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In this week’s episode of Slate’s sports podcast Hang Up and Listen, Stefan Fatsis, Josh Levin, and Mike Pesca discuss the highlights, lowlights, and upsets of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. They also review the relaunch of Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website, and evaluate whether it’s achieving its goal of using data journalism as a corrective to wayward, baseless punditry. Finally, they talk about the start of the Major League Baseball season in Australia and the league’s international ambitions.
Here are links to some of the articles and other items mentioned on the show:
- The first week of the NCAA tournament concluded Sunday, winnowing the field from 68 to 16.
- The tournament had its share of early upsets: North Dakota State and Harvard toppled Oklahoma and Cincinnati respectively, Dayton prevailed over Ohio State and Syracuse to reach the Sweet 16, Kentucky defeated Wichita State, No. 14 seed Mercer stopped Duke, and No. 2 seed Kansas lost to Stanford.
- Josh wrote that victories by teams like Mercer can no longer be considered shocking.
- Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight launched last Monday, with a manifesto by Silver explaining the site’s fox logo and describing the goals of data-driven journalism.
- In an interview with New York, Silver said, “Plenty of pundits have really high IQs, but they don’t have any discipline in how they look at the world, and so it leads to a lot of bullshit.”
- The New Republic’s Marc Tracy suggested Silver is not as foxy as he thinks he is, and colleague Leon Wieseltier critiqued “The Emptiness of Data Journalism.”
- Paul Krugman and Tyler Cowen were similarly unimpressed by the site. Krugman drew specific attention to a piece by Ben Casselman on corporate cash reserves.
- Some of FiveThirtyEight’s initial forays into sports: Neil Paine wrote about “When Spring Training Matters,” the improvement in NHL goaltenders, and the performance of MLB teams that start the season overseas. Silver also asserted that Duke’s loss to Mercer was more surprising than its loss to Lehigh.
- On last week’s Hang Up and Listen NCAA Extra, Ken Pomeroy praised FiveThirtyEight’s predictive model for the NCAA tournament.
- The Dodgers swept the Diamondbacks in their two-game, season-opening series in Australia.
- Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times wrote that opening the season in Australia is just another step in Major League Baseball’s plan to spread the game internationally.
- Pete Williams of the Sporting News writes that MLB believes Australia is on the verge of a baseball boom.
- Reds closer Aroldis Chapman was struck by a line drive in the face on Wednesday, breaking bones above his left eye and nose, and sparking debate about pitcher safety.
- The Mets have announced that they may bat their pitcher in the eighth spot in the lineup.
Hang Up and Listen’s weekly Joe Quinns:
Mike’s Quinn: What’s the worst question that athletes get asked in post-game interviews?
Podcast production and edit by Mike Vuolo. Links compiled by Casey Butterly.
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