From Crackle: Episode 39

Who is #StatMan? Portland Timbers writer Mike Donovan heads to “Sports Jeopardy”

Editor's Note: Mike Donovan, aka the Portland Timbers #StatMan, is not just an expert on soccer stats but also happens to have a deep knowledge of all sorts of sports numbers from college basketball to Major League Baseball and beyond. Earlier in June, Donovan was selected to be a participant on "Sports Jeopardy" hosted by Dan Patrick. Teamed with fellow stat geek contestants, Donovan describes his chatting with host Dan Patrick about the Timbers and Thorns and talks about how often times, the winner all comes down to buzzer timing.

On a Monday afternoon in May, I found myself among my people. I found myself chatting and hanging out with eight of the biggest sports stat nerds around and all having converged on a soundstage on the Sony lot in Culver City, Calif. to film three episodes of "Sports Jeopardy," which was finishing up its first season.  

Like all of the contestants in the green room that day, I had signed up in the summer of 2014 in the hopes that I would be given an audition to make the show. More than 30,000 people filled out their information online for a chance at an audition and those 30,000 were whittled down to just over one hundred men and women who taped an epsiode of the show. The eight other contestants with me on my day came from across the country, though I am proud to say three of us--including myself--grew up in the great state of New Jersey. 

Filming day was filled with downtime that allowed the nine of us to get to know each other a little better. And I can safely say I have never been in a place that featured so many in-depth and obscure sports references. From six-fingered pitchers in baseball to trying to determine the MLS coach with the best scowl, the banter was something I will never forget and seemed to leave the producers in a daze from the supreme sports nerddom being exhibited. When we were told we would be given lunch, the room busted out in a "We goin' Sizzler" chant, a reference to the 1992 cinematic classic, "White Men Can't Jump."

My episode was the third and final taping, which gave me the chance to get a feel for what the actual show is like. We also had a great deal of rehearsal before the audience arrived which allowed us to get used to the gameplay and, most importantly, how the buzzers work. 

I cannot overstate this enough: the most important part of "Sports Jeopardy" is if you are able to develop a rhythm for when to click in. The knowledge was pretty high across the board by the contestants that were filming that day though much of their success was based upon their ability to master the buzzer.

One of the coolest things about the show was the chance to meet Dan Patrick. When I first moved to Portland, I would frequently listen to the Dan Patrick Show while I was driving around my new city. When Patrick saw I lived in Portland it made it even easier to connect since he had been to the Rose City and attended a Portland Timbers match last year.

For the episode itself, you'll have to watch to find out what happened, but I was definitely happy that I did get the only soccer question of the episode correct. I don't know if I would have been able to show my face at Providence Park if I would've missed it! 

After the show, Patrick and I had another conversation about the Timbers and then it was time to leave. The nine of us contestants went our seperate ways and back into our worlds where our "statitude" is an anomaly and not the norm.

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