Growing up, I never paid much attention to The Simpsons. Tragic, yes. I saw an episode here and there over the years, and always enjoyed the ones that I watched, but never made a habit of consistently watching the show. It’s not something that I went out of my way to avoid, so much as I simply did not go out of my way to make the time for it.
Recently, I’ve decided to try to rectify this transgression, and I am currently about halfway through season two of this entertaining series. As with many forms of American pop culture, baseball was bound to find a way to make an appearance, and I didn’t have to wait long for it. The episode “Dancin’ Homer” features the time that Homer Simpson, drunk at a minor league ballgame, started dancing like a fool for the crowd, and thus earned himself a position as the team mascot.
What I did not realize is that the team for which Homer was hired to make a fool of himself, the Springfield Isotopes, became the inspiration for a real life minor league team’s name. The Albuquerque Isotopes are a Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, having been previously affiliated with the Florida Marlins (2003-2008) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2009-2014).
The real world Isotopes play at Isotopes Park, cleverly nicknamed “The Lab,” which seats 11,124. The stadium stands in the same spot as where historic Albuquerque Sports Stadium once stood, until it was almost completely razed in 2002. Some remnants of the old stadium were incorporated into Isotopes Park. The stadium also serves as home to the University of New Mexico baseball team.
The Albuquerque team does not have a real-life Homer Simpson to serve as their mascot, but rather features a yellow, orange, and red alien/dog/bear creature named Orbit.
In 2016, Forbes named the Isotopes the fourteenth most valuable team in Minor League Baseball. They finished the 2016 season with a 71-72 record, which, interestingly, was good enough for second place in the Pacific Coast League Pacific Southern division.