicago Cubs comes into focus then the analysts ignore the billy-goat myth and statistically assess a management style fostered by fans perversely loyal to “lovable losers”! Sports buffs eager to win their next barroom argument will be lining up for this book. --Bryce Christensen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"The closest thing to Freakonomics I've seen since the original. A rare combination of terrific storytelling and unconventional thinking. I love this book..." 
Steven D. Levitt, Alvin H. Baum Professor of Economics, University of Chicago, and co-author of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics

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

Scorecasting is both scholarly and entertaining, a rare double.  It gets beyond the cliched narratives and tried-but-not-necessarily-true assumptions to reveal significant and fascinating truths about sports.”
Bob Costas

"A counterintuitive, innovative, unexpected handbook for sports fans interested in the truths that underpin our favorite games. With their lively minds and prose, Moskowitz and Wertheim will change the way you think about and watch sports. Not just for stats nerds, Scorecasting enlightens and entertains. I wish I had thought of it!"
Jeremy Schaap, ESPN reporter, Author of Cinderella Man.
 
"(Sports + numbers) x great writing = winning formula.  A must read for all couch analysts."
Richard Thaler, Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics, best-selling author of Nudge.

Scorecasting will change the way you watch sports, but don’t start reading it during a game; you’re liable to get lost in it and miss the action. I’m not giving anything away because you’ll want to read exactly how they arrived at their conclusions."
—Allen Barra, NJ Star Ledger

“Like Moneyball and Soccernomics before it, Scorecasting crunches the numbers to challenge notions that have been codified into conventional sports wisdom.”
Wired Magazine

Freakonomics meets Moneyball
The Wall Street Journal


From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

I found this book to be very interesting and readable.
Larry C. Schroeder
The authors do an excellent job of using statistics to break down all types of sports myths.
R. Ballister
Scorecasting is a good book and a quick read for sports fans.
Alec Rojas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 50 people found the following review helpful By David McCune VINE VOICE on December 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I greatly enjoyed Moskowitz and Wertheim's Scorecasting. Much like the highly successful Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (P.S.), the authors examine some of the preconceptions surrounding sport, using statistics and other empirical evidence to reach some interesting conclusions. As the authors stated in their forward, they hope this book will be used to start conversations, settle bar bets, and generally entertain the thinking sportsman. I think they have succeeded.

By and large, Scorecasting is highly readable. My one critique would be that the chapters a highly variable in length, and in particular some of the shorter chapters seemed to be just tossed in. (Did we really need 4 pages to show that, indeed, the Yankees win because they have the biggest payroll in baseball? Three pages to show that the coin toss at the start of NFL overtime is important?) I would also point out that, again like Freakonomics, the chapters are unconnected by any underlying theme, unless that theme is to examine preconceptions and use evidence. I don't consider that a flaw, more a notation of what type of book this is.

In addition, I was reminded of my favorite sports book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. Just as a large part of Moneyball was devoted to showing how a systematic statistical approach to building a team could lead to better results than traditional scouting, Scorecasting can give a reader an appreciation of some recurring trends in sport. It is not just descriptive, but predictive.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By N on January 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This latest addition in the Freakonomics-driven behavioral economics genre is probabaly the best. It is Scorecasting and to a sports fan it is a can't-put-down type of book. The book is written extremely well with a mixture of famous sporting anecdotes and hard statistics that include research of the authors and others.

Some of the eye-opening subject include:

1. very solid evidence that umpires bias games - however what is interesting is the bias is not random. The bias tells a story.
2. the subject of home-field advantage was mesmerizing. Turns out not at all what sports pundits tells us are true or at least not in the way you might think so.
3. incentives lie at the heart of the Chicago Cubs dismal century.
4. great use of numbers to show how desperate baseball players are to have a batting average of at least 0.300.
5. a look into why some stats are not telling us all we need to know (i.e. blocked shot stats in basketball).
6. why don't football coaches go for it on 4th down when it is a statistically correct move?

Turns out that psychology (namely loss aversion) and incentives dictate a lot of sports decision making.

There are several shorter chapters that seem to be 'unfinished' which is a shame. For instance a chapter just mentions the Yankees 'buying' of championships. It would have been great to see a more in depth statistical analysis of how spending money predicts success in baseball.

As I hear constantly on the sport talk radio, the Seattle Seahawks benefit from their 12th man - the crowd. It would have been interesting to see if this claim stacks up and is in fact a larger effect on winning than at other venues.

Great, fast read. Highly recommended.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Hogan VINE VOICE on December 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Scorecasting solves many puzzles on both a micro- and macro scale...
that sports fans have wondered about for years.

For example, when baseball home plate umpires have made an obvious mistake in calling
a ball or strike do they then try and fix that mistake by making a call the "other way?"
(The research done by the authors of Scorecasting reveal that it does indeed happen.)

Another example: When do ref's throw flags in football? Early in the game or late
in the game? Why? You'll find out.

On a bigger scale, why is there a home field advantage in sports? We can understand
the Boston Red Sox....but why the Indianapolis Colts or other teams that play in
domed stadiums, say, in football. It turns out that you will likely be shocked to find
out this answer and because the home team wins around 53% of the time in baseball vs.
about 69% of the time in College Football, what you learn will change the way you
look at the game forever.

In the book, Stumbling on Wins, we found out that coaches aren't as important as
we once thought they were. That was a bit of a jaw dropper. In Scorecasting the authors
go further and deeper explaining why coaches tend to be so interchangable...it turns
out they all are programmed by the pressure of the fans and industry itself to
call plays that are very predictable ...even when they are the wrong choice...such as
punting in many fourth down situations.

It turns out that punting on fourth down IS the right decision often enough but it is
the wrong decision so often that coaches would win a lot more games for their team
if they went for it on fourth and X. So why not?
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