0-3 and staring down the barrel


It’s the nature of sports reporting a common garden individual match , that could simply be enjoyed for its own sake, or by supporters of the competing teams, has to be built up to mean something more. This could be local bragging rights, revenge for a past defeat or some other real or imagined past incident, a (usually confected) rivalry, which can finally be resolved.

In the AFL, even better than any of these is to broaden the implications of the match – win today, or “stare down the barrel” (few other metaphors are authorised) of missing the finals. It’s particularly prevalent – in its irrational form – early in the season, when the loss of a few games has media vultures circling.

Will Brodie’s article is typical, and he even appears to have a decent statistical case. Articles so often tell you how seldom something happens, but rarely how often the opportunity has arisen for it to happen. Brodie does that, letting us know the rarity of teams making the finals when starting 1-3: 20 of out 70 times. Continue reading

Batting averages… with a little adjustment

At the end of the March 23 blog entry, I was promising that there was a better way of measuring batting performances than the traditional batting average, and a better alternative than Malcolm Knox’s. A month of forming a close relationship with Excel has proven that knowing something to be so, and demonstrating it, don’t live in the same suburb. The resultant suggestion is no more complicated than, say, three-dimensional calculus, and it’s fair to say that it’s by no means perfect or uncontroversial… perhaps all it achieves is to show how complex it is to design meaningful metrics. But I did bring pictures. Continue reading