Bialik brings brainpower to 'Express Written Consent'
Actress, neuroscientist gives unique take on recent Dodgers-Giants matchup
While we haven't looked at every Wikipedia page that's out there, let's go out on a limb and assume that there's only one person who is introduced as: "An American actress and a neuroscientist."
That would be one Mayim Bialik, who blossomed from a kid actor in the 1980s and '90s to become a Ph.D. as an adult. Bialik is also an author of two books, the most recent being a cookbook titled "Mayim's Vegan Table," featuring more than 100 plant-based recipes.
Bialik is also a baseball fan, having been raised by parents who were born in the Bronx during World War II and grew up, as Bialik described it, "spitting distance from Yankee Stadium."
With all this in mind, it comes as no surprise that her conversation with MLB.com host Jeremy Brisiel during a recent taping of "Express Written Consent" was one of the more ... cerebral exchanges in "EWC" history.
"You're really funny," J.B. said to Bialik from a booth at Dodger Stadium. "And very smart."
True on both counts. Bialik, who first appeared on screen as the kid version of Bette Midler in "Beaches," and a few years later starred as the title character in the teen hit "Blossom," created a niche for herself in quirky roles that perfectly complemented her comedic timing.
Consider her most recent role as Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on the hit show "The Big Bang Theory." That performance earned her Emmy Award nominations in 2012 and '13 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. In the show, Bialik plays, ironically enough, a neuroscientist.
In real life, though, it's likely Bialik relied more on her brains than her sense of humor. Consider the title of her dissertation: "Hypothalamic regulation in relation to maladaptive, obsessive-compulsive, affiliative, and satiety behaviors in Prader-Willi syndrome."
So what does this have to do with baseball? Well, admittedly, not much, but Brisiel seemed to be enjoying himself as he steered the conversation toward breaking down a ballgame through the eyes of a neuroscientist.
Bialik may see things a little differently than we do, but she did provide a fascinating theory on why baseball is based so much on superstition, probably more than any other sport.
"The set of things to do to make things right," Bialik began. "The sort of compulsive actions you'll see going on with signals being thrown. Certain pitchers will have a lot of pomp and circumstance with everything they do. There's a lot of emphasis on precision, because there is so much time in which to wait to try and zero in on things.
"You will see a tremendous amount of compulsive behavior, which we assume is operating from the obsessions involved in baseball."
In other words, ballplayers are creatures of routine, who do the same thing when they're batting, or pitching, or waiting on deck.
(At least that's what we think she meant.)
Take Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, for example. Bialik noticed him stepping out from the plate between pitches to retighten his batting gloves and, noting that there was probably no need to readjust, labeled it as: "a fixed action pattern he's designed."
Watching outfielder Brandon Belt bend down after being hit by a pitch, Brisiel asked, "Does squatting help you with pain?" To which Bialik answered, "Making yourself into a small position when you are wounded is something most animals do, yes."
That's only the tip of the iceberg in terms of cool things we learned during this episode of "EWC." There's more:
• Did you know that if you soak any nut -- almonds, walnuts, cashews, for example -- in a bowl of water for six hours and put them in a blender, they whip up to a cheese consistency? "Add garlic and herbs," Bialik explained, "and it would taste like ricotta."
• Bialik's younger son started talking a little later than most kids. In fact, he learned to sing before he learned to speak. His first song? The old baseball standard, "Take Me Out To The Ballgame."
• Bialik finds it fascinating that every ballpark has different dimensions and are different sizes from the others. She also loves that baseball is a sport where the manager wears a uniform, too.
Mostly, she enjoys the slower pace of baseball, referring to it as a "tedium."
"It's not like a fast-moving game," she said. "It's a sit and have a beer kind of game."
That's one theory we can all agree on, even without a dissertation to back it up.