Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Have a Good Summer Godivans

With no interesting sporting activity until the National Football League (NFL) regular season kicks off on Thursday, 4 September, I bid my legion of loyal Godivans a temporary adios.

On Thursday, 4 September I will return with a full set of NFL week 1 picks for players in non-profit pools in which you have to pick winners against the point spread.

To get through the dog days of August before the real season kicks off, I recommend reading Professor Steven Levitt's article:

Don’t worry about the heavy mathematics in the article. The key point is that underdogs won 52% of all regular season contests against the number over 16 NFL regular seasons from 1992 through 2007. The underdog winning percentage exceeds 50% 3 out of every 4 years and betters 52.5% 5 out of every 8 years.

So, my twin mottos are:

1. When in doubt, pick the NFL underdog.
2. Never pick an overdog unless the posted point spread shows value.

The all-underdogs approach to NFL picking is well-known. The value that I add for NFL pool players who consult this website is my ability to find the rare underestimated overdog. Over 7 years of picking NFL games from 2001 through 2007, my 52.4% winning percentage is 0.7 percentage points ahead of the all-underdog winning rate of 51.7%.

But, be warned that last year my 47.5% record was even worse than the all-underdog record of 48%.

Also be aware that overdogs have bettered 50% in 3 of the past 5 years. Has the worm turned to favour NFL overdogs against underdogs after the decade of underdog domination from 1992 to 2002?

I will be sticking to mostly underdogs in 2008. I’m treating overdog superiority from 2003 to 2007 as a temporary deviation from the long-term trend. Let’s see what 2008 delivers.

All-Star Baseball

It took 15 innings, but baseball’s all-star classic delivered more evidence that the American League (AL) is the only truly major league. The National League (NL) has not won an all-star game since 1996.

Factoring in the all-star game result, an all-AL approach to picking inter-league baseball contests in 2008 would have generated 34.1 pool points with
  • 1 point awarded for an AL overdog victory
  • 1.x points awarded for an AL underdog victory (with x denoting the posted odds)
  • -1 deduced for an AL underdog loss
  • -1.x deducted for an AL overdog loss
The AL’s 59.3% winning record in 2008 inter-league contests so far is a touch above the 4-year average of 57.5% (including all-star and World Series games). It’s possible that an all-AL approach paid off this year simply due to random variation above the 4-year average. But, there’s at least a preliminary case worth investigating with further monitoring in future years that oddsmakers are not correctly factoring in the AL’s utter and complete dominance over the NL.

I can tell you right now that no matter what teams end up in the World Series and no matter what odds are posted, my advice to baseball pool players will be to take the AL team in all World Series contests.

I remain rapt to be in the top 10 for CrowdScore and W/L picking at

Cheerleaders Put the Blue in CFL Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Toy boy Archibald insists that I tease his bro-in-law Doug the Slug, Winnipeg resident and season ticket holder for the Canadian Football League’s Blue Bombers, by including this apologetic link from the so-far-winless Bombers about their cheer squad’s escapades:

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