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February 24, 2012

BP Unfiltered

Fun with Baseball Reference

by Matthew Kory

[A quick warning/note: This post acknowledges the existence of bad words and makes fun of people's given names. Basically, if you don't find Beavis and Butthead funny, you won't find this post amusing either.]

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start

If you didn't play video games in the 1980s, the above is likely gibberish to you. And, actually, it's gibberish even if you did play video games in the '80s. But the point is, if you did, you likely recognize that gibberish as a secret code. It's called the Konami code, and by typing that in at a certain point just before the game started, it gifted you with 30 lives in Contra. It kind of became a thing. There's even a band that presumably plays actual music that named itself Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start. Seriously.

But, BP writer whom I've never heard of, what does this have to do with baseball?

Ah ha! Nothing.

But! Learning that code was the earliest I can recall thinking about little secrets implanted in odd places. The code wasn't sinister in any way, it was just there as a kind of goof. There have been more mischievous, and some might argue malevolent, examples of people hiding things in unexpected places that maybe weren't safe for work. They ranged from the hidden in plain sight of the cover art for the movie The Little Mermaid to the not at all hidden in plain sight of Billy Ripken's 1988 Fleer baseball card.

I bring all this up because I typed "poop" into the search window on Baseball Reference today. I did not get a strangely named player or even a "0 hits for your search" dead end page. Nope.

Instead, I got this:

Sure, I could quarrel with the fact that the bar of Dove isn't, in fact, soap, but the general idea comes across quite clearly. I typed "poop," and therefore I have a potty mouth. My potty mouth is dirty, as are all potty mouths, and therefore it must be cleansed. This is not untrue.

But moral judgments aside, realize what this means. The fine people at Baseball Reference actually anticipated some sad excuse for a person with A) a sub-juvenile sense of humor, B) lots of time on his hands and C) very little imagination would at some point look at the search window and think "I'm gonna type 'poop.'" They thought and likely discussed the eventuality, possibly at a meeting with coffee, muffins, and, at least in my mind, a clearly worded memo on stationery to make sure they stayed on topic. That topic, by the way, was poop. As are all meetings featuring coffee, muffins, and memos, it was an effective one. Soon the plan, dubbed "Operation Dirty, Dirty Mouth," was hatched to make it clear that people who type weird things into the search window will soon be the unwitting recipients of not one but two images staring back into their very souls, forcing them to rethink their life's priorities and very likely sending them on a long and occasionally violent mission of redemption potentially starring Brad Pitt, or if he isn't available, maybe Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Then I typed "turd."

I did not, as you might guess, get a picture of a bottle of shampoo and a hippopotamus in full yawn. Instead, I was directed to the player page of one Mr. Robert Turdik. Mr. Turdik, whose name makes me giggle like David Letterman instructing a waiter to put his finger in a customer's water glass, played for the Utica Blue Sox and the Wilmington Blue Rocks in 1945, accumulating no stats that Baseball Reference is aware of. If you are a relative of Mr. Turdik and have information about his playing days, I suggest that you get in touch with Baseball Reference and change his name.

At this point I decided to go through George Carlin's list of seven words you can't say on television. The list, seen here, is not suitable for a family website, but that didn't stop me from typing 'em into the search window. I'm nothing if not intrepid! Most either brought me to the above image or were simply dead ends. However, one in particular gave a different result. I won't say which one, as you can probably piece it together with little trouble if you like, but here's what came up:

That, in case your monitor is off, is the color brown.

Other searches yielded the following results:

  • A search for "goat" gave me Goat Anderson. Anderson played right field and second base for Pittsburgh in 1907 and was bad at both. It seems Mr. Anderson was notable because Goat was his actual given name, as there are no quotations around the name and no nicknames or other names are listed. Sure, it's possible that his given name isn't known, but what fun would that be?
  • I should have known where searching for "Donkey" would lead: Adam Dunn.
  • I won't say what I searched for, but I found myself on the player page of a Mr. John Balls. Balls was a pitcher who played one game for Double-A Reading in 1929. Despite his lack of success on the field, he remains the most unfortunately named player in baseball history...
  • ...that is if you don't count John Cock, that is. And at this point, I may as well mention that in the 1990s the San Francisco Giants had a player in their minor-league system by the name of Darren Sack. There. See how much better your day is now?

Lastly, a man walks up to a woman at a bar. He buys her a drink, and the following conversation takes place.

Man: Hello. May I sit down?
Woman: Sure. Thanks for the drink. I'm Linda. What's your name?
Man: I'm Paul.
Woman: You sure are tall, Paul. Are you a professional athlete?
Man: As a matter of fact, yes. I'm a baseball player.
Woman: [turning fully to face him] A baseball player? Well! What team do you play for?
Man: The Indians, but I've played for a few teams.
Woman: Wow. [moving closer to him] That's so neat. What position do you play?
Man: I'm a pitcher.
Woman: A pitcher? [puts her hand on his knee] That's great! What is your name?
Man: Paul Assenmacher.
Woman: [leaves]

Matthew Kory is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Matthew's other articles. You can contact Matthew by clicking here

33 comments have been left for this article.

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