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Beside The Points For Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017

Things That Caught My Eye

They finally pulled it off!

After 56 years of not winning a World Series, the Astros have done the seemingly impossible and did that exact thing. It was a record-breaking best of seven, but if you want to know what got the Astros there in the first place, it all comes down to losing nearly 600 games from 2009 to 2014. The team lost at least 106 games in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and all that allowed them to get some of the best players into their farm systems to get this team where it needed to be. Sometimes you have to go down before you go up. [FiveThirtyEight]

St. Louis is in hell right now

One side effect of the Rams being really good this year is that the current (and former) football fans in St. Louis — the city they spurned in order to go to Los Angeles — is pretty unhappy. Those who remain fans of the team or its players remain conflicted and those who rejected the team or even the league are ticked they had to watch bad football — 13 non-winning seasons — for so long only for another city to get the joy of watching good football. [Sports Illustrated]

What was with those balls though?

This past World Series was defined by a thoroughly ridiculous number of homers throughout, compounding the question that has beguiled baseball for the past several seasons: Yo, are the balls juiced? And while the case is pretty watertight that yes, something has been different about the baseballs over the past several seasons, whether they were specifically more slick this postseason or this World Series is a thornier statistical question that’s difficult to ultimately disentangle from the strong offenses involved. We may never have a conclusive answer, but do know that the numbers agree that yeah that was a pretty weird one. [FiveThirtyEight]

Quartback shuffle!

The New England Patriots traded Brady backup Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco in exchange for a 2018 second-round draft pick, and then picked up Brian Hoyer to back up Brady after the 49ers released him. Hoyer and Garoppolo were presumably two ships passing in the night somewhere over Kansas on the Logan-SFO redeye. [ESPN]

The NFL’s offensive line crisis

Scoring in the 2017 NFL season has dropped from 22.8 points per game in 2016 to 21.9 points in the first half of the year, and teams are scoring the fewest number of touchdowns per game since 2006. The declining quality of offensive lines has been a potential source of this scoring difficulty, but the reasons for that crisis are myriad and difficult to fix all at once. [The Ringer]


This weekend is the Oklahoma (No. 5) vs. Oklahoma State (No. 11) game, one of the most compelling matchups of the weekend. We have Oklahoma as the slight favorite, a 55 percent chance of winning. A win for Oklahoma would increase their chances of making the playoff from 30 percent to 52 percent; a win for OSU would increase their chances of making the playoff from 15 percent to 32 percent. A loss for either team pretty much destroys their chances of making it in. [FiveThirtyEight]

Make sure to try your hand at our fun NFL can you beat the FiveThirtyEight predictions? game!

Big Number

18 percent

Over $1 million has been bet on the expansion franchise Vegas Golden Knights to win the Stanley Cup, dropping their odds from 300-1 to win the NHL championship to 40-1 in the Westgate Superbook. At Nevada’s largest sportsbook, 18 percent of all Stanley Cup bets were on the Golden Knights, mostly smaller wagers. [ESPN]

Leaks from Slack:


guess who’s back.

ESPN: Tiger returning to competitive golf Nov. 30


#tbt to the tiger woods building lobby at nike


Tiger broke my heart. But I think I’m ready for him to be back? Is that weird? Are there polls on how people feel about him?

Also #tbt to this amazing Nike commercial.


Forgot about that one. Was pretty incredible at the time.


Blew my mind. I didn’t want to feel empathy for him. But I did

Damn you Nike


Oh, and don’t forget
God I wish that “pizzagate” was still in play as a scandal name.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.