Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Put Kang on the shelf



Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang is being investigated by Chicago police over an allegation of sexual assault.
Kang has not been charged with a crime. He is considered a "person of interest" in this investigation, which is still in the information-gathering and evidence collection phase.
A 23-year-old woman alleges she was sexually assaulted by Kang, 29, on June 17, when the Pirates were in Chicago to play the Cubs, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told ESPN.
We see multiple dozens of cases every year involving male athletes accused of some variety of sexual misconduct. It’s beyond sad that the fight against one of our most pervasive societal cancers has to make the A-block in SportsCenter just for more than half the country to acknowledge that it’s a problem, and even worse that only a few of these cases – the larger scandals like those at Baylor and Penn State, or those involving sports’ bigger names – get people to start thinking about what’s right versus what isn’t. 
More often than not, they don’t, and we react to these stories thusly:
“Big Ben is suspended for four games? Man, it’s going to be tough for the Steelers to come back from that. Who’s going to start?”
“It’s good to get these games against the Yankees out of the way before Chapman comes back from suspension.”
Hell, why limit ourselves to historical/straw-man arguments? Here’s some shit people have actually written on the internet about this story since it broke yesterday:

Victim blaming, always a classic.

Extortion? First, I don't think these guys know that word. Second, false accusations have become incredibly easy to weed out. They're the exception, not the rule.
He couldn't have done it because he doesn't speak English? He's being investigated for rape, not handing in a fake term paper on the Teapot Dome Scandal.

Those pesky women get away with everything!

This one surprised me. There are people who would sooner believe that the Cubs organization orchestrated this entire thing than even acknowledge the possibility that a guy who has his own face tattooed on his leg would rape a woman.

Finally, we have our resident constitutional scholars.

Ah, the fanboy classic, “INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY! IS THIS NOT AMERICA?”
People who think that the “innocent until proven guilty” standard applies to private businesses and public opinion are the same people who have turned into Facebook partisans because they think Wendy Bell’s firing violated her first amendment rights.
"IS THIS NOT AMERICA?"
Sadly, this is America. And in America, we don’t empathize with the victims of sexual assault – especially if their attackers are players the Pirates need if they are going to have a chance to catch the Cubs in the NL Central.
For not yet having been charged, the story on Kang's role in this is awfully detailed. And creepy.
Police said Kang and the woman met on the dating app "Bumble," which states that the woman must initiate contact. Kang then asked the woman to go to his hotel room; when she arrived, she was given an alcoholic beverage, Guglielmi said.The woman blacked out about 15 to 20 minutes after consuming the drink and then alleges she was sexually assaulted as she drifted in and out of consciousness, Guglielmi said.The woman told police she didn't become fully aware of her surroundings until she was in a taxi en route to her home. She went to a hospital on June 19, where a rape kit was done, Guglielmi said. Guglielmi declined to say whether the results from the examination have come back.The woman's formal complaint to police came 10 days later, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing sources.
That's incredibly disturbing shit on a lot of levels. And while the law will ultimately determine whether or not Kang is charged – and if he is, his guilt or innocence – it doesn’t preclude Kang’s employer from taking some kind of action. Action, in this case, is the only right course. The Pirates should do the right thing and shelve Kang until authorities decide whether or not to charge him. 
If Kang is charged with sexual assault, that’s it – place him on the restricted list and being working with the players’ union and commissioner’s office to terminate his contract. If he isn’t charged, he’s free to come back and play baseball.
Sadly, I don’t trust the Pirates will do the right thing, because I don’t trust any sports organization to do the right thing.
Sports organizations are largely male-dominated entities, and what they know and learn of rape culture is at best, exclusively aimed at protecting their assets and brand. At worst, their collective knowledge extends to damage control measures.
But I can think of two reasons they should:
  1. It’s the right thing. They don’t need another reason.
  2. Because no sports organization ever does the right thing, simply doing the right thing has the potential to move the ongoing conversation we have about rape culture and sports in the right direction. By taking swift and decisive action, the Pirates can be the first professional sports organization to stand up and say, “we’re not going to put up with this bullshit.” 
Maybe we'll tackle the nonsensical drivel that fell out of Paul Zeise's brain, past all his editors and onto the Post-Gazette's website later on. I'm just not sure I agree with the notion that one needs to establish a pattern of rapey behavior before being looked at suspiciously, nor do I necessarily believe Zeise's assertion that "only two people know what happened in this case."

Monday, May 30, 2016

Stanley Cup Final prediction

The model has gone 10/14 so far. For the final, it says the Pens have a 72% chance on winning and the Sharks have a 28% chance of winning. I think the model has underestimated the Sharks chances all playoffs, and I think this series is probably closer than the model thinks it is. In any case, let's go Pens!

Friday, May 13, 2016

NHL Playoff Predictions: Conference Finals

The first round and second round of the NHL playoffs are in the books. So far, the model is doing pretty well, going 9/12 and rolling along with the Pens and Blues. Here are the predictions for the conference finals:




The model still has the Pens and Blues as favorites, and it's probably underestimating the Sharks. The Sharks are a very good team; they've just had a difficult path. They had to beat the Kings, and now they're up against the Blues. And if they get past the Blues, they may have to get past the Pens as well. Anyway, let's go Pens!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Round 2

Time for round 2 predictions! Check out the round 1 predictions here. So, round 2 will actually start before round 1 concludes. Game 7 of Anaheim-Nashville will be tonight, after Game 1 of Tampa Bay-New York Islanders. So I've included predictions if Anaheim wins tonight and if Nashville wins tonight. Here they are!

If Anaheim wins:


If Nashville wins:


And of course this is not dependent on the ANA-NSH game:








Wednesday, April 13, 2016

2016 Stanley Cup Predictions

It's time for my 3rd annual NHL playoff predictions! My model and methodology are basically unchanged from last year, so check it out here. In the two years I've been doing this, I've learned that it's pretty hard to predict the outcome of any one series, but if we look at it from a stratification standpoint, we can gain some valuable information. This is, instead of saying, "team x has a 60% chance of beating team y", it may be more constructive for us to say, "teams w, x, y, and z are more likely than the other teams to make deep playoff runs and win the Stanley Cup." Picking individual winners is hard, but we can see which teams rise to the top.

When I developed this model, I ran a tenfold cross-validation. That basically tells us how good the model is at predicting the outcome of new data. The past two years, the prediction accuracy is about 0.66. So the model should be able to correctly predict the series winner about 66% of the time. That's not great, but it's much better than just using point totals. Over the course of the past two seasons, there have been 30 playoff series, and the model has predicted the winner correctly 20 times, for an accuracy rate of 67%. So the model is performing as expected. So while 67% isn't great for an individual series, the model does seem to be able to tell us which teams are more likely to win 3 or 4 playoff series. Anyway, I ran the model again for this year, and here are the results:






The main takeaway is this: STL, PIT, LA, ANA, and WSH are the teams that rise to the top. They are the ones most likely to go deep into the playoffs and win the Cup.

I was a little surprised that San Jose, Chicago, Philadelphia came out as low as they did. These are good teams, but they have brutal paths to the Finals. San Jose would have to go through LA, then likely Anaheim and St. Louis just to get to the Final. Philly would have to go through Washington and Pittsburgh.

One other thing that stands out is that the model thinks that the Pens have a 91% chance of beating the Rangers. I don't think any team has a true probability of winning that is so high. The model thinks it's so high because there are only a few observations since 2007-2008 where the difference between the teams regarding score-adjusted Fenwick % (SAF) is so huge. In every series where the difference was this extreme, the team with the better SAF won the series. The Pens are favorites in this series, but probably not 91% likely to win.

Enjoy the 1st round!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Spring Hypotheticals: an FTC Polling Exclusive

We asked a random smattering of FTC readers*, "after how many dates is it acceptable to try and sell someone car insurance?"

"Jeez, I'd say six? Even after any kind of hanky pinky, insurance is a commitment." - Greg, 32, kickball centerfielder

"I think the answer depends on how many more dates you want. If you want no more dates, then after as many dates as it takes you to figure that out. If you want more dates, no." - Josh, 76, some kind of sheriff

"Wow, I'm sorry to hear you new job didn't work out." - Cara, 40, writer

"..." - Sydney, 33, teacher

"Just after the last one." - Dom, 36, cars

"Not until you're married, for sure." - Samantha, 29, corporate lackey

"I think there's a sweet spot. You can't do it too soon, but you can't wait too long either. I'd say somewhere between two and four. But after four i think the likelihood of even bringing it up decreases the more invested you get in the relationship." - Nilesh, 36, statistician

"I'm going to say 'none.'" - Andrew, 31, author

"Erie or State Farm?" - William, 37, retired

"If one person expressed a need for insurance on a first date and the other happened to sell it, I think that would be okay. Otherwise, I'm going to say...never." - Jane, 32, academic

"Bone first, pitch later." - Gentry, 30-ish, karaoke enthusiast

"Several years. You've gotta play long-ball." - Asa, 25, computerist


"I would say about six months of regular dating at least with someone you could see a future with. Otherwise you're just being used." - Charles, 25, office manager

"I don't think it's acceptable for someone to try to sell you car insurance unless you inquire about procuring car insurance." - Annie, 30, female

"I would say that, if you are going to attempt to sell someone car insurance, it should happen on the first date." - Marty, 34, footballs

"Did you go on a date with someone who tried to sell you car insurance?" - Nichole, 34, cat owner

"You shouldn't sell product on any early dates, and if it gets to the point that that comfort level has been reached, you should hook that person up [with a good deal]." - Michael, 36, not a Ph.D. in epidemiology or federal employee of any kind


*A totally fictional population

Thursday, March 3, 2016

We're committed to committing ourselves to the possibility of finding a way to make you purchase this baseball cap for $40


On the possibility of extending Andrew McCutchen beyond his current contract, Pirates owner Bob Nutting said:

"We are committed to try to find an opportunity. There is no one who we'd like to have for a career in a Pirates uniform more than Andrew."

Implicit in this language is that an opportunity to extend McCutchen does not currently exist. The Pirates are not committed to finding one. The Pirates are merely committed to trying to find one. Andrew looks angry here because he's probably going to get traded next off-season.