Saturday, February 14, 2009

Someone created the boxscore, and he should be shot

The virus that infected professional baseball in the 1990s, the use of statistics to find new and better ways to value players and strategies, has found its way into every major sport. Not just basketball and football, but also soccer and cricket and rugby and, for all I know, snooker and darts — each one now supports a subculture of smart people who view it not just as a game to be played but as a problem to be solved. - Michael Lewis, The No-Stats All-Star
Michael Lewis turns in yet another great read, this time about the emergence of stats in the NBA (Money Round-ball?). Lots of parallels here between the NHL and the NBA (trying to find value, the scarcity of low-contract high-performance players, and the emergence of new stats help inform player personnel decisions).

The five players on any basketball team are far more than the sum of their parts; the Rockets devote a lot of energy to untangling subtle interactions among the team’s elements. To get at this they need something that basketball hasn’t historically supplied: meaningful statistics. For most of its history basketball has measured not so much what is important as what is easy to measure — points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocked shots — and these measurements have warped perceptions of the game. (“Someone created the box score,” Morey says, “and he should be shot.”)

What I wouldn't give for this piece to be about the NHL...

Read Michael Lewis' New York Times Magazine Article here.