“The man who said, ‘I’d rather be lucky than good,’ saw deeply into life. People are afraid to face how great a part of life is dependent on luck. It’s scary to think so much is out of one’s control. There are moments in a match when the ball hits the top of the net, and for a split second, it can either go forward or fall back. With a little luck, it goes forward, and you win. Or maybe it doesn’t, and you lose.”
— Christopher Wilton, Match Point
I should draw your attention to four facts:
- The string of Labyrinthians starting with a quotation continues. Little about these pieces is perfect, but I’m basically throwing a quotational perfect game right now.
- “Quotational” is definitely a word.
- I can’t believe Match Point is almost 12 years old.
- I’m about 73 percent sure I’ve used this quotation before in a previous Labyrinthian.
Also, when I wrote, “I should draw your attention to four facts,” I probably instead should’ve written, “I’m about to type at you for four numerical bullet points.”
My Godfather Impersonation Is the Worst
For those of you who have heard me on a podcast — such as the most recent Daily Fantasy Sports Roundtable in which I discuss short slate strategy with Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Mike Petta (Hoop2410), and Chris Raybon — you know that I have a horrible voice. It’s a very distinct monotone baritone. My voice is basically the verbal equivalent of a poker face. Whether I’ve been dealt a good or bad hand, my voice is always the f*cking same. I’m like Ben Stein — “Bueller, Bueller . . .” — but hopefully a little less annoying.
I once tried to do a Godfather impersonation when talking to my wife: “Bonasera, Bonasera . . .” She asked me something like, “Are you trying to clear your throat?” I told her I was doing a Godfather impersonation. She looked me in the eyes and with no irony said, “No, you aren’t.”
To quote Jean-Paul, “This son of a b*tch is ice cold.”
Mind you, I basically married my wife because she once said that The Godfather was one of her favorite movies. After my Godfather ‘impersonation,’ she forbade me from trying to impersonate any human or animal living, dead, or fictional ever again. I’m about 62 percent sure she was only half-joking. About five years later, I one night started to do an impersonation of a mutual friend. I stopped after about five seconds — after she gave me a threatening look that said something like, “We’ve already talked about this, and I wasn’t f*cking joking.”
Sometimes people need to be saved from themselves.
By the way, I’ve realized that Godfather impersonations are like personalities: Everyone thinks theirs is good. That can’t be true. Tons of people have sh*tty personalities. Fortunately, my personality is better than my Godfather impersonation. At least it better be.
Anyway, the point is this: My voice sucks all the way around. When I speak normally, my voice sucks. When I impersonate, my voice still sucks. Always, it sucks.
Talking Like a Brit
At the recent FantasyLabs company trip, Jonathan Bales — without knowing that my wife doesn’t like it anytime I do anything weird with my voice — thought it would be funny if I talked to her with an accent for 10 straight minutes when I got home. Eventually Bales, CSURAM88, Adam Levitan, and Justin Phan were willing to give me a not insignificant sum of money if I would do the accent, secretly record it, and then let them hear the conversation with my wife.
Bales came up with this idea on Saturday morning, and I didn’t see my wife till Monday afternoon, so I had about 55 hours to think about how to do satisfy this accent proffer without 1) laughing and 2) daring my wife to make me sleep on the couch.
So for a lot of the Labs trip in the back of my mind I was running through examples of British accents. I settled on that accent almost immediately because whether I want to do a British accent or not all of my fake accents end up sounding as if I’m trying (and failing) to talk like a Brit anyway. It’s problematic: “Let’s slip another shrimp on the barbie, cheerio.”
Anyway, on the trip I was thinking of actors with British (or similar) accents:
- Sean Connery: “I’ll take anal bum cover for $700.” I do a killer impersonation of Saturday Night Live Connery.
- Peter Dinklage: “I am Tyrion, son of Tywin, of house Lannister.” I’m sure I could’ve rocked this voice with 20 percent competency. I didn’t go with Tyrion because I was afraid my wife would ask, “Why are you trying to pretend to be Tyrion?” That would’ve killed the bet.
- Ewan McGregor: “It’s over Anakin. I have the high ground.” I can’t believe Revenge of the Sith is almost 12 years old.
- Russell Brand: “So this is actually happening. We’re going to let this happen.” Forgetting Sarah Marshall is the spumoni of 2008 movies. I don’t know what that means, but it sounds right.
- Daniel Radcliffe: “Hermione! When have any of our plans ever actually worked?!” This would’ve been the chalk play, given who I am.
- Alan Rickman: “I’m gonna cut your heart out with a spoon.” I can’t decide if the 1991 Robin Hood is a good bad movie or a bad good movie.
I figured that it might be easier for me to pull off something resembling a British accent if instead of trying to talk like a generic Brit I tried to impersonate a particular person who’s actually British.
Good idea, right?
So I basically spent about 55 hours of my work vacation flipping through a mental Rolodex of hot guys who speak in British accents as I was surrounded by 15 other dudes in a hot tub. If I were a different person, that could’ve been a hell of a trip.
What Do You Do When You Sleep? — Dream?
Here’s something kind of weird about me — as if I haven’t given you enough weirdness in this piece. If I have a mental puzzle I’m trying to solve when I go to sleep, my brain tries to solve that puzzle in my dreams.
For instance, in my sophomore year of college I went to sleep before I had finished a particularly complex organic chemistry problem. In my sleep, dream Freedman sat at a desk for what felt like hours and worked the problem out in his chemistry notebook. When I woke up, I had solved the problem. I wrote out what I could remember from the dream and was able to work out the rest in about two minutes.
When my brain thinks that something is important, it doesn’t let sleep get in the way.
So naturally when I slept on this vacation my brain wasn’t taking any time off. It was still busy thinking about British actors. One of the guys I thought about while sleeping was Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who plays Chris Wilton in the Woody Allen film Match Point.
Now, when my brain started thinking about Rhys Meyers — who pulls off the baller move of having an unhyphenated double surname — my brain also started thinking about the Woody film that helped make Rhys Meyers famous.
And then my brain had this thought: “Randomness is random.”
No one ever said I was a genius. (Except for my mother.)
Randomness Is Random
In Match Point, Wilton is a former tennis pro who becomes a tennis instructor who becomes a friend who becomes a flirt who becomes a boyfriend who becomes a financier who becomes a cheater who becomes a husband who becomes an adulterer who becomes a murderer who becomes a murder suspect who becomes a father.
I’m glad you followed that.
The movie opens with Wilton delivering this article’s keystone quotation in a voice-over. Throughout the movie, Wilton is very attuned to randomness and contingency. He knows that skill is mandatory but that luck is always a factor in everything. “With a little luck, it goes forward, and you win. Or maybe it doesn’t, and you lose.”
Near the end of the movie, Wilton is a murder suspect. He attempts to rid himself of evidence by throwing away a ring belonging to one of the women he killed . . .
. . . but Wilton gets unlucky, as the ring fails to go into the river. Instead, it (unbeknownst to him) hits the rail and falls on his side of the metaphorical boundary that separates winning from losing. According to the opening logic of the film, Wilton is now a loser.
And then something random happens. Luck doesn’t work as we (or Wilton) would expect it to: Someone finds the ring, and then that person, later discovered with it, becomes the suspected murderer. Even though Wilton failed to dispose of the evidence and got unlucky, randomness didn’t screw him. Rather, it saved him — because randomness is random.
My sense is that a lot of people in the DFS community have a backward notion of randomness. They think of randomness as that which is statistically unlikely. ‘Random’ and ‘statistically unlikely’ are similar — they’re correlated — but they’re not the same.
Randomness is that which is unpredictable because it’s altogether unaccounted for by statistics. If something is unlikely, we can see it as such by analyzing patterns and the organization of facts and data. If something is random, it (almost?) entirely exists outside of our ability to anticipate it and to quantify its potentiality with prior facts and data.
For instance, if we project a player for one percent ownership and then, when we look at our DFS Ownership Dashboard and see that he’s in one percent of lineups, we shouldn’t think it’s random for him to be in any given lineup. We should expect him to be in the occasional lineup. If, however, a starter has a family emergency and is a late scratch, that’s random — because the possibility of that event wouldn’t have even crossed our minds.
Here’s the point: Randomness isn’t the same as improbability. If an event is improbable, you can still quantify and theorize the DFS correlations likely to accompany it. You can still adjust your Player Models so they overweight the possibility of that event. You can still use the Lineup Builder to construct multiple lineups organized around the potential of the unlikely. And you can still determine the DFS value of the improbable with our Trends tool.
If an event is random, you can’t do any of that because you don’t even entertain the event itself — unless you train your brain to start thinking about the possibilities (and probabilities) of events you’ve never considered.
Contrarianism isn’t betting on the improbable. It’s exploring the chaos of correlations unknown until the chaos is conquered.
My wife wasn’t pleased to hear me speak in a Harry Potter-esque sh*tty British accent for 10 minutes for no apparent reason, but she was pleased to get the money.
And at least she didn’t make me sleep on the couch — but that decision wasn’t totally random: I mean, I did get her a Hermione Granger wand from the Universal Studios store in the Orlando airport. It worked like magic.
When you learn to look for and identify it, that which seems random is usually anything but.
The truth is that luck almost exclusively belongs to the skilled.
The Labyrinthian: 2017.17, 112
This is the 112th installment of The Labyrinthian, a series dedicated to exploring random fields of knowledge in order to give you unordinary theoretical, philosophical, strategic, and/or often rambling guidance on daily fantasy sports. Consult the introductory piece to the series for further explanation. Previous installments of The Labyrinthian can be accessed via my author page.