FiveThirtyEight Launches Podcast on the Sports Stars Who Were “Ahead of Their Time”

ESPN Digital

FiveThirtyEight Launches Podcast on the Sports Stars Who Were “Ahead of Their Time”

Today FiveThirtyEight is launching the first episode of “Ahead of Their Time,” a new limited mini-series of sports audio documentaries about the athletes and coaches who weren’t appreciated in their era, but who, when examined through the lens of modern analytics, can be better appreciated. Hosted by senior sportswriter Neil Paine, the series will introduce a new episode every Thursday for the next five weeks and will be available on FiveThirtyEight’s “Hot Takedown” feed.

Titled “The Shift: Conquering Ted Williams,” the inaugural episode depicts how the return of the defensive shift in baseball, which stumped Hall of Famer Ted Williams, was the result of an analytics revolution. Its return, after a 70-year hiatus, set off a war at the heart of America’s national pastime.

Future episodes include:

From Russia (to Winnipeg) with Love (Oct. 20): The story of Mike “Russian Studies PHD” Smith, the NHL’s Russian revolution and how one team in rural Canada changed North American hockey forever.

English Soccer’s Snake Oil Salesman (Oct. 27): How one man pioneered analytics in soccer, invented the long ball style and helped ruin the English national team for a generation.

Lending a Hand (Nov. 3): The story of Peaches Bartkowicz and Chris Evert, the two women who pioneered the two-handed backhand in tennis, but whose careers went in very different directions.

The Cunningham Conundrum (Nov. 10): This is the story of an NFL player with unlimited potential who never found his true element, and what modern analytics tells us about Randall Cunningham’s underappreciated brilliance.

FiveThirtyEight, which launched as an ESPN entity in 2014, is a data journalism organization delivering compelling stories across the verticals of politics, economy, science, life and sports. The site, founded by award-winning author and statistician Nate Silver, first gained national attention during the 2008 presidential election, when it correctly predicted the results of the presidential election in 49 of 50 states, along with all 35 U.S. Senate races. Since its debut at ESPN, FiveThirtyEight has built a team with a broad set of skills and experiences in order to apply statistical analysis, data visualization, and data-literate reporting to topics in the news and in everyday life.


Ana Livia Coelho

Ana Livia Coelho is a Senior Publicist in New York, overseeing FiveThirtyEight as well as ESPN’s Consumer Marketing, Ad Sales, Affiliate Sales, Consumer Products and Research groups. She is a native Brazilian and a graduate of the Indiana University School of Journalism and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
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