I recently read a very interesting book called "Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won" by Tobias J. Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim.
They are childhood friends: a college professor from the University of Chicago and a writer from Sports Illustrated, and they take on some of the cherished "myths" of modern day sports and turn them on their head.
Is there really momentum in sports? What really drives home field advantage? Does defense really win championships? Why are .299 hitters more rare than .300 hitters? And one of my favorite chapters: "Are the Chicago Cubs really cursed?" (The authors are both Cub fans and give an interesting take on them.)
The authors challenge all kinds of sports "truisms" and traditions and reveal many of the hidden influences of the game. And they do it with some good humor as well. (Being Cub fans I guess that is expected.) The book is centered on the three biggest sports in America, baseball, football and basketball, but the authors also look into sports like golf, hockey and soccer.
After reading this book you'll think differently about such things as coaches "icing" opposing field goal kickers, 3-0 pitches in baseball, and teams punting on fourth down and short yardage. And of course, why the Cubs are now without a World Series title in 102 years.
The book will definitely make you think differently about sports, and the authors also go beyond all the stats and explore areas like how biases affect sports as well.
"Scorecasting" is definitely worth taking the time to sit and read. It's thought-provoking and fascinating, and will make you think of both "Moneyball" and "Freakonomics" at the same time.