Cover of The Wages of Wins by David J. Berri, Martin B. Schmidt, and Stacey L. Brook
The Wages of Wins
Taking Measure of the Many Myths in Modern Sport
David J. Berri, Martin B. Schmidt, and Stacey L. Brook


304 pp.



**Named of one of Princeton University's Noteworthy Books in Industrial Relations for 2006**

Arguing about sports is as old as the games people play. Over the years sports debates have become muddled by many myths that do not match the numbers generated by those playing the games. In The Wages of Wins, the authors use layman's language and easy to follow examples based on their own academic research to debunk many of the most commonly held beliefs about sports.

In this updated version of their book, these authors explain why Allen Iverson leaving Philadelphia made the 76ers a better team, why the Yankees find it so hard to repeat their success from the late 1990s, and why even great quarterbacks like Brett Favre are consistently inconsistent. The book names names, and makes it abundantly clear that much of the decision making of coaches and general managers does not hold up to an analysis of the numbers. Whether you are a fantasy league fanatic or a casual weekend fan, much of what you believe about sports will change after reading this book.

About the author

David J. Berri is Associate Professor of Economics at California State University, Bakersfield. Martin B. Schmidt is Associate Professor of Economics at the College of William and Mary. Stacey L. Brook is Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Sioux Falls.

"When I read the book, I was impressed by the amount of effort that went into compiling the reams of data that underlie the work . . . The fundamental case the authors make is that the statistical analysis shows that the conventional wisdom about sports is dead wrong—that the data as the put it, "offers many surprises."

—Joe Nocera, The New York Times

"In The Wages of Wins, the authors attempt to puncture some popular myths—saying that payroll and wins are not highly correlated, and that in baseball, football.attendance hasn't been significantly affected by players strikes or owner lockouts."

—Sue Kirchhoff, USA Today

"In The Wages of Wins, the economists David J. Berri, Martin B. Schmidt, and Stacey L. Brook set out to solve the Iverson problem. Weighing the relative value of fouls, rebounds, shots taken, turnovers, and the like, they've created an algorithm that, they argue, comes closer than any previous statistical measure to capturing the true value of a basketball player . . . Looking at the findings that Berri, Schmidt, and Brook present is enough to make one wonder what exactly basketball experts—coaches, managers, sportswriters—know about basketball."

—Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker

"Wages is provocative, stimulating and challenging."

—Dick Friedman, Sports Illustrated

"It is one thing when an obnoxious fan or sports talk show blowhard spouts off about who is the best player or why a certain team doesn't win games. It is quite another thing when three economics professors, which the authors of this book are, who love sports give you proof to back up their arguments. Not many casual basketball fans would agree that Allen Iverson isn't a very productive player, but the authors have the data to show otherwise. It is hard to argue when the cold hard facts are in front of your face... The Wages of Wins is a very important book in the field of sports economics and a very enjoyable and thought provoking read. It leaves you wanting a sequel to it (which, luckily, the writers hint at)."

"Sports fans with an analytical bent shouldn't skip this book. And come to think of it, perhaps sports executives should be reading it as well."

The Free Lance-Star

"This book presents complex economic analysis in a breezy manner that the casual sports fan and econophobe will appreciate and enjoy. I plan to assign it to students and recommend it to friends."

—Michael Leeds, Temple University, and author of The Economics of Sports

"The Wages of Wins provides some of the most intelligent yet readable sports analysis I've seen in a long time. Call it Freakonomics meets ESPN."

—Alan Schwarz, author, The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination with Statistics

"It is impossible to properly evaluate the performance of professional sports teams today without examining the financial aspects of the business. In The Wages of Wins, authors David Berri, Martin Schmidt, and Stacey Brook take the reader behind the scenes and into the financial world that quite often determines the difference between success and failure. As the writers state, 'Sports come with numbers.' And with dollar signs. This book provides an interesting perspective to what helps determines the story behind wins and losses."

—Fred Claire, former L.A. Dodger General Manager, author of Fred Claire: My 30 Years in Dodger Blue

"Buy this book if you never want to lose an office water cooler debate again."

—Darren Rovell, author, First in Thirst: How Gatorade Turned The Science of Sweat Into a Cultural Phenomenon

"Take me out to the ball game. Even for an ex-fan of the Boston Red Sox traumatized by the 1967 and 1975 World Series, The Wages of Wins is captivating. Women: read the book and stump your husbands in a sports argument! Then give the book for Christmas. It's what economics should be like—freakonomics, Marshallian economics, substantive significance, or just oomph—call it whatever you want. But it's science, and science is interesting. Most of what economists write these days is not science, and is boring. Berri, Schmidt, and Brook are sports nuts, true. But they've set a new standard for economic science, interesting science. Maybe there's something to this combining of passion with quantitative curiosity. Just maybe."

—Deirdre McCloskey, Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago, and author of The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce

"Not just a book for thinking sports fans, but something more. A book that can turn any fan into a thinking sports fan."

—Allen Barra, Wall Street Journal, author of Brushbacks and Knockdowns : The Greatest Baseball Debates of Two Centuries

"Certainly, the mathematically minded gambler will be able to make use of some of the theories put forward, while those not so savvy will at least be in for an interesting read . . . We recommend The Wages of Wins to gamblers and sports fans who are looking to learn more about the economics of sport."