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    Like Wordle for baseball nerds, the Immaculate Grid has become this summer’s viral internet sensation
    • July 10, 2023

    These days the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is grab my phone, open up my new favorite game and plunge myself into the deepest recesses of my memory bank, straining like hell to remember Carlos Pena.

    All my friends are doing it too, and the group chat blows up around 9 a.m., as we eagerly await to share which Guys we’ve Remembered, kind of like friends calling each other on Christmas morning to discuss their presents. “You got Octavio Dotel?! Dude, nice, I can’t believe it!!”

    This has become a way of life for sports fans over the last week and a half or so, a ritual that feels perfect for this moment, as the summer heat sets in, Fourth of July leftovers are still in the fridge and many of us are looking for a reason to text our friends as we tackle that latest work project from our couches.

    The Immaculate Grid has become a viral sensation, like a Wordle or Sudoku for sports fans, only with childhood memories included.

    Since its Twitter account became active in April, the Immaculate Grid has amassed more than 25,000 followers. Its popularity has exploded since the last two weeks of June, with interest hitting its peak on June 30 according to Google Trends, as searches for “Astros Rays players” “Astros Rays Cy Young,” “Shane McClanahan 200 Ks” and “David Price” prove people are not beyond cheating in order to impress their friends.

    Immaculate Grid 93:#immaculategrid #mlbconnectgrid
    Retweet or reply with your score!

    — Immaculate Grid (@immaculategrid) July 5, 2023

    Savvy search-oriented websites are cranking out content daily surrounding answers to the grid, giving people a place to chea– er, look up the correct answers after they’ve been stumped and sent the results to their friends.

    Like most internet things, the grid has emerged from a groundswell, going from niche find to popular culture novelty almost overnight.

    Yankees manager Aaron Boone brought up the grid on the latest episode of the popular podcast Talkin’ Yanks, incidentally hosted by a pair of Central Connecticut State grads, Jimmy O’Brien (Jomboy) and Jake Storiale.

    “Have you guys been doing the Immaculate grid?” Boone asked. “It’s big in our clubhouse.”

    “I ripped off a 16 this morning,” he continued. “Rarity score.”

    Aaron Boone says he’s good at the Immaculate Grid and the Yankees clubhouse loves doing it

    — Talkin’ Yanks (@TalkinYanks) July 5, 2023

    The game has made its way into clubhouses around the league, with Milwaukee Brewers beat reporter Curt Hogg excitedly delivering the news that the grid has reached the Brewers clubhouse, and that players are printing out sheets and filling them out. Hogg reported that outfielder Jesse Winkler, who would be a correct answer to a Brewers-Reds, Reds-Mariners or Brewers-Mariners square, scored a perfect 9 on June 28.

    The most important news coming from the lower level of Citi Field right now: The Immaculate Grid has reached the Brewers clubhouse in printed-out sheets. Jesse Winker scored a 9 today.

    — Curt Hogg (@CyrtHogg) June 28, 2023

    The rules of the grid are pretty simple: Name any player who played for both the team shown on the x and y axis of the graph, or when a stat such as .300 batting season or Cy Young award is shown on the axis, name one who did that, too. The grid is unrelenting in its ruthlessness, however- there is no room for wrong answers. Hence the word immaculate, like an immaculate inning, in which a pitcher strikes out the side on just nine pitches.

    In my group chat on the day of this writing, myself and two of my friends and former colleagues at NBC Sports were able to guess all nine answers correctly. The other friend in our chat, current writer and editor Ross Bentley, made eight correct guesses before staring down the final box in the grid, needing to name a former Rays and Astros player. He guessed Carlos Lee.


    When Ross shared his result on the chat, it felt like a combined perfect game had been broken up with two outs in the ninth.

    “Took a shot in the dark, but it didn’t pay off,” he said, before lamenting that he should have thought of Charlie Morton.

    For the guys in my group chat, simply getting the right answers and completing the grid is the goal, but it’s an even higher status symbol to fill out the grid by guessing the most obscure players possible.

    Baseball Prospectus writer Jarrett Seidler has been posting his results to Twitter, completing the puzzle with outright ridiculous answers, asking us to believe that he somehow knew that relief pitcher Pat Mahomes (Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ father) hit .300 one season while playing for the New York Mets.

    I’m not saying he didn’t know that, but the part of me that likes to think that my guess of Tony Womack as a former Pirate and Diamondback was a stroke of peerless sports genius thinks he’s cheating.

    We both did guess Arthur Rhodes though, along with only 0.2 percent of other players who played the game that day. Now that’s a rarity score.

    On a given day, Immaculate Grid’s analytics report hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of games being played. When you finish, the game gives you a chart showing the most popular correct answers, and allows you to share your score in a text or on social media without revealing your answers, much like Wordle.

    It’s gotten popular enough that NBA, NHL and NFL versions of the game have been created in recent days.

    If all of this sounds like nonsense, there’s one key thing to remember: It is.

    But for those of us who spent our childhoods collecting memories about Pokey Reese and Mike Bordick and Lenny Dykstra, stashing away the information that Howie Kendrick was both an Angel and a National, or even that Jimmie Foxx once played for the A’s, this is a seminal moment.

    It’s a chance to use the personal Elias Sports Bureaus we’ve built up in our heads, and to brag to our friends that we can remember Cecil Fielder. It’s also a reason to rip your friends, which is clearly the best part of all.

    I mean seriously, Carlos Lee? Who thinks he played for the Rays?

    ​ Orange County Register