My journey through The Simpsons continues, and I recently concluded watching the seventeenth season. It’s crazy to think that, even as far into it as I am, I still have about twelve more seasons to go to get completely caught up with the show.
The Springfield Isotopes make a reappearance in the season seventeen finale. This time, the episode gives us the opportunity to get to know one of the team’s players, first baseman Buck Mitchell. Buck is the team’s superstar, and the team is winning games thanks to his presence in the lineup. However, while his life on the diamond seems perfect, we quickly learn that Buck’s personal life isn’t nearly as great, and his play is soon affected.
Buck’s wife, Tabitha, is a well-known pop star, and she’s not just known for her singing. This becomes apparent when Tabitha halts her rendition of the national anthem to launch into one of her own songs, stripping down to lingerie by the end of the tune. Buck is understandably humiliated, and he ends up muffing several easy plays as a result. After seeing Marge and Homer on the stadium Kiss Cam, Buck shows up at their home and offers them season tickets in exchange for marriage counseling.
Homer being Homer, he jumps at the opportunity for tickets and close proximity to a baseball star. The counseling sessions prove somewhat awkward, however. While Marge makes an honest effort at helping Buck and Tabitha work things out, Homer…. well… continues to be Homer. Nevertheless, the sessions are effective enough to help Buck refocus on baseball.
After Buck catches Homer giving Tabitha a neck rub (which she not-so-subtly dupes Homer into doing), Buck slugs Homer and finds his marriage in trouble yet again. As a result, his performance on the field begins to suffer again. Tabitha, meanwhile, declares to Marge that she intends to leave Buck.
Homer decides to take matters into his own hands, and he hijacks the Duff Beer blimp, using it to pretend that Tabitha has delivered a message of “I love you” to Buck. His spirits lifted, Buck hits a high fly ball into the blimp, causing it to crash. Once Buck realizes it was actually Homer, not Tabitha, who sent the message, he starts after Homer with a baseball bat. However, Marge appears on the stadium’s Jumbo Vision screen, pleading with Buck not to hurt Homer. Marge’s display of love for Homer seems to have an effect on Tabitha, who changes her mind and tells Buck that she wishes to stay with him.
Overall, this episode honestly doesn’t rank among my favorites. The character of Tabitha annoys me greatly, and Buck isn’t a whole lot better. Granted, they do seem to fit the stereotypical mold for celebrities, I suppose, so perhaps my annoyance was a calculated expectation by the writers. The ending seemed a little thin, possibly due to the constraints of time. Nevertheless, I look forward to the Isotopes’ next appearance in the series.
The 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony doesn’t take place until the end of the month, but if you’re Homer Jay Simpson, you’ve already been honored this year. On May 27, 2017, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum celebrated the 25th anniversary of that iconic Simpsons episode, “Homer At the Bat.” This Simpsons episode featured the voices of Ken Griffey Jr., Darryl Strawberry, Jose Canseco, as well as other baseball personalities, and first aired February 20, 1992.
As part of the event, Homer Simpson himself was “inducted” into the Baseball Hall of Fame with a little ceremony:
Some of Homer’s co-stars in the episode even made a special trip to Cooperstown for the event:
And, as you can see above, Homer even received his own plaque:
As my trek through the Simpsons series continues, I find myself coming across various one-liners that were popular while I was in school. At the time, I had no idea that these lines had originated with the Simpsons, having very little time for television. One classmate, for example, would occasionally burst into the classroom exclaiming, “HELLO, EVERYBODY!!”, and would appear so disappointed when the rest of the room merely looked at him like he was a raving lunatic.
My progress through the series has been slow, but steady, and I currently find myself in the middle of season ten. The episode “Wild Barts Can’t Be Broken” really isn’t about baseball, but that’s where the plot begins. The Simpson family attends an Isotopes baseball game, which Homer ends up leaving after the first pitch to “warm up the car.” The Isotopes, it seems, had been performing so poorly that he had no interest in hanging out to watch them lose.
Typical fair-weather fan.
A sniper at the All-Star Game, however, apparently makes enough changes to enough lineups that the Isotopes’ luck changes drastically mid-season. Homer walks into Moe’s one night to discover all his friends cheering excitedly at the baseball game on TV. The moment he learns the Isotopes are actually winners now, Homer promptly dons a full outfit of Isotopes gear and makes an ass of himself on a television interview.
Following the Isotopes victory, Homer and his buddies, in a drunken stupor, trash the town. They don’t get caught, however, and law enforcement blames the destruction on local kids. A curfew is established for the younger generation, thus establishing the episode’s primary conflict.
While there’s not a lot of actual baseball in this episode, it does present a bit of commentary on the nature of sports fans. We see it in stadiums all over the country, in all sports. When a team is doing well, the stadium is packed, and few leave the game before it’s through. When a team is struggling, however, attendance drops, and the organization is forced to resort to gimmicks to encourage attendance.