Guesstimators: Jesse Thorn

Nov 3, 2017
Originally published on April 27, 2018 10:14 am

Jesse Thorn, host of the NPR program Bullseye with Jesse Thorn, challenged Jonathan Coulton to somewhere between zero and two guesstimation games.

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Now it's time for us to play a quick bonus game we call Guesstimators. And here to play with us is a wonderful friend of the show, host of NPR's Bullseye, Jesse Thorn, everybody.


EISENBERG: Hi, Jesse. Welcome.

JESSE THORN: Hi, friends.

EISENBERG: You have built a podcasting empire called Maximum Fun, and you sort of based it in the beginning just on gathering all the things that you liked listening to.

THORN: Yeah, fair enough.

EISENBERG: And it's come a long way.

THORN: Yeah.

EISENBERG: You discovered Jonathan Coulton.

THORN: Started at the bottom, now we're here at the...


THORN: ...Beautiful Ace Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.


EISENBERG: OK. Jesse, here's how this game works. I'm going to ask you and Jonathan Coulton a question that has a numerical answer. And really it's just whoever's guess is closest to the real answer gets the point. Here we go. According to Major League Baseball, how many baseballs are used during an average game? Talk it out.

THORN: Well, my initial thought is many, but I know that's not a good guess.


THORN: I mean, what do you got? You got 27 outs. I'm just saying numbers - you've got nine players. Three strikes and you're out.

COULTON: (Laughter).

THORN: Let's go with...

COULTON: Just add those up.

THORN: Yeah, I'm going to say 250.


THORN: Is that a funny guess?


COULTON: I don't know.

THORN: That was me really trying to guess the answer.

EISENBERG: Jonathan, what's your guess?

COULTON: Well, so here's how I'm disadvantaged. I don't know anything about baseball. I never watched baseball because when would you need to replace a baseball? They could just use one. Just use one the whole time, for God's sake.


EISENBERG: True. Just put your name on it.

COULTON: But you know what happens is sometimes...

THORN: (Laughter).

COULTON: ...Sometimes the pitcher scratches it with his belt buckle so that he can do a crazy pitch.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) With his belt buckle?

COULTON: I don't know.

EISENBERG: Sure. Yeah.

COULTON: Sometimes if you hit a homer, I think it's called...



COULTON: ...Where it goes over the fence and it's gone, you got to get a new ball.


COULTON: But 250, nine innings, that means you're using 25 per inning.



COULTON: I'm going to say it's 100.

EISENBERG: A hundred?

COULTON: Yeah, nice round number, a hundred.


COULTON: Ten per inning.

EISENBERG: Jesse says 250.

THORN: (Laughter) It's not even close.

EISENBERG: Jonathan says a hundred.

COULTON: A hundred baseballs.

EISENBERG: The answer is 108.

THORN: Are you kidding me?

EISENBERG: I am not kidding you. The answer's 108 per game according to a spokesperson for Major League Baseball.

THORN: Can I tell you, like, an honest fact about my life?

EISENBERG: Yes, please.

THORN: I literally as a teenager was a member of an organization called the Society for American Baseball Research.


THORN: Jonathan literally just stood here. And he's, like, baseball, of course, they use bats and they wear caps.


THORN: He was almost literally exactly correct.

EISENBERG: That's insane.


COULTON: (Laughter) I have good intuition, I guess. I don't know.

EISENBERG: OK. In miles per hour, what is the fastest speed limit in the United States? Do you drive?

THORN: I do.


THORN: Yeah, I go hither and yon.


EISENBERG: OK. It's going to help you.

THORN: Occasionally, thither.


THORN: And I always bring my zither.


THORN: Well, I have definitely been in a 65 zone. I'm going to say 75 miles an hour.

EISENBERG: That's pretty fast. All right. Jonathan Coulton, what do you think?

COULTON: I have also been in a 65.

THORN: Are we just bragging here?

EISENBERG: Yeah, yeah. I love it.

COULTON: I've been in a 55. I've in a 35 before, been in some 45s.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: I've been in some 25s in school zones.


THORN: (Laughter) Sure.

COULTON: I feel like out West, I've seen 70 or 75. But I feel like there might be some places where it's even more lawless and ruggedly individualistic.


COULTON: I'm going to say 85.

EISENBERG: Eighty-five. Jesse Thorn says 75. Jonathan Coulton says 85. The answer is 85.


EISENBERG: In some parts of Texas, you can go 85 miles per hour.


EISENBERG: As per usual, Jesse Thorn bringing culture and style to our show. Thank you so much for playing Guestimators, Jesse. From NPR's Bullseye, give it up one more time for Jesse Thorn, everybody.


THORN: Thank you, friends. Thanks, guys.


STEVIE WONDER: (Singing) Living in the land of la la, LA. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.