Sneak preview: Device lets fans look into past

Handheld `Insider' takes instant replay out to the ballgame

Sports Plus

May 26, 2002|By Andy Knobel | Andy Knobel,SUN STAFF

You're at the ballpark, and you turn your head for just a minute to get change from the vendor who sold you that foam-finger No. 1. A roar rises and your heart sinks. You've missed the big play at the plate.

The catcher's knocked out cold. The runner's hot and bothered.

Was he out? Safe? Why's everybody booing?

It's a ticket buyer's worst nightmare - you shell out a small fortune to take the family to the ballgame and miss the biggest moment of the night.

Taz Anderson feels your pain, and that's why he's devised The Insider, a wireless video device that offers personal instant replays from multiple camera angles.

It debuted this season at Turner Field in Atlanta, renting for $20 a game, and is expected to be available at Georgia Tech and Atlanta Falcons football games this fall, with possible expansion to other baseball parks next season.

Anderson envisions a day when golf fans use it to follow holes they don't want to walk to and NASCAR fans tune in to a camera placed in their favorite driver's car.

Victor Boudolf borrowed one from his friend at a recent Braves game, slipping the gray, 1-pound device around his neck, putting on the earphones and switching on the palm-sized receiver/battery pack.

"Whoa," he told the Associated Press. "It's like one national pastime right with the other. You got baseball, and you got sitting on your butt watching TV. This is way cool."

It's home away from home. The device, which resembles a View-Master or a pair of binoculars, offers fans the next best thing to remote control. Renters can choose from several up-close camera angles, see replays on demand and change channels to another game, the news or even cartoons.

One fan who tried The Insider, Elizabeth Boylin, initially scoffed at the idea that people would pay to watch TV when they already paid to see a game.

But then the Arizona Diamondbacks jumped to an early 3-0 lead off a double to left field that Chipper Jones should've caught. Boylin asked to borrow her friend's Insider.

"It keeps going like this, the Cartoon Network's gonna start looking pretty good," Boylin said.

Vision isn't everything

Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson's eyesight has been deteriorating.

He told The Boston Globe that his doctor had been advising him to have cataract surgery, but Wilson kept putting it off during the 2001 NFL season.

During a 35-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in December, he said, the players were "all like blurs. The next day I called the doctor and told him I wanted the operation. He said, `Let's put it off till the year is over. The way your team is going, it's a good thing you can't see them play.' "

See no evil

Former guard Dick Barnett recalls a night on a road trip in the late 1960s or early 1970s with the New York Knicks, who were coached then by the late Red Holzman.

"Some of the players felt it would improve our eyesight if we went to the burlesque show at the hotel, even though we might miss curfew," Barnett said, tongue in cheek.

"When we mentioned it to Red, he told us not to go, because we might see something there that we shouldn't see.

"But we went to the burlesque show anyway. And we did see something there that we shouldn't have seen. We saw Red."

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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