Saturday, 22 August 2020

Fantasy League Sports Cards


The sports card industry (specifically baseball cards) crashed in 1994. Fantasy sports existed as early as the 60's, but really caught public attention around 1995. That timing is not coincident.

In both hobbies, fans get to have  surrogate ownership of players, and the market value of those surrogates goes up or down with the performance of those players. At the casual level, being in a fantasy league is just a more publicly acceptable way to collect and play with cards. At the serious level, fantasy is a more viable, faster way to make a profit with your expertise than cards were.

In short, fantasy is just trading cards for grown ups.

But what if physical cards let you draft players?


Thursday, 13 August 2020

Soccer-to-Hockey Translation Guide

Hockey and soccer (ice hockey and football) are similar enough from a fan or analytics perspective that if you’re familiar with one, it’s easy to become familiar with another. There could be a whole new world of sport you’re missing out on!

In this article I’ve organized many of the parallels and contrasts between hockey and soccer so that you can watch a few games and of either one and confidently say that "hockey is just like soccer except X instead of Y".


Monday, 27 July 2020

The Price of Carbon Absolution

Worrying about everything else is wearing down my sanity. Worrying about climate change feels like a welcome, familiar distraction because the solutions are so linear. We can literally money our way out of this one, but it's a lot of money? How much, exactly, is the personal price of carbon absolution?

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Statistics, Gambling, and Games of Chance

This is a proposal for a survey course on statistics that uses gambling extensively in examples. The target audience is senior undergraduates with a non-statistical background, but quantitative students will also find enough novelty to be interested. The goal of the course is not to encourage gambling, but to use it as a vehicle for a broad range of otherwise difficult statistical topics.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Cheating vs Innovation in Sports

Why do some changes in sports end up being considered cheating, and others innovation? Let's look at some historical examples for patterns.
In baseball, "the shift" is a strategy in which defensive players deviate, or ‘shift’ from the default locations for their positions to locations closer to where they expect the ball to land. This practice has had a measurable statistical effect on the game; hits other than home runs have become rarer, and the hits that do happen are more often singles compared to seasons before 2010. The shift is simply data-driven strategy and yet the practice is still controversial.

It seems like such an arbitrary thing to call out as unfair

Friday, 26 June 2020

When to use "the" or "a" in scientific writing

A.K.A. : "The", the definitive definite article article.

"The", while making up about 7% of all written and spoken English words, is the hardest word to get right. The rules surrounding "the" are so difficult to define that comprehensive dictionaries can spend 5 of more pages trying...

Saturday, 13 June 2020

R Packette - Fraction Matrix Operations

Open up any linear algebra textbook and have a look at the matrix entries. Are there all integers? Are they all written as decimals? There's probably at least some that are fractions. Matrices in computer programs are almost always in decimal form. The exception is symbolic mathematics programs like Maple and Mathematica. That's because computers store non-whole numbers as floating-point values instead.

Floating-points are fine most of the time, but they're often not exact. What happens if we work the fractions directly?

Friday, 28 February 2020

First impressions of the new XFL

In 2001, the XFL, short for the X Football League* started as a sort of college-level alternate to the NHL, the premier gridiron football league in the United States. Establishing a new team is hard, let alone an entirely new league, and the XFL shut down after only one season and a ton of controversy.

In 2020, somehow, it came back.