With Roger Clemens Clucking All the While…

Posted: March 8, 2013 in Fans and Opinions, Major League Baseball, Misc.

Homer_at_the_Bat_(Promo_Picture)

 

 

By Phil Bausk

Few things have helped shape my own life more than baseball and The Simpsons. Speak to anyone who has had one conversation with me and after they sift through the horrifying jokes and flatulence references, they will realize that I had navigated the conversation about either baseball or The Simpsons. Though five year-old Phil wasn’t really sure what was going on when the infamous “Homer at the Bat,” episode aired, 12 year-old Phil had a much better grasp of its concept when he saw a syndicated rerun of the 22 minute masterpiece.

If you are unfamiliar with the episode then I will give you a little bit of a background to familiarize you with the next few hundred words of ramblings. Homer and his coworkers begin another season of company softball for the Nuclear Power Plant. Now normally, the team is pretty awful even with the extremely athletic Carl Carlson and the always pensive Lenny Leonard. This year, however Homer has a secret weapon, a bat that was made from wood from a tree that was blessed with a bolt of lightning. Homer goes onto to lead the team to the finals against the Shelbyville Power Plant. Mr. Burns, the plants owner, makes a wager with the Shelbyville plant owner of $1 million on the championship game. In order to assure his victory, Mr. Burns wants to acquire top tier talent. Once finding out that all of his childhood heroes have been dead for decades, he decides to USC-style recruit some of the early 90’s most popular and most talented players. At the end of the day, 8 of the 9 players have to miss the game for some odd reasons, and Homer pinch hits for the MLB all-world talent Darryl Strawberry (whose nickname should really be Mr. Plow). Homer, after hours of groin scratching, gets hit by a pitch and wins the game, as his team carries his limp and motionless body to first base in celebration.

The players Mr. Burns recruited were as follows: Wade Boggs, Darryl Strawberry, Roger Clemens, Don Mattingly, Steve Sax, Ken Griffey Jr., Jose Canseco, Ozzie Smith, and finally Mike Scioscia. Jonah Keri, Grantland.com’s most active baseball contributor, wrote an article about the modern day “Springfield Nine” and their possible replacements.  This is a concept I have been toying with for quite some time and I figured now was the best time to write something with my own opinion of who would be the modern day “Springfield Nine”, only the starters, and why they would ultimately miss the big game.

Pitcher: Justin Verlander

He is the best pitcher in the game, much like Clemens was at the time of this episode. Verlander was seen during softball practice, blowing a hole through Homer’s Wonderbat, much like Clemens did. This would also make for a great Simpsons cameo for Kate Upton, which would put her 2nd behind Marge as the sexiest yellow cartoon character. Verlander is at the elementary school the day before the game speaking to the kids about vapor lock and its dangers when he runs into Edna Krabappel. Edna convinces (or forces) Verlander back to her motel apartment where he is handcuffed to her bed. Unfortunately, Edna leaves to for a late night rendezvous with Principal Skinner and Verlander is stuck there for the duration of the game.

Catcher: Joe Mauer

This one is pretty easy for me. Mauer, being one of the more commercialized baseball players because of his hometown boy looks and his easy going nature, would be cast as Dr. Tad Winslow on the hit soap opera “It Never Ends” immediately upon his entering of Springfield.  On the day of the game, Mauer confesses to his Mr. Burns his love of the theater and that the only reason he hasn’t moved out of Minnesota was for its underground theatrical network. Mauer leaves and spends the next 20 years of his life in the daytime limelight.

1st Base: Miguel Cabrera

Miggy, who has recently said to have been sober for quite some time, runs into a surly Barney Gumble at the Pawn-Shop, trying to get extra beer money for whatever he’s found on the sidewalks of Springfield. With his multi-million dollar contract, Miggy offers to buy Barney a drink, as he has been down on his luck as well. Upon entering Moe’s, he buys Barney a beer and Moe asks Miggy what he is having. Miggy declines, leading to Moe whipping out his infamous shotgun, ordering him to order a drink, or leave in a body bag. After one sip, Miggy goes on a Barney type bender, ending up back at Comerica Park in the trunk of a 2006 Honda Odyssey. Perhaps Miggy should listen to some of Homer’s smartest remarks.

2nd Base: Robinson Cano

With a haunting past that none of us known about, Robbie Cano manages to finally meet his maker. At channel 6 for an interview, Cano runs into bumblebee man. They exchange shifty eyed glances and we are flashed back to the Dominican Republic. Bumblebee man was romantically involved with Cano’s mother, and left her to pursue his career in television in the US. Since then, Cano has promised to avenge his mother’s broken heart and accepted this offer from Mr. Burns solely to deal with bumblebee man. They get into a tussle that ends up with Cano defeating bumblebee man and quickly fleeing the country back to the DR.

Shortstop: Derek Jeter

Keri and I agree here. It has to be DJ. The question is, how does Derek miss the game? He never misses games unless he is brutally injured in one fashion. I think he follows the route that Mike Scioscia took in his go around in Springfield. DJ would obviously love to be a part of the power plant’s every day team. But unlike Scioscia, he wouldn’t be lethargic in his work ethic and accidentally get radiation poisoning. I see more of a Frank Grimes ending for DJ. After a week or so of working with Homer, he would begin to lose his mind and compare him to a real life Jason Giambi! One day, Jeter snaps and ends up eating a spoonful of toxic waste, which only Homer can handle drums of, and the next scene pants to his tombstone. Homer obviously buys a hotdog at the funeral and gets a t-shirt from the inevitable t-shirt cannon salute.

3rd Base: David Wright

Wright couldn’t just let the NYY boys have all of the fun! He is known in real life for his easy going ways and being one of the least controversial athletes in sports. However, once he gets to Springfield, he just lets loose! Wright meets Snake and they find that they are kindred spirits. They rob the Kwik-E-Mart together but their attempt is thwarted by Apu’s uncanny ability to take a gunshot. After being hit with lasers by both Snake and Wright, Apu manages to put some pop rocks in a can of buzz cola ala Homer at the candy convention and sacrifices part of his store to save it. After the rubble is cleared, Wright appears alright and heads to practice. After arriving, he listens to Mr. Burns’s speech and realizes he has gone deaf! This leads to Wright chasing a pop up into the open street where is mowed down by a truck driving Hans Moleman.

Left Field: Ryan Braun

With all of the bad press swirling around his not too over sized head, Braun agrees to play for the power plant, hoping to gain a bit of positive PR, and also to show he can hit a softball 600 feet while “not” on steroids. Unfortunately, Mr. Burns may be all for cheating, but makes sure he screens all of his players for drugs because it seems like one of those unbalanced things that he would do in a scenario like this. He chastises Braun for failing his test, who claims he just had too many poppy seed bagels (Jewish joke) and is clean. Two weeks later we find Braun back in the majors, on his way to another 50 home run season, void of any punishment, just like real life.

Center Field: Adam Jones

The Google machine, as Montgomery calls it, is how he came across Adam Jones. However, he was expecting Pacman to show up and constantly questions why Adam Jones looks like a human and isn’t devouring the competition like a bunch of blinking ghosts. Every practice it was another Pacman reference and that infuriated Jones. Before the game he quits, slamming his glove in disgust saying he’d rather play for Peter Angelos (Mattingly reference) and as he leaves he makes the classic Pacman chomping noise and swallows up an entire bundle of cherries STILL ATTACHED TO THE VINE.

Right Field: Manny Ramirez

Now I know this one is a bit dated, but who else could take Homer’s place in the lineup and be the modern day Darryl Strawberry, with nothing but a positive attitude and the quintessential teammate qualities. Manny shows up to practice early, hustles more than anyone, somehow manage to pass his drug test, and hit a ton of homers in the actual championship game. He plays in Homer’s spot until the last inning when he comes up with the bases loaded. The Shelbyville power plant brings in a sinkerball softball pitcher and Burns decides that Homer gives them a better chance of NOT hitting into a double play, which may actually be true. Instead, Homer still gets hit by the pitch, rolled over by one of his co workers so they can touch home plate, and carried off the field a lifeless, numb hero.

 

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