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Archive of posts filed under the Sports category.

Are you ready for some smashmouth FOOTBALL?

Kickoff This story started for me three years ago with a pre-election article by Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier entitled, “Will Ohio State’s football team decide who wins the White House?.” Cowen and Grier wrote: Economists Andrew Healy, Neil Malhotra, and Cecilia Mo . . . examined whether the outcomes of college football games on […]

You won’t be able to stop staring at this original Hot Hand preprint

To continue with our basketball theme, here’s the preprint of the original hot hand paper, “Misperception of Chance Processes in Basketball,” by Amos Tversky, Robert Vallone, and Thomas Gilovich, from 1985 or so. I remember when it was floating around and everybody was talking about it. When discussing the hot hand with Josh Miller the […]

Hi-tech hoops: Characterizing the spatial structure of defensive skill in professional basketball

Joshua Vogelstein points me to this article by Alexander Franks, Andrew Miller, Luke Bornn, and Kirk Goldsberry and writes: For some reason, I feel like you’d care about this article, and the resulting discussion on your blog would be fun. Hey—label your lines directly! Cool! Ummm . . . no. No. Really, really, really, really […]

Super-topical NBA post!!!

Paul Alper writes: Now that his team has won the NBA Championship, I am surprised that you have not commented on Curry and his mouthguard. The link is from May 8, 2015. Notice that mouthguard out is mouthguard chewed! From the article: Curry says his mouthguard routines are completely random, but apparently he’s now well […]

3 postdoc opportunities you can’t miss—here in our group at Columbia! Apply NOW, don’t miss out!

Hey, just once, the Buzzfeed-style hype is appropriate. We have 3 amazing postdoc opportunities here, and you need to apply NOW. Here’s the deal: we’re working on some amazing projects. You know about Stan and associated exciting projects in computational statistics. There’s the virtual database query, which is the way I like to describe our […]

The answer to my previous question


What’s the probability that Daniel Murphy hits a home run tonight?

20% 15%, that’s my quick empirical estimate. Where do I get this? I googled *most home runs hit in consecutive games* and found this list of players who’ve hit home runs in at least six consecutive games. There are 20 such cases; 14 of these streaks ended at six games, and 6 of these streaks […]

Explaining to Gilovich about the hot hand

X points me to this news article by George Johnson regarding the hot hand in basketball. Nothing new since the previous hot hand report (also Johnson follows the usual newspaper convention of not citing the earlier article in the Wall Street Journal, instead simply linking back to the Miller and Sanjurjo article as if it […]

Hot hand explanation again

I guess people really do read the Wall Street Journal . . . Edward Adelman sent me the above clipping and calculation and writes: What am I missing? I do not see the 60%. And Richard Rasiej sends me a longer note making the same point: So here I am, teaching another statistics class, this […]


I don’t know if he has to say that this body type are actually better for a baseball player. Maybe it’s enough to just make the case that, Moneyball-style, players with this shape are underrated. P.S. I still don’t see why James chose in his book to summarize players by games played, home runs, RBI, […]

“Dow 36,000” guy offers an opinion on Tom Brady’s balls. The rest of us are supposed to listen?

Football season is returning so it’s time for us to return to that favorite statistical topic from the past football season: Tom Brady’s deflated balls. Back in June, Jonathan Falk pointed me to this report. You can click through if you’d like and take a look. I didn’t bother reading it because it had no […]

The plagiarist (not; see correction below) next door strikes back: Different standards of plagiarism in different communities

Commenters on this blog sometimes tell me not to waste so much time talking about plagiarism. And in the grand scheme of things, what could be more trivial than plagiarism copying of errors with unclear citations in an obscure German book of chess anecdotes? Yet this is what I have come to talk with you […]

Hey—guess what? There really is a hot hand!

No, it’s not April 1, and yup, I’m serious. Josh Miller came into my office yesterday and convinced me that the hot hand is real. Here’s the background. Last year we posted a discussion on streakiness in basketball shooting. Miller has a new paper out, with Adam Sanjurjo, which begins: We find a subtle but […]

“Menstrual Cycle Phase Does Not Predict Political Conservatism”

Someone pointed me to this article by Isabel Scott and Nicholas Pound: Recent authors have reported a relationship between women’s fertility status, as indexed by menstrual cycle phase, and conservatism in moral, social and political values. We conducted a survey to test for the existence of a relationship between menstrual cycle day and conservatism. 2213 […]

“Faith means belief in something concerning which doubt is theoretically possible.” — William James (again)

Eric Tassone writes: So, here’s a Bill James profile from late-ish 2014 that I’d missed until now. It’s baseball focused, which was nice — so many recent articles about him are non-baseball stuff. Here’s an extended excerpt of a part I found refreshing, though it’s probably just that my expectations have gotten pretty low of […]

A question about race based stratification

Can Candan writes: I have scraped horse racing data from a web site in Turkey and would like to try some models for predicting the finishing positions of future races, what models would you suggest for that? There is one recent paper on the subject that seems promising, which claims to change the SMO algorithm […]

Chess + statistics + plagiarism, again!

In response to this post (in which I noted that the Elo chess rating system is a static model which, paradoxically, is used to for the purposes of studying changes), Keith Knight writes: It’s notable that Glickman’s work is related to some research by Harry Joe at UBC, which in turn was inspired by data […]

Adiabatic as I wanna be: Or, how is a chess rating like classical economics?

Chess ratings are all about change. Did your rating go up, did it go down, have you reached 2000, who’s hot, who’s not, and so on. If nobody’s abilities were changing, chess ratings would be boring, they’d be nothing but a noisy measure, and watching your rating change would be as exciting as watching a […]

The 1980 Math Olympiad Program: Where are they now?

Brian Hunt: He was the #1 math team kid in our team (Montgomery County, Maryland). I think he came in first place in the international olympiad the next year (yup, here’s the announcement). We carpooled once or twice to county math team practices, and I remember that his mom would floor it rather than slow […]

Statistics job opening . . . at the NBA!

Jason Rosenfeld writes: I work for the NBA League Office headquarters in New York City. I’m the Director of Basketball Analytics here at the NBA, and I’m again recruiting analysts. More information on the roles I’m trying to fill can be found here ( I’m open to both undergraduate and graduate students. I’d be perfect […]