October 14, 2010
The best part of the most recent "Simpsons" episode was the opening title sequence directed by guerrilla graffiti artist Banksy. It was troublemaking art at its most subversive. Sadly, it featured no baseball.
"Moneybart" didn't have Ken Griffey Jr.(notes) contracting gigantism, either, but it did feature guest appearances by statistician overlord Bill James and (in a return engagement) Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia. Both, in their own way, advised Lisa on what it might take to manage Bart's Little League team.
James' blink-and-you-miss-it contribution is the flashpoint for the whole "Is sabermetrics good for baseball?" debate, a question that wasn't necessarily resolved on the show. But it was made fun of — to the point that a notebook computer is doused with celebratory Gatorade. And the "Moneyball" angle gave producers a chance to showcase one of the series' best tertiary characters, the Nutty Professor-like John I.Q. Neidelbaum Frink.
To whet your appetite while we take an intolerably long break from the League Championship Series, the Stew collected the top 25 baseball-related lines from "Moneybart" to help you cope using laughter. (Bonus Audio! Below, click where appropriate to hear the quote.)
1. "Baseball is a game played by the dextrous but only understood by the POIN-dextrous." — Frink (on the left), explaining why he's a baseball fan
2. "The only thing I know about strategy is that whatever the manager does, it's wrong. Unless it works, in which case he's a button-pusher." — bartender Moe Szyslak, responding to Lisa's call for help
4. "Sorry, Marge. Last time I stepped on a baseball field, I got tased." — Homer, on why he can't manage Bart's team
5. "I didn't know what I was putting into my body!" — Ralph Wiggum, on getting "juiced" by overdosing on fruit juice
7. "... And that's why anybody who invested with Lenny Dykstra, really should call that number. Lawyers are standing by." — Vin Scully-like announcer, on Lenny's financial woes
8. "I've made baseball as much fun as doing your taxes!" — James, on his contribution to the sport
9. "It gave me super managing powers. I also demagnetize credit cards." — Scioscia, on the effects of getting radiation poisoning at the Springfield Nuclear Plant back in the early '90s
10. "This isn't the game I grew up with! The game played in the misty ballparks of Enron Field, or Pac Bell, then SBC, now AT&T Park." — Bart, on baseball's good old days
11. "Using sabermetrics, even an 8-year-old girl can run a ballclub with the sagacity of a Stengel and the single-mindedness of a Steinbrenner. I call it a Stein-STENGEL-sman-sman-bluh-flavin." — Frink, on how numbers rule
12. "You made me love baseball. Not as a collection of numbers, but as an unpredictable, passionate game, beaten in excitement only by every other sport." — Lisa, on the dichotomy of our national pastime
13. "Bart, call me 'Walter Matthau' because I'm a Bad-News-Bearer; I'm resigning as manager of your little league team." — Flanders, with a great pop-culture pun
14. "I caught a white apple!" — Ralph, blissfully ignorant as usual, after catching a fly ball
15. "Then, Pete Rose plowed into his friend Ray Fosse, dislocating Fosse's shoulder in a meaningless game. He had earned the nickname 'Charlie Hustle' by not letting personal feelings get between him and home plate." — Homer, telling Bart a bedtime story
16. "I don't care if your manager is your sister, Dick Drago's mustache or Oscar Gamble's Afro, a player should always listen to his skipper." — Scioscia, on the importance of respect
17. "How 'bout a benchwarmer who's afraid of puppets?" — Milhouse, on his best baseball skills
18. "Look at me, I'm Whitey Ford!" — Nelson, with a random reference to a ballplayer from the 1950s
19. "OK, everyone study two-out situations, count management and I'll be back with some gluten-free crackers." — Lisa, handing out spreadsheets while the other team enjoys pizza between games of a doubleheader
20. "Did someone order a happy ending?!" — Bart, with a double entendre for the ages, as he triumphantly returns to the ballfield
21. "Hey, speaking of stats, I'm none-to-pleased about your ratio of seats occupied to beers ordered." — Moe, prompting Frink's stat-heads to calculate the formula for "SOBO"
22. "It's a triumph of number-crunching over the human spirit — and it's about time." — the Vin Scully-like announcer's heavy handed characterization of sabermetrics
23. "[Bart] thought he was better than the laws of probability. Anyone else think he's better than the laws of probability? Well, you're not!" — Lisa, on the value of discipline
24. "Speaking of homers, Bart's father's name is — you guessed it — not on my fact sheet." — Vin Scully-like announcer with wink to Homer J. Simpson
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