Meet Charles Lane.
He is an “Editorial writer and columnist specializing in economic and fiscal policy” for the Washington Post. He also currently holds the title of my least favorite person on the Internet.
Yesterday, Lane wrote an entire article complaining that James Holzhauer is too good at Jeopardy. He basically blamed him for trying too hard to win money on a gameshow.
“To the multitudes who have rooted Holzhauer on, I have just one question: Do you not see that this guy is a menace?
The only thing more troubling, as a commentary on American culture, than his grinning, relentless march to victory — regardless of when, or if, it ends — is that millions celebrate it.”
When I first read this, I thought it had to be satire. He made it sound like Jeopardy James was Adolf Hitler marching his way through France. But I think Charles Lane is actually just that upset that James is …*checks notes* … trying his best to win a game show?
Lane went on to unsurprisingly reveal that he’s a baseball dinosaur who thinks that analytics are the devil’s work.
“People seem not to care that Holzhauer’s streak reflects the same grim, data-driven approach to competition that has spoiled (among other sports) baseball, where it has given us the “shift,” “wins above replacement,” “swing trajectories” and other statistically valid but unholy innovations.”
Absolutely nothing more unholy and ungodly than a shortstop shifting to shallow right field against a lefty hitter.
Like the number crunchers who now rule the national pastime, Holzhauer substitutes cold, calculating odds maximization for spontaneous play. His idea is to select, and respond correctly to, harder, big-dollar clues on the show’s 30-square gameboard first. Then, flush with cash, he searches the finite set of hiding places for the “Daily Double” clue, which permits players to set their own prize for a correct response — and makes a huge bet. Responding correctly, Holzhauer often builds an insurmountable lead before the show is half over.
Charles Lane may be on to something. Jeopardy James has a devilish masterplan. And that masterplan is to win Jeopardy. Absolutely insane that a guy would get on a gameshow and try his best to win money. What a piece of shit.
In short, this professional gambler from Las Vegas does not so much play the game as beat the system. What’s entertaining about that? And beyond a certain point, what’s admirable?
In short, this professional gambler from Las Vegas tries to win the game show that he’s on. It’s incredibly entertaining to watch and has led to Jeopardy’s highest ratings in years.
We then get to the bottom of the real reason Lane has so much hatred for Jeopardy James. Lane got on Jeopardy and lost, something that Jeopardy James does not do.
Losing on “Jeopardy!” was unforgettable, nightmarish — like being trapped inside a pinball machine for 22 minutes, as lights flashed, bells rang, and Randy, always Randy, barked out one correct response after another until host Alex Trebek, through his then-trademark mustache, purred “no” at my non-response to Final Jeopardy (“What is ‘?’?”) and a production assistant ushered me out to the parking lot, where I blinked in confusion under the hot California sun.
Charles Lane made a gameshow appearance sound like a god damn Vietnam war story.
In short, Charles Lane is enraged that people try to find (legal and fair) edges to win competitions. How dare Jeopardy James and baseball front offices employ strategies that increase their chances of winning? I’d bet my life that Charles Lane watches basketball and complains that the Warriors take too many threes. He likes when teams punt on 4th and inches from their opponents 39-yard-line. When he plays blackjack, he hits on 14 despite the dealer showing a 6. Any form of strategy is unholy to Charles Lane.
I hope Jeopardy James continues his warpath and Charles Lane continues to cry about it. James is definitely employing innovative strategies but at the end of the day, James just knows a ton of shit about a ton of shit. And it’s awesome to watch.