Chase the Unlucky Utley

We all know that I am a Red Sox fan. But I grew up in Philadelphia, largely before the era where the internet made watching out-of-market games a reality. That means I am quite familiar with my hometown Philadelphia Phillies. And for a good chunk of my life that meant names like Rollins, and Utley were familiar to me. So now as that group of players begins to retire and/or leave Philadelphia, we have Chase Utley underperforming to start 2015. But FiveThirtyEight asks the question: is he really? Or is it just that Utley is unlucky?

Utley is unlucky
Utley is unlucky

Credit for the piece goes to Rob Arthur.

Who Are the Red Sox?

As Massachusetts and Maine celebrate Patriots’ Day, the Boston Red Sox are set to play their earliest game of the year with an 11.00 start time. (Yes, there is also a marathon today.) So after two weeks or twelve games, the question people want answered is what Red Sox do we get this year? FiveThirtyEight looked at what they called roller-coaster seasons of late, primarily using a box plot graphic to show just how much whiplash Boston fans have endured of late.

Projected vs. actual wins
Projected vs. actual wins

So who are the Red Sox this year? The cellar dwellers of 2012 and 2014? Or world champions like in 2013? Who knows?

Credit for the piece goes to Neil Paine.

Predicting the UK General Election Results

(To be fair, I forgot to schedule to publish this post before I left somehow.)

Your humble author is still on holiday. So, today, you can enjoy a nice interactive piece from FiveThirtyEight that predicts the results of the 7 May general election. Of particular interest, the box part of the plot that shows the 90% confidence range.

Dot plotting the results
Dot plotting the results

The piece also has a choropleth map. My only feature request(s) would be to have a zoom feature for urban constituencies and/or to have a search field that allows the user to see the predicted results for a specific constituency.

Credit for the piece goes to Matthew Conlen and Ritchie King.

American Football Videogames

This week we have been looking at baseball (and Leonard Nimoy’s Star Trek). Today, we are going to turn to a sport I know nothing about: American football video games. Okay, so video games are not really a sport, but they are based on a sport. The reason I bring it up? FiveThirtyEIght has a really nice two-article story on how the Madden game franchise uses ratings to build characters for the game.

Rate yourself
Rate yourself

The above graphic is an interactive part of the story that lets you compare yourself to the real sports people, as estimated by the video game company. The second article in the story then builds upon that by using a reporter as a basis to test/understand the ratings.

And pay attention to the sidebar content. It’s actually worth heeding for once.

Credit for the piece goes to Reuben Fischer-Baum.

Chris Christie Is Well Know But Not Well Like

As election season begins to heat up, Five Thirty Eight looks at the probability of a Chris Christie candidacy. The scatter plot below examines the favourability and name recognition. The public knows the “brand” of Christie. But they do not have a favourable view of him. I would be curious how much of that is due to his East Coast-iness.

Christie is well known, but not well liked
Christie is well known, but not well liked

Credit for the piece goes to Five Thirty Eight.

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles: A Comparison (Kind of)

Travelling by plane can often be a hassle because getting from the airport to the destination is not always easy. Suffice it to say your humble author has—on a few occasions—been almost stranded at Philadelphia International because of no way to get where I was going. A lot of that comes down to poor public transit options. In my cases, it mostly stemmed from terrible weather delaying my flight until the wee hours of the morning after which train service stops.

Thankfully, Five Thirty Eight took a look at the public transit vs. car options for various cities/airports and seeing which option is faster. Ultimately Philly is awarded an honourable mention because the R1 (what some people now call the Airport Line) is convenient if your timing is right. Mine, obviously, has never been.

Travel times to downtowns
Travel times to downtowns

Credit for the piece goes to Allison McCann.

Board Games

On New Year’s Eve, well technically in the wee hours of New Year’s Day, the group with which I was spending the holiday broke out Settlers of Catan. We played that game—and drank a few bottles of champagne—until 04.00. My experience of playing the game—not necessarily the part about being inebriated on New Year’s Eve—bears out the increasing popularity of board games. This article from FiveThirtyEight seeks to understand what makes particular board games popular. And, because I am mentioning it on this blog, it has a few charts worth noting.

Game ratings organised by year of introduction
Game ratings organised by year of introduction

Credit for the piece goes to Rasmus Greve.

Stop the Music

I get that a lot of you like Christmas. That’s great. But for those of not terribly attached to it for more than the days off work, listening to music can switch from being relaxing to aggravating right quick. Thankfully we have FiveThirtyEight to examine just how ridiculous this all-Christmas-all-the-time trend has become.

The combined plays of two Christmas songs
The combined plays of two Christmas songs

Credit for the piece goes to Walt Hickey.

The 76ers Are a Terrible Basketball Team

The Philadelphia 76ers are a terrible basketball team. FiveThirtyEight details the deficiencies of the team in this small table. Icons represent characteristics that can be either positive or negative. They are then placed within the table to quickly show how awful the team is. My favourite is the icon for poor player.

Just terrible
Just terrible

Credit for the piece goes to the FiveThirtyEight graphics department.