Thursday kicks off the 2014 FIFA World Cup — the greatest sporting event in the world (don’t argue) — featuring most of the world’s best soccer talent. The month-long tournament can be a marathon for spectators: On any given day there can be up to four 90-minute games. This can make deciding which game to watch difficult! That’s why we’re here to help.Every day there’s World Cup action, FiveThirtyEight will highlight a game to watch, what to look for and what it means. In which games are you more likely to find multiple goals, or possession-style play, or tremendous defending? Which players should you look out for and why? We start with an easy day: There’s only one match to watch on Thursday, between Brazil and Croatia. For soccer fans, it’s a must-watch match, not only because of its curtain-raising function. We’ll all want to see how Brazilian star Neymar and his teammates handle the pressure of playing as favorites in a soccer-mad nation deeply divided about the merits of hosting the quadrennial tournament.In briefIn depthThis looks like a one-sided contest. Our Soccer Power Index rates Brazil as the tournament’s top team, and its most potent offense. Our model gives Brazil an 88 percent chance to win the game, the second-biggest lock in the tournament — after Brazil’s 91 percent chance of winning against Cameroon in its last group game. There’s a 10 percent chance of a tie on Thursday, and a 3 percent chance Croatia will get the upset.SPI is just two World Cups young, so we can’t use it to rank this game among history’s World Cup openers. But Elo ratings — a system imported from chess that transforms head-to-head results into a rating for forecasting future matchups — do go back to the first World Cup, hosted by Uruguay in 1930. The bigger the difference between two teams’ Elo ratings, the higher the probability the better team wins. Brazil’s edge over Croatia is 326 Elo points, the second-biggest margin among World Cup openers, behind France’s 364-point lead over Senegal in 2002.But that likely understates Brazil’s advantage Thursday, because the Seleção is playing in Brazil. Home-field advantage is worth 100 points according to the Elo formula, and makes Brazil the biggest favorite heading into a World Cup opener ever. That’s no guarantee of a Brazil win, though. Senegal won that 2002 match against defending champion France, 1-0.Here are the opening World Cup games since 1930, not counting years when more than one match opened the tournament.Here’s the good news for Croatia: Even if it loses to Brazil, as expected, and then Mexico beats Cameroon on Friday in the other Group A opening match, Croatia remains very much in contention. Croatia would trail Mexico by three points in the standings in large part because it had an opening match that was so much tougher. The schedule itself is worth a 2.8-point swing in Group A standings after each side’s first match, based on SPI probabilities. SPI projects Mexico would, on average, be 1.4 points ahead of Croatia after each team’s opening matches. But if Croatia — not Mexico — had drawn Cameroon, then Croatia could have expected to be 1.4 points ahead of Mexico.That’s the biggest single swing based on opening-game schedule disparity between the two clubs likely to fight for second in any of the eight groups. So even if Croatia doesn’t pull a Senegal, its knockout-stage fate will likely rest largely on how it does against Mexico on June 23.Off the pitchWhich Brazilian products are the Croatian players most likely to have consumed before their arrival in Sao Paulo? The BACI International Trade Database, which uses data from the United Nations Statistics Division, has some clues. The most recent data, from 2011, shows that 67 percent of all exports from Brazil to Croatia were food items, and raw sugar alone accounted for 45 percent of all exports. That’s $99.9 million in sugar.What about Brazilian stomachs’ relationship with Croatia? Food only makes up 0.15 percent of all Croatian exports to Brazil, with wine as the second largest product. In monetary terms, these wine exports only amount to $22,881.06. That’s equivalent to 1,271 bottles of Zlatan Plavac Grand Cru (2010 vintage) which comes recommended by Wine Enthusiast magazine. — Mona ChalabiFurther ReadingHow FiveThirtyEight’s World Cup Predictions Compare to Other RatingsCORRECTION (June 13, 10:10 a.m.): A table in an earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the opening game of the 1998 World Cup as Norway vs. Morocco. It was in fact Brazil vs. Scotland. The table has been updated to correct this error, and also with the latest data from Eloratings.net. The original table also listed opening games for years in which several matches started simultaneously. We’ve removed those years since there was no true opener.
Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson were oustanding.It hardly has been the Ryder Cup Tiger Woods envisioned. He was awful in his first match Friday, outstanding in a losing effort in the afternoon. Captain Davis Love III sat him for the morning session Saturday — the first time in his Ryder cup career that he did not play every match — and when Woods did play, he was brilliant.And yet, he and playing partner Steve Sticker ended the day — a glorious day for the U.S. — as the only players to not secure a point, losing 1 up to Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald.America leads going into Sunday’s individual matches with a commanding 10-6 lead. And while Woods was happy about that, he was not happy about his ultimate results, despite ringing up five birdies in the last nine holes. It was the front nine where he and Stricker lost it, trailing by four at the turn — a huge deficit to overcome. And yet, they almost did behind Woods’ brilliance.Just when Woods seemed to be out of it again, he called on the theatrics that he has authored time and again. Down by two, Woods made a birdie on No. 16 t0 send the crowd into a fury and cut the deficit to one. Then, on 17, Woods stuck his tee shot on the par 3 to six feet. Problem was, Donald’s eight-iron was even better, to three feet.So, they halved the hole with Woods and Donald making birdies, setting up No. 18 as the decider. Needing to win the hole to secure a half-point, Woods bombed his drive down the middle of the fairway. He shot into the green leaked to the right, leaving him about 30 feet for birdie.He missed, but teammate Stricker was just eight feet left of the hole for a birdie put that would get him and Woods on the scoreboard. But Sticker’s putt was too hard and lipped out, leaving that tandem scoreless for the competition.Ultimately, losing was not Woods’ fault. He just did not get any help from Stricker.Still, the United States was in control because of everyone else. Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson destroyed Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari 5-and-4, Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson won and Keegan Bradly and Phil Mickelson executed a record-tying performance. The U.S. won all but one match Saturday morning.Europe was barely in it because of Ian Poulter, who was out of his mind with five straight birdies to lead a comeback with Rory McIlroy over Jason Duffner and Zach Johnson. But it will take a real collapse by the U.S. to blow the Ryder Cup.Just as they did Friday, the Americans got their spark from Bradley. He’s got more energy and enthusiasm than a 4-year-old hopped up on Pixie Stix, sprinting out to the first hole a half-hour before his tee time to encourage fans to get louder and rowdier. Finally satisfied, he grinned and sprinted back to the locker room.
Former Hall of Fame Packers defensive end Reggie White made a deal with fellow teammates in the1996 playoffs that if they made a big hit then he would give them $500.NBCSports.com reports that in the latest filing in the bounty case, the National Football League Players Association claims the National Football league knew that White paid his team mates for their hits and allowed it to continue. From the NFLPA standpoint it shows the inconsistency of the suspensions handed down by Roger Goodell for a similar pay-for performance program with the Saints.Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma was suspended for the season, New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith for four games, free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove for seven games and Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Scott Fujita for three games.The filing from the NFLPA in the bounty case discusses White’s “Smash for Cash” program, which included $500 payments for big hits. At the time, according to the NFLPA, the NFL said the program was OK “as long as players use their own money, amounts are not exorbitant and payments aren’t for illegal hits.”The NFLPA says that the NFL’s rules haven’t changed since then, but the NFL’s public relations agenda has.“The fact that the NFL has a different agenda today than in 1996 can’t change the unequivocal language of the NFL Constitution and Bylaws, which has never prohibited this behavior,” the NFLPA says in its filing.White’s “Smash for Cash” program has not often been mention in connection with the Saints bounty case, his actions were no secret at the time. White’s bonuses were publicized, the New York Daily News ran a headline stating that he paid teammates, ESPN did a segment on White’s bonuses and the Associated Press ran an article on about White’s payout in January of 1996.White is quoted as saying he handed out his entire $13,000 playoff bonus for a win over the 49ers to teammates.“I gave them money for big hits,” White said. “I don’t know if the money is any more motivation, but I know I paid out a lot.”The Associated Press article says that White had already told his teammates it would be the same deal for the next playoff game, against the Cowboys, and that an NFL spokesman said there was nothing wrong with what White did.The NFL’s stance on that has changed in the last 16 years since White made those payouts and can be seen through the bounty gate suspensions handed down from Goodell.
Indiana Pacers Paul George was the key to the their success during the 2012-2013 basketball season, and now the team wants to keep George for additional years.The 23-year-old led the team to their most wins in a season since 2003-2004, with 49 victories. Also, George gave LeBron James and the Miami Heat a tough run in the Eastern Conference Finals, stretching the series to a game seven.George made his first All-Star appearance and also captured the NBA’s Most Improved Player of the Year Award. With all that success, the Pacers franchise is willing to pay top dollars to extend his contract to a 5-year $90 million deal, according to Yahoo! Sports.George averaged 17.4 points during his breakout season on 42% shooting from the floor and 36% from behind the three-point line in 79 games. He also contributed 7.6 rebounds, 4.1, assists and 1.8 steals. In the playoffs, he posted 19.2 points (43% FG, 33% 3-pt), 7.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.3 steals in 19 games.
For a 13-year stretch that ended with Wednesday’s trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chase Utley served as the Philadelphia Phillies’ gritty, hard-nosed, tone-setting leader.He grinded out at-bats and played through pain. He was in the starting lineup for the sixth-most victories in franchise history.1Franchise history going back to 1914, when Baseball-Reference.com’s database begins. But Utley has only modest traditional statistics — a mere .282 lifetime batting average, to go with only 1,623 hits and 233 home runs. So does he fall into the same category as other plucky middle infielders, such as David Eckstein, whose grittiness was often extolled by sportswriters and mocked by sabermetricians?As we saw with Ben Zobrist, sometimes the analytics adore the most unlikely of players. And Utley’s advanced statistics are great enough to propel him to borderline Hall of Fame status, despite that thin conventional résumé.The metric JAWS,2This stands for “Jaffe WAR Score,” after Sports Illustrated’s Jay Jaffe. for instance, considers Utley to be right on the border of Hall of Fame worthiness. JAWS attempts to put a sabermetric stamp on Hall voting by balancing the number of wins above replacement that a player generated at his peak3Specifically, his best seven seasons. with the amount of WAR he compiled over his entire career, synthesizing the two counts into a single figure. In JAWS creator Jay Jaffe’s conception, a player’s JAWS should then be compared to the average score for current HOF members at the same position, which will theoretically help maintain the existing standard for enshrinement going forward.And by virtue of his peak performance, which ranks eighth of any second baseman in major league history, Utley is only a few WAR shy of that standard. In fact, according to JAWS, Utley’s career has been of roughly the same quality as the great Jackie Robinson’s. It’s been superior to those of HOF second baseman Roberto Alomar and the recently inducted Craig Biggio.If such a lofty placement seems surprising, it’s because Utley is one of the biggest outliers in MLB history when it comes to disparities between JAWS and traditional numbers. When my colleague Harry Enten and I were researching the career of Adrian Beltre,4Another advanced-stat darling whose career might be sold short by the conventional numbers. we looked at the relationship between JAWS and a quartet of metrics5Namely, the Hall of Fame Standards and Monitor tests, as well as the Black Ink and Gray Ink tests. devised by Bill James to measure a player’s conventional HOF qualifications. For most players, the numbers are in sync, but Utley had the third-biggest differential of any qualified player between his real-life JAWS and the JAWS we would predict from James’s metrics.Among the many factors driving the discrepancy is Utley’s all-around excellence, which is sometimes difficult to appreciate without the nuance of advanced metrics. Even more than the versatile Zobrist, Utley has shined in every aspect of the game: hitting (for both power and contact), plate discipline, baserunning and defense. Among second basemen of his era, he’s been the majors’ second-best on offense and its best on defense. Aside from a proneness to injury as Utley entered his early to mid-30s, there were no weaknesses in his game.Even so, it’s extremely unlikely that Utley will ever get anything close to the votes required for the Hall of Fame. Early this season, I attended a Phillies game with a bunch of statisticians who uniformly scoffed when I pointed out Utley’s JAWS-based Hall qualification. If numberphiles like them can’t even get behind Utley’s case, it’s truly a hopeless cause. (Less anecdotally, Utley also falls woefully short of the average Hall of Famer in all of James’s HOF metrics.)But if they ever open a Hall of Fame for sabermetric darlings overlooked by Cooperstown, expect the newest member of the Dodgers to be one of the first players voted in.
The rate of long balls is up about 69 percent compared with the regular season, while the next largest bump is only 56 percent, achieved in 2009. According to a simple statistical test, the probability of witnessing so many home runs in the Series (considering the rate in the regular season) is about 1 in 80.1I used a binomial test, assuming that the rate of home runs per contact in the regular season is the true probability. That is a very fragile conclusion, however. Had we performed the same analysis after Saturday’s game, the result would be that the rate of home runs was not as elevated.2The probability of seeing as many home runs as we saw up through Game 4 is about 1 in 20. We ought to be no more certain today that the balls are more lively than we were a few nights ago.Despite the most recent round of allegations, there’s no compelling evidence that the baseballs are especially home-run prone this postseason — or any different than what we saw during the regular season. Since the middle of this year, evidence has been mounting that alterations to the baseball are to blame for the all-time high home-run rates. What we are seeing in this Series might be a result of the prior changes to the ball, rather than a whole new bout of modifications.You won’t find a bigger believer in the juiced ball hypothesis than me, but the evidence for a World Series change driving a home run explosion is much thinner than the broader case that Ben Lindbergh, Mitchel Lichtman and I assembled over the course of the past few years.For starters, the World Series spike is partially due to the fact that the Houston Astros are very good at hitting home runs. The team’s historically excellent offense is the source of many of the gaudy home-run totals already. So far, the Astros have hit 13 homers in five games, which sounds like it could be record-breaking on its own. But there were 103 five-game streaks in the regular season that saw a team drive 13 or more balls over the fence, including six such streaks by the Astros themselves.There’s another problem with the juiced ball hypothesis. Verducci’s article alleges that the balls are more slick than normal. But academic research suggests that a more slippery baseball actually travels less far than a rough one. Similar to the dimples on a golf ball, a little bit of surface texture acts to reduce air resistance instead of slowing the ball down. So while we might expect slick baseballs to mess with a pitcher’s grip, we wouldn’t necessarily expect them to get out of the park more often.There is some evidence to support the idea that the balls are more slippery. I used Statcast’s pitch tracking to compare the air resistance of playoff baseballs to those used in September and found a slight increase in drag in that time. The bump in drag coefficient of 0.023 is enough to reduce fly-ball distance by about 11.5 feet, which doesn’t explain at all why so many hitters are launching homers. Furthermore, this kind of fluctuation in air resistance happens all the time. (Drag coefficient dropped by a similar amount from August to September, for example.) As I detailed in an earlier article, whether because of manufacturing variations or intentional tampering, the drag on MLB baseballs often hops around from month to month, pulling home-run rates with it.One way in which a slicker baseball could be causing more homers is if it is harming a pitcher’s ability to hold the ball. Some pitch types — those that require a more forceful grip on the baseball’s surface, like a slider — are expected to be affected most. Yet the evidence for an effect on that offering is much more murky. The ESPN Stats & Information Group found that pitchers’ spin rates and called-strike percentages dropped dramatically in the World Series, suggesting that they were having trouble getting a grip. But other sabermetricians have found no effect — or contradictory impacts on different hurlers. The increase in home-run rate might be coming from pitchers trying (and failing) to adjust to a new surface texture, rather than the ball itself being more conducive to homers.Without more data — or a sudden wave of candidness from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred about any manufacturing changes to the ball — it’s hard to say for sure what’s happening to the ball. For now, we’re left with the possibility that this World Series is just business as usual in the home-run era — or that a new baseball is changing the game again. Just before the Houston Astros’ 13-12 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the World Series, speculation was running rampant about juiced balls. Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci wrote an article detailing accusations from multiple pitchers that changes to the surfaces of the World Series baseballs were behind a spike of home runs in the Fall Classic.This passed the eye test of even the most casual fan. Sunday’s game featured seven long balls, which wasn’t even the most in a game in this series. Game 2 saw eight homers, including five in extra innings — something that hadn’t occurred in any game, let alone a Series game. With one or two games left, the Dodgers and Astros have already broken the all-time marks for home runs in a World Series and in an entire postseason. The current rate of at-bats per home run stands at 15.8, which would slot in between the career marks of Albert Pujols and Frank Thomas. The average World Series rate since 1995 (the beginning of the wild-card era) is a much more pedestrian 34.8 at-bats per homer.Examining the ratio of home runs per contact in all World Series since 1995, this year has the largest increase from the regular season to the Series.
Oregon senior wide receiver Josh Huff (1) dives for the end zone during a game against Washington Oct. 12 at Husky Stadium. Oregon won, 45-24.Credit: Courtesy of MCTAs we head into the 11th week of the college football season, the No. 4-ranked Ohio State football team is facing what is perhaps the most important weekend of its season — despite the fact that the Buckeyes aren’t even playing.Next weekend, OSU will aim to get healthy and stay refreshed for the home stretch of the season with just three regular season games remaining.But although making sure players like sophomore right tackle Taylor Decker and junior linebacker Curtis Grant are fully healthy is vital to the Buckeyes’ success for the rest of the year, that isn’t what makes this weekend so important.In week 11, there are two top-10 matchups, and another game that might be arguably more intriguing.Thursday No. 6 Baylor (7-0, 4-0) is set to host No. 10 Oklahoma (7-1, 4-1) at 7:30 p.m. Later that night, No. 3 Oregon (8-0, 5-0) is set to travel to Stanford, Calif., to take on the No. 5 Cardinal (7-1, 5-1).Saturday, No. 1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0) is set to take on No. 13 LSU (7-2, 3-2) at 8 p.m.If the Buckeyes want to have any shot at playing in the BCS National Championship Game, they have to hope one or more of the undefeated teams fall this weekend.At the moment, OSU is waiting to see if two of the top three teams will fall by the end of the year in hopes of making a push for the title.Each of these three marquee matchups will prove a test for the higher ranked teams involved.Baylor, historically, struggles mightily against the Sooners, only having one win to their name in 22 tries. The one win did come the last time that Oklahoma visited Waco, Texas, in 2011, but that was when the Bears had eventual Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III to lead the way.The Crimson Tide, who have already beaten two ranked teams this year, have also struggled in recent years against their opponent this weekend. Since 2003, Alabama is 4-7 against LSU, including going 1-4 in Bryant-Denny Stadium, where this year’s game will be played.Although the Tide have won the previous two matchups with the Tigers, including a 21-0 victory in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game, it remains to be seen if they can rise above their struggles against LSU.Then there’s Oregon.In 2012, the then-No. 2 Ducks were 10-0 in early November and looked to be on their way to a shot at the national championship. However, Stanford had different plans, with the then-No. 13 Cardinal beating the Ducks, 17-14, in overtime and dashing any title hopes Oregon had.It is always said November is the most important month in college football, with many teams facing the meat of their conference schedule. Last season alone, three of the teams that were ranked in the top five in the BCS standings entering week 11 lost, including both Alabama and Oregon.This weekend is vital to the Buckeyes national title aspirations. OSU has been doing its part by winning all of its games so far, but unless something can happen in the next couple of weekends, the Buckeyes will be on the outside looking in for the national championship.So if a few top teams fall this weekend, the Buckeyes could come out big winners — even on a weekend in which they don’t play.
Ohio Stadium is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation project that is set to see the additions of about 2,600 seats, permanent lights and new FieldTurf among other updates.Credit: Tim Moody / Sports editorOhio Stadium is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation project that is set to see the additions of about 2,600 seats, permanent lights and new FieldTurf.According to an April 23 university press release, the stadium renovation was projected to cost $13.7 million, including the continuation of concrete waterproofing repairs that began last year. Minus the concrete work, associate athletic director for facilities operations Don Patko said the renovation will cost $8.9 million.“We’re adding (2,600) seats to the south stands,” Patko said. “We’re also adding permanent lighting, which is going to be HD quality. It’s going to be high-level sports performance lighting from (Musco Lighting).”According to a Feb. 9 The Lantern article, the project is set to result in 18,900 total student seats in the south stands.Musco is the same company that provided temporary lighting for past OSU night games, Patko said. He added that the permanent lighting is an indication that OSU will play more night games in the future.While Patko said FieldTurf typically lasts for eight to 10 years, the university decided to replace the stadium turf now for economic reasons. He said the school was already working on a new turf field in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and one new outdoor practice field.“We were looking to replace this maybe next year or the year after, and because we put all three together, we saved a couple hundred thousand (dollars),” Patko said.OSU has been using FieldTurf since the 2007 season.On top of saving money on the turf, Patko said the project is saving money by recycling materials from the old field. Instead of a complete redo, the university is utilizing the sand and rubber from the previous field.“We’re just putting a brand new carpet down and in filling it with the sand and rubber from the old field,” he said. “So, we actually have a recycling element to that and we’re excited about that because it saves us a few dollars in the process.”Patko said the field will have all of the same markings. The main visible difference will be the brightness of the colors on the field.The additional seats are coming to the south stands, but the seats on the east side of the stadium are receiving a makeover as well. That project is part of the concrete waterproofing project, which began in 2013 on the west stands. The process is done to help preserve the concrete that has been present since 1922.According to the same Feb. 9 The Lantern article, the concrete waterproofing came in $500,000 above it’s original budget. The process was supposed to cost $4.3 million, but is projected to come out to $4.8 million. The original budget was approved by the Board of Trustees in 2012.“During phase one, after removing the existing waterproofing membrane, it was learned that additional work would be required to level the surface of the concrete to ensure the performance and guarantee of the new membrane,” OSU spokesman Dan Wallenberg said in an email to The Lantern.Beyond a new field on which to play, the OSU football team is set to have a new tunnel to run out of. The tunnel is set to be larger than in previous years and is set to have a rubber surface to prevent slipping. Patko said the larger tunnel could have benefits for the team’s energy before games.“It’ll bring some new excitement, it’ll allow the team to come out in a larger mass,” he said.The stadium renovations are part of a $45 million project to improve OSU’s overall athletic facilities, according to the April 23 release.The project is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 14, but Patko said the school is prepared to adjust if need be.“Obviously, if there’s any delays, we’ll give (the renovation crew) as much time as we can before the first game,” he said.OSU is scheduled to kick off its 2014 football season Aug. 30 against Navy in Baltimore, Md. The first game at Ohio Stadium is set for Sept. 6 against Virginia Tech. That game, as well as a Nov. 1 game against Illinois, are scheduled to be 8 p.m. starts under the new permanent lights.
Photo illustration by Samantha Hollingshead / Photo EditorThis is part one of a three-part series examining the rise and impact of advanced statistics on sports nationally and at Ohio State.Sports are similar to the separation of the right and left sides of the human brain. The right side of the brain specializes in a human’s ability to be creative and show feelings and emotions. This is shown in sports as devotion to a particular team and even a crazy fan experience at a sporting event. The left side of the brain, however, specializes in mathematics and analysis. For the past decade, these left-brained people have turned the sports world into a statistics-based, logical source of entertainment.The science of statistics is used in any sort of profession.“I would argue that statistics is really the science of how you collect, analyze and think about data,” said William Notz, vice chair for administration and undergraduate studies in the Ohio State Department of Statistics. “The differences typically occur in terms of the nature of the data, the nature of how you collect the data and maybe specific techniques you can use.”This statistics revolution reached the sports world in many different ways, including in large part the explosion of fantasy sports. It started in 1961, when the company Strat-O-Matic came out with statistic-based board games for baseball and eventually for football in 1968.“What they did was that they used data, for example with baseball, season data to create ‘players,’” Notz said. “What you do is that you would roll numerous dice, and based on the rules of the dice, that would tell you the performance of the player.”This idea expanded on to the Internet and exploded into different sports, the most popular being football, baseball and basketball. This growing phenomenon made fans more aware of what was actually happening on the field.“We are more aware of relative performance and some of the trends,” said Todd Nesbit, senior lecturer in the Department of Economics. “There are certain matchups such as a certain hitter against a certain pitcher that for whatever reason favors the particular hitter or pitcher that would be abnormal in relation to the rest of the stats.”As the statistics world has grown, several intellectuals have brought it upon themselves to make games, such as baseball, even more sophisticated to get a better grasp on what a particular player’s value is. This trend has been growing into front offices across the sports world.“(Front offices) bring these analytical minds into their organization because they feel it will bring value to their team,” said Ryan Dunsmore, editor for SB Nation’s Houston Astros website, Crawfish Boxes. “It started with baseball because of the whole revolution of Bill James and how he wanted to find a bigger and better picture of what was happening on the field.”This trend is relatively new to the sports world, and teams are still trying to find ways to balance the new wave approach for scouting players, the statistical and analytical mindset and the old-school approach for scouts around the game. However, the teams that grasp this balance have shown signs of being more successful.“In baseball, say you have a scout that says you should look at this guy and gives that information to the front office to see whether his numbers match up,” Dunsmore said. “This is where analytics has come in and said we need to see a picture that said this guy can hit and can make a difference for our team instead of just going off of the eyeball test. Those opinions still make it into the decision-making process, but you still need the numbers to be able to back it up.”One advanced statistic used in the baseball world is wins above replacement, which calculates, based on a particular player’s ability and statistics, how many wins the player generates or loses for the club.“Every play in baseball either contributes to runs scored or takes away from runs scored,” said Jim Albert, a professor of statistics in the Department of Mathematics at Bowling Green State University. “Runs can be translated or interpreted in terms of wins with roughly 10 additional runs corresponding to one win. Obviously you want to score runs, but the objective essentially is to win the game, so every play has some impact on the probability of winning.”This rise of statistics has changed the way teams, fans and even the media look at sports, but it has not changed the way fans and observers think about sports.“I think that has not changed the mindset of anyone,” Dunsmore said. “We all know what a good player looks like. It may help people appreciate some other players too.”
Then-sophomore attackman Jack Jasinski heads for the goal in the fourth quarter during the first round of the NCAA tournament against Loyola Maryland on May 14, 2017. Credit: Sheridan Hendrix | Oller ReporterA somber Ohio State lacrosse team made its way out of Ohio Stadium after suffering a stunning 7-6 defeat to Towson in the final seconds of overtime Saturday.After giving up three straight goals to the Tigers (3-3) in the first period, the No. 14 Buckeyes (5-2) scored five goals in a row and held Towson scoreless for two quarters to take a commanding lead. The Buckeyes had seemingly secured the win against the Tigers until an illegal body check from Ohio State sophomore defenseman Jeff Henrick in the final minutes of the fourth period aided Towson, giving it a chance to score with a man-up. The Tigers converted, tying the game late.“We’ve got to play with a little bit more discipline, you know, too many penalties is something that we’ll have to look at. But at the end of the day I thought we did enough down there to put us in a position to be successful,” Ohio State head coach Nick Myers said. In recent seasons, Ohio State’s matchups against the Tigers have typically been decided by a single goal. Saturday’s game was no different. In overtime, the two teams went shot-for-shot, both unable to crack the 6-6 tie. In the final seconds of the extra period, Towson junior midfielder Jon Mazza dove to escape the Ohio State defense and rattled off a close-range shot past senior goalie Matthew Smidt with seven seconds left on the clock. Despite the loss, the Buckeyes dominated much of the stat sheet. The Ohio State offense kept Towson redshirt freshman goalie Shane Brennan busy, attempting a season-high 40 shots and going 11-of-17 in the faceoff x. The Buckeyes also collected 25 groundballs to Towson’s 20, and forced 12 turnovers. Brennan made a career-high 16 saves, seven of which were made in the game’s final 35 minutes, to keep the Tigers in the game while a tight defense stifled Ohio State’s offense in the extra period. In the wake of their defeat, the Buckeyes said they weren’t going to dwell on the result, and were choosing instead to turn their attention to next week’s matchup against No. 4 Denver.“This week in practice, it’ll be turning the page on a disappointing loss and getting focused on another big game and another great opportunity in a chance to compete with Denver,” Myers said.From the standpoint of an Ohio State player, a loss in the team’s first game of the season in Ohio Stadium meant even more. “Too much history has gone down on that field to lose like that,” junior attack Jack Jasinski said. “We didn’t hold up our end of the bargain today, but we’re going to get back to work next week and try and rectify it and make it right. We’re just looking forward to Denver now.” The Buckeyes travel west to Denver Saturday to play the Pioneers at 3 p.m.