Posts Tagged ‘Homer at the Bat



15
Oct
10

Crazy Noises: MoneyBART

Homer at the Bat3

"Hey Scioscia, I don’t get it.  You’re a ringer, but you’re here every night in the core busting your butt hauling radioactive waste." – Carl
"Well, Carl, it’s such a relief from the pressures of playing big league ball.  I mean, there you make any kind of mistake and boom, the press is all over you.  Uh oh." – Mike Scioscia
“Ah, don’t worry about it.” – Carl
“Oh man, is this ever sweet.” – Mike Scioscia

I’m very ready to be done with this episode.   Unlike most Zombie Simpsons episodes this one will end up being memorable.  Not because of any quality on its part, or any of the jokes it contains, but for the return of Mike Scioscia and the whole Banksy opening.  Meh.

Charlie Sweatpants: Dave’s hopeful we can keep this to under a half an hour.

Shall we dive right in?

Mad Jon: Ok, that will leave me more Halo time.

Let’s do it

Dave: Only because I’m running on 3 hours of sleep.

Mad Jon: I hate the fact Mike Scioscia came back, but he’s right, he’ll win more rings.

Charlie Sweatpants: Not if he keeps riding that rollercoaster alone.

You know who goes to amusement parks alone? No one.

Mad Jon: Well, Mike Scioscia is allowed to.

Dave: Except cartoon Mike Scioscia.

Charlie Sweatpants: More to the point, this may have set a new bar for most bag-of -hammers stupid guest voice.

I mean, having Zuckerberg just sitting there was dumb, but at least they took the time to invent a place he sort of, maybe could be at.

This was just head scratching.

Mad Jon: Very reminiscent of Namath showing up to explain the dangers of Vapor Lock.

Dave: Oh that.

Mad Jon: Yep, that.

Charlie Sweatpants: I thought of that same thing, but again, that made infinitely more sense than this.

Mad Jon: True that.

Charlie Sweatpants: I mean, it was played with a bit of meta humor because Joe Namath shows up right when Bart’s trying to learn how to be a quarterback. The vapor lock thing was their way of acknowledging that.

Mad Jon: Good point.

Dave: It was a baseball themed episode and they needed a real player? I dunno, that’s a stretch.

Charlie Sweatpants: This didn’t have nearly that level of . . . I don’t know, cleverness? Self awareness? Whatever the opposite of oblivious is.

But he could’ve at least been doing something baseball related. Couldn’t he have been working the game where you throw baseballs or something?

Mad Jon: Funny, I think Scioscia was the one who was quoted to say that he still cashes the royalty checks, even though they aren’t worth the paper and stamp, just so the books are straight.

Charlie Sweatpants: About his first guest appearance, you mean?

Mad Jon: Your carnival game idea would have been infinitely better..

Yes, about the Actual baseball episode.

Charlie Sweatpants: Makes sense.

Speaking of baseball, did this remind anyone else of a travel episode but with the destination being baseball?

Mad Jon: I can see that I guess, but with little to no Homer involvement (other than the pseudo-fight he and Marge had that started and ended abruptly and without point) it just didn’t feel quite the same as a trip episode.

Charlie Sweatpants: Like the travel episodes, this one did have a couple of mildly funny lines. Bill James’ thing about making baseball as fun as taxes comes to mind. The problem is that they spent 22 minutes with a convoluted plot to deliver what would’ve been less than a minute’s worth of material in a mid-grade stand-up routine.

They had a fresh topic, and that always helps them.

The problem is everything else.

Mad Jon: Also, computers aren’t allowed in the dugout.

Charlie Sweatpants: Really?

Mad Jon: And managers are called managers and not coaches for a reason.

Charlie Sweatpants: Did I say coach, or did they?

Mad Jon: I don’t think anyone did. But Lisa ran her games like a coach would, not a manager. Managers put the right players (especially on offense) in the right place and let them do their thing, obviously with the exception being fun plays like suicides, stealing home and hit and runs.

Coaches call plays at all times. Like in other sports. Sports with Head Coaches. Sorry to dwell, but baseball was my first passion.

Charlie Sweatpants: As always, I defer to your superior knowledge.

While we’re on the topic of the baseball in the episode, was I the only one who noticed that the ending didn’t make any sense from a game perspective?

Mad Jon: Well, first of all, he was clearly safe.

Charlie Sweatpants: There’s no reason given for Bart to steal home.

Dave: Except to make a scene.

Charlie Sweatpants: I said "given". I know the real reason.

Mad Jon: I didn’t even know the score… But I may have been bored into semi-consciousness.

Also, I think the lack of available players was a stupid point as they only had like seven guys to begin with.

Charlie Sweatpants: The last play in "Homer at the Bat" made perfect sense. The bases were loaded, and Burns makes the hilariously overthinking-it decision to pinch hit. Homer wins the game by getting knocked unconscious. This . . . didn’t do any of that.

Mad Jon: Was that like the championship or something? Other than the "Homer the Boxer"-esque leader board, they didn’t really play up to it. The Softball league championship with a million bucks on the line, now that’s a plot setup.

Charlie Sweatpants:   That too.

It’s that classic story-apathy I’m always railing about. They needed a dramatic baseball moment to finish things, they just didn’t bother to set it up.

Mad Jon: They really, really didn’t. They almost went out of their way to avoid setting it up.

The only think I snickered at the whole time was the background joke about Lenny Dykstra.

Although that was topical about 4 or 5 years ago…

Charlie Sweatpants: The entire montage was fucking lame. Homer at the Bat has a montage, but it’s a parody. This was just a Casio-keyboard arrangement of "Take me Out to the Ballgame".

Nails.

Sorry, that’s all I remember about Dykstra.

Mad Jon: Oh man, there was a great SI article about his financial scamming a few years back, look it up, it’s worth it.

Charlie Sweatpants: Noted.

This may be a minor point, but I hated Moe’s little rant about things managers do wrong.

Mad Jon: Do tell, I was rather indifferent.

Charlie Sweatpants: This is another of those poor writing examples, but there’s no need for Moe to exposit there.

Mad Jon: Fair enough.

When he heckled the patrons who didn’t even mention they were playing fantasy baseball.

Charlie Sweatpants: Any show worth its salt in the least would’ve had Moe showing reactions to something that actually happened. He could yell at the manager’s decision, then turn around and hypocritically praise it when it worked. Instead he monologued apropos of nothing.

And while I’m hating on that scene, did Carl sound off to anyone else?

Dave: I don’t remember. Did he sound ragged or aged like some of the other voice actors?

Mad Jon: Meh, he only had like 10 words, so its hard to tell.

Charlie Sweatpants: I’ll take "meh".

Sounded off to me.

Mad Jon: Oops, it was an ESPN article I think, from early 2009, but it was still interesting to read, that part I got right.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4084962

Charlie Sweatpants: There you go.

Before we close things up, I think we have to talk about the opening. I was going to write a longer post about it today but I didn’t have time.

Mad Jon: Ugh, that 12 minute thing?

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah.

Dave: The internets are buzzing.

Over nothing, mind you, but they’re buzzing all the same.

Charlie Sweatpants: Typical.

Long story short, I don’t think this would be the least bit interesting if a celebrity wasn’t involved.

Mad Jon: Go on.

Charlie Sweatpants: The show has made fun of FOX before, the only reason people care about this is because Banksy was involved. It’s standard Zombie Simpsons: leech off the popularity of others. This just worked a little bit better than handing the show over to Seth Rogen or Ricky Gervais.

Dave: That’s a nice summary.

It wasn’t really that dark or edgy.

It was just… long.

Charlie Sweatpants: Very long.

Mad Jon: High Def cartoons don’t really have the same impact power as graffiti.

Just saying.

Charlie Sweatpants: One final thing, what was with the opening with the Yale woman?

Mad Jon: Inspiration for Lisa to manage baseball, it was the perfect setup.

Charlie Sweatpants: I know the openings don’t typically have much to do with the rest of the episode any more, but that was even more random than usual.

Even ignoring my typical complains about the fact that she was apparently there for no reason, was any part of that supposed to be funny?

Mad Jon: Whenever I think about attractive Yale female grads, my following thoughts almost exclusively lead to baseball, or specifically 8 year-old managers.

Charlie Sweatpants: So do the writers.

I guess.

Mad Jon: Well, we all know how talented they are.

11
Oct
10

I Can’t Think of a Baseball Metaphor for Poor Storytelling or Low Ratings

Chalkboard - MoneyBART

“Smithers, it’s almost game time, where the devil are my ringers?” – C.M. Burns
“Sir, Mike Scioscia might not live through the night.  Steve Sax is looking at six consecutive life sentences.  And Ozzie Smith seems to have vanished off the face of the Earth.” – Mr. Smithers

Shortly before the weak-and-lazy-even-by-their-standards introduction of throwaway voice Mike Scioscia, Zombie Simpsons demonstrated yet again just how apathetic they are towards anything that could be called storytelling.  Bart and Marge are riding on a rollercoaster, and Bart makes the completely offhand remark, “You know, Mom, after only seven hours in this amusement park I’m finally enjoying myself.”  I guess this is supposed to be a joke.  It is immediately followed by Lisa calling on Marge’s cell phone to demand Bart’s participation in the championship game.  Before even getting to humorless problems such as a) how did they get back to the stadium? b) why are they talking on the phone on a rollercoaster? c) does Mike Scioscia ride rollercoasters alone a lot? d) why is there a funnel cake thing there?, the scene has blasted its way out of the already thin story.  Baseball games don’t take seven hours, nor is there any need for Bart to say that they’ve been there that long.  This is an elementary script error, and the only reason it’s there is because they do not care in the least. 

Then, of course, there’s the Scioscia thing itself.  Without getting into it too deep right now, let me just say this.  “Homer at the Bat” is an essentially perfect piece of storytelling.  They introduce nine (9!) minor characters and give every single one of them a story arc.  Sports movies don’t treat their minor characters that well, even with an hour of extra screen time, The Simpsons did it in just twenty-two minutes.  It’s an amazing feat of writing and pacing even before you get to the fact that it’s hilarious.  In “MoneyBART”, Mike Scioscia shows up for no reason, dispenses advice, and then disappears, presumably to continue riding the rollercoaster alone.  The difference couldn’t be any greater. 

The numbers are in, and they are worse than ever.  Last night’s trip to baseball was yawned through by a mere 6.72 million people.  That is the second lowest number ever for the fall half of the schedule, and by far the lowest number ever for this early in the season (when ratings tend to be higher).  The demographics were down as well, off 29% from last week among the nuts and gum set. 

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: this show will not get cancelled until the ratings become so embarrassing that FOX fears damage to the Simpsons brand and the river of merchandising money it provides.  From that perspective, Season 22 could hardly be off to a better start.  These numbers are humiliatingly terrible. 

08
Jun
10

Springfield city league softball is finally safe again

vlcsnap-9895 “Pick me! Pick me!” – Ken Griffey Jr.
“I pick Ken Griffey Jr.” – Ralph Wiggum
“Ah jeez…” – Bart Simpson

For those that haven’t heard yet, Ken Griffey Jr. retired from Major League Baseball last week. During the prime of his 22 seasons, Griffey was one of the best all around center fielders and a serious threat each time he stepped to the plate.  If the latter part of his career hadn’t been injury plagued, he would have probably ended higher up on the all time home run list than 5th.  Additionally, he seems to be one of the rare professional athletes who (probably) hasn’t succumbed to the temptations of extra-marital sex, recreational or performance enhancing drugs, public bouts of racism, bat-corking, pedophilia, wife or child beating, gambling, or any other of the felonious activities which, if you look hard enough, you will find multiple examples of in sports.

More importantly to me, Griffey was the last of the ringers on Burns’ Power Plant softball team to retire from the big leagues.  He was the youngest on the team at the time, and only he and Clemens played past 2001 (and Clemens only had to play once every few days and retired a bunch of times).  Now that the Plant’s ringer team is about as useful as the one Burns originally wanted to field, I thought it may be fun to take a quick look back at the other members to see how they are faring.

Steve Sax: Retired in ‘94 after lobbying to deny pensions for replacement players in the baseball strike. Ran for a seat in the California State House until his highly public divorce derailed his campaign.

Don Mattingly: Retired in ‘95. His number was retired by the Yankees, but only his moustache will end up in Cooperstown.  He coached with the Yankees for a few years, and in 2008 he followed Torre  to LA where he is now the hitting coach, probably biding his time until either Torre retires or mullets come back into style.

Darryl Strawberry: Retired in ‘99.  Cokey Cokeberry was one of only two players to win a world series with both the Yankees and the Mets, and the only player to win the annual lawn bowling tournament at both The Betty Ford Clinic and Suncoast Rehab center. The alleged wife beater and amateur race riot commentator (The infamous “Let it burn” comment), Darryl seems to be making a run at some sort of TV career with appearances on both the 700 club and Celebrity Apprentice.

Jose Canseco: Retired in ‘01.  The first of the Bash Brothers to appear on the Simpsons (McGwire wouldn’t get there for 7 more years) has spent much of his free time since writing books about, testifying in court about, and generally pointing fingers at, pretty much everyone in pro baseball.  Oh, also he was caught smuggling controlled fertility drugs into the US (he claims they were part of his post steroid-use therapy). And he has been trying to get into fighting, notably with an exhibition bout against Danny Bonaduce.  Throw in a few divorces and a couple of foreclosures and you’ve got most of the story.

Wade Boggs:  Retired in ‘99. Besides his conjecture-laden drinking reputation, and a long time extra-marital affair, this first ballot hall of famer is relatively clean, at least when compared to some of the other guys on this list.

Mike Scioscia: Retired in ‘92. Currently Scioscia is the manager of the Angles.  Starting in 2002 he led the Angles to AL West Championship 5 out of 6 years.  Not much else – this man’s all business.

Ozzie Smith: Retired in ‘96. He did some TV work for a couple of outfits, and now it seems he is a bit of a St. Louis fixture and has tried his hand as a restaurateur amongst other businesses. Only one divorce I could find, and side note: he has a kid that made it to the top ten of American Idol in 2005.

Roger Clemens:  Retired in ‘07 for like the 4th time.  The Rocket spent a lot of years at the other end of Canseco’s (and others – George Mitchell, I’m looking in your direction) various steroid-related accusations.  It’s also speculated he has had several affairs, including one with Mindy McCready when she may or may not have still been underage. He denies it altogether, and she says they didn’t start the physical part of the relationship until she was 21.

So there you have it. Compared to most of these guys Griffey is a first round hall of famer in baseball, as well as life in general. Along with these other guys, Griffey also got to be a sports guest during the golden age of The Simpsons. These nine guys actually had a role in the episode, and they all had humorous parts that affected the plotline. For the last ten years or so (including the aforementioned McGwire appearance) sports guests are just sort of thrown on for whatever reason and for the most part they not only fail to add to the episode, they distract from it. That’s right, I’m talking to you Joe Namath, Troy Aikman, Warren Sapp, Pete Sampras, Williams Sisters, Andre Agassi, Dan Marino, Tony Hawk, Oscar De la Hoya, Lebron James, Michelle Kwan, Yao Ming, Randy Johnson, Lance Armstrong and Chuck Liddell.

I don’t have anything else to say, so thanks for everything Mr. Jr., thanks for 22 years of fun, thanks for saving the Mariners, and thanks especially for the case of gigantism. That was funny.

19
Jan
10

Synergy Contradicts Itself

“Smithers I’ve been thinking, is it wrong to cheat in order to win a million dollar bet?” – C.M. Burns
“Yes, sir.” – Mr. Smithers
“Let me rephrase that.  Is it wrong if I cheat in order to win a million dollar bet?” – C.M. Burns
“No, sir.  Who would you like killed?” – Mr. Smithers
 

In its never ending mission to praise Zombie Simpsons in the most obsequious of ways IGN will sometimes slip up.  Like all paid sycophants, IGN doesn’t have a coherent, well thought out world view.  It simply finds ways to praise and doesn’t concern itself with any kind of emotional or intellectual integrity.  That means that on occasion you get statements that, while praiseworthy when taken in the moment, contradict an earlier praiseworthy statement.  This week’s review is such an occasion.  With that one exception I’ve edited out the synergy.

January 10, 2010 – The 450th episode of The Simpsons was further proof that it’s nice to still have this series around this show has gone on way too fucking long. All sorts of arguments can be made that the show just isn’t as good as it used to be, and to an extent, it would be hard to argue those are all true. But I don’t think you’d have such an easy time convincing people that the current state of the series is bottom-of-the-barrel terrible even though that’s also true. Okay, it may not be turning out classic boring turd after classic boring turd after classic sappy boring turd, but The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons can still deliver convince smart dimwits and solid fanboys that’s it still qualifies as entertainment. "Once Upon a Time in Springfield" was another solid episode sappy boring turd, from television’s longest running series. And, honestly, to deliver an ineffective, unfunny episode on your 450th turn is quite an accomplishment about what we expect these days.

The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons has reached milestones like this a number of times in its history. On each occasion, the episode itself paid little mind to the goal being accomplished [Ed Note: I’m leaving this sentence alone to point out that it directly contradicts something IGN said last summer.  That’s sloppy synergy.]. Only "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show" stands out as an episode actually saying something about the feat it was achieving. With that episode, The Simpsons became the longest running primetime animated series, surpassing The Flintstones. And in that episode, the Itchy and Scratchy cartoon was portrayed as faltering and losing its edge, much like The Simpsons itself was being talked about at that time, it was a joke that could only work once and despite that fact became a staple of later episodes (cough, Comic Book Guy, cough). "Once Upon a Time in Springfield" took a similar route trotted this tired cliche out yet again when the producers of "The Krusty the Clown Show" complained that the show was losing ratings among young girls and decided to add Princess Penelope to the cast.

Penelope will never be likened to Poochie being added to the cat and mouse duo (except by me, of course), but the storyline still offered up a lot of laughs suffered horribly as deliberately unfunny sequences were used to eat screen time. Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries) gave a fun  by the numbers performance as the Princess, which also showcased used her singing chops to kill some more clock. Krusty had a very blindingly familiar arc in the episode, hitting rock bottom and then swearing a comeback, and lots of laughs exposition came from Krusty dealing with his predicament, yet again. I was quite enjoyed bored by his wild "Hey-Hey!" followed by the somber, "Seriously, hey-hey, kids." Krusty’s embarrassingly slow slapstick bits in the dumpster after announcing his comeback were also a riot painfully dull: "Oh, why do clown things always happen to clowns?" Laughs Grim recognition could also be found in Bart and Milhouse’s reactions to a princess taking over their favorite show, especially when Bart referred to a sidekick as the lowest form of life. Milhouse happily agreed.

The secondary storyline of this episode was subtly celebratory of the even further out of character for this once awesome series reaching such a status of productivity. This story conceit centered on Homer, the nuclear power plant and donuts — all icons of the series itself which were once again bastardized in the name of filling time. Due to cost cutting, Mr. Burns eliminated the free donuts in the break room. Without his free food, Homer hungrily lamented, "All I’ve had are my meals." This made it easier for a corporate headhunter to almost lure Homer, Lenny and Carl to work for the Capital City power plant for some reason. Not only would they have gotten free donuts, but also other perks like massages and Gary Larson pointless cameos as their in-house cartoonist. The unseen Larson comic was a fantastically funny bit for fans of The Far Side: "A lion would not want to see that on his X-ray." Of course, it was simply the promise of the world’s greatest donuts that brought the three coworkers back to Springfield after Burns decided he loved his employees for some reason.

The direct references to The Simpsons longevity — the blackboard bit, Maggie’s billboard and the actual thanks at the end of the episode — were fun wildly undeserved self fellatio, but what really felt good were the donuts. Homer’s undying love for the product ("…the masculine contours of the box juxtaposed with the feminine curves of the treat themselves.") is just like our love for the series . . . 300 episodes ago. Congrats on 450.

09
Dec
09

Quote of the Day

Homer at the Bat2

“Did you hear that Ari?  My boys need only to thump your tub and the title is ours.” – C.M. Burns

“Ha!  The gladiators from my power plant will crush your team like nine flabby grapes.” – Aristotle Amadopolis

“I disagree.” – C.M. Burns

“Would you care to bet a million dollars on that?” – Aristotle Amadopolis

“Oh, if we’re going to bet why don’t we make it interesting?” – C.M. Burns

“What, a million dollars isn’t interesting to you?” – Aristotle Amadopolis

“Oh did you say a million?  I’m uh, I’m sorry my mind was elsewhere.  I thought you would start with a small amount, then we would bait each other and, you know how it goes.  Yes certainly, a million will be fine.” – C.M. Burns

14
Oct
09

Spurlock Update: Kids Should Always Do Things They See on TV

Morgan Spurlock is back in Britain, this time so that he can get a twelve year old on film pretending to choke on a ham sandwich:

Homer Simpson helped save Wakefield schoolboy Alex Hardy’s life.
As Alex choked on a ham sandwich best pal Aiden Bateman strode over with a scene from one of the most popular Simpsons episodes etched in his mind.

He performed the Heimlich Manoeuvre after seeing the same lifesaving technique on The Simpson’s third season episode "Homer at the Bat."

Now Aiden’s heroics – in the canteen at Crofton Junior School in December 2007 – are to feature in new film ‘The Simpsons Anniversary Special – In 3D! On Ice!’, to mark next year’s Simpson’s 20th anniversary celebrations.

American documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock travelled from New York to Wakefield in August to meet the two pals and film a re-creation of the life-saving moment in the canteen at Thornes Park College in Wakefield.

Click through for a cute picture of the kids and all the horrible details. 

Heimlich ManeuverSo, good for the kids in remembering that scaring someone is for the hiccups and good for Spurlock in making them reenact the trauma for entertainment purposes. 

What makes this whole incident even funnier is that in the episode no one ever actually does the Heimlich Maneuver.   All you see is the image at left, and even that’s on screen for less than two seconds.  Homer just stops choking as soon as he realizes it’s time to sign up for softball again.  That, boys and girls, is the communicative power that The Simpsons possesses, it teaches children lifesaving techniques without any formal training and in doing so uses less screen time than Zombie Simpsons routinely uses for Homer to stagger around in pain or fear. 

And, since we’re talking about the Heimlich maneuver in relation to Britain, and because there’s a lobster flying out of that man’s mouth, here’s world renown Heimlich expert Eddie Izzard:

05
May
09

Quote of the Day

homer-at-the-bat1

“Okay, let’s go over the ground rules.  You can’t leave first until you chug a beer, any man scoring has to chug a beer, you have to chug a beer at the top of all odd numbered innings, oh and the fourth inning is the beer inning.” – Umpire

“Hey, we know how to play softball.” – Chief Wiggum




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