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Archive of posts filed under the Sports category.

The latest episode in my continuing effort to use non-sports analogies

In a unit about the law of large numbers, sample size, and margins of error, I used the notorious beauty, sex, and power example: A researcher, working with a sample of size 3000, found that the children of beautiful parents were more likely to be girls, compared to the children of less-attractive parents. Can such […]

Who should write the new NYT chess column?

Matt Gaffney gives these “three essential characteristics” for writing “a relevant, interesting weekly chess column” in 2014: 1. It must be written by someone who is deeply involved in the chess world. Summaries of information that is already available online won’t cut it anymore. And since newspapers can’t afford to send columnists around the world […]

Times have changed (sportswriting edition)

The name Tom Boswell came up in a recent comment thread and I was moved to reread his 1987 article, “99 Reasons Why Baseball Is Better Than Football.” The phrase “head injury” did not come up once. Boswell refers a few times to football’s dangerous nature (for example, “98. When a baseball player gets knocked […]

Ray Could Write

Now he is scattered among a hundred cities And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections, To find his happiness in another kind of wood And be punished under a foreign code of conscience. . . . You were silly like us; your gift survived it all: For chess makes nothing happen: it survives In the […]

2 on chess

Is it really “often easier to win a rematch than to defend a championship”? The quoted bit above comes from Tyler Cowen, writing about the Anand/Carlsen world championship rematch. I’m still not used to the idea of a new world championship match every year but I guess why not? Anyway, here’s my question. Tyler Cowen […]

“Derek Jeter was OK”

Tom Scocca files a bizarrely sane column summarizing the famous shortstop’s accomplishments: Derek Jeter was an OK ballplayer. He was pretty good at playing baseball, overall, and he did it for a pretty long time. . . . You have to be good at baseball to last 20 seasons in the major leagues. . . […]

Poker math showdown!

In comments, Rick Schoenberg wrote: One thing I tried to say as politely as I could in [the book, “Probability with Texas Holdem Applications”] on p146 is that there’s a huge error in Chen and Ankenman’s “The Mathematics of Poker” which renders all the calculations and formulas in the whole last chapter wrong or meaningless […]

Luck vs. skill in poker

The thread of our recent discussion of quantifying luck vs. skill in sports turned to poker, motivating the present post. 1. Can good poker players really “read” my cards and figure out what’s in my hand? For a couple years in grad school a group of us had a regular Thursday-night poker game, nickel-dime-quarter with […]

Understanding the hot hand, and the myth of the hot hand, and the myth of the myth of the hot hand, and the myth of the myth of the myth of the hot hand, all at the same time

Josh Miller writes: I came across your paper in the Journal of Management on unreplicable research, and in it you illustrate a point about the null hypothesis via the hot hand literature. I am writing you because I’d like to move your current prior (even if our work uses a classical approach). I am also […]

NFL players keep getting bigger and bigger

Aleks points us to this beautiful dynamic graph by Noah Veltman showing the heights and weights of NFL players over time. The color is pretty but I think I’d prefer something simpler, just one dot per player (with some jittering to handle the discrete reporting of heights and weights). In any case, it’s a great […]