10 Things I Read This Month That You Should Too
Looking for some quality weekend reading? It's that time of the month again as Andrew delivers his 10 best reads for the month of August.
There was plenty of vitriol spat in the direction of Robin van Persie by both Arsenal fans and neutrals alike early this month as he left the Gunners for Man United. In this great piece Arseblog delivers a perfectly considered response to the news of a favourite son leaving for the enemy.
"Sorry Robin, you’re not a Gunner. You don’t do what you did and sign for Man United and remain one of us. The Gunners are the guys who will play for us this season, and that’s where our focus has got to be. I won’t wish you well, I won’t say thanks for everything, you’re just a guy who played for us, scored some great goals, and then chucked it all back in our faces."
The N.A.S.A. Roundtable … (Nerds Attack Soccer Analytics) (no longer available)
Just four football analytics nerds sitting around chewing the....stat. If you're at all intrigued by soccer analytics, this piece from The Shin Guardian is well worth a read.
"What happens when TSG reaches out to a bunch of nerds in high places who like numbers, triangle passes, Barcelona analogy misappropriations, Dax McCarty data, Roger Espinosa heat maps and deal in things called “machine learning” & “regression analyses?” A massively data-erotic soccer column on game and player analysis that lies somewhere just left of Shelter Island and A Beautiful Mind, but well beyond Good Will Hunting."
The greatest movie sequal of alltime? Ok, not really a sports question, well, that is until you create a tournament to answer the question. In this piece for Grantland, Chuck Klosterman frames the bracket for 32 of the best movie sequals ever produced to determine a champion.
"As part of Grantland's ongoing attempt to answer all the questions no unhigh person has ever asked, we're launching "Sequeltology," an imaginary word that somehow explains this project impeccably. We are trying to isolate the greatest cinematic sequel ever made, based on your willingness to vote for whatever you believe to be true. At this point, I feel like the process is self-explanatory: Study the brackets. Follow your gut. Be true to yourself and live forever."
Pythagorean expectation has been applied to baseball for many years thanks to Bill James. Essentially it estimates how many games a team should have won given the number of runs they scored and the number of runs they allowed. The guys from Beyond the Bets take a look at how Football Outsiders applied the theory to the NFL.
“Teams that win a game or more over what the Pythagorean theorem would project tend to regress the following year; teams that lose a game or more under what the Pythagorean theorem would project tend to win more the following year, particularly if they were 8-8 or better despite underachieving.”
The only problem I have with Mark Taylor's The Power Of Goals blog, is working out which of his great articles to select for my 10 Things list each month. In this piece he takes a look at the likelihood of a player receiving a yellow card relative to the number of fouls the player commits.
"The chart demonstrates the handicap under which defenders have to operate, they are over twice as likely to receive a card for committing the same number of foul challenges as are strikers, the players they are more often challenging for the ball. Strikers only become more likely than not to leave the pitch with a caution when they have conceded 8 or more fouls compared to just 4 for defenders."
On SportingIntelligence, Nick Harris takes a fascinating look at the London Olympics and the success of openly gay athletes with a particular focus on the research conducted on the issue of sexualtiy in sport by Professor Eric Anderson.
"As to why the openly gay Olympians won proportionately so many medals, Anderson is in no doubt that “openly” is the operative word, and that many times as many gay athletes took part, quite possibly winning no more or less than the overall London 2012 population. His research has also shown, he says, that “gay male athletes are more likely to come out of the closet when they are good” and that “they have the sporting capital to negate the problems they encounter.”
I think everyone has a friend who takes their fantasy football a touch too seriously. Ask them to name the best players in the league and they're likely to name fantasy superstars whose value doesnt reflect that of the real world. In this piece for The Two Unfortunates, Olly Cooper considers the rising over influence of fantasy football.
"The last thing football needs is more simplistic analysis, and the second last thing is for fantasy football to start infiltrating mainstream media’s take on the game in the way that it does with American sports."
Even if you dont play Sunday League football, you'll still enjoy this piece from Adam Hurrey at Football Cliches. One blinding cliche after another.
"It is considered a cardinal sin to let an opposing Sunday league team pass a goal-kick out to a full-back. Precisely what sort of devastating attack an average Sunday league team are expected to be capable of, deep in their own half, with the ball at the feet of statistically the least capable player in their ranks, is anyone's guess."
Ever wondered what would happen if NFL teams decided to decline convention and do away with punting on 4th down? In this piece for the News Tribune, John McGrath talks to high school football coach Kevin Kelley who is doing just that.
"The avoidance of punting, Kelley said, wasn’t steeped in a desire to turn football into a circus act. He was just playing the percentages. If you’ve got the ball inside your 5-yard line, and your fourth-down attempt is short, the opposition will score a touchdown 92 percent of the time. On the other hand, a 40-yard punt, with a 10-yard return, puts the ball on your own 38. From there, the opposition will score a touchdown 77 percent of the time."
If you're an NFL fan and not familiar with the work of Mr David Dameshek, do yourself a favour and check out his blog and in particular his podcast, always a great listen. In this piece, Dave ranks the uniforms for teams in each of the major U.S sports leagues, number 122 through to number 1.
"If you are someone who finds uniform analysis unnecessary, uncool or otherwise inessential, please stop reading. Your kind isn't welcome here. If you do fancy yourself wise in the way of athletic getups, I hope and trust you'll agree with every last one of my carefully considered conclusions."