Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
9:00 am
Sat December 31, 2011

Bluff The Listener

Transcript

CARL KASELL, HOST:

From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Tom Bodett, Peter Grosz and Kyrie O'Connor. And here again if your host, at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, Florida, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Carl.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Thank you all so much. Right now, it's 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.

ZELDA MAYNARD: Hi, my name is Zelda Maynard(ph). I'm calling from Seattle, Washington.

SAGAL: Hey, Zelda, how are you?

MAYNARD: Good.

SAGAL: That's a great name. I've never met - I don't know if I've met anybody named Zelda, outside of video games, so I'm really pleased to meet you.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

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

KASELL: Win or die trying, or I'll kill you myself.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Owners and coaches will do anything to make sure their team wins, whether it's bringing in a star player, paying their players better or secretly injecting them with anabolic horseradish. Our panelists are going to tell you three stories of teams going to unusual lengths to achieve victory, only one of which is true. Pick that real one; you will win our prize, Carl Kasell's voice on your home answering machine. Ready to go?

MAYNARD: Yep.

SAGAL: All right. First up, let's hear from Peter Grosz.

PETER GROSZ: It was late January 2010 and perennial underdogs the New Orleans Saints were heading to their first Super Bowl. Owner Tom Benson believed in his team but he was just superstitious enough to go the extra mile. So when a local voodoo priest named Duruk Tibido(ph) offered to put a curse on Indianapolis Colts' quarter Peyton Manning, Benson cautiously accepted.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GROSZ: Mr. Tibido invited members of the Saints organization to attend the ritual at his shack in rural Temple Bay, Louisiana where the following occurred. A rooster, wearing a miniature version of Manning's number 18 Colts jersey...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GROSZ: ...was placed into the center of a pit, along with a rattlesnake painted black and gold, representing Saints' linebacker Jonathan Vilma that swiftly attacked the rooster, sending a lethal dose of venom into its jugular.

Horrified members of the Saints staff left in shock and quickly disassociated themselves with Tibido. But after the Saints intercepted Manning in the fourth quarter to seal their Super Bowl win, Tibido said, quote, "You all can pretend that curse didn't work, but I know better."

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Voodoo before the New Orleans Saints Super Bowl. Your next story of the team pushing the envelope comes from Kyrie O'Connor.

KYRIE O'CONNOR: You know how you're intently watching your favorite team on TV and you leave the room to get more nachos, and when you get back your team is suddenly losing? You could be on to something there. Reports have surfaced that the now divorcing skillionaire owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Frank and Jamie McCourt hired a 71-year-old Russian spiritual healer to think good thoughts about the Dodgers.

This Rasputin of Chavez Ravine(ph) is Vladimir Shpunt, who was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars over five years to sit in front of his TV in Boston and beam his special V energy across 3,000 miles to the Dodgers. "It is very big work," he said. "I like to win."

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: A Russian spiritualist sending positive energy to the Dodgers from thousands of miles away.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Your last story of doing what it takes to win comes from Tom Bodett.

TOM BODETT: David Laidlaw had led his self-styled Worcester Gryffindor pee wee hockey team through the semifinals with some good old fashioned coaching and, he admitted later under oath, caffeinated juice boxes.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BODETT: But last week's regional championship in Springfield, Massachusetts called for some special motivation. Take a cue from his six and seven year old players' fascination with the Harry Potter stories, Laidlaw lined up his team in the Springfield train station and pointed to a brick wall.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BODETT: "You kids win this championship," he told them, "and you'll walk through this wall like Harry Potter and his pals and take that magic train straight to Hogwarts."

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BODETT: The kids loved their coach, of course, and believed everything he said. And through luck and pluck and some well-placed pucks, the Gryffindor returned to the station, trophy in hand. Two broken noses and a minor concussion later...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BODETT: Bystanders intervened to restrain the young champs from continuing to hurl themselves at the bricks. Charged with child endangerment, Coach Laidlaw expressed no regrets. Look, they were going to find out it's all make believe anyway, why not get something out of it before they wise up?

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: All right. So somebody did one of these things to help their team. Was it, from Peter Grosz, the management of the New Orleans Saints bringing in a voodoo doctor? From Kyrie O'Connor: the owners of the LA Dodgers hiring a Russian psychic to send positive mental beams to them from watching on TV? Or from Tom Bodett, a pee wee hockey coach promising the kids that if they win they all get to go to Hogwarts? Which is the real story from the world of sports?

MAYNARD: Well, I'm partial to Massachusetts as my home state, but I'm going to go with the first one, the voodoo, because I read Tori Spelling's biographies and I know it's true. She goes to voodoo people.

SAGAL: Oh that explains her whole career I guess.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BODETT: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: So you're going to go with Peter Grosz's story by way of Tori Spelling.

MAYNARD: Yeah.

SAGAL: So that's your story, the story of the voodoo. Well, we spoke to a sportswriter who in fact covered this story.

BILL SHAIKIN: Dr. Shpunt was on the Dodgers' payroll for five years. And he claimed that he could use his healing energy to send positive vibes, if you will, from Boston all the way to Los Angeles.

SAGAL: That was Bill Shaikin. He's a sports reporter for the LA Times, explaining how, in fact, the LA Dodgers hired a Russian psychic. So I'm sorry, you didn't win, but you earned a point for Peter.

MAYNARD: Okay.

SAGAL: And you know why, because Peter killed the chicken. It was almost...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: It was almost a voodoo ritual there...

GROSZ: Yeah.

SAGAL: That caused you to choose him. It was very effective and evil.

GROSZ: It worked.

SAGAL: Well thank you so much for playing, Zelda, we really appreciate it.

MAYNARD: Thank you.

SAGAL: Take care.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Zelda.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

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