Lifetime of Simpsons

S03 E17 – Homer at the Bat

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Lots of guest stars everybody! And it’s about baseball, which is one of the sports I can stand the most. I’ve never really cared about football, and basketball really kills me, and while baseball is no hockey, I can at least watch it, so that’s neat I guess.

The episode starts right off with Homer just shoveling donuts into his face, apparently not chewing. He’s also eating them all in one bite, which is a serious feat. But Homer starts to choke, and after Lenny, Carl, and Charlie just stand around making fun of him for a while, Lenny finally goes to look at a poster for the Heimlich maneuver. But instead of actually doing the maneuver, they get more distracted by the signup sheet for the company softball league, and that magically fixes Homer, and he gets excited about softball. The other guys are not excited, since the team is traditionally terrible, but Homer convinces them to sign up because he claims to have a secret weapon that will help them win this season. And I love how weird the guys’ ideas of the secret weapons are. Charlie assumes a big mitt, Carl that he has spring shoes, and Lenny that he got a death ray. Good work Lenny. But it turns out that the secret weapon is actually a bat that Homer made himself. He tells Bart the tale of this amazing bat, which he made from a tree limb that was broken off by lightning, and shaved down to a bat he has named Wonderbat!

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The softball season starts, and after a brief rundown of the rules, which include a lot of beer chugging, the Power Plant team gets going. I love that Marge is videotaping the game, and giving the most passive commentary I’ve ever heard, it’s so funny. But down in the dugout Homer is finally revealing Wonderbat, and initially no one is that impressed, as expressed by Carl’s line “I got an enchanted jock strap.” I love that Lenny and Carl are finally becoming characters. But the mocking stops when it turns out Wonderbat actually is lucky, and Homer starts getting homeruns consistently. And for the first time ever, the Plant team is doing well. I laughed so hard at the footage Marge shot of his home run, especially the slow-mo when his fat ripples. But we then get a montage of the team doing great, Homer getting home runs all around the state. Then the plot really kicks in when we cut to the Springfield Millionaire Club, where Mr. Burns is talking to Aristotle, the head of the Shelbyville Nuclear Plant from “Homer Defined,” and it turns out that both Plant’s teams will be playing each other in the championship. They even decide to bet a million dollars on the outcome of the game.

And with a bet like that, Mr. Burns decides he needs to solidify his chances by getting some ringers on the team. Unfortunately when he shows his plan to Smithers, it turns out most of the players he wants have been dead for decades. Which made me laugh a lot, and I think was the first joke about Mr. Burns being ridiculously old of the series. Until now he’s been an old man, but he was talking about players who Smithers said have been dead for a hundred years. And I have to tell you, I love jokes about Mr. Burns being the oldest person in history. They always get me. So Burns decides to let Smithers to go out into the world and hire the best contemporary players of baseball, and we get a wacky montage of Smithers scouting the best players of the early 90’s. We get a montage of Smithers hunting down Jose Canseco, Mike Scioscia, Ozzie Smith, Don Mattingly, Steve Sax, Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Ken Griffey Jr, and Darryl Strawberry and brings them all back to the Power Plant. They all get token jobs, and are introduced in an all employee meeting, and are then forced to join the softball league. I really adore that Darryl Strawberry is mean to Homer right from the beginning, “Are you better than me?” “Well, I never met you, but yes.”

And now is the point where the episode gets extra amazing, because Mr. Burns is now taking a special interest in the team, and begins coaching them. And man does Mr. Burns make everything even better. He’s like bacon. But Mr. Burns is also not a good coach, and starts making everyone drink a Brain and Nerve Tonic, but the only one who likes it is Ken Griffey Jr. They also train in an old timey gym with medicine balls, and then get a hypnotherapist in to try to hypnotize them into being good players because Burns wants all the bases covered (Baseball puns!) It also makes me laugh every time that Darryl Strawberry is a suck-up to Burns. Man he was funny in this episode, and a really good sport. They then take a couple scenes to show the players being normal people. I love that Mike Scoscia legitimately enjoys working at the plant, even though he’s not very safe with it. It’s also great to see the neighborhood kids play baseball, and Ralph get lucky to get all the pro-players on his team, while Bart gets Mihouse. But while the game approaches, some cracks in the foundation begin appearing, like Mr. Burns yelling at Mattingly about his non-existant sideburns, and Clemmens breaking the Wonderbat. But the shock of all shock, all the pro-ball players get on the team, and none of the original Plant Workers. It’s especially amazing when we see Mr. Burns work on the lineup in his office while an evil version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” song plays.

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But then Mr. Burns jinxes himself when he says that there’s no chance something insane will happen to all the pro-ball players, so of course, they all do. Steve Sax gets arrested by Eddie and Lou for no reason, Scoscia gets Radiation poisoning from one too many nuclear accidents, Ken Griffey Jr has gigantism from an overdose oft the Brain and Nerve Tonic, Canseco helps a lady with her burning house all night, Wade Boggs gets in a fight with Barney over England’s greatest Prime Ministers, Ozzie Smith falls into a different dimension, Mattingly is off the team because he doesn’t know what Mr. Burns thinks sideburns are, and Clemmens thinks he’s a chicken from hypnosis. Things aren’t going well for Mr. Burns’ evil plan. The family gets reads to go to the game, and Homer is despondent about not getting to play. But when they get there they find out all of the pro-players are gone, well, all but Darryl Strawberry, who plays Homer’s position, so he still doesn’t get to play. The game starts, and Bart and Lisa taunt Strawberry, who cries a single tear, and made me laugh like a little kid. So Homer spends most of the game just scratching himself in the dugout, until the end of the game approaches, and they need just one more run. Burns decides they need to pitch hit, and takes Strawberry out of the game, and puts Homer in. Mr. Burns tries to prepare Homer for the game by showing him all sorts of crazy hand gestures, but Homer isn’t paying attention. But it doesn’t matter, since when Homer steps up to bat, he just gets racked in the head with the ball, and collapses to the group, which counts as a run, and they win the game! Huzzah! Everyone parties and the episode ends with the amazing “Talkin’ Softball” song.

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This episode is so funny. Baseball is a pretty boring subject to me, but this episode made it really hilarious. I absolutely love the idea of Mr. Burns getting ringers, and it’s pretty shocking how well the players did in the voice acting. Darryl Strawberry was probably the best voice actor of the group, but they were all really funny, they had great lines and did a great job with them. Plus, like I said, any story that gets some Mr. Burns thrown in is a great one, especially when he’s wearing a vintage baseball jersey.

Take Away: Mr. Burns makes everything better, and switch horses mid-stream. Oh, and don’t drink Nerve Tonic, get in bar fights about Prime Ministers, help people with a burning house, visit Mystery Spots, and work at Nuclear Power Plants.

“Homer at the Bat” was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Jim Reardon.

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