Break-up, baseball, and JEOPARDY

Lake George

break-upHere are some Ask Roger Anything questions about break-up, baseball, and JEOPARDY. They were asked by Kelly Sedinger, the fine Buffalo-area blogger at

When the break-up finally comes, does New York form a country with, say, NJ and New England and maybe PA, MD, and DE? Or do we all just join Canada?

First, I do accept the premise of the question. Major Garrett, formerly of FOX and now CBS, wrote a book suggesting that America is close to Civil War. But I remain puzzled by the mechanism.

As someone in upstate New York, you KNOW there are pockets of conservatives in New York, such as the Southern Tier south of you, or much of the territory north of me, which are quite conservative. Conversely, there are liberal enclaves in Iowa.

The Greater Idaho movement, with much of eastern Oregon joining the spud state, will be difficult to achieve. Redistributing assets nationally would be a nightmare.

Still, rhetorically speaking, your larger model works. And the Canadians, if they are smart, will want to have nothing to do with a land annexation. They don’t want those gun-toting folks in their jurisdiction.

Here comes the Judge

Am I crazy in detecting a rather unsavory note in all the cheering of Aaron Judge this season as he chases home run records? Because it really does occasionally take on a tone of “Thank God a white guy is posing a threat to the record held by the black guy nobody likes.”

I can say that Barry Bonds was very supportive of Judge’s pursuit of the American League record of 61 (Roger Maris, 1961) and understood the stress of getting that 61st one. Days before the regular season ended, it was pretty clear that Judge wouldn’t surpass Bonds’ 73 HRs.

But I think your question hit on the real issue. Barry Bonds is just not warm and fuzzy. And people feel that he cheated with the Performance-Enhancing Drugs. So I don’t think it’s specifically racism, although I don’t listen to sports talk on radio or TV because I find much of it repetitive and banal.

Now some people didn’t want Henry Aaron to topple Babe Ruth’s career record of 714, even sending death threats. (When I saw a guy on the field running with Hammerin’ Hank, I was genuinely worried about the slugger’s safety.) But many people think Bonds’ career record of 762 is tainted and that it should belong to Aaron, with 755.

Favorite place within 50 miles of Albany?

I’m fond of Lake George, north of here. The lake itself is quite beautiful, and it has several amenities without being TOO touristy.


A change you would make to JEOPARDY!? (Resurrecting Trebek is not an option.)

Actually, my wish can never happen because it seems to be too popular with the fans. I’d prefer that they stayed with five-day champions, and then they’re gone until the annual Tournament of Champions. The interview segment is fine for someone staying for a week, but most of them start to wear on me.

I don’t want to see the same people in yet another tournament. They had that awful team event a few years ago. Besides seeing Ken and Brad yet AGAIN in competition, it took away time when we might see your average champion. They seem to be keying on the “super champions,” which just doesn’t feel right. At least Ken Jennings and Buzzy Cohen, as hosts of the show, can no longer compete on the show because they’ve hosted.

Oh, and I’m against giving a bonus to people who run a category. Former JEOPARDY champ Austin Rogers makes a case for it, but I remain unconvinced.

Oh, and here’s something that Trebek used to say that I never liked, and I recently heard Jennings repeat. When all three contestants missed the same question, Alex would say, “No harm, no foul.” It’s not correct. If Player A has $12,000, Player B has $6,000, and Player C has $3,000, and they all miss a $2,000 question, who is most disadvantaged? The person with the least amount of money.

Season 39 of JEOPARDY!

season 39Season 39 of the game show JEOPARDY has begun. Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik were named permanent co-hosts, replacing the late Alex Trebek. Ken started the season on September 12, with Mayim stepping in starting in January. Mayim is also hosting Celebrity JEOPARDY, which begins on September 25 on ABC-TV. The co-hosts share all.

ITEM: “Some JEOPARDY fans are already upset with Ken. Fans online began to call him out for making an allegedly unfair ruling in favor of reigning winner, Luigi de Guzman, who scored his fourth consecutive victory on Wednesday, September 14.

“The incident in question occurred when de Guzman was answering a clue about a 19th-century British painter, prompting his first response, ‘Who is Constant?’

“‘Say it again,'” Jennings replied.

“‘Sorry, who is Constable,'” de Guzman then stated, with his correct answer being accepted.”

“It is unclear if Jennings allowed him to correct his answer or if he simply did not hear de Guzman.” Though I believe it was the former, this created a huge swing in the game. It was a $1000 clue as the last clue in the first round, which meant Luigi ended with $4,200, Winston Li had $1,800, and Harriet Wagner had $2,000.

Talk about Double JEOPARDY!

“But Jennings, 48, stirred up controversy later in the show when… Wagner provided an answer about a science fiction author, stating, ‘Who is Angela LeGuin—sorry, Ursula LeGuin,’ although her answer was not accepted.

“‘Harriet, you remembered that her name was Ursula, but I’m afraid I’d already began ruling against you when you corrected yourself,’ Jennings said,” about the “rule that allows contestants to change their answers ‘as long as neither the host nor the judges have made a ruling,’ per their website.”

This was even more significant in the game. It was a $2,000 clue, the final clue in Double JEOPARDY. Not only was Harriet’s clue deemed wrong, but Luigi rang in with the correct response. This assured a lock game for the returning champion, $17,800 to $8,600 for each of his opponents.

“But fans on Twitter couldn’t help but notice the double standard in the two rulings, with many pointing out that Wagner corrected herself even faster than de Guzman, calling the JEOPARDY rule unfair for not providing a certain amount of time for contestants to correct themselves rather than depending on when the host begins to rule.” Some fans even suggested that Jennings was a misogynist.

I believe that the ruling against Harriet Wagner was correct. But the judges should have overridden Jennings and also ruled against Luigi de Guzman, whose initial response was clearly incorrect and might not have changed if not prompted by the host. Reportedly, per Reddit, a viewer in the audience said judges did intervene during the commercial break on both rulings but did not change either one.


The JEOPARDY Tournament of Champions, which starts on October 31, is hosted by Jennings, and has format changes. There are byes to the semi-finals for Amy Schneider (40 games won), Matt Amodio (38 games won), and Mattea Roach (23 games won). “These three players will proceed automatically to the semi-final round, meaning they do not have to play in the quarter-final rounds. [Executive producer Michael] Davies explained that this is to make the contest fairer, as Schneider, Amodio, and Roach are so far ahead of the curve’ that they felt it would be unfair to place them in a lower bracket.” Meh. Here are the players.

The 2022 Tournament of Champions will feature six quarter-final games, with the winner of each game advancing to the semi-final round. The nine semi-finalists will then each play their three games to determine the three winners that will face off in the final round. However, the final match will also work a little differently than it did last year.

“This year’s final match will adopt the rules of the 2019 Greatest of All Time tournament” [Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, James Holzhauer]. “The three finalists will play until someone wins three matches. This means the 2022 Tournament of Champions final could take as few as three days or stretch for the full seven days, depending on how the competition shakes out.”

My rooting interest includes Ryan Long, the rideshare driver who got through his first week without his prescription glasses and ended up winning 16 games, most of those NOT getting a bye.

The stars

ITEM: ‘Celebrity Jeopardy!’ Reveals a Brand-New Triple ‘Jeopardy’ Round. “Triple JEOPARDY JEOPARDY contains six new categories with five clues per category. And hidden on the game board are three Daily Doubles.”

It may be okay; I’ll have to see. But it has the potential to change the nature of the game. When NBC brought back PASSWORD this summer, with host Keke Palmer, it was exceedingly amped up. Also, there was too much executive producer Jimmy Fallon, who played every game against a different celebrity opponent. But the game’s play is very similar to the late Allen Ludden days.

Likewise with the $100,000 Pyramid, which has been on for six summers on ABC, hosted by Michael Strahan. The clues may be a bit more risque. Still, the structure is the same as when the late Dick Clark hosted back in the 1970s when the top prize was $10,000.

Alum of sorts

ITEM: I taped the genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are for an extra hour this summer. The subsequent program was The Weakest Link, a game show hosted by Jane Lynch. The best contestant was a woman named Kelly. She noted that she had worked for JEOPARDY and learned some things.

It was Kelly Miyahara, a member of the Clue Crew from 2005 to 2019. She was also the announcer for the spin-off show Sports Jeopardy! She got voted off, not because she was bad at the game but because she was correctly perceived as the greatest threat.

ITEM: Pat Sajak, 75, who recently posed with MTG, suggests he’ll be retiring sooner than later. If so, I think the person to replace him short-term is letter-turner Vanna White, 65,  who filled in for him when he was ill a couple of years ago. Technologically, do they still need a letter-turner?

I’ve long suggested that my wife should play the game because she’s better than I at Boggle, Wordle, and other word games.

About the game show JEOPARDY!


I’ve had several questions from various people about the game show JEOPARDY!, on which I appeared in 1998.

When will you be on again?

Never. Unless you make it to the Tournament of Champions, you’re done when you lose in the Alex Trebek era, which started in 1984. This means, technically if you had played in the Art Fleming era, you could theoretically participate again. Fleming last hosted in 1979, so someone 21 then would now only be 64. But most would be far older.

Frankly, I wouldn’t want to be on again. The social media buzz about contestants’ sexual orientation, gender identity, income, personality quirks, et al. is irritating.

And the hosts seem to focus a lot on the statistics, especially the players who win a number of games and become dubbed “super champions.” “Chris won answered 34 questions, getting 31 correctly.” It’s like hearing too many baseball stats: “Smith batted .412 against lefties in day games.” You can find the numbers on the website.

Speaking of the hosts, a lot of social media chatter about Mayim Bialek’s apparel and Ken Jenings’ alleged haughtiness. Ken Levine complained about this here. Some of it I think is correct, such as accepting incomplete answers, such as 90210 for Beverly Hills 90210.

Regardless, I look forward to the selection of a permanent host. Or hosts, probably, since there is going to be an hour-long Celebrity JEOPARDY once a week on ABC.

It’s a young person’s game

Trebek was fond of saying that he knew about 70% of the answers. However, a younger player would always beat him, he declared, because his response rate would be slower. Watching the show daily, I know this to be true. It might be a clue about a movie I’ve seen, but I can’t retrieve the title in the allotted time.

So I’m excited when I actually get a response correctly and quickly that NO ONE gets right, or even rings in. From one game:

IT’S A “SYN” “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” is one way of explaining it. What is synergy? (I blame Weird Al for knowing this.)

BODIES OF WATER The Conchos River, the longest in the state of Chihuahua, is a tributary of this one. What is the Rio Grande?

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNERS: 1961: this Swedish Secretary-General of the U.N., posthumously. Who was Dag Hammarskjöld? (Some answers I get BECAUSE I’m older than the players.)

9-, 10-, and 11-LETTER WORDS: From German and Yiddish, it’s the act of offering unsolicited advice to someone who’s playing a game. What is kibitzing? (BTW, I HATE kibitzing.)

The ToC

I’m on record opposing the loss of the limit of five days as champion. In particular, someone who dominates a game is boring for me to watch. It’s like seeing a 45-14 football game.

That said, this fall’s Tournament of Champions is going to be really interesting. That’s because a lot of these players have already faced each other.

Jonathan Fisher (11 wins) beat Matt Amodio (38)
Eric Ahasic (6) beat Ryan Long (17)
Megan Wachspress (6) beat Eric Ahasic
Zach Newkirk (6) beat Brian Chang (7)
Amy Schneider (40) beat Andrew He (5)

When they’re seeded, I’m sure the JEOPARDY producers will make sure these pairs do not meet in the first round.

Check Ken Levine’s interview with Suzanne Stone who spent 38 years working at JEOPARDY here and here.

Sunday stealing: Do you like…?

on the telephone

Doing another Sunday Stealing, Do you like…

1. Do you like your handwriting? No, and if I’m not careful, it is illegible even to me. I think it was in third grade, and for at least one marking period, I received either a D or an F in Handwriting. So this is NOT a recent phenomenon.

2. Do you like roller coasters? I used to. My family would go to Coney Island, or to Eldridge Park in Elmira. I’d sit with my sister Leslie, while my dad would sit with my sister Marcia. Our mom would hold our glasses. But now, it makes me somewhat nauseous.

3. Do you like scary movies? Not really. I’ve not gone to any Nightmare On Elm Street or Friday the 13th films. The first film to freak me out was called Leech Woman.

4. Do you like shopping? I like going into a store, finding the thing I like, then leaving. Did that with a coat my wife bought for me at JC Penney. The first coat I tried on I liked and it fit. “Don’t you want to try on some more?” NO! It took us longer to pay for it than to select it. So I’ve learned to love mail order.

5. Do you like to talk on the phone? Yes, actually. When I was working, I was the one most likely to call a resource on the phone. And, I might add, I was good at it. In 2020, I called dozens of people, rather as an antidote to COVID despair.


6. Do you sleep with the lights on or off? Off. My wife’s aversion to the light at night is primarily the reason.

7. Do you use headphones or earphones? If I’m on a public conveyance (bus, train), yes.

8. Do you have tattoos? Do you want any? No, and no.

9. Do you wear glasses? I have since I was nine or eleven.

10. What is your strangest talent? Making a kazoo sound without a kazoo.

11. Have you ever been in the hospital? Yes. When I was 5 (uncontrollable nosebleed), 19 (car accident), a couple of other times to rule out something more serious.

12. What color mostly dominates your wardrobe? Blue.

13. What’s your most expensive piece of clothing? Probably a suit.

14. Have you ever had braces? No.

15. Have you ever been on TV? Yes. I was on the local kiddie show a few times; I wrote about one experience here. I’ve been interviewed on the local news a handful of times. And, oh, yeah, JEOPARDY twice.

Changing up the morning ritual


Daily Quordle #51
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I’ve been changing up the morning ritual in the past, lessee, two years. Formerly, I would get up, check the email, and perhaps work on the blog, But at 7 a.m., my wife and I would go downstairs and watch CBS This Morning, now CBS Mornings, to watch “your world in ninety seconds.”

When the headlines were unrelentingly about COVID – the spread of COVID, the death toll of COVID – I sometimes passed on the opportunity to start my day with misery. Presently, I’ve been feeling similarly about Ukraine. I guess I’m more equipped to deal with distress in the evening. Besides, I tend to get enough news from various news outlets during the day.

Instead, I do the daily Wordle. I should note that my wife is MUCH better at this than I am, just as she’s better at Boggle. My daughter is better, too. Wordle has become an odd family bonding experience.

I’ve repeatedly told my wife she’d rule on Wheel of Fortune. We actually have the home game, a consolation prize from when on JEOPARDY! and our comparative scores prove my point. But at least we all still have our Wordle streaks going, unlike some people.

FOUR words

Then I attempt Quordle. The first several times I never got the four words in the nine tries. My mistake was to work it like I played Wordle. I know now to try to expose as many letters by finding three or even four words that hit most of the consonants. I’ve been much more successful.

After wishing my wife goodbye, I go back into the office. The cats want to be fed. I HAD been giving them nourishment at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. But with the stupid time change, if I attend them at 7 and 7, when we “fall back”, they’d be caterwauling to get food at 6 and 6.

This is just one reason that I’m OK with the idea of changing to permanent Daylight Saving Time, even though it’ll be dark on December mornings. I’ve made my feelings about changing the clocks quite clear here. (I’m essentially agreeing with  Marco Rubio; this pains me.)

After finally feeding the felines, I take my blood pressure and my pulse to make sure I’m not dead. THEN I eat. The rest is the usual alternating of email/blogging to music, riding the stationary bike while watching TV (JEOPARDY, 60 Minutes, Finding Your Roots, Trevor Noah, et al), washing the dishes/reading the newspaper to music. This may be altered by a medical appointment, Bible study, grocery shopping, or the eternal “something else,” that unexpected task that sucks up hours in the day.

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