You all surely remember last month when the human race began its long, hopefully slow journey toward embracing the yoke of our computer masters, when IBM's Watson supercomputer defeated Jeopardy! champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings in a two-day tournament.
As we accept our fates, it's good to have someone on our side. Specifically, Pennsylvania-raised Brad Rutter, who also happened to go to grade school and high school with me. A Philadelphia sports fan, Brad agreed to answer a few of our questions...
1. You've lived in Los Angeles for a couple years now. What's it like being a Philadelphia sports fan on the West Coast? Do you get to see the Phillies when they're in town?
To be brutally honest, I like it better. The same qualities that make LA a lousy sports town take some of the edge off of Philly fandom. If Lidge gives up a 3-run walkoff homer to Rod Goddam Barajas, it's still a lovely day outside. Also, I'm 3,000 miles from 610 WIP, which isn't around to stoke the fires of my Negadelphianism. But you take the bad with the good -- the whole town isn't angry and sullen the Monday after an Eagles loss, but it's not buzzing after a big win either. There are actually a decent amount of Philly people in SoCal, but we don't make a huge deal of it, aren't particularly obnoxious (yes, you read that right) and it usually comes up as an aside in a totally unrelated conversation. Compare this to other east coast expat communities out here (I'm looking at you, Boston). I try to go to every Phillies game at Dodger Stadium -- regular season only, though. I don't want to get stabbed.
2. Tell us something we'd be surprised to hear about Alex Trebek. Any murders? DISH!
I just found out that Alex donated a parcel of land in the Hollywood Hills for public use - hiking, mountain biking, etc. It's known as the Trebek Open Space, it's right next to Runyon Canyon, and it's where the bodies of people who don't phrase their response in the form of a question are buried.
3. Would IBM Watson be an even smugger General Manager than Ruben Amaro, Jr.?
I noticed Watson appropriated the Smug Advisory System to indicate its confidence in its responses. Make sure The Good Phight legal team is on top of those royalty payments. [ed. note - David S. Cohen, PhillyFriar, and I are all attorneys. We got thisssss...]. I'll go with Ruben here because Watson's bloodless animatronic voice can't come close to matching the disdain you usually get from Mr. Amaro.
4. How would you evaluate your knowledge of professional sports in comparison to the other elite Jeopardy! contestants? Has your knowledge of Philadelphia sports ever come into play during a live game?
I'd guess my sports knowledge is in the top 10% of Jeopardy! contestants. It's not much help, though, because the sports questions tend to be about things that even non-sports fans are familiar with. But I did tell all the IBM people at the Watson taping, "You can boo me all you want. I'll still be eating steak every night." And Alex did mention in one of my interview segments that he played a celebrity hockey game against Dave "The Hammer" Schultz. Apparently Schultzie took a run at him along the boards.
5. Okay smart guy, no cheating, Roy Oswalt shares a hometown with this mega-celebrity.
If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin', so I did some Googling and came up with Oprah. I was actually on her show a few years back, and the one thing I'll always remember is the huge size of her false eyelashes. They were tickling my nose as we shook hands. Hopefully Roy can use the hometown connection to get his fictionalized memoir of the downward spiral of rosin addiction a spot in her Book Club.