Game of Nerds
Hollywood tends to lack subtlety. This isn't particularly surprising. As such, your usual Hollywood Nerd is completely cut off from the more mundane concerns of the average person. More specifically, he doesn't like sports. At all. On Super Bowl Sunday he curls up with The Confessions of St. Augustine. During March Madness he passes his time at Shakespeare in the Park performances. He thinks college football is an abomination that completely ruins the academic system. He scoffs at sports. Except... Baseball. Our nerd (or "seamhead", as he may proudly label himself) adores America's pastime. He can tell you who led the Federal League in on-base percentage in 1915 (Benny Kauff). He can quote Bob Gibson's 1968 ERA (1.12). He can name the entire starting lineup of the 1995 Atlanta Braves team that won the World Series.lineup This nerd likely has a massive baseball card collection and surrounds himself with books on the game. If the writers aren't particularly subtle, the nerd will be primarily obsessed with statistics and have no real passion for the game itself and the disconnect may be highlighted by a Gretzky Has the Ball type comment. A more committed nerd, however, will frequently have a game on the television and will speak eloquently about the sport's beauty to his friends. Basically, geniuses love baseball. This is Truth in Television. Just ask baseball fans. The nature of the game lends itself to easily analyzable statistics (a baseball game is basically a series of discrete, independent events, as opposed to the inter-connected ebb and flow of many other sports), while advances in computing power have made those stats even easier to break down and the rise of the Internet has made them easy to acquire, often at no cost. Even before the rise of sabermetrics, or the analysis of baseball statistics, the game was popular among poets, novelists, and other literary and intellectual types due to its leisurely pace, rich history, and pastoral, agrarian mythos. If the writer himself isn't that much into baseball, this will be guaranteed to be a case of Artistic License – Sports. In England, Australia, and many other former British colonies, Cricket performs the same function. Uncoincidentally, a major part of the original inspiration for the rules of baseball was cricket. A subtrope of Pastimes Prove Personality. No relation to the Internet trivia game of the same name. Or to nerds playing board games.
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- In the Marvel Universe, Reed Richards has mused on how the Baseball team that is better statistically (even within one game) doesn't always win.
- Similarly, Spider-Man, the classic superhero nerd, is a Mets fan. Besides that he's from the Mets' home borough of Queens, there is no way that Spider-Man, champion of the underdog, the struggling survivor, the ne plus ultra of perseverance, would ever root for the Yankees.
- Kitty Pryde of the X-Men, in addition to being an engineering and computer genius, has characterized her never-give-up attitude several times by saying "I'm a Cubs fan!" (she was born and raised in Deerfield, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago).
- Jason of FoxTrot tries to relate to his father and brother by getting into sports. Being a complete nerd, he mostly does this by memorizing pages and pages of baseball stats.
- Terrence Mann in Field of Dreams.
- In the third Honey, I Shrunk the Kids film, Honey We Shrunk Ourselves, Adam finally convinces Wayne to let him go to Baseball camp instead of Science camp. Where Wayne discovers he enjoys the statistics of the game.
- Averted in Kevin Smith's films; his characters talk about Star Wars and Comics, but the only sport they seem to care about is Hockey.
- In the film Moneyball, based on a popular true-story baseball book, Oakland general manager Billy Beane relies on a method devised by baseball nerd Peter Brandt to make a winning team using statistics.
- In A Few Good Men (written by future Moneyball screenwriter Aaron Sorkin), Lt. Kaffee is shown watching baseball on TV in two different scenes.
- Catalina Caper has dorky, bespectacled henchman Larry constantly going on about baseball.
- In City Slickers, baseball is a big deal for the main characters. It's shown as a major difference between men and women, and a bonding theme for the guys:
Bonnie: “I like baseball. I just never understood how you guys can spend so much time discussing it... I’ve been to games, but I don’t memorize who played third base for Pittsburgh in 1960...”
Mitch, Ed and Phil, simultaneously: “Don Hoak.”
- Bobby Thomson's pennant-winning home run ball from the 1951 Giants/Dodgers playoff series (when both teams were based in New York) serves as a MacGuffin in Don Deliilo's novel Underworld. Delillo also wrote an early novel about football, End Zone.
Live Action Television
- Subverted by Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory. He knows everything about American football, because his father forced him to learn it when he was a child (which makes sense, since he grew up in Texas). Sheldon, of course, has an eidetic memory, and so can tell you exactly who won the Superbowl in, say, 1983. note
- In one episode of CSI, Grissom tells Sara he's a baseball fan, explaining that it's a "beautiful game." Never before that point, and never after, did he express a fondness for the game.
- William Petersen puts a lot of himself into the role of Gil Grissom, including his own love of baseball (He is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, and has sung the 7th inning stretch on at least a couple of occasions, and has thrown out the first pitch at least once.
- Grissom's love of baseball is referenced when Sara returns in season ten and uses a baseball metaphor, to Catherine's surprise. Sara had apparently picked up some of Grissom's habits after they got married.
- Dr. Larry Fleinhardt in NUMB3RS is a Dodgers fan. Furthermore, an entire episode deals with sabermetrics.
- Averted in the case of Charlie, who is a professor of mathematics and a mean basketball player.
- Don was also an accomplished player, although not quite good enough for the pros, before joining the FBI. Charlie also played Little League at one point but wasn't quite as good as his brother.
- Step by Step has an episode where Mark has his siblings try to corner him with impossible questions about baseball, where he is an expert. Eventually, they get him on "why do they call it an inning?"
- Saturday Night Live parodied George Will (see Real Life, below) and his baseball nerddom by having him host a baseball trivia game show where all the questions were floridly pretentious ("The precarious balance between infield and outfield suggests a perfect symmetry. For $50, identify the effect of that symmetry.") Celebrity contestants Tommy Lasorda and Mike Schmidt were completely baffled.
- The X-Files: Fox Mulder is a huge baseball fan. One episode revolves around this, where he tracks down an alien hybrid whom he found a picture of while perusing old baseball statistics.
- He reveals that he and his sister used to play baseball when they were children.
- Scully averts this trope, however. At the end of the above baseball-themed episode, Mulder asks her if she'd ever hit a baseball, to which she replied that she had found better things to do with her time than "slap a piece of horsehide with a stick." This is pretty unbelievable, given her childhood as a tomboy with two brothers, but it gives a nice set up for Mulder "teaching" her how to play.
- Chris Carter, incidentally, is a Real Life trope example, to the point where he named the character of Dana Scully after long-time Dodgers announcer Vin Scully.
- In an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, an astrophysicist was a huge fan of baseball, partly because of the statistics—with the way it works, he notes, you can run an entire game in your head.
- Several episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine centered around Ben Sisko's love of baseball, most notably "Take Me Out To The Holosuite". Unfortunately, in the rest of the Star Trek universe, baseball is pretty much dead.
- Jason Gideon of Criminal Minds skips a Super Bowl party for a private viewing at the Smithsonian, but is (or was) so dedicated to Nellie Fox that an UnSub once sent him his rookie card as a clue. (Long, long story.)
- In Kagaku Sentai Dynaman, all the (Texas?) rangers are scientists of some sort. Their costumes are designed to resemble baseball uniforms, though according to background on the series, this is because the show was originally much more sports-themed in the planning stages.
- Jacob of Taken enjoys baseball, claiming to enjoy the unpredictable nature of the game (which, considering he's psychic, would be a nice change). His daughter thinks it's because the game is full of useless statistics he can memorise, fitting more with the trope.
- Inverted on Eureka, where non-nerd Jack Carter is the baseball nut, and his attempt to start a town baseball team is not initially popular. They wind up starting a VR Baseball league instead.
- Joan Watson of Elementary is a baseball fan. Sherlock isn't as crazy about it, but enjoys the "statistical analysis" - so when Joan refuses to leave for dinner early at the bottom of the ninth, he does a Sherlock Scan of how it's going to end and waits downstairs.
- One episode of Castle dealt with the murder of a baseball player. Though Beckett (and her father) are baseball fans, their knowledge isn't really required to solve the case, though Beckett does get to meet Joe Torre (someone who Castle, though not a baseball fan himself, has socialized with before).
- A child prodigy in Law & Order: Criminal Intent was passionate for baseball, keeping track of all the stats and watching games whenever his dad wasn't around. Inverted when it's revealed the child is bright, but no genius, and simply wants to play softball. His genius father thinks it's a waste of time.
- Jonathan Coulton did a song about Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who was America's first baseball commissioner (and, according to Coulton, a Memetic Badass.)
- Terry Cashman did several baseball-themed songs in the '80s, including "Talkin' Baseball (Willie, Mickey, and the Duke)" and "Play-by-Play (I Saw It on the Radio)".
- One tune by social justice crusader John Fogerty hits radio stations and ballpark sound systems every baseball season: "Centerfield." In addition to being an upbeat salute to the game, it boasts a few bits of trivia it takes a fan to know.
- I spent some time in the Mudville nine, watchin' it from the benchYou know I took some lumps when the mighty Case struck outSo "say hey" Willie, and tell Lee, Carl, and Joe DiMaggioDon't say it ain't so, you know that time is now
- Stan the Statistician from The Coodabeen Champions is a cricket fan example.
- In the New World of Darkness, Chicago has a cabal of mages based out of US Cellular Field called the Game of Geometric Perfection, who believe the game has magical properties.
- According to the skill description for baseball in After The Bomb, The Game is not only still being played but it's also practically a religion.
- Dmitri in Backyard Sports is the embodiment of this trope. He seems to know a lot about soccer as well as baseball, but not much about football, hockey, or basketball, and especially not about skateboarding.
- David Sarif, CEO of Sarif Industries in Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a baseball fan, often playing around with a ball while chatting with others. The TV in his office is always tuned into a game. Although no comment is made on his opinions of other sports.
- One of Allied soldier in a cutscene from Company of Heroes made small a mention of his "walking baseball encyclopedia" brother back home.
- The Simpsons had an entire episode, "MoneyBART", revolving around Lisa falling in love with baseball because of its statistical bend (she runs Bart's little league team on sabermetric principles). During the episode it is also shown that Professor Frink is a fan, him saying that the game is "Played by the dexterous, but only understood by the poindexterous."
- Real-life examples: Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Hawking and Stephen King are (were, in Gould's case) big baseball fans. King in particular has co-authorednote a nonfiction book (Faithful) all about Boston Red Sox fandom, and wrote a short story (The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon) inspired by the Sox's ace reliever at the time. He's also slipped baseball references into many of his other stories and novels.
- Gould once dedicated a large chunk of a book to explaining statistics with reference to .400 hitting in baseball.
- Partly averted in the case of the late Carl Sagan, who expressed an appreciation for sports in general in several of his books but was partial to both playing and watching basketball in particular.
- Further Real Life: Keith Olbermann, the liberal nerd formerly of Countdown with Keith Olbermann and Current TV, is a huge baseball fan. He's been a member of the Society of American Baseball Research for years, which shouldn't be at all surprising, since he is also formerly a main anchor on ESPN SportsCenter. There's also the Olbermann Family Curse: getting hit with things at baseball games. (His mother was hit by a ball, and his nephew was hit by a flying bat.)
- Olbermann's former MSNBC colleague Rachel Maddow is also a huge baseball fan, and the two have a friendly rivalry (he is a Yankees fan and she a fan of the Red Sox).
- Bespectacled, bow-tied conservative commentator George Will is a huge baseball nut and has frequently written about the game, including the books Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball and Bunts. A lifelong Cubs fan, Will also owns a minority share of the Baltimore Orioles, and has served on a couple of "blue ribbon" panels commissioned by MLB.
- When he married his wife, he gave her a ring with the logo of Major League Baseball. So, yeah. Pretty dedicated.
- His fellow conservative and Fox News Channel contributor Charles Krauthammer is a colossal Nationals fan. He's written about it columns, mentioning that Nationals Park is seven minutes from Fox's Washington studios, so he can make it just in time to see the Nationals bat in the bottom of the first.
- Bob Costas, the nerdiest of America's big-time network sportscasters, is a baseball guy through and through.
- Nate Silver, of fivethirtyeight.com, was one of the most insightful analysts of the 2008 election, using an insanely complicated statistical model that successfully called 49 out of 50 states, mostly within a few percentage points. (The one state he missed, Indiana, was incredibly close for McCain in his model and incredibly close for Obama in real life). What do Nate and his statistical models do in the political off-season? Baseball, of course.
- Heck, when you consider it, his baseball models are doing politics: he started off doing baseball stuff, and then moved to political analysis when he realized that he had a talent and taste for it.
- In fact, his statistical model for predicting performance by players and teams in MLB (called PECOTA), which he developed for the annual book (and associated website) Baseball Prospectus, is the most accurate in the business.
- President Barack Obama (whose nerd bonafides can be found on his page) is a huge Chicago White Sox fan, going so far as to wear his favorite hat of theirs every time he throws out the first pitch at a baseball game.
- Hillary Clinton is another nerdy politico who identifies as a baseball fan, having rooted for the Cubs (while growing up in suburban Chicago) and Yankees (since becoming a U.S. Senator from New York).
- Former president George W. Bush has gone on record saying that the entire reason he became a part-owner of the Texas Rangers is because he was (and is) a huge fan of the team. Then there's his famously "wimpy" father, who's not only a baseball fan but played the game at Yale.
- The younger Bush was the first Little League player to grow up to become President. It was George W's ambition to eventually become the Major League Baseball Commissioner (which may still be on the table at some point in the future...if it doesn't go to Condoleezza Rice).
- Jon Stewart of The Daily Show is, slightly unusually for a New York celebrity, a Mets fan. He will occasionally make jokes about how they aren't really good.
- Mark Twain was a huge baseball fan.
- Averted by George RR Martin, who blogs extensively about his favorite football teams (the Jets and the Giants).
- Geddy Lee, lead singer of Rush, one of the favorite bands of nerds, is a big baseball fan. He's also an avid collector of rare and signed baseballs, including a collection of over 200 Negro League balls that he donated to the Negro League Museum.
- Japan as a whole is surprisingly into baseball, making it a nation-wide example of this trope meets Asian and Nerdy.
- Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie is something of a baseball fanatic, to the point that he apparently loses followers on Twitter every time the season rolls around.
- Kevin Smith averts this trope, being a huge fan of the National Hockey League, holding particular affection for the New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers. This is completely consistent with his status as an Honourary Canadian.
- Guess which sport Ken Burns, idol of history nerds everywhere, chose to devote one of his multi-episode PBS documentary series to? You got it.