Sunday, November 9, 2014

NBA 2014-15 Recap ATS

Ex-Godiva toy boy Reginald organizes non-profit National Basketball Association (NBA) pools picking winners against the point spread (ATS) in his abundant spare time. My only advice to current Godiva toy boy and official Godiva fiance Archibald, who gets on so well with Reginald that he plays in all Reginald's pools, is to follow academic studies showing that "heavy" underdogs with more than 12 points have a statistically significant winning record over a long run of years. (While this is true of regular season matches, I am less certain that the same result can be found in playoff matches.)

Heavy underdogs finished 54-47-4 or 53% ATS over the 2014-15 regular season -- right in line with the long-term average.

I am 1st in Reginald's heart and memory, but last in his playoff poll at 33-48 or just over 40% ATS picking all overdog favourites so far. (It's interesting to note that there were no heavy underdogs receiving more than 12 points throughout the 2015 playoffs.) I lost 21 overdog picks on points in the playoffs.

Over the last 8 years, I am 51.6% picking playoff games ATS, which is actually a touch below the 51.8% record of a plain-vanilla all-favourites approach.

Interesting to note that the western representative has now won 12 of the last 17 NBA Finals. Over the last 32 years going back to 1984, only 9 teams have won NBA championships.  

For Archibald the highlight of 2015 so far was seeing his beloved RAPTORS defeat his almost as beloved T-wolves. Archibald predicted that Minnesota with 2 No. 1 picks in Wiggins and Bennett will win a NBA championship before Cleveland with Lebron, K Love and Kyrie. Dearest Arch believes that as a general manager, Lebron is a great player. Note that Arch made his prediction before K Love and Kyrie went down for the year. However, even Archibald questions the wisdom of Minnie`s Young for Garnett trade and believes Minnie took a step back with that move. And, with Canada's own Tristan Thompson a better fit with King James than KLove, Cleveland has a better team for the NBA Finals at least defensively thanks to the good luck of KLove's injury. If Lebron is as smart as he thinks he is, he will focus his efforts on resigning Thompson and kiss KLove good-bye regardless of whether he wins the championship this year and proves Archibald wrong.

Dearest deluded Archibald also thinks his Raptors will be better next year after being swept in the 1st round by Washington. He can't see that after starting the year 24-7, the Raptors finished 25-30. The Raptor team that finished the 2015 playoffs will struggle to make the playoffs next year without personnel changes and a Lowry recovery from his back issues.

Sportsenfreude in Toronto

Now that the baseball season is over, I must bring to your attention the most ridiculous comment in the history of sports talk radio. After Oakland lost the wild card match to KC, Toronto FAN 590 morning blowhards Brady and Walker were chortling that Oakland is riding a 1-15 streak in playoff matches in which the Athletics had a chance to advance to the next round. One of Brady or Walker (who can tell them apart?) had the audacity to say that he would rather be a Toronto Blue Jay fan and miss the playoffs for two decades than be an Oakland fan. Really? This would be like my English relatives saying that they are much happier as England football fans than Dutch fans who have had to suffer through all those World Cup and European Cup close calls over the years. More on this subject if and when I have time.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Scotland Independence Referendum

With all the news about Scotland's vote on independence, I have been recalling my undergrad years in the 1990s at University of St Andrews.
I loved being the only Coventry lass on campus surrounded by all those handsome red-headed barries (= scots slang for sweet, sexy lads).
My boyfriends at St Andrews reflect the divisions in Scots society now playing out in the referendum campaign.
Seamus was my main fancy man -- the scion of an aulde establishment family. I was going through a "First I look at the purse" phase, so I was happy enough to be squired about town by Seamus and has large wallet. He kept me in ribbons and pearls for almost four years.
But, as a man, he was rather boring. Not so, Sean the dashing tutorial assistant in my 1st year biology course who wore his kilt to every class. Sean never quite finished his Ph.D. and never rose above TA. His wee joke was that he was too busy with his T and A duties to get around to his thesis.
In 1st year, I fell into the unfortunate habit of dropping by Sean's library carrel 3 times a week for special tutoring. He would close the blinds on his carrel window and doors and then insist that biology could only be learned without clothing. I certainly learned a lot about biology. So much so, that I signed up every year for whatever course Sean was TAing. As a side benefit, I received A+ in all my assignments. Sean teased me by telling me that my A+s were for my diligence as a great kisser.
For almost four years, Seamus remained in the dark about my doings in the dark with Sean until that unhappy day that my former BFF Deirdre took it upon herself to bring Seamus up to date with my two-timing.
Where are they now? Seamus and Deirdre are unhappily married. Seamus is chair of his local Conservative Party constituency association. I hear that he can hold his party meetings in a small pub booth with room to spare. He and his Conservative mates are busy campaigning for the no side to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom.
Sean has never left the uni scene. Without a Ph.D., he's still a TA -- no longer at St Andrews but now at the University of the West of Scotland (Dumfries campus). I've kept in touch with Deirdre and she tells me that Sean still has a reputation for awarding A+s to pet students who come in for special hands-on help. Naturally, he's a Scots Nationalist activist.
If I could vote as an honorary Scot, I would vote with boring Seamus against Sean who is loads of fun, but having never grown up has remained poor. I fear that Sean's fate would be writ large as Scotland's future if the Scots vote for independence next week.
When it comes to Scotland's future, "First I look at the purse" still seems like a good approach. I do hope that Scotland votes no on the 18th, so that in future Coventry lasses like myself can still enjoy your wonderful St Andrews lads without having to cross a border that has not existed for 400 years since James I came down from Scotland to be crowned king of England.
Note that Nobel prize-winner Paul Krugman warns that an independent Scotland will likely have to start their own currency -- a difficult job indeed. Be careful what you wish for, Scotland, you just might get it.
Note: Names and descriptions of individuals mentioned in this blog note have been altered to protect the guilty. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

NFL 2014-15 Recap ATS

In official Godiva toy boy and fiance Archibald's non-profit pool picking National Football League (NFL) winners against the spread (ATS), I swim naked of all football knowledge other than Professor Leavitt's lessons about gaming market anomalies. I was wrong about the Super Bowl picking SEATTLE over NE. Underdogs are now XXIV-XXIII-II ATS in the first LXIX Super Bowls and still in line with Professor Steven Levitt's prediction that the Super Bowl underdog will be the best bet in sports over a statistically significant M matches. The NFC leads the AFC XXVI-XXIII.

I pride myself on leaving emotions out of my picks, but was pleased to pick against Coach Bill Belicheat.
My Canuck canoodler Arch points out the uncanny similarities between Coach Belicheat and Canadian Prime Minister Darth Harper and former American President Richard Nixon.

I am satisfied to finish 134-130-3 ATS overall for the full year: 4-7 in the playoffs after finishing the regular season at 130-123-3. Overall, I was 85-77-2 road underdogs, 
39-43-1 home underdogs and 10-10 attempting to identify "value" home overdogs. I finished behind the best of the simple plain-vanilla approaches in 2014: all-roadies at 138-126-3. 
The all-underdogs approach remains the long-run champion having defeated all-favorites yet again in 2014 for the 18th underdog triumph over the past 23 years since 1992 averaging 51.7% over that span. 
The elite 8 round was the one week of the year when I pick all overdogs based on public policy expert and NFL hobbyist Gregg Easterbrook (aka TMQ = Tuesday Morning Quaterback), who reports that the 1 and 2 seeds have won 73 out of 100 matches in this round. In the regular season, overdog favourites win about 2/3 of all matches and just under 1/5 of matches turn on points. I doubt that the spreads in this playoff round are large enough to turn around the overdog advantage over the 500 years of data that we would need to test my proposition. Nevertheless, 2 of the 3 straight-up overdog winners this year lost ATS.
I ended up in the middle of all 3 pools that I play in.  
A final Boo-Yah to the memory of the great ESPN sports anchor Stuart Scott. When I was a grad student at Indiana Institute of Technology, my toy boy of the time Reginald insisted that we watch SportsCenter before going to bed and I was always glad he did. During our break-up (caused by Reginald's failure to address his gambling addiction), he would tell me that I was cooler than the other side of the pillow. Reginald, I hope you recognize that you never had it so good and never will again.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Canadian Football League CFL 2014 Recap

To humour my Canadian toy boy and fiance Archibald, I participate in his non-profit CFL pool against the spread (ATS). I was pleased to get the Grey Cup final correct  by picking ATS Hammertown Tiger Cats +7.5 over BC.

I finished 42-41-3 for the year ATS: 5-4-2 with home underdogs, 17-21 with road underdogs, 12-11-1 with home overdogs and 8-5 road overdogs. I ended up behind the best of the plain-vanilla strategies -- all-overdogs far ahead of me at 45-38-3.

I am 53.777% over 6 years picking CFL winners ATS from 2009 through 2014. Not enough matches to be statistically significantly better than 50% dart-throwing, but I am still proud of my good fortune. However, before I start calling myself the CFL ATS Nostradamus, I must stay ahead of the 53% record of a simple all-underdogs strategy over these past 6 years.

Arch points out that western teams were 70-39 straight-up against eastern teams in 2012 through 2014 and 58-51 ATS. Arch was early out on a limb correctly predicting that the 4th place team in the west would cross over to the eastern playoffs. He failed with his prediction that the 4th place western team would win the eastern playoffs and Grey Cup ATS. He switched to predicting that Calgary would win the Grey Cup ATS. Archibald made a persuasive case as always, but I won backing the underdog based on Professor Leavitt's advice to back the underdog in the Super Bowl. If anyone out there has a history of Grey Cup point spreads, it would be interesting to see whether the underdogs are ahead ATS.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

NBA Playoffs 2014 ATS Recap

My all-overdog approach for this year's playoffs finished 38-48-3.

Perchance my losing 44% record this year against the spread (ATS) reflects the fact that I do not watch basketball even though official Godiva toy boy/fiancé Archibald can't get enough roundball.

Each spring dearest Archibald organizes a friendly, non-profit NBA office pool. The winner is the contestant who picks the most winners ATS over at least 81 regular season matches plus all playoff matches. All matches are weighted equally. I finished 19th comfortably ahead of Archibald whose sports nous is inversely related to his hunk quotient.

To humour Archibald, I participate by relying on economists' studies showing that "heavy" underdogs win more than their fair share of basketball games against the point spread, while "non-heavy" overdogs win slightly more than 50% (although this particular result is not statistically significant).

Over 7 years since 2008 of swimming naked (of roundball knowledge) in Archibald's pool, I am 53.1% ATS.

But, before I get carried away and start billing myself as the NBA playoff Nostradamus, just by picking all overdogs in every NBA playoff game for the past 7 years starting with 2008, you would be sporting a slightly better bettor record of 53.3% ATS.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Major League Baseball (MLB) Inter-league 2014 Recap

I was wrong picking Kansas City over San Fran in the World Series, but I remain convinced that KC as the superior team would win about 540 out of 1,000 matches against SF. KC defeated SF in 6 out of 10 matches this year outscoring 43-36 in total runs. It just happens that SF put together a lucky 4-out-of-7 sequence to win the Series. 

The American League (AL) representative has won 18 of the past 31 World Series, but the. National League (NL) has won 4 of the past 5 in a run of luck for the inferior league. 

Through the regular season and including the All-Star game and World Series, AL teams finished 167-141 vs. NL teams -- or 54.2% for 2014 just below the 54.6% average over the last 11 years of AL dominanceThe AL is the superior league by far and has been for more than a decade. 

The AL has now recorded 11 consecutive triumphs in annual inter-league contests. The only positive sign for the NL is that the AL's 53% average from 2010 to 2014 is below the 55.9% average from 2004 through 2009.

There's more to AL superiority than just the Yankees and Red Sox financial advantage. Case in point -- this year  the Yankees and Red Sox are still making money and paying big contracts, but both are below-AL-average on the field, yet the AL is still winning the inter-league race.

The AL has also won 14 of the last 17 all-star games to reach a decision and 20 of the last 26. 

The AL dominates despite dearest Archibald's beloved Toronto Blue Jays whose management theme song is: "If I only had a brain."

Until mid-September, the BJays had a remote chance of making the playoffs in 2014 for the 1st time since winning the 1993 World Series. I remained skeptical throughout the BJays' Jeckyll and Hyde performance this year. Here are the BJays' win-loss streaks over the full season:

Bill James taught us that the longer a hot streak lasts, the more likely the team is truly good. 25-7 was a pretty impressive hot streak. But, 11-24 was an almost as impressive cold streak. The longer a cold streak lasts, the more likely the team is truly bad. 

The BJays finished 3rd in the AL East and 9th out of 15 in the AL at 83-79 = 38-43 in the 2nd half + 45-36 in the 1st half (when they were on track to win 90 games and a certain playoff spot). 

Finishing the year with three minor-leaguers in their line-up of batsmen (to borrow a cricket term from my native England), the BJays need to find some better players to do better in 2015. Trading useful platoon hitter Adam Lind to Milwaukee for batting-practice pitcher Estrada is a step backward. Trading career substitute centre-fielder Gose for the Tigers' top minor league 2nd base prospect might work out although respected analyst Keith Law doesn't think much of the return. Signing 32-year-old Russell Martin for $82 million until he's 36 is another case of throwing good money after bad. I expect to see Houston, Chicago Cubs, NY Mets and Florida Marlins to all make the playoffs before Toronto. The next Toronto management crew will have a horrendous mess to clean up.

The BJays' most impressive win in 2015 was defeating Tiger bowler (to borrow another cricketing term) Justin Verlander in Detroit. Official Godiva toy boy/fiancé Archibald tells me that Verlander's girlfriend is Kate Hudson, a swimmer who wins an important swim race every year and ends up on the cover of Sports Illustrated (SI) as a result. Arch is such a huge sports fan that he even follows swimming and buys that particular SI issue each and every year. Arch's interest in swimming must have something to do with the dearth of sports in February after the Super Bowl. Most recently, dearest Archibald has taken an avid interest in viewing the Apple cloud photos posted by his favourite swim stars from that annual SI issue. He certainly can't get enough of competitive swimming photos.

On a sad note, Archibald and I are sorry to see closing down. put together a great site applying the "wisdom of crowds" idea to picking sporting contests. Maybe there is an academic institution somewhere with an interest in conducting low-cost experiments on the "wisdom of crowds" concept. If so, contact Cassius.

Monday, March 17, 2014

NCAA March Madness 2014 ATS Recap

After losing all 3 Final 4 matches, I finished 36-27-4 against the point spread (ATS) good for 14th in my local pool.

Official Godiva toy boy fiancé Archibald can't get enough roundball. Every year he organizes a friendly, non-profit office pool for the NCAA men's tourney.

Instead of picking bracket winners, players in his pool pick winners ATS each and every day as the tournament unfolds. The winner of his winner-take-all pool is the contestant who picks the most winners against the spread over 67 matches including the play-in games. All matches are weighted equally.

To humour Archibald, I participate by relying on economists' studies showing that "heavy" underdogs win more than their fair share of college basketball games against the point spread, while "non-heavy" overdogs win slightly more than 50% (although this particular result is not statistically significant).

Over 7 years since 2008 of swimming naked (of roundball knowledge) in Archibald's pool, I am just barely ahead at 226-223-11.

Just by picking all overdog favourites in every NCAA tournament game for the past 7 years, you would be sporting a 233-216-11 or 52% record ATS. I tried something different the past 2 years by going with Cincinatti Professor Michael Magazine's tip that his statistical model shows No. 11 seeds as underseeded by the selectors and undervalued by oddsmakers and bettors. The No. 11 seed approach failed in 2013 but worked this year. And, I took a flyer on some No. 12 seeds on the grounds that they have won 35% of 1st round matches straight-up and that another 15%+ on points might be doable over the long run.

Lady G vs. Baracketer-in-Chief
President Obama picks winners straight-up with no point line for each bracket and round.

The President got UNC right as the 2009 winner. After a tough time in 2010 and 2011 with none of his final 4 picks coming through, he correctly picked 5 of the elite 8 in 2013 and 2014 as well as 6 of 8 in 2012. Not too shabby, but this year he only got 1 of the final 4 right.

When he picks upsets in the early rounds, I can identify games where Lady Godiva and the Baracketer-in-Chief disagree. In Obama's first 6 years in office, I am 16-26-1 womano-a-mano against the Baracketer including 1-0-1 this year.

Speaking of mano-a-womano, kudos to the President for also picking the women's NCAA brackets.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Olympic Ice Hockey 2014

This post is based on the faulty predictions of my Canadian toy boy and fiancé Archibald. Get your own blog, Arch, you handsome devil, but maybe you should wait until your predictive powers improve.

I was pleased to see Archibald wrong with his prediction that Finland would win gold in men's ice hockey. He was right to stick with Finland in the bronze medal match on the grounds that Finnish players would be proud to win a bronze, while the USA semi-final losers wouldn't care about the bronze.

Olympic men’s ice hockey has been quite competitive from 1998 on when top professionals started playing, but Canada has started to assert their dominance.

Canada: 3 golds = 9 points under 3, 2, 1 point system for gold, silver, bronze

Sweden: 1 gold, 1 silver = 5 points

Finland: 1 silver, 3 bronze = 5 points

Czechs: 1 gold, 1 bronze = 4 points

USA: 2 silver = 4 points

Russia: 1 silver, 1 bronze = 3 points

For women’s ice hockey, the Olympics has been a tale of 2 countries:

Canada: 4 golds, 1 silver = 14 points

USA: 1 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze = 10 points

Sweden: 1 silver, 1 bronze = 3 points

Finland: 2 bronze = 2 points

Switzerland: 1 bronze = 1 point

I was chuffed to see Archibald also wrong with his prediction of USA gold in women's ice hockey. I tease Canadian Archibald about his lack of patriotism. But, he says that when it comes to predicting sporting outcomes, his head rules his heart. Dearest Archibald only blows his cool with yours truly.

Without doubt, Canada's overtime win over USA in the final was the greatest ice hockey match I have ever seen. Also, the only ice hockey match I have seen despite living the past 8 years in Canada. I get lots of work done while dearest Arch wastes his time watching men play ice hockey.