Not My Job: Baseball Pitcher Ryan Dempster Gets Quizzed On Belly Itchers The former major league right-hander, who threw for the Chicago Cubs for years, answers three questions about stomach scratchers. Originally broadcast July 29, 2017.

Not My Job: Baseball Pitcher Ryan Dempster Gets Quizzed On Belly Itchers

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BILL KURTIS: But enough about me - we spoke to many notable people this year, including the former star pitcher for the Cubs, Ryan Dempster. Ryan joined us in front of 15,000 of our closest friends at Bill-ennium (ph) Park.


KURTIS: Some know it as Millennium Park in Chicago.



So here we are. So this is exciting.

RYAN DEMPSTER: This really exciting. I'm having a - you guys are great.


SAGAL: You've never - I'm sure it's new for you to perform in a crowd of this size.

DEMPSTER: Absolutely.

SAGAL: Yeah, never seen them.


DEMPSTER: I did play for the Florida Marlins for a little while so...


DEMPSTER: ...This was like an entire home stand.


DEMPSTER: It's funny you say that 'cause I - you know, at times, people say that, how is it pitching in front of a big crowd? And when it's a huge crowd, you don't really feel it. Or you feel it, you don't really sense it. It's a hum. And I remember pitching in Florida, and there was a thousand people in the stands. And I came set to throw a pitch. And I was - the bases were loaded. And I came set and all of a sudden, I just heard a guy above the dugout go, throw the change-up.


DEMPSTER: Sounded logical, so I did.


SAGAL: He sounded so confident. What happened with the pitch?

DEMPSTER: It was an out. And I was like, sir, you are the new pitching coach.


SAGAL: Did you get any really good razzing? I mean, do you remember anything?

DEMPSTER: Oh, my gosh, yeah, nonstop, I mean, all the time. St. Louis fans were really good. The White Sox games were - this rivalry going on the last game of the - yes.


SAGAL: Was that particularly bad in terms of the razzing you got?

DEMPSTER: Yeah, just, well, it was - especially on the South Side. When you would go down there and you would just hear a lot of different things that you had no idea that your mother ever did.


SAGAL: You didn't know your mother got down below 35th Street, and yet, they seemed to know her well. It seemed odd.

DEMPSTER: I'm yelling, she's a nice lady. You don't talk about her like that.


SAGAL: There was a lot of anxiety here in Chicago, as I'm sure you know, during the early part of the World Series where the Cubs couldn't win a game. Did you guys on the team ever feel like, oh, my God, we're not going to be able to do this, it's slipping away from us? We're down - what was it? You were down 3 games to 1 at one point, right?

DEMPSTER: Yes. I think that they're definitely - gets that emotion, that anxiety. But I think we felt great about it. And it's funny. Like, I remember back to Game 7. And here we are, we, you know, Jake Arrieta wins Game 6. And we're doing good. And here we go, Game 7, everything on the line. And we're winning 5 to 1, we're winning 5 to 3. Aroldis Chapman's pitching.

Boom - homer. And I'm in 144 and this happens. And every - it's this quiet.

MO ROCCA: You're going to give this crowd PTSD but OK.


SAGAL: I was about to say, I think they remember, but go on.

ADAM FELBER: Look at their faces. They remember.

DEMPSTER: Yeah, and that's how quiet it got. And I just remember going, it's going to be all right. We're going to be fine.

SAGAL: You actually yelled that?

DEMPSTER: I yelled it out. I just said, it's going to be all right. We've got this. And finally, Mother Nature just said, all right, you guys need a break real quick. I'm going to have a rain delay.

FELBER: That's right.

DEMPSTER: And boom, you know, there we go.


SAGAL: We are told that you do a pretty good Harry Caray impersonation.


SAGAL: I should say before we go on that Harry Caray was the legendary sportscaster for both the White Sox and for the Cubs here in Chicago.

DEMPSTER: I loved Harry Caray. He was, like, one of the first broadcasters - growing up in a small town outside of Vancouver that we would get Cubs games on WGN. And so I just loved him. The fact that he could talk for an entire inning and it meant nothing about baseball was just, to me, incredible.


DEMPSTER: So I always liked to - Pat Hughes, who's now the radio voice for the Chicago Cubs - yes.


SAGAL: Beloved figure around here.

DEMPSTER: Absolutely. And he told me a great story one time was he said they were driving to the field together. They were carpooling down, and Harry was doing about 90 on the Edens. He was flying to the field, and he got pulled over. And Pat's like, oh, you're in trouble here. He says, (imitating Harry Caray) hey, pal, I'm a broadcaster for the Cubs. I'm never in trouble, all right?


DEMPSTER: (Imitating Harry Caray) You watch this. I'll get out of this ticket. No problem. So the police officer shows up, he pulls up to the car. And he, you know, he says, can I get your license and registration? And Harry says, (imitating Harry Caray) you know, Officer, I would give you that but this is a stolen car.


DEMPSTER: So he says, sir, you mind getting out of the vehicle? At this point, he kind of starts to sense something's going on. He says, is there anything else you want tell me? He's like, (imitating Harry Caray) to be honest with you, I've got a loaded gun in the glove compartment. But he says, all right, sir. He's like, you know, come on out here. He gets him out of the car. And he says, is there anything else? I'm going to call my partner in here. Is there anything else you want to tell me? He's like, (imitating Harry Caray) you know, if we're going to get right down to it, Officer, I have a dead body in the trunk and I'm on a little bit of a timeline here.


DEMPSTER: So now they got Harry and Pat and they're over by the car and the trunk of the car and this cop's going through the car. And then all of a sudden, his partner comes up to him. He says, hey, Mr. Caray, can I talk to you? And he says (imitating Harry Caray) what is it, Officer? He says, well my partner said that you said this was a stolen car. It's registered to you. He said you have a loaded gun in the glove compartment. There's nothing in there but insurance papers. And he said you have a dead body in the trunk and all you have in there is golf clubs. And he looks the cop in the eye. He says, (imitating Harry Caray), let me guess, that son of a bitch was going to tell you I was speeding, too.


SAGAL: I'm really happy you shared that and really upset that I have to follow that now. Well, Ryan Dempster, we have asked you here to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: We Want A Pitcher, Not A Belly Itcher.

SAGAL: And since you are an elite pitcher, it seemed obvious to ask you about your opposite, belly itchers.

DEMPSTER: All right.

SAGAL: Yeah. Answer 2 out of 3 questions correctly, you'll win a prize for one of our listeners, the voice of Carl Kasell. Bill, who is Ryan Dempster playing for?

KURTIS: Maribeth Haughton of Chicago, Ill.


SAGAL: There you are. She's out there somewhere. First question about belly itching. Belly itching sometimes is caused by chicken pox. Concerned parents have been told not to pursue an unorthodox chicken pox treatment. What is it? A, rubbing a child with a live chicken so that it, quote, "re-absorbs the pox," B, chicken pox lollipop supposedly covered with infectious bacteria so the kid will get the disease and gain immunity or C, sandpaper for just sanding those bad boys off.

DEMPSTER: I'm going to throw - 'cause, I mean, I think, like, the B, the lollipop.

SAGAL: Yes, the lollipop.

ROCCA: Yeah.


SAGAL: The theory is sound, the application is not. Authorities say that Parents should not, in fact, order intentionally infected candy from a stranger and give it to their children.


SAGAL: Safety tip. Next, itchy bellies recently caused a huge problem for an American company recently when what happened? A, 4 million bottles of Coppertone suntan lotion were recalled when it was unwittingly mixed with Tabasco sauce.

ROCCA: And that made them itchy?

SAGAL: It did.

ROCCA: OK, sorry.


FELBER: Hypothetically it did, Mo.

SAGAL: Hypothetically. B, after complaints of itching from several guests, a Super 8 motel in New Jersey revealed their manager had been letting his pet goat sleep in the beds during the day or C, after flight attendants complained their new uniforms made them severely itchy, American Airlines announced they'd get them new ones in two years.

DEMPSTER: Seems like something American Airlines would do would take care of something two years down the road, so I'm going to go with C.

SAGAL: You're right. You've flown American Airlines.


SAGAL: That's correct.


SAGAL: American Airlines has spent over $2 million to find out why the new uniforms are so terribly itchy, and they don't know why yet. Last question. Belly itching can be weaponized as when which of these really happened? A, in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904, in which the Japanese dropped unmarked packets of wasabi on Russian troops to cause indigestion, B, in 1954, the U.S. military conducted Operation Big Itch where they filled bombs with fleas and dropped them from airplanes or C, in 1975, a team of Israeli commandos struck an Egyptian clothing factory and sprayed itching powder onto the looms.

DEMPSTER: That's a tough one right there.

SAGAL: It is a tough one.

DEMPSTER: Yeah, that is tough.

ROCCA: If you're really a closer, you'll get this right.

DEMPSTER: Yeah, good point.


SAGAL: No pressure - it's the last question.

ROCCA: I'm just saying.

SAGAL: This does effect your lifetime stats, by the way.

ROCCA: Throw a change-up. Throw a change-up.

DEMPSTER: And just like when I was closing, I'll just throw something out there and see what happens. I'm going to go with A.

SAGAL: You're going to go with A, the Russo-Japanese war. No, it was actually the U.S. military's Operation Big Itch. They really did this. They put fleas in bombs to see if they could use them to infect other soldiers. And it worked. The fleas survived being dropped from an airplane, but they never used it in combat.

DEMPSTER: I think our clubhouse guy used that on our jock straps.


SAGAL: Bill, how did Ryan Dempster do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Ryan, the nice thing about our game is that if you get 2 out of 3, you're a winner. Ryan Dempster.


SAGAL: Ryan Dempster, two-time All-Star, played for the Chicago Cubs for nine seasons, won the World Series with the Boston Red Sox. You can see him on the MLB Network. Ryan Dempster, thank you so much for being with us. Ryan Dempster, ladies and gentlemen.


SAGAL: When we come back, even more completely new segments featuring guest panelist Patton Oswalt and the greatest receiver ever to strap on cleats, Mr. Jerry Rice. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.

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