Skip to content
Archive of posts filed under the Sports category.

The hot hand and playing hurt

So, was chatting with someone the other day and it came up that I sometimes do sports statistics, and he told me how he read that someone did some research finding that the hot hand in basketball isn’t real . . . I replied that the hot hand is real, and I recommended he google […]

Padres need Stan

Cody Zupnick writes: I’m working in baseball research for the San Diego Padres, and we’re looking for new people, potentially with Stan experience. Would you mind seeing if any of your readers have any interest? Cool!

Golf example now a Stan case study!

It’s here! (and here’s the page with all the Stan case studies). In this case study, I’m following up on two earlier posts, here and here, which in turn follow up this 2002 paper with Deb Nolan. My Stan case study is an adaptation of a model fit by Columbia business school professor and golf […]

Josh Miller’s alternative, more intuitive, formulation of Monty Hall problem

Here it is: Three tennis players. Two are equally-matched amateurs; the third is a pro who will beat either of the amateurs, always. You blindly guess that Player A is the pro; the other two then play. Player B beats Player C. Do you want to stick with Player A in a Player A vs. […]

More golf putting, leading to a discussion of how prior information can be important for an out-of-sample prediction or causal inference problem, even if it’s not needed to fit existing data

Steve Stigler writes: I saw a piece on your blog about putting. It suggests to me that you do not play golf, or you would not think this was a model. Length is much more important than you indicate. I attach an old piece by a friend that is indeed the work of a golfer! […]

Blindfold play and sleepless nights

In Edward Winter’s Chess Explorations there is the following delightful quote from the memoirs of chess player William Winter: Blindfold play I have never attempted seriously. I once played six, but spent so many sleepless nights trying to drive the positions out of my head that I gave it up. I love that. We think […]

Leonard Shecter’s coauthor has passed away.

I don’t really have anything to add here except to agree with Phil that Ball Four is one of the best nonfiction books ever. (And, no, I don’t consider Charlie Brown to be nonfiction.)

Book Review: Good to Go, by Christie Aschwanden

This is a book review. It is by Phil Price. It is not by Andrew. The book is Good To Go: What the athlete in all of us can learn from the strange science of recovery. By Christie Aschwanden, published by W.W. Norton and Company. The publisher offered a copy to Andrew to review, and […]

What pieces do chess grandmasters move, and when?

The above image, from T. J. Mahr, is a cleaned-up version of this graph: which in turn is a slight improvement on a graph posted by Dan Goldstein (with R code!) which came from Ashton Anderson. The original, looks like this: This is just fine, but I had a few changes to make. I thought […]

“In 1997 Latanya Sweeney dramatically demonstrated that supposedly anonymized data was not anonymous,” but “Over 20 journals turned down her paper . . . and nobody wanted to fund privacy research that might reach uncomfortable conclusions.”

Tom Daula writes: I think this story from John Cook is a different perspective on replication and how scientists respond to errors. In particular the final paragraph: There’s a perennial debate over whether it is best to make security and privacy flaws public or to suppress them. The consensus, as much as there is a […]

“MRP is the Carmelo Anthony of election forecasting methods”? So we’re doing trash talking now??

What’s the deal with Nate Silver calling MRP “the Carmelo Anthony of forecasting methods”? Someone sent this to me: and I was like, wtf? I don’t say wtf very often—at least, not on the blog—but this just seemed weird. For one thing, Nate and I did a project together once using MRP: this was our […]

New golf putting data! And a new golf putting model!

Part 1 Here’s the golf putting data we were using, typed in from Don Berry’s 1996 textbook. The columns are distance in feet from the hole, number of tries, and number of successes: x n y 2 1443 1346 3 694 577 4 455 337 5 353 208 6 272 149 7 256 136 8 […]

A thought on the hot hand in basketball and the relevance of defense

I was reading about basketball the other day and a thought came to me about the hot hand . . . There are a bunch of NBA players who could shoot with great accuracy even from long distance if they’re not guarded, right? For example, what would Steph Curry’s success rate be for 30-footers if […]

Comparing racism from different eras: If only Tucker Carlson had been around in the 1950s he could’ve been a New York Intellectual.

TV commentator Carlson in 2018 recently raised a stir by saying that immigration makes the United States “poorer, and dirtier, and more divided,” which reminded me of this rant from literary critic Alfred Kazin in 1957: Kazin put it in his diary and Carlson broadcast it on TV, so not quite the same thing. But […]

A couple of thoughts regarding the hot hand fallacy fallacy

For many years we all believed the hot hand was a fallacy. It turns out we were all wrong. Fine. Such reversals happen. Anyway, now that we know the score, we can reflect on some of the cognitive biases that led us to stick with the “hot hand fallacy” story for so long. Jason Collins […]

Another Stan related job in baseball!

This quick post is for any Stan users out there who are interested in working in baseball. The Los Angeles Angels are looking to hire a Director of Quantitative Analysis and they are particularly interested in candidates with experience fitting models with Stan. If you are interested please see the full job posting.

The State of the Art

Christie Aschwanden writes: Not sure you will remember, but last fall at our panel at the World Conference of Science Journalists I talked with you and Kristin Sainani about some unconventional statistical methods being used in sports science. I’d been collecting material for a story, and after the meeting I sent the papers to Kristin. […]

“Ivy League Football Saw Large Reduction in Concussions After New Kickoff Rules”

I noticed this article in the newspaper today: A simple rule change in Ivy League football games has led to a significant drop in concussions, a study released this week found. After the Ivy League changed its kickoff rules in 2016, adjusting the kickoff and touchback lines by just five yards, the rate of concussions […]

The hot hand—in darts!

Roland Langrock writes: Since on your blog you’ve regularly been discussing hot hand literature – which we closely followed – I’m writing to share with you a new working paper we wrote on a potential hot hand pattern in professional darts. We use state-space models in which a continuous-valued latent “hotness” variable, modeled as an […]

Isaac Newton : Alchemy :: Michael Jordan : Golf

Not realizing the domain-specificity of their successes.