Monday, April 16, 2012

I'd love to see the distribution on those retributions

This article claims that El Salvador's first murder free day in almost 3 years is due to a change in security measures. I'm a little more skeptical. Clearly the murder rate isn't bound above zero. It might be unlikely given their homicide rate of 66 per 100k, but there is nothing that leads me to believe that it might not happen randomly (in fact I think it just might have). Making an attribution like this would be very well backed up by reporting a homicide rate that has fallen since the new measures have taken place.

Saturday, April 14, 2012 blackout policy

I bought MLB tv for $125 a season. The price was high but seemed justified because a) I love cubs games and live out of market b) I like baseball and my TV is often off because I dont pay for cable c) I can watch games on my tablet anywhere I have WIFI.

I have never been one to give up something I enjoy to make a point. I'm a logical person and if I get more benefit from using something than the cost of the frustration resulting from whatever I would be making a point out of, I stick with it. However, I may cancel my MLB tv subscription just to make a point. MLB tv blacks out games in local networks, blacks out the playoffs, and blacks out games on Sat 1-8pm and Sun after 5pm.

The service is specifically marketed to people wanting "to watch out of market games" so I could deal with the first restriction. I think the MLB is making a mistake by missing out on the trend of consumers detaching themselves from cable, but whatever. 

Blacking out playoff games is annoying, because they dont really black them out (they just make you pay more for them). Again, I don't agree with this (they should at least change the name from 'full season' to 'regular season') but I can't hate for them wanting to make money. I could deal with this.

The weekend blackout is something I cannot deal with. The purpose behind the blackout is that Fox has been granted Saturday afternoon exclusivity. This means they pick a couple of games to play on TV (sometimes local, but typically its a Yankees, Red Sox or Dodgers game) and tells everyone else to go screw off. Dont want to watch the Yankees play the Angels? Too bad, its that game or its nothing. 

Baseball games are not identical goods. If I cant watch the cubs play, I wont automatically sit down on the couch and watch the Yankees play because baseball is baseball. There are a few people who might do this, but they are far from the majority. I realize Fox is making more money this way, and this means the MLB is making more money, but they are hurting so many fans and potential fans in their pursuit of a small bump to their profit line. Its a travesty, and I just dont know if I can stand for it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fantasy Baseball Shotgun Strategy

I've been struggling to find a decent fantasy baseball (FBB) league. I became tired of my old league and was set to use 2012-2013 to find a league of serious owners to start a long-term auction keeper league next year. To play this format, you need to be more active and knowledgeable than the average bear. My strategy was a shotgun method of meeting people; I would join a large number of leagues and handpick active and intelligent owners.

Unfortunately, this is taking up far too much time for the information I am gaining. It has shown me a huge flaw in the websites that offer free fantasy baseball (namely the three largest, ESPN CBS and YAHOO). You have the choice to join a private league by invite, or a public league. The public league is essentially worthless. In the ~10 drafts I took place in, only one had more than half the owners show up. While this does not mean their team will be poor, it is far from a good sign that they will be active participants. Of those half that did show up, less than half were setting lineups during week three. Almost none of those who did not show up for the draft has had any activity.

It baffles me how one of these websites has not found a way to set up an index to judge owner activity. The closest I have found was 'winners leagues'. Using winners to judge activity may have high sensitivity, but it has an exceptionally low specificity. Creating an index with moves per week, percentage of season played, and/or number of weeks starting a player on the DL would do a lot to entice active owners to one of these three sites. These are the owners who are generating the most add revenue and would represent the most valuable commodity for the site. Why has no one figured this out?  

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fantasy Baseball and revealed preferences

Nothing makes me happier than when I can use economics to make a point that someone else is being an @$$. There is an owner in one of my fantasy baseball league who has a history of being a bit of a stick in the mud. This person is related to around half the league, and regularly hassles the other half. Long story short, she vetoed one of my recent trades (a veto is typically used in situations where a trade is clearly unfair and meant to undermine league stability) and accused me and the other owner of collusion on the league message board. Her, and her brother-who-joined-later's argument was that one player was "regularly drafted 4-5 rounds before" the other player. The thing is, in our league the players were only drafted 10 picks apart (less than one full round in our 12 team league).

Completely ignoring the fact that this is an opinion, that our rules are different than the ones the rankings are based on, that the intent of collusion is near impossible to prove, and that each player filled a need on the others team, I took issue on her statement based on revealed preferences. The players in question were Carl Crawford (CC) and Colby Lewis (CL). I checked on the "4-5 rounds apart" comment and it turns out the average draft position (ADP) of CC was 101st and CL was 148. At first, it would appear that the wench was right (148-101/12teams=~4 rounds). However, a large part of the trade was that CC was dealing with an injury and I didnt view him as the 101st best player in the draft, and neither did the person who traded him.

The actual draft positions were 130/CC and 140/CL. It appears that CL went close to his actual position, while CC somehow slipped a full 29 spots to 130. On top of that, both teams crying collusion chose outfielders with an ADP of 130-140 in the same round CC was taken. That's revealed preferences in its finest. Letting CC slip to 130 and not picking him is one thing, but choosing another OF ranked behind him pretty much damns the whole ADP argument. The crying stopped shortly after this was brought to light.

I knew it!

And they thought I was crazy. Fish farts are real.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Not measuring what you think

I know I said that I would try to avoid simply posting interesting articles on this blog, but this is an eloquent rendition of something I have been preaching for years. High school grades and SAT scores better correlate with the quality of the counselors and the race distribution of the school than mental ability.

My grades were in part due to “grade engineering”: the process of maximizing grades with minimal effort and without regard to learning or understanding material. In other words, I received high grades partially by exploiting the weak correlation between grades and mastery...At one time, I suppose, grades might have been an objective and reasonably accurate measure of competence in a given subject. Not anymore. Today, they primarily measure how well a student can game the system. 

Now, there is an argument to be made that there is a correlation between students who are good at gaming the system to get into college and students who are good at gaming the system to graduate or get a job. But I think that's getting away from the real goal of higher education.

It really gets interesting with the proposed solution. 

There is no such thing as “teaching to the AP test,” because fundamental understanding and application of knowledge cannot be mastered by memorizing the answers to past exam questions. 

I disagree with this statement. All of my teachers in AP classes knew roughly what was going to be on the test, and wasted no time in teaching anything else. I didn't study a single vocab word or read a single story that did not appear on an expected or history of AP test questions. And don't even get me started on teaching children to write nothing but 5 paragraph essays so they can pass writing exams. The truth of the matter is that it is really difficult to make tests that measure knowledge. I think these exams are a step in the right direction but come far from solving the problem.