Archive for December, 2014

Windows Mobile Receives WatchESPN

ESPN, the self-proclaimed “worldwide leader in sports,” has at last released their WatchESPN mobile app for Windows devices. The free-to-download app is available for all Windows 8/8.1 devices and allows streaming sports directly to your mobile device. Of course the standard caveat with any WatchESPN app is that a cable television subscription in order to access the live streams.

Despite requiring a TV package, seeing the field of apps expand for Windows users is a good sign. Though they sold not even 3% of the smartphone market in the third quarter of 2014, Windows phones may very well be on the rise. Microsoft has plans to grow their app market, potentially through the Android app market. As the IDC graphic below illustrates, the vast majority of smartphone units sold in Q3 2014 were on the Android platform — mostly the more budget-rate devices for sub-$200.


Microsoft’s recent focus has been on that particular price point — they sport four unlocked devices for less than $200 each as well as 14 different phones below that either on contract or off. If adding the WatchESPN app is the beginning of a new era of Windows smartphones, all the better for competition.

RosterBot to Add Chat Feature

RosterBot, the service aimed at streamlining all team organization for youth and recreation leagues, will introduce a chat feature in January, Sports Illustrated recently reported. The feature will allow coaches, players and parents to plan pizza parties, coordinate practice schedules or share a video of the game-winning hit, an attractive tool to an already solid team management service.

“It keeps (communication) in one place, where you can read it at your leisure,” said Bret Hedican, a former NHL player and current San Jose Sharks broadcaster and RosterBot co-owner, to Sports Illustrated. “There are always things to talk about and we want all that info in one spot.”

For those that want to spend more time coaching and less time on the administrative side of the job, RosterBot is a coach’s dream come true. Coaches enter a team roster and can create events, or games, and players or parents can check off which games they will or will not be attending. The player editor lists players’ names, contact information and positions, and a coach can blast an email team-wide with one click. And with the chat feature to come, gone are the reply-all emails that chew up an inbox’s space and grind at the patience of the recipients.

Created in 2008 as an experiment by Ian Bell, RosterBot received over $1 million in seed funding, as it announced earlier this year. Former NHL player Paul Reinhart’s investing group Sora Capital led the financing and was joined by Hedican along with David Tedman, co-founder of Hootsuite. Additionally, RosterBot has partnered with Invoke Labs, which specializes at accelerating growth for startups, as it did with Hootsuite. Tedman also founded Invoke Labs.

Reinhart, a father of three hockey players — including Sam Reinhart, drafted second overall in 2014 by the Buffalo Sabres — told Beta Kit that RosterBot will become essential in all levels of sports.

“It’s a service that I certainly wish existed 15 years ago when my career as a hockey dad began,” Reinhart said.

But RosterBot’s value isn’t just for youth sports. Ever manage an adult rec league team? The biggest pain is collecting league fees from players. RosterBot will handle the bookkeeping. The app won’t count a player as active until they’ve paid their dues. And can you imagine the smack talk with the chat feature? Expletives galore.

RosterBot (free) is available for both iPhone and Android and users can also log in at to access their accounts.

(Image via RosterBot)

Building a Retrosheet Database – Part 2

Welcome back to TechGraphs’ series on building your own Retrosheet database. If you haven’t already, go back and read part one. If you are interested in actually following along on your own system, you must do some work up front, which all mentioned in that article. If you’ve made it past that point, you’re ready to actually load some baseball data.

Before I get too far into things, I should mention that much of what I will be presenting is an updated version of Colin Wyers’ article at our sister site The Hardball Times. That article is how I first learned to do this install, so many thanks are owed to him for laying down the groundwork.

(Note: a lot of these processes will take a good deal of computing resources and time. Be prepared to wait a good deal for these to complete. I would recommend doing this during a time you won’t need to do much else on your computer.)

The first step is to download the .zip file that will contain all the batch files and folder structure you will need. There are two options; one for 32-bit machines and one for 64-bit machines. The files are essentially the same, but the file paths in the scripts vary slightly. Check back with part one if you don’t know if you have a 32- or 64-bit machine. There are instructions on finding out toward the bottom of the article.

Download the proper file and extract it into a new folder on the C:\ drive called Retrosheet, so the result looks like C:\Retrosheet. Open the folder \data\zipped, and run the file get_zip_files batch file. (Note: if you don’t know, batch files are basically strings of code that tell your computer to run multiple processes all at once, saving you a whole lot of clicking.) When you run the get_zip_files file, you’ll notice a lot of scrolling text in the Command Prompt. This is a good thing. Basically, your computer is downloading all the game files from Retrosheet and unzipping them into usable files. If you back up to the \data\unzipped folder, you’ll notice all the .EVA and .EVN files that were just downloaded. This is the format Retrosheet used for their files. We’ll be using a program called Chadwick to turn these files into MySQL data. Also in that folder are three batch files — $cevent, $cwgame, and $cwsub. Running these files will parse the data through Chadwick and place the resulting .csv files in the \data\parsed directory. Run each script one time. Be patient, these processes can take some time. You can minimize the Command Prompt window, but DO NOT CLOSE IT. Closing the window ends the process, and you’ll have to clear out the parsed directory and start over again. When the window closes, the process is done and you can run the other two processes.

Now, it’s time to get our hands a little dirty with MySQL. Open the MySQL Workbench that we installed in part one. There should only be one connection to choose from at this time.


Double-click and enter the root password you created to open the workbench. The first thing we need to do is create the proper schema. A SQL schema is basically the bones of the database. It creates the tables and the fields that go into those tables. It doesn’t load the actual data, but it gets everything set up to load the data in. To create the schema, click File > Open SQL Script. Navigate out to the Retrosheet directory and open the “retrosheet table schema.sql” file. It will load the SQL commands into the workbench. In the toolbar right above all the new text, you’ll see a lightning bolt. This button runs whatever is in the editor window — in this case, our schema creation. Click the lightning bolt and let the SQL commands do their magic. When it’s all done, you’ll have to refresh your schema list to see the new Retrosheet tables. One the left-hand window, next to the word Schema, you’ll see a little refresh button. Click it, and the Retrosheet schema should now be visible.


Now, it’s time to fill those schemas. Go to File > Open SQL Script again. This time, navigate to Retrosheet\loaders. These files tell MySQL to fill those tables with the data we extracted in the previous steps. Choose events.sql, and you’ll see the SQL statement load into the workbench. Click the executing lightning bolt again and wait. Then, wait some more. You’ll have to wait for a while.


See that little circle in the tab above your SQL statement? That means a process is running. Wait until that disappears before you run the games.sql and subs.sql files.

Once the other .sql files are run, you’re all done. You’ve done it, you’ve created your very own Retrosheet database.

What exactly can you do with it? Well, I think we’ll save that for the next installment. I’ll go over some basic queries and show you just what your shiney new database can do. Until then, take your time, be confident, and don’t be afraid to sound off in the comments if you have any questions.


My Top Five Online Purchases of 2014

While Facebook does their “year in review” with everyone’s respective timelines, I’d like to take a look at the my past year’s purchases and orders in either the sports or nerdy fields, sometimes both. Given my personal interests, there should be no surprise to find soccer and baseball dominate the list. In reverse order, this is my very subjective list of my favorite online purchases from the year.

Honorable mentions:
Thrustmaster T-Flight Stick
In what is inarguably my nerdiest purchase of the year, I went out and bought a joystick controller for my computer upon learning was Star Wars: TIE Fighter was available again. I’m not sure how 9-year-old me managed to beat the game, as 27-year-old me has struggled to make it past the third battle.

NCAA Football 2006 for the Xbox/Xbox 360 top5ncaaI’ve ran the dynasty in this game almost since release day. No surprise to say I’ve worn through several discs, but this year’s replacement will probably have at least another year or two in it. When I stumbled across this game for less than six bucks via Amazon, I had to buy it.

5. An Alberto Callaspo Oakland A’s shirsey
It was the top of the 12th inning and at this point the combination of frustration and craft beer had taken its toll on me. In possibly the cruelest turn of playoff events, I made a promise to the Twitter world that if the pinch-hitting Callaspo delivered an RBI hit, I would instantly purchase his shirsey. Well, he did. I ran around my apartment excited, ordered the shirsey, and my A’s lost anyway. Que sera, sera. On an unrelated note, I may be the only man in the world to own the triple threat of shirseys with Daric Barton, Brett Anderson and Alberto Callaspo.

4. FOX Soccer 2Go
top103Probably a top-five streaming service — excluding Netflix and Amazon Prime — FOX Soccer 2Go is a very clean interface, though not particularly cheap at $119.99 for the year. The quality of the UEFA Champions league matches makes up for the price tag, however top league plays such as the Premier League and La Liga cannot be streamed. I’ll continue to support this, as top flight football fixtures are worth it me, though this may not be for everyone.

3. Two tickets to the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field

top5wrigleyWas it cold? Absolutely. Did I run late and miss out on the Federal jersey? Of course I did. All that aside, it was still a pretty incredible game, plus the view made it worth it.

wrigley100At the time my iPhone’s Passbook worked  very well, though Apple Pay wasn’t available for in-stadium purchases just yet.

The game itself was entertaining, even in the ninth inning as the Cubs blew a three run lead. The WPA chart is a sad story. At one point the Cubs held a 97.5% chance of winning. Oof.

2. A South Korea Home Jersey + Scarf
I guess I should give props to Amazon for packaging these two options together with their creepily-accurate targeted ads. I was only after the jersey, but they sucked me with a great deal on the scarf. While my home nation flamed out in the group stage — in awful fashion, too as they couldn’t score against a 10-man Belgium side and even conceded a goal up a man — this combination of team pride is something I’ll wear long into the future.

1. MLS Live
As the full version of the review states, the video-on-demand system MLS Live brings to table is the best I’ve come across. The interface is clean, the mobile app is strong on its own and best of all, the price tag for a full season is barely half of’s cost. As a league, MLS is on rise in terms of quality, plus seeing USMNT players at the club level is always grand. This is certainly an annual purchase for myself from now on.

(Header image via

Cable Bills Are Going Up In 2015 Due To Sports Programming

With the seemingly inexorable rise in the price of sports programming, it seemed inevitable that cable operators would have to charge subscribers for the privilege of watching American sports. According to Multichannel News, that time has already come with Time Warner Cable, as they have announced that they will be adding a $2.75 sports surcharge to subscribers’ bills starting in January 2015.

In the announcement, Time Warner cable claimed that the cost of cable sports programming has risen 91% since 2008, and according to Patrick Hruby of Sports on Earth, the average cost of a regional sports network has has risen 52 percent over the past five years. This is certainly conceivable with the types of TV deals being reached in the past few years, like the 9-year $24 billion NBA-ESPN deal in October of this year.

In Forbes, Maury Brown noted the irony of Time Warner’s announcement after their struggle to get distribution for SportsNet LA, the regional sports network they manage. The costs of carrying the channel jumped after they made a 25-year deal worth over $8.35 billion  to broadcast Los Angeles Dodgers games. This led to a standoff between TWC and other cable operators like DirecTV for distribution rights, leading nearly 70% of Los Angeles area residents unable to watch Dodgers broadcasts this past season.

After the Supreme Court’s ruling against cable disruptor Aereo, and with John McCain’s Television Consumer Freedom Act having little hope of passage in Congress, there doesn’t seem to be much hope for governmental intervention in the cable arena. Regardless, speculation of an approaching sports cable bubble persists. However, it will likely take years for this bubble to burst, requiring an increasing rate of cord-cutting and rising prices for cable subscribers.

(Header photo via NewYorkTrendNYC)

Milwaukee Bucks Seek Edge in Analyzing Facial Expressions

As the NBA as a whole continues its light-speed advancements in advanced data analysis, the Milwaukee Bucks are investing in the face to gain an edge in player evaluation.

As The New York Times reported Thursday, the new owners of the Bucks – hedge fund billionaries Wesley Edens and Mark Lasry – hired renowned facial coding expert Dan Hill to build an emotion metrics database in an attempt to quantify the previously unquantifiable – character, personality and chemistry.

Hill uses methods developed from the Facial Action Coding System (FACS). Published in 1979, FACS based combinations of 43 facial muscle positions which correspond to seven emotions: happiness, surprise, contempt, disgust, sadness, anger and fear. Today, FACS has been established as a computed automated system which detects faces in videos and spits out quantified data based on every smirk, furrowed eyebrow and smile a player makes.

“Actions speak louder than words,” Hill told ESPN of muscle movements in the face.

He said players that score highly in his evaluations have only a moderate degree of happiness. He doesn’t want to see players too easily satisfied, and says that it identifies coachable players. Meanwhile, players that score highly in happiness tend to become sloppy.

Hill, whose 16 years of facial analysis have mostly been for marketing and advertising, also values disgust and anger, as they show levels of drive. Of course, it all comes in moderation, as high levels of anger lead to a hot head. Finally, cocky expressions are good, while arrogance on one’s face is a bad sign.

The Bucks hired Hill — owner of Sensory Logic, Inc. in Minnesota and the author of Emotionomics — in May, and he’s already made his mark. Working alongside team psychologist Ramel Smith, Hill watched video of potential draft picks, assessed the players and reported back to Smith. The Bucks considered Australian point guard Dante Exum with their second overall pick, but ultimately grabbed Jabari Parker, who was one of the top rookies in the league before a knee injury ended his season.

“Nothing against Exum, but emotional resiliency, stability and an immediate, assured presence were all key considerations in support of selecting Parker,” Hill told the Times.

Facial coding isn’t widely accepted. Until now, more interest has come from law enforcement and anti-terrorism agencies, along with marketing, rather than academia.

“To me the big question is, how well does the method actually work?” said Martha Farah, a cognitive neuroscientist and director of the Center for Neuroscience & Society at the University of Pennsylvania, in an interview with the Times. “It’s not easy to get good evidence, because a player’s performance and teamwork are complex outcomes, and the teams are not run like clinical trials, with coaches and managers blind to the facial coding findings and so forth. So it’s hard to know whether this system works well, gives some marginal benefit or does nothing at all.”

Facial coding has made waves in another sport as well. Jeff Foster runs the NLF’s scouting combine and hired Hill in 2011 to evaluate prospects. He said Hill’s methods could be especially helpful for teams considering quarterbacks and safeties early in the draft, as those players require unusual leadership and cerebral traits difficult to project.

Washington State head coach Mike Leach had Hill evaluate players in 2012. He was just hired and wanted to know what kind of players he inherited to develop his coaching methods around.

“Someday Dan will be able to get hard data linking the face to on-the-field performance, and I don’t want to miss that,” Leach told the Times.

Not one to be behind the curve, I’m pretty sure Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow has already left Hill 17 voice messages.

(Photo via Keith Allison)

Cash in on Post-Holiday Savings for Your New Devices

There is no denying the holiday season brings a boon for the most sales industries, in particular the wireless field. With that in mind, many of the staff and readers of TechGraphs have no doubt received a device of some sort, so here today are some post-holiday season add-ons. Ranging from music to films and television to apps and video games, we have a wide assortment of free and reduced price things for you to browse.

Kicking things off with a topical, or at least seasonal, item today via the Google Play Store the entire Frozen soundtrack is free to download. All 32 tracks — I couldn’t believe there were than many either — are free today. So quite possibly for the first time in forever (I had to sneak a little play in), grab the score from the biggest grossing animated film of 2013. For a different sound, pop-punk band Pararmore has made their track “Ain’t It Fun” also free today along with nine other singles from various artists.

Of course, if you’re looking for a good read instead, H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds” is free in the Play Store as well. In lieu of classic reading, given the new year — not to mention new year’s resolutions — then check out some of the various free workout guides. Factor in the end-of-the-year sales on apps such as Runtastic Butt Trainer, no really, as well as a sleep aid app (also by Runtastic for free) and the Play Store offers plenty of options.

Not to be outdone, Amazon has offered a bevy of apps marked down to free for their Kindle tablets. Head over to their App Deals or specifically the Fire Tablets page for them. On top of the apps and games, there are more than 22,000 songs (over 45,000 if you include Prime only tracks) also available to download at no charge. If you prefer the old fashioned pages of a real magazine rather than a digital screen, now is the time to get yourself a 12-month subscription to Golf Digest, normally almost $100, now less than 20 bucks. As with many Amazon purchases, the digital version is available instantly with the paper version shipping within a few weeks.

Apple and iOS users have great options as well, including a reduced price on the instant video add-on via Coach’s Eye. Both NBA 2K15 and NHL 2K have been marked down 50% to $3.99 each. Mere days ago Apple released their list of the top free and paid apps — only viewable in iTunes unfortunately — but the list of this week’s hot apps is available as always directly on the iTunes site.

Be it a Kindle Fire HDX, an iPad Air Two, or a Nexus 8 — no matter which device you were fortunate to receive (or treat yourself to) there is no shortage of cheap and even free entertainment. Make sure you don’t miss out on the holiday specials!

(Header image via

OOTP is Looking For a New Tagline

The team behind the most stupidly addicting baseball video game in the world — Out of the Park Baseball or OOTP — is apparently looking for a new tagline:

As our stable of sports management games grows, we realized that we need a great tagline to pull them together. (Kind of like The Big Lebowski’s rug, only without the soiling part.)

We thought about it a lot, and we realized that “We Make the Best Sports Management Games on the Planet” didn’t have the right ring. Markus’ suggestion, “Bow Down Before Us,” wasn’t quite right either.

So we’re turning to you, our loyal fans. As explained in last Friday’s newsletter, we need you to send your suggestions to by midnight Eastern time on January 11, 2015. The winner will score some cool stuff.

The prize bundle is composed of blah-blah-blah and something-something never-see-your-wife-and-kids-again, but you don’t need to worry about that. Instead, offer me your best suggestions and I’ll go ahead and forward them on your behalf.

So far I’ve got:

    3) “OOTP: Video games for thinkers. And addicts.”
    2) “OOTP: Honey, stop crying. I’ll come to bed when I’m done.”
    1) “OOTP: Because graduating or seeing your kids’ first steps are hella overrated.”

There’s gotta be a winner in there somewhere!

WatchESPN is Finally Coming to DirecTV Customers

WatchESPN — ESPN’s online streaming site — has been providing access to all kinds of sporting events for some time now, but the ability to use the site has always been contingent on which cable/satellite package one subscribed to. Many of the big players like Comcast, AT&T U-Verse, and DISH already have agreements with ESPN/Disney to offer said streaming content. But anyone who had DirecTV as their television provider was left out in the cold. According to a press release from ESPN, those days will soon be over.

Thanks to a new agreement between the provider and Disney, some 39 million DirecTV customers will soon have access to WatchESPN as well as many other Disney streaming services. The deal is set to kick in sometime in early 2015. While this might be too late for this go-round of college bowl season, DirecTV customers will soon have access to a large swath of sports streaming content including NCAA basketball, NBA, the SEC and Longhorn Networks, and original ESPN programming like SportsCenter and Around the Horn on their computers and mobile devices.

It’s a little surprising that it took this long for ESPN to strike a deal with such a large television provider, but better late than never, I suppose. Download those apps, DirecTV customers. Soon you will have the span of nearly every ESPN offering in the palms of your hands. It’s a Festivus miracle!


Review: Coach’s Eye App

Sitting atop this week’s most popular Android apps is Coach’s Eye, a free app designed to give feedback and help hone skills for everything from track & field to baseball to golf to tennis. By providing on-the-fly feedback, Coach’s Eye can show tips on mechanics ranging from rotation to hand positioning.

While the app itself is free, most of the analytic tools cost either $2.99 or $3.99. The tools include packages such as the Angle Tool, Line Tool, Circle Tool and like, displaying various things on screen. There are also advertisements ranging anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds longs. However, you can remove those for $4.99.

coaches eye2

Despite the nickel-and-dime feel for certain features, Coach’s Eye does offer some incredible free features. The ability to create GIFs on your phone is awesome, and the so called “Channels” is great as well. The built-in GIF maker within Coach’s Eye takes just a few moments to turn a video clip into a GIF. Within the file size parameters you can pick when to start and end the GIF as well, thus capturing only what you want to.


Channels is a three-part listing including Staff Picks, Leaderboard and Latest video clips. Staff Picks include proper weight lifting techniques, how to make better contact on the golf course and even a Stephen Curry workout.

coaches eye stephen

The Leaderboard tab shows popular videos, occasionally with breakdowns on it. For example, a field goal kicking breakdown is available to watch.

coaches eye4

The hub labeled Latest is just that, the most recent user-created uploads. It could be a goalie on the ice, a runner on the track or someone in the batting cage. There is no shortage of uploads.

coaches eye5

Coach’s Eye brings unique and needed instant help to athletes, though some may get frustrated with the advertisements and the need to purchase add-ons to get a full feel for the app. Even just the free version is well worth the download as the Staff Picks and Leaderboard videos are great, as is the ability to create a GIF of yourself or your friends instantly.