Quantcast
Monday, March 17th, 2008 at 3:42 pm  |  73 responses

The Nerds Are Typing Again

Sadly, there is always someone willing to pay a nerd to further ruin our enjoyment of sports.

It’s been over a month since I last wrote about nerds. I’d be happy not to have to write about them again, but you know how it is; sometimes, the nerds leave you no choice. They are f*cking relentless.

I don’t know much about this Bill James guy, other than having a vague awareness of his status as something of a nerd king. He’s primarily a baseball nerd, which even admitted “baseball fan” Ben Osborne will grudgingly acknowledge — well, he probably won’t, but he should — is the worst kind of nerd. Like all nerds in the context I refer to them here, James appears incapable of appreciating sporting events as anything other than extended math problems.

I understand math is important. One of my best friends from college was a math major.* He now tutors rich New York City kids (including, I believe, Paris Hilton’s little brother’s friend!) for the SAT, which he (my friend, not Paris’ little brother’s friend) re-took a couple years ago and got a 1600 on. But the reason he and I can be friends is because he’s also funny, and because he appreciates sports on an emotional level, not a hyper-logical one.

The same seems not to apply to guys like Bill James.

Anyway, today he wrote this for Slate. At first glance, I was like, “Oh, this is kind of clever.” But then I kept reading, and a nerdy coldness crept over me like Death Itself. To his semi-credit, the guy kind of gets it:

“Why calculate when the lead is safe? The real answer is ‘because I like to.’”

This seems roughly equivalent to saying “Why do I pick my nose and roll the boogers into little balls and line them up on my nightstand? Because I like to.” At least he’s honest, I guess. But then there’s this:

I like to feel that I understand little things about sports. I like to feel that I can see the difference between a safe lead and a live contest for the same reason that I like to feel that I can recognize a zone defense and recognize a pick-and-roll.”

To which I say: Nerd. Also: That doesn’t even make sense. These aren’t remotely the same thing. Recognizing a zone defense or a pick and roll requires three things that any half-serious sports fan has: 1) eyes; 2) the mental capacity of an adult gray squirrel; 3) having spent a few hours watching and/or playing basketball.

Whereas “recognizing” when a lead is “safe,” requires things like: 1) a calculator; 2) no apparent social life; 3) an utter lack of justification for your continued existence.

The author closes with this moment of familial warmth:

My little formula, over the course of 40 years, has wormed its way into our family’s college basketball experience. Early on in every game, usually once in the first half when the score is about 23-21 and again midway through the second half, I will observe soberly, in my best faux-expert voice, that “the lead is not safe,” and my wife will look at me not only as if I were an idiot, but as if for some reason she is surprised by this. In the closing minutes of a tense game, it gets serious: “Is that it? Is the lead safe yet, Dad? How much more?” They are waiting to exhale, waiting to unbundle their nerves. They know that every time the clock stops, when I should be scoping out the cheerleaders, I am recalculating the lead in the back of my head. I’ve been doing it so long, I can do both at the same time.

The worst thing about nerds? They sometimes defy evolutionary odds and manage to procreate, this giving us yet more nerds. I guess I should give him credit for hanging out with his kids, though.

Oh, and UCLA over Carolina in the final.

———

*I realized after I wrote it that this is a variaton on what racists say when they’re trying to convince you they’re not racists: “Dude, one of my best friends is black!” This made me laugh at myself. But it’s also a cliche. So, I’ve decided that from now on, if someone accuses me of racism, I’ll say, “Dude, I have all of Jeremiah Wright’s craziest sermons on my iPod!”**

**I don’t actually have an iPod.

  • Add a Comment
  • Share
  • RSS

Tags:

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Forgot to mention: I asked DeShawn Stevenson, and he said he though Bill James was “rated right.” I know Khalid will appreciate that.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    You should have just posted that Alice in Chains comment.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com Eboy

    Nerd should have been eradicated in the 80′s right after their glorification in “Revenge Of The Nerds.” We’d still be using Commodore 64′s and playing Atari. Who needs broadband? Or Ipods? Or Facebook? Or Wii? (no scratch that) Nerds are the devil and the devil sucks s*ck.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com Eboy

    Sorry Jones, the overthinkers had me on lockdown all day.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Eboy:You collect comic books,no?

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com Eboy

    No fu*ker, I read them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    UCLA wins i agree. Not sure if UNC is the team everyone thinks they are. Also have you noticed the Slam Invitational aka K-State vs USC ?……Nerds have their uses though Jones so i would discourage all the hate. For instance, nerds make it easier for dudes like me to give women ultimatums like “oh you think i’m an as*hole?! Fine go get with some nerd dude if you want cuz i’m through!”

  • http://tadone.blogspot.com TADOne

    I’m calculating right now the chances Ryan Jones comes back with a snarky comment. It is currently at 88.1256982 percent.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Thanks for that, Khalid. I just L’d OL.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Eboy:That was a great reply,I will now lay off.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com Eboy

    Khalid has given the nerds a small amount of value. Classic! And you are both nerdish if you think UCLA is winning the whole tournament.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com Eboy

    Sorry, Izzo.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    There is only two type of men in the world-Nerds and K.Salaam.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Kevin muthaf*ckin’ Love,muthaf*cka

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    Khalid is an a**hole really better than a Nerd??

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com Eboy

    If you three think Pudgy Love is the savior in gold and blue, I think you better clear up your nerd goggles.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com Eboy

    Co Co just nerded herself with some half-ass attempt at a gangsterism towards King Khalid. :)

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    I’m not afraid of Khalid Eboy! I don’t know how to make smiley faces but…..

  • http://slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    Eboy let her know…..also i can’t believe the kevin love hate.

  • http://slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    Co Co dates nerds.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com Eboy

    I don’t hate him, Khalid, he just seems nerdy with that wannabe Bubba Sparx beard and all.

  • http://tadone.blogspot.com TADOne

    StuffWhitePeopleLike #87- Kevin Love.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    There’s nothing wrong with Nerds. Although me and my girl friends like to call them “slightly lame” as opposed to nerds

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com Eboy

    Co Co= nerd lover. And don’t try that reverse physcology sh*t with us either Co Co “well, I love all YOU guys.” We are WAY ahead of the nerd curve. :)

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    I don’t discriminate. Discriminating in the dating world is how you end up alone!

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Kevin Love

  • http://tadone.blogspot.com TADOne

    So you are saying I have a chance!

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com Eboy

    Fuc*ing love lorne nerds!!!!!!!

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    Of course you have a chance Tad!

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    …….

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com Eboy

    Oh god………..bleechhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    Don’t hate Eboy!

  • peter

    speaking of nerds calculating unnecessary things about sports did you see John Hollinger’s column on which records will be broken by which current players? ridiculous

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com Eboy

    I’m just mad cause I can’t get no love, Co Co, plus I’m not quite nerdy enough for you anyway, I’m sure.

  • http://slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    co co loves nerds but maybe nerds don’t love her? HHmm…Love is a good player. Boxes out, rebounds in traffic, passes well, has a post game, has a decent outside shot, intimidates and runs the floor well. whats wrong with that??

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com Eboy

    John Hollinger is the Master of Ceromonies in the Nerd Parade.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    That’s not true Khalid. I attract slightly lame guys all the time! Hahaha!

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com Eboy

    I like the dude, King K, for real. I prefer Hansborogh because of the Carolina thing but that’s just the East Coast nerd thing in me.

  • http://tadone.blogspot.com TADOne

    Eboy’s a hater.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Kevin Love is the most under-appreciated player in any form of basketball today.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com Eboy

    Fu*k you, nerd!

  • http://tadone.blogspot.com TADOne

    By whom izzo? The 4 letter word loves him.

  • http://slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    Love is better than psycho t.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com Eboy

    Pyscho T is nerdiest nickname EVER!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    I like Psycho T better Khalid. He’s cuter.

  • http://tadone.blogspot.com TADOne

    But Hansbrough can actually play more than 5 minute spurts without having to come out because he is out of breath.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Jake Appleman

    I LOL’d while reading this column.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    TAD:I think when people talk about Beasely,Gordon and Rose they should be talking about Love also but they don’t.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Hansbrough probably eats nerds as a part of his muscle gaining diet.

  • http://tadone.blogspot.com TADOne

    I hear you izzo. But all 3 of those players have much better NBA prospects than Love.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Bill James is the Nerdfather. Guys like Hollinger and Berri and Billy Beane and them are just his chil’ren. P.S. F*ck math.

  • maio

    Somebody could use a visit from Triumph, the insult comic dog.

  • http://nothinpersonal8.blogspot.com/ nothin personal

    Yeah, f@ck physics and Biology too! and that guy, darwin, always got onn my nerves. Homer Simpson for President, Or George W… Wait a minute…

  • http://www.myspace.com/hemantsbeats what

    If this wasn’t the greatest article in the history of Slamonline, it’s in the top 5. You should print out 5000 copies of this every day and send it to John Hollinger.

  • http://fjsdklf.com Jukai

    … so nobody but me has Memphis to win it all?

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I gotta go with my heart and pick UNC.

  • adams

    Spending all day refreshing a web page to read the latest comments is nerd behavior. Hypocrites.

  • David

    I disagree with the idea that sports and intelligence (in things other than sports) are opposite forces. I think that’s a terrible concept that’s given too much credit in pop culture. What I think is nerdy about this person Ryan’s blasting is the way that he’s trying to glorify his trivial thinking. Nerds are just people with poorly developed social skills; sometimes they’re intelligent, sometimes they’re just awkward.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Here Ryan baits me in the beginning of his column and it takes me all day to respond. Sorry, dude. But of course I disagree with it anyway. I interviewed Bill James and Rob Neyer for a piece I was writing for the Village Voice about baseball statheads in 2001 (it was killed; truth was I was ahead of my time in recognizing the wave that was coming) and I greatly enjoyed talking to both of them. They were both fine conversationalists, and Neyer and I even talked some hoops. He was a big Kansas City Kings fan in the day, and I put him on the SLAM comp list. I think Rob finally moved and got taken off, but for at least 3 or 4 years, possibly extending into the period that Ryan was editor-in-chief, Rob Neyer was a SLAM reader. That is a delicious irony to me. By the way, I was always horrible at math, so maybe it’s a grudging respect I give some of these guys. Also, Ryan and I do agree on one thing: UCLA is winning it all.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Also, I love David’s (the commenter above me) first two sentences.

  • David

    Thanks Ben. I shouldn’t have done it, but I actually resisted using the term “mutually exclusive” in those sentences because I didn’t want to catch any nerd-hate…

  • KA

    neeeeeeeeeeeeeerds!!!!!!!!!

  • Winslowalrob

    Ryan Jones = Genius. Maybe even some kind of super-Nerd in disguise…

  • Jimmy G

    I can see either UNC or UCLA not making it past the first week. Both teams have a tendency to play down to their competition.

    I got the Vols in the East (they owe me for that OSU loss last year) and UConn in the west.

  • rvr

    gee guys, try to cover up your envy of nerds much?

    things you wouldn’t have if not for nerds:
    slam *ONLINE*
    bracket games
    these comments
    half of what you use in sports arguments

    sorry, nerds have already taken over the world. you all just live in it.

  • rvr

    **damn comment formatting (lack thereof)**

    gee guys, try to cover up your envy of nerds much?

    things you wouldn’t have if not for nerds:
    slam *ONLINE*
    bracket games
    these comments
    half of what you use in sports arguments

    sorry, nerds have already taken over the world. you all just live in it.

  • rvr

    argh! i give up. can someone fix paragraph returns on this thing? someone call a nerd!

  • Slobodan Chutzpah

    I think Ryan needs a cookie.

  • http://www.friendster.com/sesa Sesa

    Ryan, why don’t you say “First!”? It’s your own article anyway.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    These are good comments.

  • baker’s dozen (12-13)

    The forumla doesn’t work for the Nuggets vs. Utah back in 1993 when the Nuggs were down by 9 with 8 seconds left and Rodney Rogers drilled 3 three pointeres to tie the game…of course the Nuggs lost with a last second layup. :( Maye it does work?
    Does being a grad student focusing on Database ARchitecture make me a nerd, too?

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I’ve got five words for your “safe” leads, Mr. Bill James: Tracy McGrady and Reggie Miller. NO LEAD IS SAFE UNTIL THE CLOCK READS 0:00.00. Do numbers have a place in sports? No doubt. Can you judge an athlete (or a game) strictly by the numbers? Hell no.

  • Pingback: SLAM ONLINE | » Friday Stupidity with The Farmer

Advertisement