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11 Stats That Don't Show Up in the Box Score

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It can be intimidating to try to follow Mike Trout's WARP or figure out Lebron James' PER. So wouldn't you rather just look out for a Golden Sombrero or a Hambone? Here are 11 unofficial stats that may not be as illuminating as some others, but are certainly more fun.

1) Golden Bagel

The Golden Bagel is an actual award given to the men's tennis player who records the most sets won 6-0 (that's called a bagel because of the round "0"). Roger Federer won the inaugural award in 2004, given out by Tom Suhler and Nicklas Kroon as a fun way to reward the most dominant players. Federer set a record in 2006 with a total of 18 bagels, but Rafael Nadal holds the most Golden Bagel awards with three. In other bread-based tennis stats, a set won or lost 6-1 is called a "breadstick" or a "fry."

2) Trillion

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The crowning stat for any basketball benchwarmer, the trillion technically does fill up the stat sheet, just not the way any player would want to. It refers to a reserve player who comes on to play at least a minute, but fails to record any other stat for the entire game, leaving them with a box score that has a one followed by a string of zeroes (and yes, some box scores may list more than 12 zeroes, but the colloquial "trillion" has stuck). Ohio State Buckeyes reserve Mark Titus is credited with popularizing the term in 2008 through his blog Club Trillion, co-written with several other bench players on the team. But it supposedly dates back to the '80s, credited to NBAer Scott Hastings. The New York Times compiled a list of trillions since the 1986 season and found that Jud Buechler (above) was the all-time leader with a whopping 55.

3) Triple Zero

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Sure, anybody could go a minute without impacting a basketball game. But what about getting some serious floor time without notching significant stats? In 2011, Scott Carefoot at The Score started looking for Triple Zeroes, where a player is on the court for 20 minutes but doesn't get a point, assist or rebound (it's the inverse of a Triple Double, where a player gets double digits in each category). He found only 31 of them, highlighted by an impressive 2009 34-minute effort (or non-effort) by Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers.

4) Immaculate Inning

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It's hard enough for a pitcher to strike out the side, eliminating all three batters in an inning by strikeout. But to do it with just nine pitches, not recording a ball or allowing a batter to foul off an extra pitch? The so-called "immaculate inning" has only been done 50 times in major league baseball history by just 47 different pitchers. Baseball Almanac has the full list here -- the most recent came on July 30 when Toronto reliever Steve Delabar did it against the Oakland Athletics.

5) The Maddux

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Another tremendous pitching stat, the Maddux refers to a pitcher who goes an entire nine-inning game without allowing a single run—oh, and all of that has to be done with fewer than 100 pitches. It was coined by blogger Jason Lukehart in honor of Greg Maddux (who else?), who did it an impressive 13 times since 1988, when reliable pitch counts began to be recorded. As Lukehart points out, a Maddux is a tough goal because strikeouts and walks, which both inherently take up several pitches, work against you. And yet, Cubs pitcher Jon Lieber was able to do it in just 78 pitches in a 2001 game.

6) Perfect hat trick

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The hat trick—a single player scoring three goals in a game—is relatively common across many sports. But far more rare is soccer's perfect hat trick, which requires a player score a goal off his right foot, another off his left foot and a third as a header. Cristiano Ronaldo notched the rare feat at a match in January. Another twist on the hat trick is the "flawless" hat trick, where the player scores all three goals consecutively in a single period (check out a list of six flawless hat tricks from Football Burp here).

7) Gordie Howe hat trick

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Another variation on the hat trick, this time from hockey. To notch a Gordie Howe hat trick, a player has to score a goal, record an assist and get in a fight in the same game. It's named after hall of famer Gordie Howe, who did it twice in his career (not surprising for a man known as both Mr. Hockey and Mr. Elbows). Though it's not an official statistic, The Hockey News has been recording them since 1996. Interestingly, there have been at least two double Gordie Howe hat tricks involving two players that fought each other: Adam Henrique and Jarome Iginla in 2012 and Fedor Tyutin and Ryan Getzlaf in 2010.

8) Golden Sombrero

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Many consider baseball's hat trick equivalent to be a player hitting three home runs in a single game. But more famous -- or infamous -- is the Golden Sombrero, an inverse where a player strikes out four times in a regular 9-inning game (see, a sombrero is bigger than a hat). Strike out five times in a game? That's a platinum sombrero. Nobody's done more than that in 9 innings, but the titanium sombrero with six strikeouts has been achieved a handful of times in extra-inning games. The latter feat has also been called a Horn after Baltimore Orioles outfielder Sam Horn, who became the first batter to do it in 1991.

9) Funnies

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To add variety to traditional matchplay games, some golfers will place side bets on "funnies," or bizarre events that can happen during a game. There's no common standard for them, but here are a few of the more popular:

Sandy: getting par or less having been in a bunker at some point
Ferret: getting par or better having been off the green (if you go directly from off the green into the hole, it's a golden ferret)
Barkie: getting par or better after hitting a tree

10) Tommy Points

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Boston Celtics fans will be familiar with Tommy Points, the entirely non-scientific, unofficial award given by commentator Tommy Heinsohn for a player showing extra effort on a play. Take this example from January, when Kevin Garnett dove into the stands to retrieve a loose ball and was awarded a Tommy Point for "giving up … life and limb with pure hustle." Heinsohn is far from the only commentator to award his own stats -- ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit gives out the Herbies for college football and John Madden was famous for assembling his "all-Madden" team every year.

11) Hambone

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When Rob Stone became the lead play-by-play announcer for ESPN's coverage of the Pro Bowling Association, it didn't take him long to make his mark. Noting that three strikes in a row is called a "turkey" (which dates back to the late 1800s, when some bowling alleys would give away turkeys for the then-rare feat), he asked his fellow commentator Randy Pedersen what four strikes in a row would be called. Getting no answer, he decided it would be a "hambone" and took to using it in his broadcasts. The term split the bowling community, with many players pointing out that the United States Bowling Congress considers two strikes in a row to be a hambone. But Stone stuck to it until he left ESPN in 2012, telling the PBA in an interview:

"Fans get pumped up for the stupid word 'hambone.' It puts a smile on my face that people are enjoying the sport," Stone said. "I understand that there are people out there who totally hate it. I'm not trying to shove it down anybody's throat."


Game Changers: Real. Sports. Data.

A recurring web series on sports and big data, featuring industry experts and social commentary. For more information, visit ibm.com/sports.

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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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