I was hoping for a baseball category.
All throughout my preparation for my appearance on Season 33 of “Jeopardy!,” I knew I wanted a baseball category.
My undying love of the Washington Nationals was one of the “fun facts” I submitted for possible interview topics — that’s the brief “Alex-gets-acquainted-with-the-contestants” time after the first commercial break. Instead, Alex asked about my time as an historical interpreter.
So much of “Jeopardy!” comes down to luck. The luck of getting randomly selected for an in-person audition. The luck of actually making it to a taping. The luck of getting selected to go on an episode, especially if there is a returning champion who is on a roll. And ultimately, the luck of the categories.
I didn’t have the luck of the categories. I didn’t get a baseball category. Alas, not even just one baseball question.
But, I had a backup plan. Those who have seen the show know that there are always the funny or cute answers to the Final Jeopardy! clue: “Hi, Mom!” or “Who is Turd Ferguson?” or just the “???” I call these the “screw-it” answers. I had a screw-it answer in my back pocket.
When I told friends and family and social media acquaintances that I would be taping an episode, I received many comments of support and pride. I also got a few suggestions of what my screw-it answer could be (one of which was the Turd Ferguson response). But one of my twitter friends and fellow Half Street Irregulars member suggested that my greatest love of all, the Washington Nationals, serve as my screw-it answer. Done.
Now, I didn’t walk onto that surprisingly small stage expecting to win $1 million or to be the next Julia Collins or Eddie Timanus. I had two main goals: to not make a complete fool of myself and to make it to Final Jeopardy by keeping my score out of the negative.
I made it. When I got to the final question with only $600 and no chance to win, I knew I could use my screw-it answer. I could show my love for my baseball team on national television.
The final category was “Business,” and the question had something to do with European wood usage. When the episode was taped in late July, I didn’t know the outcome of the 2016 baseball season. But here’s what that last clue should have been: “The 2016 National League East division champions.”
My response: “What are the Washington Nationals?”