Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sunday sports blogging.... 

[] All the recent dubious calls by baseball umpires earns the umps a good long look from J.C. Bradbury. It's worth reading just for his comparison of the career path economics of MLB umpires and tenured university professors -- and why that may give MLB an incentive not to discipline bad umpires.

There also are some interesting facts. Individual MLB umpires have strikeout-to-walk ratios in games they call that range from 1.60 to 2.82.
"How does the league allow Doug Eddings and Derryl Cousins to keep their jobs? Maybe one of them is enforcing the true strike zone (though, I doubt it), but both of them cannot be doing so -— they are seven standard deviations apart!"

[] Is rooting for your football team an addiction? (We've already seen evidence of political addiction. And there's analysis suggesting sports team partisanship and political partisanship may be closely related behavior. More on that another time. )

[] Who says "the bookies never lose"? Sometimes they do (the unexpectedly bad teams kill them along with everybody else).

[] A lesson on reading the results of regression analysis from Sabermetric Research
... How much is a triple worth? That is: how many more runs would an average team score if you gave them exactly one extra triple?

We can run a simple regression, runs scored vs. triples hit. I used a dataset consisting of all full team-seasons from 1961 to 2008 (only for teams that played at least 159 games, to omit strike seasons). That was 1,121 teams. The result of the regression:

Runs = 731 - (0.44 * triples)

That's not a misprint: the regression tells us that every triple actually *costs* its team almost half a run! It's not a sample size issue, either...

Is it possible that a triple actually lowers your runs scored? Of course not...

No matter how expert you are in the technique of regression, you have to know something about the subject you're researching to be able to reach the correct conclusions...
Although that does take a lot of the fun out of things. And the 40+ comments are much more interested in why regression analysis consistently gets the value of doubles wrong.

[] We learn why it's good to be a "cupcake" in college football, via the Sports Economist.
Why is it good to be the cupcake? Because they get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to come to your place for a shellacking. Moreover, according to press reports, because of the added 12th game in D-1 football (or FBS, or whatever you want to call that rose), the demand for cupcakes has risen, giving rise to bigger payouts to the cupcakes.

... at least one team decided to take a guaranteed loss -- a 100% percent guarantee, mind you -- in exchange for a nice payout. And that was a loss on top of the highly-probable, almost-certain loss it was going to be given at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines.
You see, the Michigan Wolverines dangled $550,000 in front of the Delaware State Hornets to play this Saturday. The only catch: Delaware State already had a conference game set against North Carolina A&T for that date.

So what did the Hornets do? Well what every Football Championship Series team would do: forfeit the conference game, take the money and, oh yeah, lose to Michigan 63-6.
That's two losses on one Saturday, in exchange for $550,000.

And that's amateur collegiate sports, folks.