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8-Bit Carnage, Casual Vomiting, and America’s National Pastime: What We Learned At Nerdist This Week

Another Notable Phillies Fan

This was a good week at Nerdist, but I’m distracted. See… okay, I have a confession. You’ve heard Chris and Jonah give Matt a hard time on the podcast about his being a sports fan, right? Well, I get it: A lot of nerds hate sports. I understand. Jock culture seems diametrically opposed to nerd culture; jocks were the ones beating up nerds, or dumping them head first into trash cans. They were the bad guys.

And I was a nerd, and I was a victim, and then I realized that while I couldn’t play baseball and basketball very well at all, I COULD enjoy watching the pros do it. And because I was the kind of fan who could rattle off stats and opinions like today’s sports radio loudmouths, I went from victim to… ignored. From junior high school through high school, I didn’t get beaten up anymore. I was left alone, because at least I was a nerd who knew sports. A boring, boring nerd who knew far too much about sports. They didn’t want anything to do with me. Mission accomplished.

So I’m a baseball fan, and the regular season opened on Thursday, and my favorite team — the Philadelphia Phillies (don’t judge) — opened today, and it’s like Spring is officially here, even though it was cold and miserable at the game and I live on the opposite coast where it’s always at least Spring-like and it was hot and sunny today. Baseball’s back, and I’m happy. There, I said it.

But I know a lot of you aren’t baseball fans, whether by childhood trauma or a matter of taste or you live in a country where they don’t play baseball. So I’ll keep my distraction to a minimum while we review The Week That Was at Nerdist:

1. We saw the vintage video game version of “Faces of Death.” It was both nostalgic and sad, which also describes what it’s like to be a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who last won a World Series in the heyday of the Atari 2600.

2, The cast of Invader ZIM read some unproduced scripts, sending a roomful of fanboys and fangirls into uncontrollable squeeing, kind of like me when the Phillies came back in the ninth to win Friday. No, come to think of it, I didn’t squee. I’m not really the squee type. I’m the undemonstrative type of fan. I’m sure that’s not healthy.

Photo: 20th Century Fox

3. Christopher Coleman picked the winners of his contest to see who’d accompany him to see Our Beloved Leader at the Wilbur Theatre on Boston on April 9th. Speaking of Boston, can we put this “Red Sox Nation” thing to rest already? It’s not a nation. There are two kinds of Red Sox fans, the kind (like Matt) who have followed the team since long before they won the Series and who suffered through enough heartbreak to have earned a little smugness now that the Sox are consistently good and The Curse is gone, and the “nation” bandwagon-jumpers: “Hi, guess where I am? I’m at Fenway! I’m sitting on top of the Monstah! Yeah, the boss got me the tickets. Turn on NESN and look for me, I’m waving! It’s wicked cool, brah. I got Cathy a pink Sahx hat, and we’re gonna go to… what? The game? Oh, I don’t know, Cahl Crahfid hit a single or something.” Saving grace: They’re not Yankee fans.

4. We got to see Jim Henson’s “Wizard of Id” pilot from 1969, back when newspaper comic strips were huge and just before “Sesame Street.” 1969 is also the Holiest of Years for New York Mets fans, and something they often wistfully recall while avoiding any discussion of the team’s current state, which involves both losing on the field and entanglements with Bernie Madoff off the field. It is not fun to be a Met fan now. It is always fun to be a Muppet fan.

5. The podcast was welcomed into the home of “Four Hour” guy Tim Ferriss, who talked a lot about his “Four Hour Body” book, which has helped Matt lose a lot of weight. I don’t know whether the Giants’ Pablo Sandoval — “The Panda” — used the book to lose all the weight he took off since the World Series, but he did knock off a lot. C.C. Sabathia and Prince Fielder, on the other hand, might want to talk to Tim.

6. Chris pointed us to an amusing parody of “Lie to Me,” and I noted that I’ve never seen the original, which drew a bunch of comments from people who really like it. If they do an episode where Cal tells us who’s lying at the Barry Bonds trial, I’m in.

7. Chris also added another appearance at WonderCon and will be signing autographs on Saturday while, as previously announced, also hosting the Doctor Who panel with Neil Gaiman et al. on Sunday. I used to try for autographs at ballgames when I was a little kid, but I learned early on that ballplayers aren’t always the nicest people. I’m confident that you’ll have a far more pleasant experience with Chris.

8. First, AMC announced that they’d renewed Mad Men, but we’d have to wait until 2012, and, oh, yeah, they hadn’t signed Matt Weiner and that might be a problem. But then we got the news that they’d signed Matt after all for two and maybe even three more seasons. Did you know Jon Hamm is a St. Louis Cardinals fan? Now you do.

9. Matthew B. gave us the video of the guy using a dog as a skateboard and the picture from Mercury that looked a little like something unpleasant splattered on the surface, and celebrated Robert Bunsen’s birthday (and neckbeard). Danny caught Damon Lindelof summarizing Lost in a tweet, which struck some of the show’s committed viewers as a little flippant. Rachael showed us somebody’s banana… no, not that. They had etched Doctor Who drawings in the peels. Mindy went back to basics to show you how to approach making stuff, in her case showing how she made a claymation video without prior knowledge of HOW to make a claymation video. None of these were related to baseball in the least.

10. A guy got Donald Glover to join him in a rousing version of Community‘s “La Biblioteca” rap. Donald Glover hit .284 in 21 games for the Mount Vernon Kings of the Mississippi-Ohio Valley League in 1949. A different Donald Glover. Unless Childish Gambino has a TARDIS and went back to the 40’s. And plays baseball.

11. Kyle grabbed us a new Doctor Who trailer, and then there was another new Doctor Who trailer. Opening Day is April 23rd.

12. Web Soup is back! With a real set and everything! From the season opener: Casual Vomiting! I’ve seen people puke at baseball games, but I’ve seen worse at football games (you know the cover of “Who’s Next”? That was the back wall at the top of Veterans Stadium for football games. It was a long walk down to the restrooms).

13. Kyle came down forcefully against the idea of rebooting movie franchises, especially in light of the news that Warner Bros. is already planning a Batman reboot before Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises is even finished. I’m with Kyle on that. Sometimes, you have to clear the roster, start over, and bring guys up from the farm system, but the movie people are working a little TOO fast these days.

14. Chris shared the new Fleet Foxes video. There is no baseball team called the Fleet Foxes, although there should be.

15. A surgical robot made and threw a paper airplane, because it could. So it probably can do Tommy John surgery, too.

16. Someone mapped all the tweets and retweets in London for one day. I would assume none were about baseball, but a lot were about Premier League soccer. “Come On You Spurs!” leaves plenty of room in a 140-character tweet.

17. Chris announced that he’ll be in Minneapolis performing his humorous dialogues and parlor tricks at the Varsity Theater on May 6th. The Twins aren’t home that night, so you have no excuse but to buy tickets to see Chris.

18. And Nerdist Theater at Meltdown has quite a lineup coming up. If you’re in L.A., go there. Beats Dodger Stadium, where, if you’re wearing San Francisco Giants gear, you’re taking your life into your hands.  Also, as I wrote this, Chris posted the new Hostful Podcast, so you have something new to listen to for the weekend.

Now, that’s a good week.  Converse amongst yourselves in the comments below, and enjoy your burrito while watching a ballgame this weekend.  Okay, maybe you’ll skip the game, but everyone loves burritos.

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  1. Chris Hardwick says:

    Ok good! None of us really cared on a negative level about any of this! That makes me happy. Burrito enjoyed.

  2. Chris says:

    I still find it hard to believe that Prince Fielder is a vegetarian. He must substitute meat with cake.

  3. Doug Evans says:

    Speaking as a non-sports fan nerd, I want to chime in and share that I enjoyed this post and the resulting comments. I definitely spring from the trauma-on-the-p.e.-field school of not liking sports, but as it’s been at least thirty years since anyone’s picked on me for my lack of athletic ability, and as I can totally see how a person can obsess over sports the way I obsess over, say, Doctor Who, I’ve wondered over the years why I never got the sports bug. Chris (unknowingly) summed it up for me over a year ago on a podcast (the guest of which I forget) by off-handedly referring to sports fandom as a “tribal” thing. I can see memorizing stats, knowing the players’ back stories, hating decisions made by the managers, etc… all things I do in a different way in relation to Star Trek and now Who, among others… I just can’t see ever caring which color team beats which other color team. “Tribal” explains it perfectly… for some people, there’s a real joy in choosing sides and rooting for one group of people over another. For others, like me, for whatever reason, there’s no interest in doing that whatsoever. Not good, not bad, just how we’re put together on the inside.

    Having said that: I did enjoy Perry’s low-key explanation of why he likes what he likes and the commentors’ defense of their sports-love as well. In a slightly different universe… maybe the one where Rose is living now (love me my Who!)… I’m one of those people taking that side.

  4. The Scizz says:

    Very relaxed. I don’t think anybody took anything as a personal attack on themselves, Chris. I read what everyone said and it looks pretty calm to me. That would be pretty fucking silly. I’m pretty sure I never said “you guys are assholes, I’m not listening anymore!!!!” And I DEFINITELY don’t think that Jonah and Chris are actually “douches” towards Matt. Hell, the shit my friends and I say to each other is 10 times worse, so I get that.

    But c’mon, give us some credit here. We are not all maniacs behind keyboards who take everything so serious. Just simply making a comment which I thought I was allowed to do, about something I do not care for. I love noodle stories, but completely understand the point of the people that don’t. I thought I made sure to be polite about it and still shower you with praise (which you deserve). I also do realize this may cause you to rip on Matt even more, because that is totally what I would do if someone told me to stop (Sorry Matt!)

    The whole point of my comment was to show the similarities between sports-fanatics and other nerdist ways. If anything, I think it is something that needs to be explored more. (Also, my comment about the whole “hey, I can do better than that guy” was completely wrong. Sports nerds wouldn’t say they can do something better than the player, they say they can do things better than the GM or Team President). Matt can explain that last part to you.

    I fucking love the podcast guys. It gets me through my long commute every morning and afternoon. I meant no disrespect. I wanted to hear what Matt had to say about Bill James and he never got the chance, hence the comment. In fact, if my friends and I ever get our sports nerd podcast off the ground, I would literally fly Matt to New York to have him as a guest Then again, as a sports fan, I do dislike most everything Boston-related (except Chris’ show at The Wilbur Theatre, which I will be traveling to from New York next weekend kind sir). Burrito always being enjoyed. Have a great Sunday and go Sabres!

  5. Viktor says:

    On the subject of sports and nerdiness:

    I was never beaten up, and in fact played sports (soccer and baseball, with a little basketball) as a young kid. I still hated jocks, who were (to my angsty nerd eyes) the football playing meathead, too-cool-for-skool types. I hail from the Deep South. My high school poured its funds into the football team and basically had no other extracurriculars.

    A left-over sense of rebellion has caused me and my friends to make fun of sports whenever we are given the chance. If we are at a restaurant and the TVs are all on sports channels we joke to each other with obviously incorrect sports terminology, i.e. “Oh, he’s about to make the ninth inning in the end zone!” and suchlike. It’s ironic humor stuff and, yes, bragging in its own way- showing nerd pride and so on.

    Anyway, to the point, there’s no actual hate towards sports from geeks. I suppose in most cases, like mine, a learned dislike or ironic rebellion from the whole culture of “Academics/nerds = bad, FOOOTBALLL” is just rearing its head. It’s just a little self-deprecating fun. No hard feelings, I’m sure- not that I really speak for all of geekdom.

  6. Hey, lemme just make a few points:

    1. I can testify, in court if necessary, that neither Chris nor Jonah means anything derogatory by their comments to Matt. They give him a hard time because that’s what friends do, make not-to-be-taken-personally fun of their differences (“YOU like NICKELBACK? What is WRONG with you?!?”). And I don’t think that they, personally, hate sports fans, or dislike sports because they were beaten up by the jocks; It’s just not their thing. (Come on, if Chris really hated sports fans, would Matt be one of his closest friends? Would I be here?) I brought it up only in the context of my larger point, which is that one can be a nerd AND a sports fan (and not just a stat nerd, either; I know my VORP and WHIP numbers, but I don’t memorize the Bill James Bible).

    2. On the same point, Chris and Jonah are not douchey. They are, in fact, as far from douchey as you can get. I’ll testify to that under oath, too. (“Can the witness point to the douchebags in this courtroom?” “Yes, I can, your honor.” “Those are the attorneys.”)

    3. We have the Final Four this weekend. Baseball’s back. The NBA and NHL are closing in on the playoffs (and the Sixers and Flyers have clinched their spots, too). For sports fans, this is a great weekend. Let’s enjoy it like that burrito.

  7. Chris Hardwick says:

    I think it was being called “douchey” and being compared to “jocks who are dicks” that prompted “relax”.

  8. Larky Lark says:

    Who needs to relax Mr. ALLCAPS? I don’t think anyone was taking it that personal.

  9. Chris Hardwick says:

    GUYS! FUCKING RELAX. We don’t seriously harass Matt. We’re just giving him shit because that’s what friends do. Please stop taking our poking fun at Matthew, a guy we LOVE, as a personal attack on yourselves. It is not. You are all allowed to nerd out about whatever you want.

    Also, you’re talking about something that has happened maybe twice, and comprised a total of about 10 minutes out of the almost 80 hours of the podcast.

    There is a SEVERE lack of burrito enjoyment here! Fix that shit!

    Ok. Let’s all have happy weekends now.

  10. Chad H says:

    I’m from Pittsburgh and I’m fairly certain we don’t have a baseball team… seriously… they are dead to us….

  11. The Scizz says:

    I’m with Perry and Wade. I LOVE the podcast and I have been able to walk the fine line of being nerdy and a sports fanatic. The two worlds have officially collided, but too many non-sports fan nerds are angry about it. I’m sorry that some jock beat you up, but I promise you that many jocks were closet nerds (this guy included). When Chris and Jonah gang up on Matt about sports, it is the only time I get annoyed at an otherwise brilliant podcast.

    As per Jonah’s comment about some guy in a sports bar saying he could do better than the athlete on T.V., I see no difference between that and Chris talking sh*t about Back to the Future II or any nerd complaining he can fix a movie/television franchise.

    Not trying to be a douche, just needed to give some support to Matt! Vent over.

  12. Random says:

    Yes another literate Phillies fan! I gotta head down their and catch a few phils games this year hopefully the tickets won’t be gouged up like items at the kwik-e-mart.

  13. Wade says:

    I think Chris & Jonah come off as particularly douche-y when talking about sports. Yeah, we get that you don’t like sports already. No big whoop in reality, but I thought when they were giving Matt shit when he was talking about sabremetrics was particularly stupid. Knowing about baseball stats and how they have changed is about as sports nerdy as you can get. The stereotypical jock is a dick who picks on nerds, but Chris & Jonah are basically doing the same thing about sports.

    I agree that sports and “nerd”ness are not mutually exclusive. For all the comics and video games I played, for the obscure British comedies I watched, and for all the sci-fi books I read, I still played varsity soccer in high school, ran track, and I played pickup basketball and football all the time.

  14. Barry says:

    I am Nerd and a life long Twins Fan. I came to terms with being a geek about sports in the 90’s when a little show called the “X-Files” introduced us to Fox Mulder, a guy who made it seem cool to be a geek about Baseball.
    I distinctly remember a moment on the show where they are sitting in their office, and Mulder explains to Scully what it is about baseball that he loves so much. This scene was like a light going on in my head. It perfectly explained to me why I loved baseball and made it seem cool to do so. Because, lets face it, we ALL though Fox Mulder was cool.
    I tried to find the clip on youtube, but all they have is Mulder teaching Scully to hit

  15. Dan says:

    I am a Red Sox fan (let the hating begin) and a listener to the podcast. Sports and nerd-dom are not mutually exclusive. I must admit to not being a full blown nerd (I was more of a band geek) in HS I did try out for the football team. I quit after being yelled at by a coach for not hearing a direction despite having a thick helmet covering my ears.

    I love the podcast, but when Chris and Jonah start in with the “I really don’t know anything about sports” stuff it sounds more like bragging then anything else. We get it guys, you don’t know or care about sports. Maybe they’re just playing it up to get on Matt’s nerves.
    I really look forward to the podcasts and this is an incredibly minor thing but since the subject came up…

  16. Artie says:

    In only 30 years as a Pirates fan, I’m not sure if I’m qualified to be nostalgic (except maybe for the days when Barry Bonds didn’t have the bodily dimensions of a living bobblehead doll), but sad, that I can vouch for.

    But while I might not have been around for it, at least the Bucs have won a World Series since Lincoln’s been on the penny (I’m looking at you, Cubs fans).

  17. Chris says:

    I’m a Phillies fan too and I completely appreciate the being a “nerd who knows sports” thing in high school to avoid ass-kickery. I’m also sure that you can appreciate getting statistical in this bitch and proving that Jason Werth, while an integral part of the Phillies offense, when faced with runners in scoring position was an abysmal .175 batting average? Hooray for baseball!