The referee you're booing while watching your team play at home is biased in your favor. Romeo Crennel's failure in Cleveland was a good thing for The Rooney Rule. Teams facing fourth-and-goal decide whether to go for a touchdown not based on how much yardage they have to the goal line but based on the three previous plays. These counter-intuitive insights into sports are among the revelations in "Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played And Games Are Won," by Sports Illustrated writer Jon Wertheim and his childhood friend, University of Chicago professor Tobias Moskowitz. Billed as a "Freakonomics" for the sporting set, "Scorecasting" analyzes data from each of the major sports leagues to counter long-held sporting beliefs and confirm some others. Defense doesn't win championships. The strike-zone changes based on the count. Home field advantage has little to do with the screaming fans. Wertheim does a great job of distilling the mathematical research into a book that's relatable to folks like myself who barely passed statistics in college. It's a highly readable tome that'll help settle set barroom discussions and may start a few more. On the day of the book's release, I spoke with Jon Wertheim about what his book revealed about the NFL. We touch on the overvaluation of draft picks, how variables make statistical analysis of football difficult and why coaches don't go for it more on fourth down. We also manage to sneak some Australian Open talk into the final minute. Click on the link to listen or right click and select "save as" to download: Shutdown Corner's Chris Chase talks with "Scorecasting" author L. Jon Wertheim 1309 days
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