David J. Berri and Martin B. Schmidt. Stumbling on Wins, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, NJ: FT Press, 1st edition, 2010. 256 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0132357784
The central question of David Berri and Martin Schmidt’s most recent book, Stumbling On Wins, is how so many people paid so much to make good managerial choices can consistently and repeatedly make bad ones. Often these choices are bad not just in retrospect, but appear predictably ill informed even in a profession inundated by a veritable deluge of quantitative data. Indeed, amateur bystanders and academics have used publicly available data to create a vibrant cottage industry disseminating statistical analysis and (ex post) testable predictions. Many of these modelers have developed ‘‘favorite toys’’ that consistently predict athlete performance better than the professionals. The book’s title, an allusion to Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness, is intended to point out how elusive the secret of building winning sports teams (like the secret of happiness) remains. While the vast amounts of interest and effort put into the respective searches are similar, the soundness of the implied analogy is crucial to the authors’ thesis, yet is largely ignored. What if ‘‘Wins’’ in sports aren’t always the same as ‘‘Happiness’’?
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