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  • mafu
    replied
    Moneyball

    apart from the issues mentioned there a problem i have with the Lewis/Battier piece is that it doesnt really say what exactly it was that led them to buy him (which is surely the crux of the matter) apart from 'we went looking for nonsuperstars that we thought were undervalued'

    it analyses his game to some extent but seemingly mostly (it's hard to tell at times) in the sense of what he's done since joining the Rockets, which doesnt necessarily correspond to why they bought him in the first place. so there's always the sneaking suspicion that they just got lucky. i'm prepared to believe that they didn't, but without more detail on the decision making it's kind of pointless beyond proving that the commonly used stats don't always mean that much.

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  • Incandenza
    replied
    Moneyball

    Abu Al Torotoro wrote:
    Inca - fair enough. I suppose, like many things, it's fascinating to a neophyte, but may be fairly old-hat to someone more familiar with the topic.
    I suppose so. I also thought that the piece was kind of muddled, and didn't really know what it wanted to be--an article on statistical analysis on basketball? A profile of Shane Battier? A look at the culture of basketball, and what style of play is valued? I don't know if this is part of a bigger piece, and separate sections were smushed together, because that's what it seemed like to me.

    This piece absolutely rips Lewis' article apart, perhaps a bit too vigorously:

    A person writing an article for The New York Times about advanced, sophisticated utilization of statistics might have engaged the cutting edge research method of google-searching the Houston Rockets 34-48 season: a season in which McGrady and Yao Ming played a total of 31 games together; a season that concluded with only 7 players who started the season on the Rockets’ active roster. At the time the Rockets were – as anyone with a memory or a computer and a desire for such knowledge can ascertain – a season removed from winning 51 games. So a 52-30 record over the course of the ‘06-‘07 season was hardly unexpected, or evidence of a drastic turnaround. Nor can it be construed as proof positive that Battier carries with him the magical, mysterious smell, feel, and aura of winning basketball. He just happened to be there, and contribute a bit along the way. There’s not much magic or mystery to it – tagging along for a successful ride while contributing a little bit is the distinguishable hallmark of a role player.

    (Somewhere, Devean George is waiting for his profile. To his credit, the Lakers actually won a playoff series with him on the team.)

    That this piece has been met with such immediate and disproportionate interest and praise in the blogosphere, and that it landed in The New York Times Magazine is fairly disheartening to thoughtful sports fans. On the one hand, the buzz that has accompanied this story is encouraging because it indicates a general desire to embrace new methods of thinking about basketball and understanding how to evaluate players; on the other hand, the reaction betrays the general willingness to take as gospel or describe as inherently “fascinating”whatever new information is sold to us by someone with credentials. It’s a Bernie Madoff sort of scheme: the information promised is too grand, and the portfolios (Morey’s and Battier’s achievements), upon basic scrutiny, don’t quite support faith in the grandiose.

    Am I the only one who finds it odd and disquieting that I sat down to read a story written by the man who helped get out the message that conventional statistics in baseball don’t tell the whole truth, only to find that he’s crudely manipulating and interpreting team win-loss records, taking them completely out of context, and using only scraps of questionable evidence to extol the virtues of Shane Battier and Daryl Morey? Am I the only one mystified by the resultant herd of people who are excited about this, and are recommending the piece to as many others as they can as a fascinating read?

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  • Brandenburger Toro
    replied
    Moneyball

    ua - oh, okay. I didn't read it like that, but thinking again, you're probably right.

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  • statto99
    replied
    Moneyball

    Basketball Prospectus comes from the same stable as Pro Football Prospectus, which is an annual purchase of mine and well worth the money.

    I'm dipping into Moneyball at the moment when I'm not otherwise engaged in Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" which started off as a fascinating read, but is getting a bit bogged down with twentieth century New York immigration in the middle.

    The whole Moneyball concept reminds me of how to succeed in Championship Manager, though that's probably far too great a simplification.

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  • ursus arctos
    replied
    Moneyball

    It's "wages paid", which I took as a reference to the disparity in resources available to the clubs (see also the reference to "one poor team" in the next paragraph).

    I agree with you about the correlation question.

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  • Brandenburger Toro
    replied
    Moneyball

    ursus - Tubby explicitly mentions wages, though, doesn't he? TBH, I'd be even less sure that views about income disparity between multi million-dollar businesses should correlate with views about income distribution in society.

    Inca - fair enough. I suppose, like many things, it's fascinating to a neophyte, but may be fairly old-hat to someone more familiar with the topic.

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  • Incandenza
    replied
    Moneyball

    Abu Al Torotoro wrote:
    An utterly, utterly great piece by Lewis. Makes basketball interesting, even though it's all about stats...
    I was quite disappointed with that article, to be honest. Lewis barely scratched the surface when it came to the new stats in basketball. Sure, he mentioned +/- (without mentioning that hockey has had this for years), then said that it wasn't really effective. Okay... Then he quoted the guy from the Rockets and said that they had a bunch of great statistical analyses...but they're secrets. Well, not very illuminating.

    No mention of John Hollinger of ESPN, Basketball Prospectus, or 82Games.com, just to name three really influential people looking at statistics in basketball differently.

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  • ursus arctos
    replied
    Moneyball

    Toro, I think Tubby was referring to the income disparity among MLB franchises.

    Which I think Lewis (and Billy Beane) take as a given. Moneyball is a description of how to gain competitive advantage in the current system given limited economic resources; it doesn't purport to provide a blueprint for a fundamental change of that system to make it more "equitable".

    Which is in keeping with Lewis' basic modus operandi, which has always been descriptive rather than prescriptive.

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  • Brandenburger Toro
    replied
    Moneyball

    I don't think one's views about income disparity among highly-paid elite sportsmen need map onto one's views about income disparity within society at all. They're completely different situations, with completely different causal factors, and completely different consequences.

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  • Tubby Isaacs
    replied
    Moneyball

    He didn't seem that committed to equalising the income disparity. He was quite scornful, I thought, of the commission I mentioned up there.

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  • Brandenburger Toro
    replied
    Moneyball

    An utterly, utterly great piece by Lewis. Makes basketball interesting, even though it's all about stats...

    Leave a comment:


  • Brandenburger Toro
    replied
    Moneyball

    I think he's pretty progressive, Wyatt - there aren't really any socialists in the US mainstream, but that's another story.

    This is a guy, though, who chucked in his stockbroking job specifically because the level of greed and venality was so distasteful, and the level of pay seemed immorally disproportionate.

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  • Wyatt Earp
    replied
    Moneyball

    Well, I don't think Michael Lewis would strike anyone as any kind of socialist, but I'm not sure you're representing him right. His view is simply that because certain winning traits are (or were at the time of writing) undervalued, a cash-poor club with a clever GM has (or had) a chance. I don't think he sees this as a necessary state of affairs: to the extent that the game as a whole wises up, wealthy clubs will of course become dominant again. I can't recall him expressing a view on whether, in those circumstances, there ought to be a salary cap.

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  • Tubby Isaacs
    started a topic Moneyball

    Moneyball

    This has cropped up before but thought it was worth its own thread. I just dipped into it, not enough to do the work justice by any means.

    But one thing jumped out at me, and it's kind of my problem with the book. Mention's made of a committe (under Selig or someone?) which reported that the disparity in wages paid was very bad for the sport. The author categorises this as "the establishment view". Is that really so? Unlike Premiership football, the establishment actually wants to be egalitarian?

    I'll have more of that. Despite what the author thinks, one poor team doing very well won't change my view. The book seems a bit of a rightwing Trojan horse in my view.

    As for the baseball tactics, that was indeed fascinating. But don't others pick up on what the A's have done and improve?
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