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The W - Movies & TV - Numb3rs, 3-8 "Hardball"
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Since: 10.12.01
From: Aurora, IL

Since last post: 11 days
Last activity: 19 hours
#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 10.00
This week's episode of Numbers - a show I believe myself and maybe CRZ only watch, and I can't even rationalize why I'm watching - was able baseball stats. I couldn't resist writing about the show while I watched, taking notes that would only make sense if you were watching the same part I was, even if that's the most useless way to do it. Sorry.

Once I saw the previews, I knew this was going to be a very special show for me. So I kinda typed while watching it.

They were playing a baseball game - without wearing jerseys? Without wearing logos? Without wearing Numb3rs? How lazy is the costume director for this show - I'm sure there are a dozen affiliated and independent teams within shouting distance who would've bent over backwards to give them gear.

Also, was that supposed to be a baseball game with 12 people at it. I've been to baseball games with 12 people at them, and they are not sunny days with kids running around, let me tell you. Though I guess I've never see games with 12 people and a guy dying.

The photos they showed of Vic Johnson (aka dead guy) actually had him in a jersey with a team name on it - "COUGARS", hmmmmmmmmmmmm - and a logo on his cap, so what happened? They only bother to do one mock uniform?

Then they give his career synopsis
- drafted by the A's at 18 - I guess he's a hitter so that's possible without some sort of wall incident
- one of the best players in the AL for the next six years - highly unlikely he'd be in the AL at 18 and it goes down hill from there
- injured off and on two years - actually, that sounds like a guy who's name rhymes with Vic Johnson
- and back in the minors after - uh, no.

If you're the best player in the league for six years, you could go Ricky Williams, and someone would still want to sign you two years later, when you're still only 26. Plus you've probably already signed a big free agent deal with someone after those six years (team loses rights to a player after six years, and lord knows the A's wouldn't be able to afford him), and they're not going to be able to justify your $10 million salary when you're playing in Fremont a minor league city. They really should've gone "he was in the minors on to rehab from an injury."

The idea of a baseball statistical formula to determine if someone was taking steroids is patently ridiculous. Why would someone bother? You'd get the same accuracy by simply looking at his power (and on base) numbers and any weight gain. Charlie probably should know better (but as it turns out, can't for this episode to work.)

"Baseball Math?!?!?" Yea, crazy talk, White, Slightly Dumber, FBI Guy. At least they had someone say sabermetrics who wasn't Charlie, as if was a crazy math thing never talked about.

While they explain how deadly the drug the dead guy took is, I wonder if they're going to bring up that the minor leagues are drug tested. I'm thinking no.

Hey, it's Bill Nye! Bill Nye's looking a little hard nowadays. Long stories which are just pointless digressions, CHECK. I finished Fantasyland last month (it worried me early but was great in it's insanity - and insights on Jacque Jones), so I know enough to point out sabermetrics and fantasy baseball are at a distance, but that's a nuisance I wouldn't fairly expect here. The way the two terms are used as synonyms is a bit worrisome.

No one on the team liked him, but his agent's a swell guy? Obviously we're dealing in fiction. And the whole "he'd be out of baseball forever and ever because he's had SURGERIES" doesn't ring true if he was actually that good to begin with. How'd he be a near free agent and be in AAA? If he really was on the A's, Beane would've flipped him! Maybe the A's signed him to a three year deal in his fifth season, which would make him a free agent after this season, but they had traded him already - let's say to the Blue Jays - and maybe then he's in bad shape, because he's coming off two bad years and being ditched by at least two different organizations, though I still believe he'd get plenty of minor league offers at the minimum. And there's another problem - if he was doing so well in the minor leagues right now, why wasn't he called back up? If this was near the end of the season, as implied, there'd be plenty of room to take a chance on a hot hitter with good past history. Maybe the owners knew he was on THE DRUGS and they didn't want him. Maybe I should unpause my TV. Maybe.

He's 24! He could've worked at Home Depot! He was not dead if he didn't make in baseball. How dumb.

Back to the Field Of No Names. Oh, we're in a fictional universe with no testing without cause, and also coaches apparently helping stick the needle when asked. That's not unfair at all.

Hey, it's an agent. Amazingly, he's got his hair slicked back. No way he'll turn out to be totally evil. Oh no, only 33K a year! How horrible! This is one great agent, apparently telling his client to not save a dime of the money he's made in the last eight years, because they're going places! The agent is all about the money. Shocking.

There's 0 chance hasn't been registered by the time I got this far - hey, CBS was smart enough to grab it advance. Is that a hardballtimes reference? Is Aaron Gleeman killing people? This would explain the trips he can't talk about! Walking and explaining, check


Not the mystical steroid formula. The big explanation which doesn't explain much, CHECK - this was noticeable bad. God no, not Shoeless Joe Jackson. What are you doing to me? Yea, Jackson hit well, but he played defense bad (yes, you can play defense bad and not get errors, watch a game some time) - read Neyer's column for the quickest explanation I can find. and that's his question. This show has gone 15 minutes, I've written too much, and I hate the world.

"I gathered stats from players generally believed to have used steroids" - uh huh. So many problems. Is "thrown bats" a stat in the new Bill James book? I like how we're now to believe some guy put a formula that accurately determine steroid use (even among minor league players who'd be injured for two years and good before it!), and no one had found it. Why?

The deadline for "the" winter fantasy draft? Couldn't you say "his"? That'd be a million times less annoying.

If you're a super genius, and you don't know just to walk around your neighborhood to find free WiFi and end up going to a public place - well, you're not a super genius in my book. SKATEBOARDING! EXTREME! Apparently he's in the X-Games in between his 18 fantasy baseball leagues. Apparently little Tokyo is big on guardrails. Apparently I type apparently a lot. Of course dumber white FBI guy shows his cuffs instead of his badge to prove he's FBI. Perhaps next time, he'll use his gun.

At least stat geek is wearing a hoodie. KEEPIN' IT REAL. Horrible attempts at sarcastic humor, that's pretty accurate. All these people are supposed to be smart, and yet no one seems to have realized if the FBI found it on the internet, couldn't have anyone? "I didn't show it to anyone"? Hello, the Internet!

Somewhere along the line, I wandered into a showing of Good Will Hunting. "I learned from library books". He doesn't even have a GED! It's not your fault!

I think we're getting the inspiring conversation with the father, but instead it's the childhood memory - no, it's both.

I love how the math teacher teaches once every nine weeks. Yes, of course he hinted he knew things, no stat guy can keep it quiet how much they actually know. The fantasy baseball geek is hyper protective about his stat work, and even his close friends getting it, and he leaves his unprotected laptop laying around? Right.

Dave Roberts hit .277 for the Dodgers in 2002, so someone went to the bargain bin to get a 2003 game. If I cared more, I'd track down which game based on the screen shot, but eh. Too bad he only got three pitches into the game before being killed. Or whatever, I guess not dead yet.

Walking and talking for no reason, once again. Talk about continuing storylines we're not actually continuing this week, check. Hey, there's the dead body. So the game just kept playing for days? That must've been annoying.

His e-mail address is tough to track because he used a lot of different cyber cafes? His IP address, sure, but I don't see people creating new e-mail addresses every time they want to send an e-mail - there are far easier ways to be secure. (Maybe this was some simplified anonymizer discussion?) This is odd. And they can pull all his e-mails up, because this is crime solving on TV and things just work like that.

Yea, there's nothing stat people like to do better than read random stats. "My fantasy minor league team"? Coincidence or makes no sense, I'm not sure. It's another throw away line that would've been edited or dropped or clarified if someone who did fantasy baseball was actually paying attention.

"A lot of these people end up working for teams", uh huh. Bill James mention, check. Wait, did the math professor actually ask the fantasy geek "project how my brother would do if he was hopped up on goofballs", and they didn't show that? What a horrible show. Sure can gleam a lot from stat notes jotted down while watching your brother's baseball games - I wish my box scores were this informative (and that well persevered; gotta get back scanning them in.)

Evil drug maker, how nice. At least he knows how obvious this conversation is.

Steroids are bad for you, check. At least they actually decently explain what they're actually doing. Apparently Black FBI Agent has never ever read anything about steroids. This is at least better than all the anti-steroids commercials. THEY CATCH AN EVIL DOCTOR IN THE PROCESS OF SHOOTING SOMEONE UP! What luck. This show is super. Perhaps they shouldn't have telegraphed by stressing how completely legal what they were about to do was.

They sure found out a lot info about kids who were taking steroids on their own - why do they need the doctor?

It sure is easy to get people to confess to felonies on this show.

They actually said IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT. I'm back to loving this show. "You're Good Will Hunting, not me." It ruins the joke when you actually explain it, but I guess he sorta had to if they were going to riff off it. They're walking away from each other and we linger on them for far too long, surely no one's about to die. Oh no! Fantasy Baseball Drive By Shooting! Why is he wearing a hat on a sunny California day, anyway? The real danger is death by heat stroke.

"I almost get shot, and you guys react by doing a lot of math." Yes, welcome to the show. That's how I roll? Not with that phrase. They really did take hours to figure out the obvious? I'd believe it.

Another easy confession. So who actually did it?

The agent of course. Good of him to join the 12 people again, so they can get one more scene out of their stadium budget. Wait, the agent was murdering and drive by shooting people by himself? He couldn't hire out? What good is an agent who can't find people to do things you don't want to do? No wonder his players were all juicing - they must've been the dumb ones.

They get ESPN Classic on old punch button TVs? That's new. Minor league teams are hiring statisticians? Riiight.

He always wanted to be an FBI agent, awww, how sweet. I wish I had a drink to swallow this.

SUMMARY: A predictable criminal procedural story, how predictable. In a lot of the episodes, I don't feel like I know enough to know for certain if the wacky math techniques they're using actually work as they're pushing them, and usually figure it's close enough to give the benefit of the doubt. Here, since I knew what they were talking about (unhealthily well) and they made it the centerpiece of the episode, and it was completely implausible, it didn't work so well. Maybe this show is better when they're talking over your heads, and the math has a bit of magic to it.

After teasing the fantasy geek as a reoccurring character throughout, at least they explained why he wouldn't be by sending him off to do FBI work somewhere else, so there's a reason he's never mentioned after this episode. (Though this show is better about that than others.)

I still don't get how the FBI was easily able to track down this formula and trace it back to the fantasy geek in the first 10 minutes of the episode, and then doing the same exact thing became impossible the rest of the show. Either I'm missing something, or they forget to explain something.

They really needed someone who was familiar with fantasy baseball or sabermetrics to vet some of what they were doing. Or they needed to actually listen to that guy.

Also, this show needed more Navi Rawat. And I'm a dork for doing this, thanks for pointing it out. - CMLLBlog
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Ruby Trax
Summer sausage

Since: 10.12.01
From: The KZiM Tower

Since last post: 3573 days
Last activity: 1287 days
#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.21
Ohhhhhh Cubs, you're the man now dawg.

Did anyone say "algorithm" this week? I guess if I'm still sober, that's a no.

I am made of blue sky and golden light, and I will feel this way forever.
Big Brother

Since: 9.12.01
From: ミネアポリス

Since last post: 5 days
Last activity: 21 hours
#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 9.00
00:09:53 seeourzed: I thought it was just a scrimmage or something (Kim is cracking up)
00:10:11 cbsfan12: There were umpires!
00:10:24 seeourzed: Ummm it was a simulated something
00:10:24 cbsfan12: And even in scrimmage, why wouldn't they have team gear on?
00:10:34 seeourzed: Broke ass minor league team?
00:10:42 cbsfan12: "Well boys, our clubhouse guy lost the uniforms, so we're going down to Sports Authority today."
00:10:51 seeourzed: What's more important is there are no Stockton Rangers - they were the Ports (then the Mudville Nine)
00:10:52 cbsfan12: major league team pays for it
00:11:34 seeourzed: Also I think you can get ESPN Classic on an old TV with the right cable box
00:11:38 seeourzed: I had something else but I already forgot it
00:12:24 cbsfan12: I didn't see a cable box. They could've watching something else, but it was so "random archival baseball footage for no reason", I had to complain about it. I bet they were reusing some footage from that The Clubhouse show from last season which lasted five episodes.
00:13:07 seeourzed: I was more worried that there was a broken lamp on the office floor for...well, presumably it's still there actually
00:14:20 cbsfan12: I would guess a TA we never see, who also teaches the classes we never see, cleaned it up.

As young as
he feels

Since: 11.12.01
From: China, Maine

Since last post: 19 days
Last activity: 3 hours
#4 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.30

    Originally posted by thecubsfan
    SUMMARY: A predictable criminal procedural story, how predictable. In a lot of the episodes, I don't feel like I know enough to know for certain if the wacky math techniques they're using actually work as they're pushing them, and usually figure it's close enough to give the benefit of the doubt. Here, since I knew what they were talking about (unhealthily well) and they made it the centerpiece of the episode, and it was completely implausible, it didn't work so well. Maybe this show is better when they're talking over your heads, and the math has a bit of magic to it.

I think you are correct. My wife and I didn't pick up watching this show again this season, but when we saw the ads hyping this week's show, she turned to me and said "oh, no!" My eyes lit up in anticipation. I think I will now not watch this episode and tape over it quickly.

Thanks for such an in-depth analysis of this show. I think I would say these nearly exact same things to my wife as we watched it and she would get pissy and divorce me. Thanks for saving my marriage, cubs.

Gabba Gabba Hey!
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No present-day Roy talking head made me worried that he might be dead. (Probably looking too much into that one.) Really? Even though he was able to show enough maturation to realize he shouldn't take his movie so seriously?
- AlbySure, Threat Level Midnight (2011)
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