1859: Sports Knowledge

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Sports Knowledge
I heard they might make the wild card game, which would be cool. Do you know when that is? I have a wedding next weekend, but if it's after that we could try to go!
Title text: I heard they might make the wild card game, which would be cool. Do you know when that is? I have a wedding next weekend, but if it's after that we could try to go!


Cueball, representing Randall, demonstrates that he has some knowledge about Mike Trout, a baseball player for the Los Angeles Angels. However, he mixes up the Los Angeles baseball team for one of the city's basketball teams when he mentions the Lakers. White Hat questions his mentioning of the Lakers, after which Cueball takes another wild guess, this time mentioning an American football team, the Denver Broncos, based in Denver, Colorado, over 800 miles (1300 kilometers) away from Los Angeles, indicating even poorer knowledge about sports.

On-base plus slugging (OPS) is a baseball statistic calculated as the sum of the on-base percentage (the number of times a player reaches base divided by the number of plate appearances) and slugging percentage (singles + 2 times the doubles + 3 times the triples + 4 times the home runs divided by at bats). It is useful for figuring out how well a player reaches base and hits for power. As of the date this comic was published, Trout's OPS for the 2017 season at 1.203 was indeed higher than in any of his previous seasons, albeit over a smaller number of games because Trout indeed suffered a thumb injury in late May and had not played since then. (He returned to play starting on July 14.)

At the end of the season, the teams leading each division make the playoffs, along with a certain number of other teams. In the NFL (with 8 division winners) and MLB (with 6 division winners), 4 extra teams make the playoffs, and, in the NBA (also with 6 division winners), 10 teams beside the division winners qualify for the playoffs. In baseball the two teams in the American League play a Wild Card game against each other, as do the two in the National League, and in American football, there are Wild Card games in which the two wild card teams per conference play the two lower seeded division winners. At the time of publication, the Los Angeles Angels were, indeed, in the running for a wild-card spot (2½ games out of the playoffs).

With the baseball season being halfway over (and thus months away from the Wild Card games in early October) and both football and basketball being in the off-season, Cueball further shows his lack of sports knowledge in asking whether it is next week, and assuming that he could spontaneously decide, at game time, to just go. He could make a decision to go now, but he would have to wait until the season is almost over when the seeding for the playoffs and wild card spots are decided. Sometimes the wild card spots aren't decided until the last game of the season; since MLB rules dictate that the Wild Card team with the better record hosts the game, this scenario would complicate the process of buying the tickets (which could be sold out prior to game time due to high demand), as well as other logistical matters (such as traveling to the game; if Cueball were located in the East Coast of the United States and the game were hosted by the Angels, Cueball would need to take a cross continent flight). In the end, the Angels were eliminated from postseason contention on the final weekend of the season, making Cueball's wish impossible until the next season.

As the caption says, he demonstrates that he has very specific knowledge in the topic but stumbles when anything out of his narrow field of view is brought up, similar to 132: Music Knowledge.

To compensate for his lack of interest and knowledge in sport Randall made the comic 1107: Sports Cheat Sheet, and he has before directly mentioned his missing knowledge in 1480: Super Bowl. (See more comics linked in those two).


[Cueball and White Hat are walking together.]
Cueball: Mike Trout's on-base plus slugging has been at career highs. After this injury, the Lakers will be lucky if he can hit even close to that.
White Hat: ...Lakers?
Cueball: I forget which team he is. Broncos?
[Caption below the panel:]
I know a handful of very specific things, but after that my sports knowledge falls apart quickly.

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Turns out I don't know enough about sports to get this comic. Thanks Explain XKCD! 15:54, 5 July 2017 (UTC)

Thanks for the explaination! I learnt a lot!Boeing-787lover 19:03, 5 July 2017 (UTC)

Seems a similar sort of joke as https://xkcd.com/132/ - Carmageddonstein (talk) 22:04, 5 July 2017 (UTC)

Yup, similar joke, different field. Good catch! And I love your name. :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 18:07, 6 July 2017 (UTC)

Could use a deeper explanation of "With the baseball season being halfway over and both football and basketball being in the offseason, Cueball further shows his lack of sports knowledge in asking whether it is next week, and assuming that he could spontaneously decide, at game time, to just go." - how long are seasons / how much longer until the game? (Also, I'm not sure what relevance the mention of non-baseball sports has here - just extra info for comparison?) Why couldn't he spontaneously decide to go? Is it that it sells out X amount of time in advance? (Turns out I have less sports knowledge than Cueball =)) 03:26, 6 July 2017 (UTC)

Baseball seasons are 162 games - generally the regular season runs from early April (Opening Day was April 2 this year) until early October (the last regular season game is October 1, with the Wild Card games on October 3). The non-baseball sports are mentioned because Randall referenced teams from those sports - Lakers for basketball and Broncos for football. Generally the fans for the home team will buy most of the available tickets very quickly, in order to give the home team whatever home field advantage they can. It would be very difficult to buy the tickets in advance as it is not yet known where the game would be played. OldCorps (talk) 12:08, 6 July 2017 (UTC)

Well Randall knows more than I do, LOL! Glad I'm not the only one. :) Never heard of Mike Trout, and "on-base plus slugging" was completely unknown to me until I read it here. I've always felt like I knew the basics of the major sports, like terms, but that one is new to me. I feel like I've got a better handle on which team belongs to which sport than Randall does, though. LOL! NiceGuy1 (talk) 18:05, 6 July 2017 (UTC)

Looking at the comic, I thought, "Oh, what's the slugging-what average? Wait if Mike Trout is so good at this why haven't I heard of him- oh. wait. he plays baseball?" --Char Latte49 (talk) 18:55, 2 March 2021 (UTC)

🎶 mike troutsend is a credit to the team 17:36, 3 December 2021 (UTC)