NPB games are known for engaging antics that extend well beyond the play on the field. But what’s to be done in the era of COVID-19 when baseball is played in front of an empty stadium? For many — including Korea’s KBO League and the upcoming shortened MLB season — cardboard cutouts are an attempt to bring something familiar to the otherwise surreal experience.

Japan, on the other hand, is leaning into the surreality. The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks are getting some cheerleading help from a couple of familiar robots. Softbank’s own Pepper and Spot (of the Softbank-owned Boston Dynamics) formed the cheering section at a game this week, as the NPB team took on the Rakuten Eagles. The celebration is the first of many, running

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