Bluff The Listener

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Our panelists tell three stories about a major innovation in baseball, only one of which is true.

BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME, the NPR News quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We're playing this week with Maz Jobrani, Alonzo Bodden and Paula Poundstone. And here again is your host at the Nourse Theatre in San Francisco, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill. Thanks everybody.


SAGAL: Right now, it is time for the WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME.


SAGAL: Hi, who's this?

DUCHON: My name is Dona Duchon.

SAGAL: Hey, Dona. Where are you calling from?

DUCHON: Salt Lake City.

SAGAL: Salt Lake City. Beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah. And are you from Utah?

DUCHON: No, I'm not. New Port Beach, Boca Raton, Toronto, Australia - a little bit all over.

SAGAL: Yeah, little.


SAGAL: Who are you fleeing?


SAGAL: Well, Dona welcome to the show. You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Dona's topic?

KURTIS: Taking baseball into the future.

SAGAL: Americans started playing baseball more than 160 years ago, and many of those early games are still going on today.


SAGAL: Man, is baseball boring. So we were excited to read about - finally - a 21st-century first century innovation in the sport of baseball. Guess that real story, you'll win the voice of scorekeeper emeritus Carl Kasell on your very own home voicemail. Are you ready to play?


SAGAL: First up, let's hear from Alonzo Bodden.

ALONZO BODDEN: Everyone complains baseball is slow, and that's because it's really slow.


BODDEN: But hold onto your hats. Soon, you can join the action through the cap cam. Miniature cameras will be installed in players' hats, and using an app, you can click around and see the game as your favorite player does. You can watch a 90-mile-an-hour fastball coming at you or see a double play develop from second base. You can see what the leftfielder sees when his head moves between a long fly ball and the wall he's racing toward while catching it. You can see all of that in theory. It seems many right fielders are more focused on the cleavage in the stands than the action on the field.


BODDEN: According to ESPN, a prominent player who swears Gatorade is what's inside filmed himself sipping warm milk in the dugout. And shockingly, a young pitcher gave everyone a first-person view of him shooting dice with Mr. Met, the New York Mets mascot, during the seventh inning stretch.


BODDEN: The hat cam will continue to be tested. Hopefully, it will be ready for use at the 2014 World Series.


SAGAL: Cap cams. See what with the players see no matter what they're seeing. Your next story of an evolution in baseball comes from Maz Jobrani.

MAZ JOBRANI: What happens when your baseball team loses over 400 games in five years? People stop coming, which is exactly why the Hanwha Eagles of South Korea decided to fill seats in their stadium with a crowd of robot fans.


JOBRANI: Eagle's supporters not wanting to waste their time driving all the way out to the stadium just to watch their team lose again can now enjoy the misery at home by controlling a robot over the Internet who will do the watching for them.


JOBRANI: The bots can cheer, chant and perform the wave. Is this a good idea - robot baseball fans? The poor things can't even drink a beer or eat a hotdog to pass the time. Will the seventh-inning stretch now be called the seventh-inning reboot?


JOBRANI: So basically, this new technology is like watching the game on TV, but your camera is mounted on a robot's head. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why robots will take over and make us pay because we made them watch boring baseball games that no human being wanted to see.


SAGAL: A team in South Korea fills the stands with robots so they can have a crowd. And your last story of America's pastime becoming America's future time comes from Paula Poundstone.

PAULA POUNDSTONE: The uncouth days when the propensity for baseball players to grab their family jewels on the field may soon be swept into the sports dark, uncultured past by a small, DNA-shaped piece that is sewn into the inside of the uniform just beneath the zipper of the pants. It has a heat sensor that causes it to twist when friction makes the temperature rise...


POUNDSTONE: ...Which gently adjusts and loosens the male triple threat.


POUNDSTONE: The baseball uniform pants are quite tight says creator and Hello Kitty CEO Hiro Takahashi.


POUNDSTONE: And this has, for many years, been a problem for the players' crotch arrangement. The players on the Japanese baseball team the Hanshin Tigers were the first to use the revolutionary, new, automatic, hands-free crotch adjustment device with mixed results. I have never liked to touch my private parts in front of a crowd says first baseman Shunsuke Fujikawa. It seemed like a very good idea, but it was a distraction. When I wear the device, I miss a lot of catches.


POUNDSTONE: Centerfielder Hagada Ho (ph) had a great game using the device. I found that I could create more friction by running very fast.


POUNDSTONE: I stole bases three times and received many rewards.


SAGAL: So from three different countries that play baseball, three different stories of baseball innovation. Was it from Alonzo Bodden, here in the U.S., the introduction of the cap cams that show you what the players are seeing?


SAGAL: From Maz Jobrani, in South Korea, robot fans to fill the crowds and broadcast the game back home.


SAGAL: Or from Paula Poundstone, in Japan, a device that saves the baseball player from the trouble of pursuing their traditional habit of adjusting themselves on the field.


SAGAL: Which of these - which is your choice for the real baseball innovation?

DUCHON: As much as I would like to go with Paula, I'm going with the robots.

SAGAL: You're going to go with the robots. You're choosing the robot fans. All right, well, we spoke to somebody who actually covered this baseball innovation.

MELISSA LOCKER: They decided that they were going to create these robot fans that were going to sit in the stands and cheer for the Eagles.


SAGAL: That was Melissa Locker, a reporter for Time, talking about the robot baseball fans. Congratulations, Dona, you got it right. The robot fans of South Korea. You picked Maz's story. It was the truth. Maz gets a point, but you win our prize - the inestimable Carl Kasell's voice on your voicemail. Congratulations, Dona.

DUCHON: Excellent. Thanks so much.

SAGAL: Thank you so much for playing.


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