Ms. Frizzle: Don't worry, Arnold; that's not until next week. Today, we're going to a baseball game!
So you're watching your favorite show. It might be romance, or supernatural, or anything at all. The characters are not shown to participate in sports, and it doesn't really matter in context. Then, the next episode comes up and... wait a minute, why are they playing baseball?
Enter the Baseball Episode, in which for some reason, the heroes participate in a baseball game. It might be in order to save the world, save the town or just waste time. Whatever the reason, it's common, and shows up in all kinds of works...
...at least coming from the United States, Japan, and certain parts of the Caribbean. Most other countries don't even care about this "baseball" thing. Other sports occasionally used include types of football such as soccer or American football, while the standard British or Australian equivalent would be a Cricket or rugby episode.
Also can apply to softball, an equivalent sport played with a larger ball, a smaller playfield.
- One of the Erin Esurance ads took place in a baseball game. A song about saving money with Esurance to the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" even plays in it!
- The Eena Meena Deeka episode "Baseball" starts off with the birds playing baseball outside. When they hit the baseball in the air, it comes down and hits Bhukkad, and the main conflict begins.
- Motu Patlu has an episode involving Cricket. In the episode, titled "Cricket League", Motu and Patlu start their own cricket league.
- Simple Samosa also has a Cricket Episode; the episode is appropriately titled "Cricket Match". In the episode, Samosa is named the umpire in a cricket game, and is surprised to find out that his friends Dhokla, Jalebi, and Vada are on the playing teams for that game.
- Tik Tak Tail has the "Cricket Episode" variant. In "Cricket Crisis", Tak and Tail challenge Tik and Jolly to a cricket match that involves both teams making fabrications to the willow and ball in order to have advantages over the other team.
- The Young All-Stars played against the All-Star Squadron for charity.
- Way back when Marvel's Avengers were only split up between East Coast and West Coast, the two teams would meet up for an annual game of baseball. One of these games was interrupted by a cosmic being called the Grandmaster (who, as it happens, is obsessed with sports and games), but that's a long story.
- A Golden Age issue of Captain America had the hero and Bucky take to the field as players in order to catch a murderer who was killing pitchers in order to rig games.
- The Captain Britain and MI13 annual had a story with the cast playing Cricket.
- A 1977 Captain Marvel comic featured this. It starts with Mr. Tawny (the talking tiger) joining the Detroit Tigers, and ends with a game between the Tigers (including Mr. Tawny and Captain Marvel, temporarily on the team) playing against Mr. Mind and a team of aliens with enhanced abilities, for control of the world.
- And way way back in the earliest years of the Fantastic Four, the issue after the storyline of the very first introduction of the Black Panther, it opens with them playing baseball. Hilarity Ensues, due to the fact that the Thing is the pitcher.
- Bart Allen's adventures in Impulse are a mix of normal superheroic fare— bank robberies, time travel, speeding cars, megalomania— and him trying and failing to be a normal teenager, but generally more of the former. Impulse #20 is just 22 pages of Bart playing baseball (and losing badly).
- Incredible Hulk incognito, got a gig playing outfield for a minor league team. The gig ended when he had a fight with the Rhino, who was playing catcher for a rival minor league team. Foul-tempered, mutated superbehemoths playing baseball? Shocking.
- Marvel's Laff-A-Lympics book had "Take Me Out to the Brawl Game," in which the Really Rottens used a remote-controlled baseball and kidnapped the Scoobies' star hitter, Captain Caveman.
- The first issue of New Men opened with the title team relaxing with a game of basketball - the use of powers encouraged.
- The Outsiders #6 (1986) has a back-up story titled "The Outsiders at the Bat"; a comical adaptation of Casey at the Bat featuring the Outsiders playing baseball against Kobra and his henchmen.
- Nearly an entire issue of Power Pack took place in or around Shea Stadium, dealing with a slightly-crazy former baseball player who was willing to blow up the stadium to prevent his seven-home-runs-in-seven-games record from being tied.
- PS238: The No Child Left Behind! collection contains a bonus story about the PS238 students playing baseball (minus Tyler, who refs from the sidelines for his own safety).
- The inmates of Arkham Asylum have even played against Blackgate prisoners in Showcase '94 #3-4. It didn't go well.
- The Justice League had a baseball game against the Injustice Gang in Strange Sport Stories. The writers even wrote and included a box score for the game.
- In Superman #77, an amnesiac Superman is living as a hobo and is recruited as a pitcher by a minor league team when he returns a fly ball and nearly breaks the catcher's hand. It Makes Sense in Context.
- Similarly, there was a Titans/Villains baseball game in an issue of Teen Titans Go!.
- Wonder Woman:
- Back in the Golden Age of Comics Steve Trevor once stopped to play baseball with some kids while delivering an important, but not time sensitive, message. When he arrives the message seems to have been swapped out and he's accused of being a fool and getting it stolen while playing a game, but he and Wonder Woman uncover the truth: he'd never been given the real message in the first place as the man who was meant to hand it to him had been killed and replaced with a near identical relative who'd been bribed into becoming a Nazi saboteur.
- Wonder Woman (1942): The WACs assigned to the USAAF intelligence office in Washington DC play a game against their male co-workers. The game gets derailed by an argument when Diana forgets to hold back her strength and obliterates a ball, with Steve quickly saying the ball was probably rotted through and flirtingly asking her if she fancies herself a Wonder Woman once the other men are too distracted by trying to figure out if its a foul ball.
- The X-Men have a long history of this (perhaps unsurprising given that the school is in New York). An X-Men baseball game will always start with the rule "no powers". And it will always be broken. They also played basketball once with similar results. And football (resulting in Xavier being tackled out of his wheelchair).
- This also happened in an issue of Young Justice, which played out very much like the Samurai Champloo episode, only here, the invaders were aliens. The justification, such as it was, was that the aliens had once been led by Doiby Dickles, so their culture was largely based on 1930s New York City. Apparently they had decided that baseball was a convenient form of Trial by Combat and began to use it as their own. The whole thing was so ridiculous that it prompted one character to express in frustration "That's it, I'm joining the [Teen] Titans."
- Not to mention the annual softball game between Marvel Comics and DC Comics staffers in Real Life.
- Calvin and Hobbes had an early arc featuring Calvin's ill-fated attempt at joining his school's baseball team. In other strips, he and Hobbes play baseball against each other, but those inevitably result in either a Big Ball of Violence between the two or the game turning into Calvinball. Or both.
- Peanuts had plenty of strips revolving around Charlie Brown's poor excuse for a Little League team. His team always lost, and every character treated this as a foregone conclusion except Charlie Brown himself, who would always hold out hope for a win only to inevitably suffer yet another disappointment. Baseball was also the main topic for a few of the animated specials, including Charlie Brown's All-Stars, It's Spring Training, Charlie Brown, and Lucy Must Be Traded, Charlie Brown among others.
- The Bolt Chronicles: The Baseball Game is a classic Single-A World Series Big Game story, with Bolt pressed into playing duty while serving as honorary team mascot. He scores the winning run as a pinch runner for an injured player, and later clinches victory when he pulls off a triple play manning second base despite lacking a glove and the ability to throw a baseball properly.
- NUMB3RS story Anything For Charity has Don being drafted by his boss to take part in a charity baseball game against other agencies.
- A football variant occurs in The Room.
- For a given value of "live action", Space Jam is essentially a movie-length version of this for the Looney Tunes franchise with basketball instead of baseball. Funnily enough, Michael Jordan is actually playing baseball in his first appearance on screen.
- The Cullens, with Bella in tow, play in Twilight.
- The fiftieth Doctor Who New Adventures novel, Happy Endings by Paul Cornell, spends about a chapter on a cricket match between the Cheldon Boniface team and the Doctor's Invitation Eleven.
- Lucille Van Slyke's 1912 serial novel Eve's Other Children focuses on Syrian immigrant children and their families trying to get used to America. In "The Thing Called Play", nine-year-old Najeeb Badour is in a funk because the other boys don't really accept him. Tommy O'Brien wants to organize a sandlot baseball team, but his friends are either ignorant of the game or too young — nobody can throw. Najeeb, however, is an expert at a related sport called tabeh, where you throw a wooden ball through a hoop fixed at eye level.note His friend Nazileh lets on to Tommy, and when Najeeb shows his skill, Tommy is ecstatic and screams "Oh, youse Christy Mathewson!!!" and proceeds to tell Najeeb everything about baseball. We don't see the game itself, but no doubt it's splendid. And what could be more American than that?
- In the third The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy novel, cricket suddenly becomes pivotal to the plot, and the story begins with a cricket game. Of course, it turns out that cricket is actually linked to an alien plot to kill everything everywhere.
- Joy in Mudville, a story in the Hoka series by Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson.
- Nick Velvet: In "The Theft of The Meager Beavers", Nick is hired to steal a professional baseball team and fly them to a Banana Republic; ostensibly to play a game against a team assembled by that country's president.
- If you consider each book in the P. G. Wodehouse's Psmith series to be an 'episode', then the first book Enter Smith is the cricket episode. It's the only book to focus on Mike's cricketing prowess, and has detailed descriptions of the matches.
- The 1993 song Cheap Seats.
- John Fogerty's 1985 song, "Centerfield".
- Kids Praise: The eighth album is a pretty typical cliche baseball plot from The '80s, where a couple of the Kid's Praise kids fail to make a team, so Psalty encourage them to create their own team called "The Psalters". They lose so spectacularly in their first game, it's hard to believe, but win by a single run in a rematch for reasons that aren't really explained.
- "Balls 'n Bats" from Obsession Pinball is all about the Great American Pastime, and even includes a jingoistic American flag on the playfield.
- As Contralona PR covered the lead up to Junte Para La Historia 2 they also followed WWL and other Puerto Rican wrestlers as they participated in a softball carnival.
- Adventures in Odyssey has featured episodes centered on baseball, usually with some kind of moral in mind.
- The musical Let 'Em Eat Cake (sequel to Of Thee I Sing) had the Supreme Court, reconstituted as a baseball team after Wintergreen became dictator, playing against the League of Nations, with Throttlebottom as umpire. The United States loses, blames Throttlebottom for calling a foul ball fair, and sentences him to the guillotine.
- The "What a Game" scene in Ragtime.
- In the anime adaptation of Comic Party, characters formed two teams to play against each other; the game was eventually called a tie due to some complicated exigent circumstances.
- Played with in Disgaea. In one chapter, a bunch of rogue Prinnies challenge Laharl and company to a baseball game out in Blair Forest, but Laharl and Etna have a different game plan on their minds (i.e. "kill 'em all"). This is made easy by the fact that prinnies explode when thrown, providing a quick match if you are underleveled.
- In Ensemble Stars!, this is the premise of the event story Youth! Play Ball - due to a miscommunication, both 2wink and Trickstar end up assigned to perform the opening number for a baseball game, and decide to play a match of their own to decide who will take it. Naturally, they agree to put on a joint performance in the end.
- A short segment in Higurashi: When They Cry. May be a bit longer in the manga and sound novels.
- The Kunio-kun baseball game Downtown Nekketsu Baseball Monogatari.
- The Live Powerful Pro Baseball Power Pro-Pocket series manages to invert this trope. They're baseball games with dating sim stories for building characters, but most of them come with a hidden mode that's a fantasy or sci-fi themed RPG that has nothing to do with the sport except for a customizable puppet that becomes your prize character for clearing the story. The only exceptions were Happiness Island in 6, which was a standard baseball scenario; and Takeshima in 14, which featured the sport as a table-top card game.
- Makai Kingdom, on the other hand, had a fight as a (association) football match. You're caught in the middle, while the enemies are split into two teams and can and will attack each other.
- Marco and the Galaxy Dragon has its heroines play a game of baseball for a PE class. The scene starts out comically, with Gargouilles inability to hit the ball, but it becomes more serious as Marco takes the opportunity to voice her insecurities about approaching her long-lost mother.
- The Super Mario Bros. 'verse deals with baseball in Mario Superstar Baseball and Mario Super Sluggers.
- Mega Man 10 invokes this with Strike Man's stage. Of course, Mega Man (or whoever you're playing as) doesn't deviate from what he usually does, and there are just general sports references, but baseball is the strongest theme (even the Robot Master himself looks like a baseball).
- Winnie-the-Pooh's Home Run Derby: The player controls Pooh in order to compete in a home run derby contest, facing off against many other characters in the series as pitchers
- Rusty and Co. level 8 is titled "Wait... is he seriously doing a baseball episode?" Sure enough, Robespierre, Mimic, Stabs and her brothers are getting roped into such a game in the arena, to the horror of the Halflings (who were expecting good old Gladiator Games instead).
- The variation of baseball used is extraordinarily deadly, however, enough so that high level clerics are kept on hand to resurrect the dead.
- Tiffany and Corey has a few cartoons with the title characters on a baseball field, complete with ball cap or batting helmet and baseball bat.