August 04, 2010
Woo-hoo! On the Red Carpet reports that legendary baseball author Bill James will be among the celebrity voices featured on the upcoming season of "The Simpsons."
Considering these are two of my favorite things (James being more of a person than a "thing"), I'm looking forward to how they'll involve James in the family's misadventures around Springfield.
• As a favor to Mr. Burns and Smithers, James optimizes the lineup for the plant's softball team (although to James, lineups are irrelevant). Mike Scioscia (long-since recovered from his tragic illness) is also scheduled make his triumphant return to the show (really), so perhaps he and James will be paired in the same episode.
• James has a heart-to-heart with Apu about the Hall of Fame viability of Keith Hernandez, who played the "Ny Mets," Apu's favorite squadron.
• James is called upon to measure just how much gigantism padded Ken Griffey's career statistics.
• Using sabermetrics, James finds a mate for Comic Book Guy (in a twist, it turns out to be James).
• Moe the Bartender mistakenly forces James, at gunpoint, to help him prepare for fantasy football season.
Of course, there is a negative side to James and "The Simpsons" crossing streams.
Appearing on "The Simpsons" has become something of a cross between being blessed by the pope and guest starring on "Love Boat" 30 years ago. It's still an honor, it's still a rite of passage, but there's also a sense that it doesn't mean as much as it used to.
Look at the list of celebs scheduled to appear in Season 22: The dude who plays Harry Potter; The guy on "Mad Men" (not Roger Sterling, the other guy); Danica Patrick; The kids from "Glee." "The Simpsons," it seems, is akin to Jay Leno (or any late-night chat show) with its rubber-stamped assembly line of stars.
I hope James appears not as himself, but as someone else undercover. Like when Dustin Hoffman played Lisa's awesome music teacher, or when Michael Jackson played the guy in the loony bin who thought he was Michael Jackson.
And if they let James be part of the creative process, it will be even better.
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