While most of the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, some areas are at different points of the outbreak and containment cycle than, say, the United States. In Taiwan, for example, some sports leagues are starting to reorganize and play games, albeit without fans in attendance.
To fix the problem of empty stadiums, one baseball team is trying something truly interesting. Namely, programming robots to sit in the stands and and root, root, root for the home team. According to the Taipei Times, the Rakuten Monkeys are getting ready for baseball again and will host the Brothers Baseball Club at Taoyuan International Stadium on Saturday. And if you take a look at their Twitter feed you’ll see that robot mannequins will be in Monkeys colors cheering them on.
Please click on that image to make it full size and really let its wonders soak in. A faceless robot stands sentinel over an unplayed drum, sticks frozen at rest. Some of the mannequins are wearing wild-colored wigs. Others, a group of fans who presumably came together and intentionally dressed alike, feature large eyes provided by the costume glasses they’re wearing. Another man is holding a large bottle of liquor. It’s terrifying and mesmerizing all at once. I love it so much.
The Monkeys in particular seem to be leading the way with innovations here, including these terrifying face masks with the actual faces of players on them.
It’s unclear just how much noise these soulless abominations of the human spirit will make, or if they will actually be more distracting to players than anything. But one does have to wonder how firmly they will be in place and whether a foul ball making contact with them could, say, bowl them over or possibly damage the robots in some way.
OK, the more I think about it Rakuten Monkeys games just became must-watch TV.