Episode - 8F13
First Aired - 2/20/1992A Baseball Episode where Homer and his homemade bat carry the power plant's softball team into the championship game. However, Mr. Burns hires a team of Major League Baseball players to guarantee a victory and win a million dollar bet.
This episode contains examples of:
- Alliterative Name: Steve Sax.
- And the Rest: When Mr. Burns introduces his Super Ringers:Burns: Now, I'd like to introduce the new members of our happy power plant family. Our security guard, Roger Clemens.
Burns: Our janitor, Wade Boggs.
Boggs: How you doing?
Burns: Our lunchroom cashier, Ken Griffey Jr.
Griffey: Hey, what's up, guys?
Burns: Our new— well, uh, we'll make up jobs for these fellas later. Say hello to Steve Sax, Don Mattingly, Darryl Strawberry, Ozzie Smith, Mike Scioscia, and Jose Canseco.
- As Himself: Wade Boggs, José Canseco, Roger Clemens, Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly, Steve Sax, Mike Scoscia, Ozzie Smith, and Darryl Strawberry are the ringers Mr. Burns hires, basically most of the big name baseball players of the early '90s. Musician Terry Cashman sings a version of his song "Talkin' Baseball" based on the events of the episode during the credits.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: While screaming in the Springfield Mystery Spot, Ozzie Smith pauses to take a picture.
- Author Appeal: The episode was written by John Swartzwelder, who is a big baseball fan.
- Back for the Finale: Ozzie Smith appears on the ending group photo in astral form, due to being trapped in another dimension.
- Bait-and-Switch: When Homer chokes on a donut, Lenny looks for a first-aid chart and appears to find one for the Heimlich Maneuver, but he's actually making note of a notice for softball sign-ups. (Fortunately, Homer manages to cough up the donut.)
- Baseball Episode: The episode has become one of the most famous instances of this trope and is one of the show's most popular episodes. Steve Sax admitted that people like talking to him about the episode more than his playing career and its popularity even resulted in Homer being inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
- Black Comedy: "Mike Scioscia's tragic illness made us smile." Said illness being radiation poisoning from working at the Springfield nuclear plant. But he does get better.
- Blunt "Yes": Homer finds himself on the receiving end of several of these in a row.Homer: You're Darryl Strawberry!Strawberry: Yes.Homer: You play right field.Strawberry: Yes.Homer: I play right field too.Strawberry: So?Strawberry: Well, I've never met you, but... yes.
- Call-Back: When Ken Griffey Jr. tries the nerve tonic for the first time, he claims that "it's like there's a party in my mouth and everyone's invited!" Behind the scenes, Griffey hadn't seen the episode, so the line confused him.
- Captain Obvious: After Mr. Burns introduces the major league ringers to the plant workers and announces his intent to have them play for him, Lenny worriedly points out to him that if he plans to use the major leaguers, he'll have no further need of the plant workers, to which Burns responds with a glorious "Well, duh!"
- Comically Missing the Point: Mike Scioscia doesn't get that his job at the plant was just a token position so he could play on the softball team and shows up to work there every day. He winds up getting radiation poisoning.
- Contrived Coincidence: Eight of Burns' ringers simultaneously suffer misfortunes that prevent them playing in the game the following day. Discussed and lampshaded by Burns himself.
- Down to the Last Play: Homer is called upon to pinch-hit for Darryl Strawberry with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Thanks to Mr. Burns and his weird Hand Signals, Homer becomes distracted and gets knocked-out by a pitch to the head, forcing the winning run to score.
- Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help: The reason why Jose Canseco couldn't make it to the game is because he is too busy saving a baby, a cat, and a series of appliances from a house fire.
- Exact Words: Mr. Burns states that, although there is an outside chance of seven misfortunes, nine misfortunes befalling his players is virtually impossible. This proves accurate as nothing happens to either Darryl Strawberry (who Burns sends to the showers during the last play, since he wants to play the percentages and pit a right-handed batter against a Southpaw pitcher) or Don Mattingly (who was kicked off the team by Burns for his non-existent sideburns).
- Foreshadowing: The episode basically tells you in the third act that they are going to destroy the ringers which they do in the most bizarre and interesting ways possible.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: They're only onscreen for a few seconds and pretty blurry, but Burns's entire team of dead players is possible to make out. (His right-fielder, Jim Creighton, had indeed been dead for 130 years - he played before there was even a professional league.)
- Gretzky Has the Ball: Lisa erroneously says Homer's hit by pitch counts as a hit.
- Group Picture Ending: The episode ends this way, with the whole team present, including an unconscious Homer, Ozzie Smith's ghost, Steve Sax handcuffed to Lou, José Canseco covered in ash, Roger Clemens standing with his arms positioned like wings, Wade Boggs with a black eye, Ken Griffey Jr. in a wheelchair, Mike Scoiscia covered in bandages and an angry-looking Daryl Strawberry.
- Half Way Plot Switch: The first act revolves around Homer and his "magic" bat, but afterwards the plot switches to the Ringers Mr. Burns hires. The bat even breaks during the first practice with the pros.
- Hypno Fool: Zig-Zagged: Burns hires a hypnotist/motivational speaker for the team, only for his attempt to make the team give more than they had already ("110%") be defeated by the entire team, while hypnotized, pointing out that it's impossible for someone to give more than 100%. Then Roger Clemens turns out to have reacted badly to the hypnotic therapy and ends the episode thinking he's a chicken. And when Burns gets on the hypnotist's face about that faux pas, the hypnotist hypnotizes Burns into forgiving him.
- Jerkass: The woman whose house is burning down, making José Canseco get everything out of the house for her and then complaining that the dryer goes elsewhere.
- Eddie and Lou. See Police Brutality below.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Would anyone actually disagree with the idea that Darryl Strawberry is a better player than Homer?
- Karma Houdini:
- The hypnotist.
- Mr. Burns wins his bet after nearly wrecking the team for the employees who worked hard to get the championship and inadvertently causing several MLB stars to suffer horrible calamities.
- Barney for punching out Wade Boggs and Moe just for disagreeing with him over who was the best Prime Minister of England.
- The bottomless pit purveyor, who not only tricked Ozzie Smith into going in, but also laughed at him for falling for it.
- Kick the Dog: Even though he's right, Strawberry did this to Homer when he told him he was better at softball than Homer was, despite having never met Homer before.
- Mockumentary: In 2017, to mark the episode's 20th anniversary, receives one called "Springfield of Dreams" featuring new animation, and contributions from Bob Uecker, Bob Costas, Joe Buck, Mehmet Oz, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Russell Brand. Its format parodies Ken Burns's Baseball. Of the original episode's guest stars, only Strawberry is absent.
- Negative Space Wedgie: The "Springfield Mystery Spot", a shack attraction ("Where logic takes a holiday and all laws of nature are meaningless"). Ozzie Smith goes into it and...Smithers:...And Ozzie Smith seems to have vanished off the face of the earth...
- Cut to Ozzie Smith in a red void* "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH- *sees a floating E=MC 2* Cool! *Takes picture* AHHHHHHHHHH-"
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Ralph Wiggum has a surprising amount of knowledge with baseball stars, including Jose Canseco. This aids him in a baseball game against Bart's (most likely boned) team.
- Police Brutality: Steve Sax is arrested for just about every unsolved crime in New York City by the Springfield Police for no particular reason. Also Disproportionate Retribution (perhaps the boys were still bitter about losing to the Power Plant).
- According to "Springfield of Dreams", he's still under investigation 25 years later.
- Race Against the Clock: Mr. Burns gives Smithers only 24 hours to recruit a bunch of professional ringers for his company softball team.
- Reality Ensues: Homer hits a lot of home runs with Wonderbat when playing against other local teams. However, the first pitch he faces from a major leaguer breaks his bat in half.
- Rousing Speech: Parodied:Mr. Burns: All right, you Ragtag Bunch of Misfits! You hate me, and I hate you even more! But without my beloved ringers, you're all I've got. So I, uh, want you to remember something inspiring that someone else may have told you during the course of your lives, and go out there and win!
- Also Averted with the hypnotist:Hypnotist: You are all very good players.Players: [chanting in unison] We are all very good players.Hypnotist: You will beat Shelbyville.Players: [chanting in unison] We will beat Shelbyville.Hypnotist: You will give one hundred and ten percent.Players: [chanting in unison] That's impossible. No one can give more than one hundred percent. By definition that is the most anyone can give.
- Also Averted with the hypnotist:
- Running Gag: Darryl Strawberry being a kiss-ass to Mr. Burns.
- Serious Business: Barney and Wade Boggs both take their British politics very seriously, to the point where Barney knocks Wade Boggs unconscious simply for disagreeing with him on who the best British prime minister was: Lord Palmerston or Pitt the Elder.Moe: That's showin' him, Barney! (derisively) "Pitt the Elder"...
Barney: Loooooooord Palmerston!!!
(Moe has an Oh, Crap! look; Barney punches him too)
- Smart Ball: Not only is Homer a baseball prodigy this episode, but he can make his own baseball bat.
- Super Ringer: Burns' plan to win against Shelbyville is getting an entire teams' worth of these. Subverted in that, in the end, only one of them (Darryl Strawberry with nine home runs) ends up doing anything (most of them don't even arrive to the game).
- Take That!: After Mr. Burns kicks Mattingly off the team for not getting rid of his nonexistent sideburns, Mattingly angrily storms off but notes that he still likes Burns better than Steinbrenner (the controversial owner of the New York Yankees who was very much a Mean Boss).
- Tempting Fate: Subverted. Burns finding the idea that his nine players would befall nine calamities before the Shelbyville game hilarious. By the time of the game, only seven players were subject to ridiculous calamities. Mattingly is kicked off because he still didn't get rid of the nonexistent sideburns Burns kept screaming about, and Strawberry still makes it and hits nine home runs.
- Truth in Television: Don Mattingly was actually benched by the New York Yankees - along with three teammates - in 1991 for not getting a haircut. When he became the manager of the Miami Marlins in 2016, Mattingly enacted his own facial hair ban during Spring Training, something he didn't do during the previous five years, when he managed the Los Angeles Dodgers.
- Two Decades Behind: Mr. Burns' original list of the ringers for Smithers to recruit includes early 20th century players like Honus Wagner and Shoeless Joe Jackson. Then when he tells Smithers to recruit current players, he tells him to scour the Negro Leagues in addition to the American and National Leagues.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight/Noodle Incident: At the beginning of the episode, as Homer chokes on doughnuts for eating them too fast, his coworkers are casual about the whole thing, as it has happened before, and Carl even suggests that they scare him (although Charlie rejected this, as that's what you do when someone has the hiccups).
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Inverted. Mr. Burns getting involved is what allows Homer to win the game.
- Played straight with Mr. Burns instigating the fates of Mike Scioscia, Ozzie Smith, Steve Sax, and Ken Griffey Jr. Less so with Roger Clemens, and Wade Boggs (and by extension Moe).
- What Happened to the Mouse?: We never do find out how (or if) Ozzie Smith escaped from the Springfield Mystery Spot. He's even expressed a willingness to make another guest appearance for the specific purpose of doing so.
- Whole Plot Reference: To The Natural, particularly the film version starring Robert Redford as a baseball player using a bat of Thunderbolt Wood from a lightning-struck tree.