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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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History
A Brief History of Deep Blue, IBM's Chess Computer
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On July 29, 1997, IBM researchers were awarded a $100,000 prize that had gone unclaimed for 17 years. It was the Fredkin Prize, created by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) professor Edward Fredkin in 1980. An artificial intelligence pioneer, Fredkin challenged fellow computer scientists to create a computer that could beat the best human chess player in the world. That's exactly what Deep Blue did in May, 1997.

It was an extremely long road to victory. After Fredkin's initial challenge in 1980, a team from Bell Labs created a chess computer in 1981 that beat a chess master. In 1985, Feng-hsiung Hsu created ChipTest, a chess computer that set the stage for later efforts.

By 1988, a CMU team including Hsu created a system that beat an international master. That one was called "Deep Thought," named for the computer in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy—a fictional computer spent 7.5 million years calculated "the Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything." (That answer, of course, was 42.)

Deep Thought underwent additional development at IBM, and in 1989 it went head-to-head with Garry Kasparov, who is widely considered the best chess player of all time. Kasparov destroyed the machine in a two-game match. Here's the first part of a documentary about Deep Thought, which helps set the stage for Deep Blue:

Deep Thought eventually led to Deep Blue, an IBM project led by Hsu, along with his former Deep Thought collaborator Murray Campbell, among others.

The computer science problem of chess is deep. First the machine needs to understand the state of the board—that's relatively easy—but then it needs to predict future moves. Given that the 32 pieces on the board are capable of moving to a variety of other positions, the "possibility space" for the next move (and all subsequent moves) is very large.

In theory, a sufficiently beefy computer could simulate every possible move (and counter-move) in its memory, rank which moves end up doing best in each simulated game, and then perform the optimal move on each turn. But to actually implement a computer that powerful—and fast enough to compete in a time-limited tournament—was a matter of extreme effort. It took Hsu more than a decade to master it.

Six men pose with a chess board and timer. On one side of the board, a sign reads Garry Kasparov. On the other side, a computer keyboard and monitor represent Deep Blue.
The IBM Deep Blue chess computer team poses in May, 1997. From left: Chung-Jen Tan (team manager), Gerry Brody, Joel Benjamin, Murray Campbell, Joseph Hoane and Feng-hsiung Hsu (seated).
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On February 10, 1996 in Philadelphia, Deep Blue went head-to-head with Kasparov, and Kasparov beat the computer handily. Though Deep Blue scored one winning game and two draws, it lost three games to Kasparov outright. Deep Blue did set a record for winning that one game, but it needed the match to earn the Fredkin Prize.

By this point, Kasparov was used to destroying chess computers, and the media lapped it up—this was a man-versus-machine story for the ages. By May 1997, IBM had heavily upgraded Deep Blue (some called it "Deeper Blue") with vastly improved computing resources, preparing for a rematch. When that rematch came, Kasparov would face a worthy opponent.

On May 11, 1997 in New York City, the upgraded Deep Blue entered the match with a large, excited audience. Kasparov won the first game, but Deep Blue took the second, tying the players. Then came three games that ended in draws. In the sixth game, Kasparov made a mistake in the opening. Deep Blue won that sixth game quickly, winning the match, much to the astonishment of the crowd. Kasparov asked for a rematch. The Deep Blue team declined.

Kasparov claimed to have perceived a human hand in Deep Blue's play. Kasparov wondered whether a human chess player was somehow feeding the computer moves, much like the infamous Mechanical Turk of yore. Various conspiracy theories flourished, but came to nothing.

When the Fredkin Prize was awarded to Hsu, Campbell, and IBM researcher A. Joseph Hoane Jr., Fredkin told reporters, "There has never been any doubt in my mind that a computer would ultimately beat a reigning world chess champion. The question has always been when." Hsu told The New York Times, "Some people are apprehensive about what the future can bring. But it's important to remember that a computer is a tool. The fact that a computer won is not a bad thing."

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What Tennis Shoes Looked Like in the Early 1900s
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Mental_floss co-founder Mangesh Hattikudur is at the US Open today. Between matches, he'll be serving up some tennis history and random knowledge.

Image credit: whatsalltheracquet.com

In the pre-Swoosh era, the best shoes for lawn tennis had giant treads and looked like they could be worn to church.

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