We have all heard Marv Albert tell us that Dirk Nowitzki is “on fire” or Jack Buck tell us that Albert Pujols is “red hot” and nobody can get him out. We also hear announcers tell us the Spurs are on a hot streak, are unbeatable, and so forth. Is it true that athletes and teams encounter hot streaks, or are the observed patterns of player and team performance just randomness at work?

What Does a Random Sequence Look Like?

Let's first examine how a random sequence of 162 wins and losses appears. Let's suppose a team wins 60% of their games. To generate a random sequence of 162 games, we should make sure that in each game the team has a 0.60 chance of winning and that the chance of winning a game does not depend on the ...

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