“Jeopardy!” + “Moneyball” = $$$$

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I roll with a bunch of nerds, so I know all kinds of people who have been on “Jeopardy!” My former boss. A former coworker. A couple of sportswriters I know. Even a long time HBT commenter.

I once took and passed the test for the talent search but they never called me to be on the show. One person there suggested that I wasn’t going to do very well on television because I fidgeted with the buzzer too much in the audition. The producers at NBC SportsTalk can decide if they know more than the “Jeopardy!” people on that score, but they do tell me I talk with my hands too much. Damn.

Anyway, I only bring all of this up because some guy did really, really well on “Jeopardy!” recently, and he credited “Moneyball” for his success:

“It wasn’t even about the money,” Craig says. “I felt that my systems and my methods were sort of validated.”

That system? A computer program unlike any other, custom-built to study Jeopardy! for patterns.

Craig says it works like Moneyball — a reference to the book and movie about the statistical techniques used by legendary Oakland Athletics coach Billy Beane to build a winning baseball team. Craig’s system also relied heavily on statistics.

Trivia hounds today. Stuck in their mother’s basement. If they’d get their heads out of a spreadsheet and compete in a quiz bowl once in a while ….

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves