MoS in FOX

Just over three years ago I looked at Pythagorean Expectation and its application to sports, especially to the V/AFL and the NRL, in this post. What I found in that post was that Pythagorean Expectation could be applied to V/AFL final ladders to achieve surprisingly good fits in most years.

That post has cropped up occasionally in a few other places and discussions since, most recently at the start of the month in this post on the FOX sports website. I had no idea the FOX piece was being written nor that my blog post was to be linked in it so it was one of those times where you see a sudden, pleasant spike in your website traffic and wonder where it's coming from.

If I had (or was even vaguely entitled to have) a Wikipedia page, I could now, at least, provide a few citations to support my claim of being a data scientist and football statistician.

(NB I'm pleased to confirm that the information in the blog post was not Fake Analysis.)

Presentation to the Sydney Data Science Meetup

Tonight (29 November 2016) I was one of two invited speakers to present to members of the Sydney Data Science meetup. The event was kindly hosted and catered for by CBA in the South Building of Commonwealth Bank Place in Darling Harbour. Thanks to the CBA team that made it happen and to the meetup hosts - especially Fabian and Eugene - who organised the event and made me feel so welcomed.  

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The Last Bit of MoS in Your Guardian Before Summer

Today, another MoS piece (the third!) appeared in the Guardian, this time looking at the typology of V/AFL Grand Finals. Thanks to Russell Jackson (@rustyjacko) for the encouragement and opportunity (and to @lenoretaylor, @nickevershed and @rrjparkin for retweeting a link to the piece). Appearing in the Guardian always spikes my Twitter Followers - mostly for good - and my web traffic.

The piece was huge fun to write and, to be honest, I'm not sure I'll ever top "Coast-to-Coast But Mostly Close".

Feedback, as always, welcomed.


Presentation to the Sydney Sports Analytics Meetup

Last night (31 August 2016) I was, thanks to Robert, one of three invited speakers to members of the Sydney Sports Analytics meetup, which was kindly hosted and catered by KPMG in their new office in the stunning International Tower 3 at Barangaroo, 

My presentation was mostly about the MoSSBODS Team Rating System, with a few visualisations thrown in to provide a little more colour and movement.

For anyone curious to know what I presented, I've made a copy of it available here.

More MoS in the Guardian

(I meant to put this one up earlier - has it really been 2 months?!)

One Sunday morning late in July I was contacted by the Deputy Sports Editor at the Guardian, Russell Jackson, asking if I could finish off my regular blog projecting the remainder of the home and away season and the Finals in time for that evening's deadline.

Given that the last game was to finish around 7:30pm and the usual script took 5 hours to run, it required a little finessing (and the kindness of Russell to come in on his day off and work until very late to edit my copy and make all the magic happen), but in the end, we got there.

This was the result.

I've been advised by Russell - as a general principle and not, I'm letting myself believe, purely in relation to this particular piece - to avoid reviewing the comments under the piece. So far, despite significant temptation, I've not done so ....

Anyway, thanks to Russell, MoS now has its first piece in the mainstream press with my byline. Feels weird - but kinda nice.


MoS Crops Up at Fairfax

Last week I started noticing traffic coming from The Age, West Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, Brisbane Times and Canberra Times. I'm still getting a handful every day.

Robert Nguyen was kind enough to link to MoS in this piece on the importance (or otherwise) of defence in AFL (the MoS link is the first one in the article). Thanks Robert.

It's been quite a couple of years for MoS.

An Unexpected Appearance At Aunty's

I can still count MoS appearances in mainstream media using fewer than 3 binary bits, so any additions to that tally, to me, warrant a mention here.

Earlier this week I noticed some odd referrer URLs in the traffic to the site, URLs that were blocked from public access but that looked as if they might be coming from the servers of our national broadcaster here in Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Commission (or the ABC) affectionately referred to as "Aunty".

Mid-week, the source of that initial traffic became clearer when this article by Jack Kerr was posted on the ABC's The Drum website.

It's a little odd being referred to via the phrase "the likes of Matter of Stats" and I can't really say I agree with the main thesis of the article, but mainstream coverage it is, and that's not to be sniffed at.

Some 2016 Pre-Season Changes to the Site

Over the past week or so I've made some changes to the MatterOfStats website, the main ones being:

  • Considerable simplification of the content on the Home Page including links to the four major blogs, in an effort to be kinder to first-time visitors. 
  • The creation of a new, Data Visualisations page where I'll be posting the occasional visualisation that I think is interesting and that doesn't require much explanation. As I type this, there are visualisations on that page looking at the history of winning and losing scores, the season-by-season history of teams' MoSSBODS Ratings, and the round-by-round history of 2015 team MoSSBODS Ratings. Let me know if you've any suggestions for charts that I might create and add to this page.
  • Amalgamation of the Links and Archives pages, and updates to the Links component. Please let me know if you think there are more sites I should add to the list.
  • Simplification of the Navigation Bar that runs down the right-hand side of every page. A lot of the content that was there previously, and that was not heavily trafficked, has been moved to its own page.
  • Changes to the menu that appears at the top of every page to reflect the new site structure.
  • Categorisation and tagging of all the 2015 Statistical Analyses posts. (This is one of those jobs that are so much easier if you do them progressively, but which you always put off because of the sheer tedium of it.)

It's entirely possible that I've broken something with these changes, so I'd be grateful if you let me know of any glitches you encounter. I'm also happy to receive any feedback - good or bad - about the changes generally, and to hear about suggestions you might have for new, different (or less!) content.

MatterOfStats has now been visited by people from 146 different countries, the latest a visit from someone in Saint Bathelemy in late December. There are still though, according to Flag Counter, 95 countries that have yet to visit, amongst them Afghanistan; Andora; The British Virgin, Christmas, Cook, Faroe, Falkland and Virgin Islands; Guernsey; The Isle of Man; Samoa; Sudan; Swaziland; Togo; Tonga; Tuvalu; Vanuatu; and The Vatican City (go figure). I'm hoping that, sometime during the next 12 months, a visitor from the 150th country will stop by MoS, but the time between new countries has been extending significantly. (For some interesting, somewhat related maths on this, Google the Coupon Collector's Problem.)

There's now also been at least one visitor from every State In the US (most of all from California), and from 8 of the 13 Canadian regions, the missing ones being Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, and Yukon Territory. 

In a few weeks it'll be exactly 10 years since I wrote the first e-mail to a handful of friends, summarising the predictions made by now long-retired The Model. To think that MoS has since then touched, however lightly, on the lives of people in almost 150 different countries frankly amazes me. Thanks for being one of them.

Adelaide Advertiser - Saturday, August 15th, 2015

The MatterOfStats site was lucky enough to receive some fantastic coverage in the Adelaide Advertiser on Saturday, both in the print (subscription required) and the online versions.

Thanks to Scott Walsh and the team for giving me the opportunity to talk about analytics to a broad audience (and who would ever have thought those Dinosaur Charts would walk the pages of a major metro newspaper?)

InsideSport - July 2015 Edition

I am inordinately chuffed to have scored a mention in the July 2015 edition of InsideSport, in a piece by Jeff Centenara about momentum in AFL and the extraordinary Saints v Dogs game from earlier this season. Cliff Bingham, an analytics soulmate, is also quoted directly in his article.

What I especially love about the piece is its recognition of the burgeoning AFL analytics community in Oz, within which I  hope to be seen as a genuine participant in due course. As a Sydneyite, I know that an extended probationary period is required before earning that mantle.

Thanks to everyone from that community, all of whom continue to define a discipline that future generations will, I trust, recognise as the genesis for something much broader and more profound.

New Ways to Navigate MoS

The MatterofStats website, as well as sporting a new look, now provides two new ways to trawl its content. All of the entries in the Statistical Analyses journal have been categorised and tagged, and indexes of the available categories and of the 100 most popular tags now appear in the Navigation Bar at the right of every page. 

Under the Search By Category heading are links to each of the 17 different blog categories. Clicking on any of these links will retrieve a listing of all blog entries noted as belonging to that category. Under the Search By Tag heading is a single link to a page that contains a tag cloud. Clicking on any link on that page will bring up a list of blog entries associated with that tag.

I think I've done a better job categorising than tagging entries, but I'd appreciate any feedback on misclassifications, missed classifications, mistaggings or  missed taggings.

Also, please let me know what you think about the site - good or bad.


Since last I posted about MoS visits from around the globe back in June, people from 18 more countries have found their way to the site. Sixteen of those countries I can readily identify and have listed below (the other two have escaped even a flag-by-flag comparison with the previous inventory and there's only so long I'm prepared to play the international version of Spot the Difference).

The new countries that I can identify are:

Flags of the 118 nations that have visited MoS

  • Moldova
  • Tunisia
  • Bolivia
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Curacao
  • Fiji
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Georgia
  • Cambodia
  • Brunei
  • Ecuador
  • Iceland
  • Marshall Islands
  • Costa Rica
  • Sri Lanka
  • Liechtenstein

According to the Flag Counter website, 123 countries remain unaccounted for in MoS' traffic data.

Turning next to individual countries, MoS has also had visitors from five more US states since mid-June: Alaska, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and South Dakota. That leaves just five other for MoS to collect to complete the set: Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia.

Canada, in contrast, has resisted further MoS incursion, leaving seven provinces MoS-free: New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan and Yukon Territory.

Kindred Spirits: Other AFL Result-Predicting Sites

This year in particular I've had the genuine pleasure of swapping e-mails with the keepers of a number of other sites similar to MoS, each of which include predictions about the results for the upcoming round of AFL and many of which lament the vicissitudes of the life choices we've made:

I've also come across other sites valuable to the dedicated AFL soothsayer or historian:

If you're aware of additional sites that you think are worthy of inclusion on this list or you're the owner of any of the sites listed above and you'd like me to amend the listing (say to include your contact details), please let me know.



Popular MatterOfStats Pages in 2014

Traffic to MatterOfStats has been up this year, especially that being referred from Google, the self-reinforcing nature of which has brought unexpected popularity to a handful of mostly recent but a few slightly older blog entries from across the site. 

The table below provides the visit statistics for the 2014 calendar year to 21 May, and includes pages with at least 20 visits in that period (and excludes any of the more ephemeral weekly posts from the Wagers and Tips and the Team Dashboard journals, even if they've attracted that many visits).

Atop that table is one of the first posts from 2014, in which I described some of the things that have surprised me about the analyses of AFL I've conducted over the past 8 years. That blog entry has been visited over 400 times by an estimated 351 unique viewers, each spending, on average, over 3 minutes on the page. Less than 50% of people who have come to the page have 'bounced', that is, immediately exited the site, and only 45% have not gone on to visit some other page on MatterOfStats. When I wrote that post I'd have given you long odds that it would become popular.

The Pythagorean Expectation page has also attracted considerable traffic - about 26 pageviews a week since it went up. Andrew's posts on Game Statistics have also proven popular, attracting well over 100 pageviews each.

If you'd like to visit any of the pages you see listed in the table, clickable links for each are provided after the table.

Statistical Analyses Page

Wagers & Tips Pages (excluding regular weekly posts during the season)

General Probability & Statistics

History and FAQ Pages

Vale Chi

I really didn't think he'd see the Grand Final of 2013, but he did - not that I think he cared much for the outcome.

Yesterday, a little after 3pm Sydney time, I watched while MAFL's first and only mascot, Chi the Absurdly Determined, laying blissfully on my wife's lap in our vet's surgery, a study in zen-like non-attachment, went limp and then peacefully disappeared forever from our lives.

As some of you know, the last few months of Chi's life have been especially difficult, probably moreso for us than for him, as his bingo card of ailments and pharmacopoeian list of treatments grew more numerous, the best of 21st century veterinarian medicine pitted against, amongst other things, his murmurous heart, his failing eyesight, his arthritic body and his demented brain (though, truth be told, he wasn't doing much with that organ anyway). Our vet likened the situation to propping up a tent from the inside using only your hands while it's collapsing at multiple, random places, all around you.

It was, I truly know - and as my amazing wife and our amazing vet knew - the time to let go, or as near to that time as anyone could reasonably estimate but, regardless, it's hard to quell an uneasy feeling of betrayal; he made it so difficult. 

Even early on his last morning he was, in his own mind, purposeful in heading towards the kitchen, backdoor, water bowl - who knew, given that his chosen path involved a plainly unnecessary detour via the TV in the lounge room. And then, throughout the remainder of the day he was as keen of appetite as ever, finishing most of a breakfast of eggs and ham, devouring the few, small coveted pieces of banana that were offered him, and then contentedly melting into whatever lap was available. If he knew nothing else on his last day, it was that he was loved.

One small comfort is that we never got to the point where all that was left of Chi forever spoiled our memories of all that he was.

And now, he's no more, and I feel sharply aware that, like the as-beloved pets before him, he's destined to become a blurry memory. He does have one thing in his favour though: he's easily the most photographed pet we've ever welcomed into our home. Should anyone ever decide to do a retrospective on him they'll suffer from no shortage of contemporaneous material.

It's cliched, I know, but if you have a pet - something, someone you love - be mindful in their presence and be thankful for the brief time you'll share together on the planet.

See you mate - and thanks.