January 5, 2005

The Curse of the Simpsons and Big League Baseball

by CHRIS LYNCH , American Digest Sports Editor

The 1992 Springfield Nukers: Dream Team or Satan's Slaves?

Hello, my name is Bob Ley and welcome to ESPN's Outside the Lines. Tonight we look at "the Curse of the Simpsons."

First Broadcast in February of 1992, the Simpsons' episode "Homer at the Bat" featured some of baseball's brightest stars.... but now... questions: "What did Baseball's best have to do to be on the show? What terrible price did they pay for that fleeting flash of fame?"

According to the Official Simpsons Website Homer at the Bat's plot was:

Mr. Burns makes a million dollar bet with his arch-rival Aristotle Amadopolis that the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant team will beat the Shelbyville Nuclear Power Plant team in the softball championships.

To ensure victory, Burns hires a number of ringers, including pro baseball players Darryl Strawberry, Ken Griffey, Jr., Steve Sax, Roger Clemens, Jose Canseco, Don Mattingly, Ozzie Smith, Wade Boggs and Mike Scioscia to replace the plant employees he cut from the team.

But as game day approaches, the pros all succumb to various strange ailments and accidents that prevent them from playing and it's up to Homer and his teammates to beat the Shelbyville team.

With bases loaded and the score tied in the ninth inning, Homer is sent to bat and wins the game when the pitch hits him in the head and accidentally scores a homer."

Fast forward to today. It is a fact that most of the stars were at the top of their game before agreeing to appear on the fateful show, but after the show most started hitting the skids.

Coincidence? Outside the Lines thinks not. Let's... go deep.

In studio we have one of the stars of the show -- Homer Simpson.

OTL: Homer, welcome to Outside the Lines. You get many big name stars on the show. Is there any special arrangement to get these stars? What about the baseball players featured in "Homer at the Bat"?

Homer: To answer your question Kent, normally guest stars work for scale to be on The Simpsons because it is big mojo to be on the Simpsons. However, in this case the boss wanted something extra.

OTL: Who is your boss? What was that "something extra" required of the baseball players?

Homer: Well I report directly to Satan or, as we like to call him, Ned. In order to be on the show the baseball players had to sign over their souls. Standard stuff, really.

OTL: Did you just say that Ned Flanders is Satan and that the players signed over their souls to be on The Simpsons?

Homer: Are you headphones plugged in, Bob? The players craved the show. Ned made them pay.

OTL: Darryl Strawberry?

Homer: Ummmmmm strawberries! Oops -- sorry. I felt bad about Straw. He was such a good kid before he signed. I'm afraid we introduced him to a little too much of the Hollywood lifestyle. Constant drugs and hookers made quite the impression on him.

OTL: Ken Griffey Jr.?

Homer: Yep. Satan is still screwing with him. I guess Griffey has become sort of a hobby for Ned.

OTL: Steve Sax?

Homer: Oh boy! That was a good one. The throws to first were my idea.

OTL: Jose Canseco?

Homer: Do you even have to ask? The guy slept with Madonna. I guess he figured he was doomed anyway.

OTL: Don Mattingly?

Homer: You know Don started off as a really nice guy but working for so long with Steinbrenner just sorta wore him down. I still remember watching Mattingly's last game on the set of the Simpsons. Ned comes over - sees Don on the TV and says, "Next year the Yankees win the World Series" and then he starts with that laugh of his.

OTL: Mike Scioscia?

Homer: Mike was sorta of a charity case. He sold his soul to get into the major leagues.

OTL: Wade Boggs? You can't say Wade Boggs sold his soul - I mean he was just elected to the Hall of Fame.

Homer: Actually Wade Boggs was the only one that wasn't asked to sign away his soul. If you remember - in the show Wade gets beat up by Barney Gumble. Ned had Wade Boggs on as a favor to all the cast. We all wanted to beat him up but Barney won the lottery.

OTL: What about Ozzie Smith? I grant you all the other stars did seem to rapidly dim after being on the show, but Ozzie was also voted into the Hall of Fame. You can't ask us to believe that Ozzie sold his soul.

Homer: Heh - we all thought it kinda funny to portray Ned as the devil knowing full well that he really was the devil. Who knew that Ozzie really was a Wizard? The Wizard of Oz! We all thought it was just something people called him. That sommersault he does before all his games is really a counter curse you know.

OTL: Roger Clemens has over 300 wins and has won multiple Cy Young Awards. Surely he didn't sign his soul away.

Homer: Roger was the first to sign. Dumb as a post. The funny thing is that by signing with Toronto Clemens proved that he didn't have a soul, so the deal was null and void.

OTL: Please hold on just a second, Homer. I understand from our producers that joining us via a telephone hook-up is Ned Flanders. Mr. Flanders on this show tonight Homer Simpson has revealed that you are in fact the devil, and that in 1992 you required a number of all-star baseball players to sign away their souls in order to be on The Simpsons. Comment?

Ned Flanders: Okily dokily Bob-arino. All that Homer said is as right as rain. Baseball players are some of my best customers. Right up there next to SportsCenter anchors, but I wasn't going to take their souls until my boss insisted.

OTL: Your boss? Who would that be?

Ned Flanders: James L. Brooks of course.

OTL: Well that makes sense. I'm Bob Ley and this has been Outside the Lines. Please join us tomorrow night when our topic will be "Are we ready for an openly gay football mascot?"

AMERICAN DIGEST SPORTS EDITOR Chris Lynch serves his own brew daily at A Large Regular , and contributes to SportsPages.com. Lynch can be reached at chris.lynch@gmail.com

Posted by Vanderleun at January 5, 2005 8:41 AM
Bookmark and Share



"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Lynch, you are one crazy guy, but i can't help thinking this explains a lot. especial about the stawb.

Posted by: Ray Hardt at January 5, 2005 10:58 AM

Er, "the strawb..."

Posted by: Ray Hardt at January 5, 2005 11:24 AM

Nice job, Chris! That clears things up nicely for me!

Posted by: That 1 Guy at January 5, 2005 12:57 PM

Thanks guys! Gerard pays me by the compliment.

Posted by: chris at January 5, 2005 6:52 PM