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Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won
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Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  3,409 ratings  ·  268 reviews
In Scorecasting, University of Chicago behavioral economist Tobias Moskowitz teams up with veteran Sports Illustrated writer L. Jon Wertheim to overturn some of the most cherished truisms of sports, and reveal the hidden forces that shape how basketball, baseball, football, and hockey games are played, won and lost.

Drawing from Moskowitz's original research, as well as stu
ebook, 241 pages
Published January 25th 2011 by Crown Archetype (first published January 1st 2011)
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Finally, a book for those of us who read Moneyball and thought, "but I was told there would be math." This is a comprehensive statistical analysis of the unifying themes in all sports. Want to know why teams have a home field advantage? Just want to see mathematical proof that there is a home field advantage across all sports? Curious about whether or not "defense wins championships"? The answers that you seek are here.

More importantly, the fact that the authors look at a number of different spo
This is basically Freakonomics for sports. And I say that as a good thing. A scholarly read that is still fun. The authors are intellectual but can still be regular fans. Not always easy to read as there are lots of statistics and numbers but if you are patient and think your way through they make good arguments for such subjects as Does Defense Really Win Championships? and When Do Refs Choke The Most?

Recommended to all casual plus sports fans.
There are two chapters in this book that should be read by anyone hoping to better understand sports outcomes, spanning pages 110-167 and breaking new ground concerning why teams win a higher percentage of home games than road games.

The conclusion is this - referee bias from social influence is the leading cause of home field advantage across all team sports

Baseball – Close pitches go the home team’s way more often, and most commonly in high leverage situations. The larger the crowd and the clo
A sports-loving numbers nerd's dream! Real review to follow, but it would be cruel to deny this recommendation for those who fit the bill!
I love this book in theory, but, much like Freakonomics before it, the reality is disappointing. The pedestrian writing repeats itself innumerable times - to the point where I would almost recommend reading only every other paragraph (and maybe skipping the first and last sentences of those paragraphs). Several of the topics covered will be very familiar to anyone who follows intelligent sports reporting - the hot hand isn't real, calling a timeout to "freeze" your opponent is ineffective, coach ...more
Freakonomics with sports, or as people on Japers' Rink call it "FANCY STATS". Like Freakonomics, Scorecasting likes to turn people's perceptions on their heads, like determining why sports have home field advantage (spoiler alert: it's the refs).

The problem with a book like Scorecasting if you're a mathematics or economist or anyone who knows something about statistics is that you want to ask questions of the analysis. Things like sample size, how the authors controlled for various factors, corr
Steven Peterson
Questions about sports that always come up: Why is the home team so often successful? Is there no I in team? Why are there more .300 hitters than .299 hitters? Why do golfers suck it up to avoid bogies but play it safe when looking for a birdie? In football, why is it so normal to punt on 4th down, no matter the situation? The4se and other issues are the focus of this quirky--but fun--volume. Sports fans will enjoy this; so, too, will students of the human condition.

I don't want to give away too
This is a very interesting book, highlighting some interesting findings I was familiar with--such as that NFL teams "go for it" on fourth down way too infrequently, that there is little evidence for systematically "hot" players, and that draft picks later in the draft are undervalued relative to top picks--but also introduces several interesting new pieces of research.

The authors do a lot of work on home-field advantage, finding that players do not actually perform better or worse at home versus
The authors take a "Freakanomics"-style approach to sports "truisms", debunking some myths (don't bother icing the kicker) and breaking others down (the real reasons behind home-field advantage). I don't have a good reason to do so, but I'm going pros and cons for this review.

* Many of the findings were fascinating - the Mitchell Report data, the .299 hitter bit, breaking down the difference in value of blocked shots based on what happens to the ball subsequently, the size of the strik
Freakonomics for the sports buff... super fast read. Many interesting tidbits here, my favorite the fact teams are better off "going for it" on 4th down versus punting, which is something I’ve always thought. Given this “go for it” attitude is statistically favorable for the average team I have to think it's doubly favorable for the Chargers and their abysmal special teams play. Methinks Norv Turner needs a copy of this book. Also, I liked the numbers and reasons behind “home field advantage” (n ...more
Less Moneyball than a sports-centric Freakonomics. I enjoyed the majority of the topics the authors delve into. I especially liked the review of home field advantage across sports. The research didn't seem as "cherry-picked" as some other recent books I've read - there are many explanations of how they are measuring or evaluating. I didn't appreciate a few chapters where they listed lots of statistics and numbers. On paper you can skip tables, but when they are read on the audiobook version, you ...more
Wow! Eye-opening look at sports "truisms" through the lens of economists. Well worth reading.
It's Freakonomics applied to sports. Unfortunately, this book doesn't hold attention quite as well as Freakonomics, but if you're a sports fan and a math nerd it's an interesting read. I think the book would have been better as a series of articles. Each chapter seems to stretch out as many pages as it can out of some pretty dull analysis. The book is at its best when it makes it point, provides a little bit of data and moves on. Toward the middle of the book the authors lag on some longer theme ...more
Gabriel Pinkus
Wonderful book! I thought they made a few errors or were a little too confident in their findings a few times (if you data mine a lot, you're probably going to find coincidences... Even if the statistics appear to say each one is signficant... They also made some displays of data which were a bit misleading - They said the cub's attendance was less win-sensitive than any other team, and they used a bar graph in which the Yankees (I believe it was the Yankees) had a 0.9 sensitivity and the cubs a ...more
This book is very entertaining and enlightening. It reminded me of a cross between Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game and Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. The authors use economics to answer different questions in topics like the concept of "home field advantage" and the "Cubs curse". I saw this earlier, but wasn't drawn to it until I read A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred. I'm glad I did find this, as it's a grea ...more
There is nothing truly new or breakthrough in this book, but it is another solid entry in the sportsonomics category. While the conclusions mostly summarize previous studies, it's hard not to stand on some shoulders in this genre. Anyone who has read Wages of Wins or follows Beyond the Box Score, Fangraphs or Adanced NFL Stats will be familar with most of the concepts and possibly read some of these topics previously. Still, I'd rather someone read this and at least start to look at things diffe ...more
Mike Pirsos
Mike Pirsos

I read “Scorecasting” by Tobias J. Moskowitz recently and although for a couple flaws I did enjoy it. It showed me a lot of little things in sports that are always overlooked by fans and viewers, such as bias by judges or umpires for the home team. It turns out Home teams actually tend to get more calls in their favor possibly to please the fans at the stadium to make them go to more games, which equals more money for the league. For an avid sports fanatic you never hear about myths l
4 of 5 stars (very good)

While the study of economics and trends that are set in the field will usually cause yawns, if one were to take this type of research and apply it to sports, the result is an interesting and entertaining book. That was done by two men at the University of Chicago and the findings were interesting. Many previous reviewers of this book felt it was very similar to “Freakonomics” as the studies were done in a similar manner and I have to agree with them.

The bo
This book is largely based around finding the statistics on some of the biggest sports mantras ever. The book covers everything from does defense actually win championships to what actually influences home field advantage. Tobias Moskowitz does a good job of keeping people interested with little mixed in jokes and such when going through stats he received and other things. The book is exclusively detailed, probably more than any sports book you will ever read. The data pulls from scientific resu ...more
Charles Berteau
Review carried forward from Facebook wall.

I just finished Scorecasting, a short but interesting book that is a must-read for sports fans who love statistics and the truth behind the clichés. It’s kinda the sports equivalent to Freakanomics (also highly recommended), teasing the truth out of numbers. I found the chapters on the marked effects of officials’ human tendencies and the implications of loss aversion (in coaches and their fans) to be particularly eye-opening, and I’m proud to surmise fr
Patrick Lindsey
Entertaining! Some of the stuff I'd heard before (disproving the "hot hand" or delving into why the Cubs have been so bad for so long), but overall a lot of cool stuff. Most interesting was the investigation into home field advantage. I'd like to see a couple of their studies re-run now that more advanced stats have come into existence, just to see if they still hold. For example, they used points allowed per game as their metric for top NBA defenses, and while that's better than nothing, it's o ...more
In this book the authors take sports statistics and apply them to the psychology of sports decision-making. Think Freakonomics for sports. The result is a very entertaining read. From the enduring attendance rates of Cubs fans, to the effectiveness of icing opponents, to the success of 4th down attempts in football, and the realities of home field advantage, this book draws upon logic but comes to some fascinating conclusions. The audio book has a great narrator, however with all of the facts an ...more
Sports + Data. Nerds unite.

The book is a quick read and has some interesting information. The overall purpose of the book is to apply statistical analyses to debunk traditional truisms about sports.

It's marketed as academic meets sports-pop culture, but as someone in Higher Education the book wasn't that academic. I understand that the authors don't want to bore the average reader with regression tables, but where's the data? They talk about the data, but they don't show much data. There could
We BYU fans responded with befuddlement and incense when our coache burned two timeouts late in the most recent bowl game to "ice" the opposing kicker -- on an extra point. This book pours salt on the wound with its chapter detailing evidence that there is no way to ice the kicker on FGs, to say nothing of icing PATs.

Icing kickers and other phenomena can be found in this original, rich, and insightful book. I have read many quantitative studies on sports, but Moskowitz and Wertheim provide an ad
Jeffrey Rasley
Myth Busters:
Scorecasting busts many of the myths of the conventional wisdom about sports. It uses statistical analysis to challenge all the assumptions sports nuts grow up believing. The authors are a couple University of Chicago propeller head sports nerds.

Scorecasting follows in the wake of Freakonomics. It's well written and entertaining while providing hard statistics. Some of the cool topics covered are:
- umpire bias in home games due to the size of the crowd;
- conservative/aggressive app
Write a review of Scorecasting? That’s easy, phrase it as a Q and A and it becomes a very small book. Obviously this also omits the arguments for the results given, really omitting the reason to read the book, but this also gives a nice digest and a portal to further review. It also proceeds in the subject-order the book itself imposes.These questions and answers are for the most part the substance of a chapter-section condensed to a few lines. Such a summary is entirely inadequate, yes, but als ...more
If you enjoy sports (and you read or follow sports statistics) and you liked the Freakonomics books (or columns), this is something you need to read. My guess is that plenty of Moneyball readers will enjoy this, but it lacks the classic Michael Lewis-type human interest angle (except in snippets). The authors analyze lots of data and disprove many conventional assumptions that appear prevalent in professional sports (and some other leagues). Some are surprising, and some are more interesting/ent ...more
Ye gods, someone wrote a sports book for me.

Except it's not, quite, because a lot of it is not specifically about baseball. But there was more than enough baseball to keep me engaged throughout. Moskowitz and Wertheim apply scientific rigor to analyzing why perplexing issues like why teams and managers consistently make suboptimal decisions, how and why upstanding umpires can make bad calls, what factors don't significantly contribute to homefield advantage, and the problems of draft pick valuat
Applies in-depth (mostly) quantitative research to analyze various beliefs about sports. Self-consciously contrarian outlook -- most chapters follow the structure of (a) engaging anecdote to illustrate the topic, (b) serve up wrongheaded belief with some quotes to establish that a lot of people say it's the case, (c) use data to bury the belief.

In some instances, it's entertaining, fun, and convincing -- some of it based on long-established points (there is no "hot hand" in basketball, and intui
Scorecasting is, indeed, Freakonomics for sports. That means it's more focused but also drier, so I don't think I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed either of the Freakonomics books, but I did think it was, for the most part, convincing and effective.

Naturally, some chapters are better than others. The topic they devote the most space to is home field advantage, and their number seem to demonstrate pretty convincingly that it comes down to referee bias. The chapters I liked best, though, were the o
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“Inside the opponent’s 45-yard line, facing anything less than fourth and eight, teams are better off going for it than punting. Inside the opponent’s 33-yard line, they are better off going for it on anything less than fourth and 11.* Regardless of field position, on anything less than fourth and five, teams are always better off going for it.” 1 likes
“Time and again, we let the fear of loss overpower rational decision-making and often make ourselves worse off just to avoid a potential loss. Psychologists call this loss aversion, and it means we often tend to prefer avoiding losses at the expense of acquiring gains.” 1 likes
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