Tag Archives: football

Freakonomics: A Football Outsider Answers Your Questions


Including a question of mine!

Linc

How did you wind up where you are? We know that Bill James did a lot of his early work while he was a night watchman at a bean factory, but what’s the Bill Barnwell story? — Jon
A.

About all I can really say is that I had no intention of ever becoming a football writer, that’s for sure. I went to Northeastern University in Boston as a Computer Science major before I realized I hated programming, and ended up majoring in Media Studies. Although I liked to write, I actually consciously avoided journalism — I went to visit The Boston Globe for an interview and they explained to me that one of the last sports interns had to sit outside a hospital overnight and wait for Terry Francona to leave.

While I was in Boston, I wanted to join a fantasy baseball league so I found one on Baseball Primer, the sabermetric community site, and joined shortly thereafter. The commissioner of that league happened to be Aaron Schatz, who created Football Outsiders a year later. He’s now my boss. I started at the bottom of the FO organizational chart, doing data entry as an unpaid intern (although admittedly while I was sitting around doing nothing at my “real” paid internship), and I’ve seen my role in the company steadily expand from there. I graduated from NU in 2006 and took on a variety of post-grad liberal arts jobs — I was a concierge to the really rich and entitled holders of a particularly exclusive credit card, a tech copywriter, and I even wrote about video games for a while. I moved into a full-time role with FO in 2008.

I think what’s far more interesting, though, is that my job — and Football Outsiders — couldn’t have existed as recently as ten years ago. No magazine or newspaper would have underwritten the work that we do, even though there’s clearly a national market of people who are interested in our work and the concepts behind it. Whenever I read those articles about the death of the American newspaper, I always wonder about the jobs that have been created by the changes in the news media.

I’m always curious as to what makes writers and bloggers tick. I may have chastised Barnwell at some point for being an overly pessimistic Giants fan, but I appreciate his answer here. Thanks, Bill!

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Football Strategy


This is multi-layered, as Sen. Blutarsky links to Chris Brown at Smart Football’s post from yesterday. Chris’s one is chock full of info. BTW, there’s a new book out by SI guy Tim Layden. It’s called Blood, Sweat, and Chalk and sounds like a print version of what Smart Football is to the web.

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College Football Stats


Sports Reference has a new site, this one devoted to college football. Will it help settle arguments between devotees of Ohio State, Texas, and/or Tennessee? I doubt it. College football analysis is more akin to religion than science. This is why I can picture UConn winning at the Big House in Ann Arbor and losing no more than once this year.

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Smart Football: Can the West Coast Offense be taught anywhere besides the NFL?


Chris Brown, ladies and gentlemen.

Personally, I find the Bill Walsh offense boring here in 2010. It is effective, though, and I may change my opinion on how interesting it is if it becomes less common. As always, a great read from Smart Football. Is there a better sports related blog out there? If so, I haven’t seen it.

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A Question About EDSBS


Why is Spencer Hall sometimes Spencer Hall and sometimes Orson Swindle?

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The Catch


Brian Burke over at Advanced NFL Stats waxes about Manning to Tyree. It was one of my favorite sports moments of all time and something I’ve been meaning to write about anyways.

From the win probability analysis of Super Bowl XLII:
+0.19 for Tyree’s catch.

+0.41 for the TD pass to Burress.

Sadly, few will remember the 2-yd gain by Jacobs on 4th and 1 to keep the drive alive, but that play had a WPA of +.21. If Tyree doesn’t make the catch, the drive is still alive–it was ‘only’ 3rd down. If Jacobs is stuffed—that’s all she wrote.

Of course, there’s no good way to quantify the style points for Tyree’s miraculous grab or Manning’s escape from the sack.

Eli’s great escape is what made the play for me. It was almost like he refused to go down. After Tyree’s catch, I had a feeling that the game was over for the Patriots and it was. I talked about kinetic beauty in sports. That play wasn’t particularly beautiful in a conventional manner, but I thought it was beautiful anyways.

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For Dial, Bernal, Spivey et al


Starting in a few weeks, these will be the Weekend Lounges in a nutshell.

wait for it…

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wait for it…wait for it…

it will overlap the tag cloud if I don’t do this…

wait for it…

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wait for it…

wait for it…

wait for it…

wait for it…wait for it…

We’re almost there…

99 bottles of beer on the wall…

99 bottles of beer…

flowchart

Mucho Gracias to Every Day Should Be Saturday.

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