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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

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  4,274 Ratings  ·  305 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.
Oct 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Adam Berry
Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating statistical analysis of several different sports phenomena including home field advantage, hot/cold streaks, and strategies.
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ironically I happened upon this book by chance. I'm glad I did. I think anyone with a love for sports and a basic understanding of statistics will enjoy this book. I was impressed with the authors' abilities to provide great statistical and logical analyses without negating the human element and without taking sports too seriously. It was a fun read and would make a great book club selection.
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
Steven Peterson
Feb 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Gabriel Pinkus
Nov 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
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
Ben Iverson
Jan 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-stars
I enjoyed this book, and if you're a sports fan and like numbers you should definitely read it. I especially enjoyed the section on home field advantage, as it's something that I've wondered about for a long time. My only complaint is that the whole "why everything you thought was true is wrong" is way overplayed, in my opinion. Clearly, telling us that things we think are true really are wrong is a good way to catch attention and sell books. I just think it was a bit overbearing in this book. T ...more
Jan 31, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
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
Mar 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Eye-opening look at sports "truisms" through the lens of economists. Well worth reading.
Greg Stoll
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a combination of Freakonomics (not that I’ve actually read it…) and Moneyball (but not just for baseball). I’ve read a few books like this but this was the most entertaining – the writing style is light and breezy but the analyses seem fairly well done. Some of my favorite chapters:

– Football teams should really really go for it more on fourth down than they do. One estimate showed that, in ~1000 fourth-down situations where they should have gone for it, they punted it away almost 9
Vaibhav Verma
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this one, Freakonomics but for sports. Maybe sometimes at fault for cunningly using data, Moskowitz and Wetheim made strong arguments about so many intriguing topics. They determine the underlying reason for home-court advantage. They analyze the NFL draft, explaining how blatantly one-sided draft trades keep occurring. They mention a high school football team that never settles for a field goal or a punt, going for it on fourth down every time - even deep in their own terri ...more
Edward Averette
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is a really interesting and unconventional book. I'm a big sports fan, so it was great to get insight into the truisms and cliches of sports and see the concepts underpinning phenomena such as home-field advantage and competiveness. The book did get too focused on baseball as a primary example, but the authors did a good job at not getting too technical. Overall, this book gave me a lot to think about, and it definitely does a great job challenging the conventions of sports.
Feb 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, psychology
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
Dave Keller
Somewhat disappointing

While the use of data to challenge conventional wisdom and sports myth is a worthwhile premise, the execution here is flawed. It is only occasionally entertaining and mildly interesting.
Jamie E.
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Destroying many sports myths and shocking you with the truth.
John Hubbard
Learned some. Easy read.
Troy Beals
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a very good explanation of how professional players and teams play with skewed logic when it comes to stats and wins vs losses. coaches and players could learn a lot from reading this book. I recommend every sports fan give this a read. a very intelligent way to see how games are played and why most coaches coach the way they do. :-)
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
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
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports, economics
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
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
Gumble's Yard
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Easy to read and entertaining book applying a combination of behavioural economics and "Freakonomics" style statistical analysis (eliminating other variables and often overturning conventional analysis) to (mainly American) sport. Interesting areas include: home bias being almost entirely due to crowd influence on referees for more subjective decisions (e.g. extra time) and not influence on players (as penalties and free throws are not affected); Chicago Cubs "bad luck" actually being down to ec ...more
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L. Jon Wertheim is the executive editor of Sports Illustrated. A sports journalist with a passion for psychology and economics, he is the author of such New York Times bestsellers as Scorecasting (written with Toby Moskowitz) and You Can’t Make This Up (written with Al Michaels).
More about L. Jon Wertheim...

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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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