Homer boxing, Bart and his skateboard, Marge's gambling, Lisa the goalie, Maggie bowling a perfect game, and even Santa's Little Helper at the dog track -- "The Simpsons" regularly packs more memorable sports moments into its episodes than some MLB teams do in a season.
Although Mr. Burns hired a team of major-league ringers, he needed Homer to come through in the final at-bat.
Trimming the 14-plus seasons worth of moments down to Page 3's Top 100 was a painstaking process that involved viewing dozens of episodes, along with more time on the Internet reading about a cartoon than any grown man has the right to spend. The parameters were broad, and to keep from using only a few episodes for all 100 moments (because let's be honest, "Homer at the Bat" has at least 25 "moments" combining for a symphony of perfection), all elements from a sports-themed episode were included in one entry. The only other rule was, if it's shown on ESPN, it counts as a sport.
What follows is a labor of love. If you don't like it, I'll borrow one of my favorite Homer retorts and tell you gently, You can cram it with walnuts, ugly!
Here are moments Nos. 100-75. Come back each day this week as Page 3 will count down 25 more moments until we finally reveal our No. 1 choice on Friday.
To show his "extreme" nature, Poochie the Dog dunks a basketball while jumping a stunt bike off a ramp in his one and only appearance during an "Itchy & Scratchy" cartoon.
Larry King's Bible-on-cassette concludes with: "... 'lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.' Well, that's it. Old Fred is standing by, we'll get some coffee, we'll get some matzo-ball soup. I love the San Antonio Spurs, by the way, if you're betting on the NBA this year, I think they'll win it all. So I guess there's nothing more to say but ..."
When Lisa becomes President of the United States, she honors the players of the Negro Leagues of Rollerball.
Springfield's favorite small-time crook Snake played lacrosse at Ball State University.
The Lisa Simpson Administration didn't forget the Negro Leagues of Rollerball.
A lifetime of work in the nuclear power plant has given Mr. Burns a healthy green glow and left him "as impotent as a Nevada boxing commissioner."
After finishing a very solemn initiation ceremony, the leader of the Springfield Stonecutters announces "Now let's all get drunk and play ping-pong!"
When Homer is committed to an insane asylum for wearing a pink shirt to work, he dreams of "pancakes ... football ... (breasts) ... pork rinds ... waffles ..." Hardly the ramblings of a crazy man, if you ask me.
While attempting to re-make "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," Homer and Mel Gibson are challenged by two Hollywood bigwigs said to have "green-lighted all of Shaquille O'Neal's movies!"
Bart tells Homer that "a good dad wouldn't miss his son's Little League games!" And Homer replies, "I told you -- I find them boring!"
Homer calls the Luftwaffe "the Washington Generals of the History Channel."
90. The Ironman of Principals:
A snowstorm hits Springfield, but some kids still make it to school. Principal Skinner is proud of those who made it. "Most of our students didn't bother to show up on this last day before Christmas Break, but you've kept intact my Cal Ripken-like streak of school openage." After more snow traps everyone inside, the children rebel and tie up Skinner in a sack, pummeling him with dodge balls.
89. Best Damn Prison Rodeo Ever:
|Here's a list of "actors" who have made sports-related guest appearances on "The Simpsons":
Andre Agassi, Troy Aikman, Wade Boggs, Michael Buffer, Jose Canseco, Terry Cashman, Roger Clemens, Gerry Cooney, Roy Firestone, Smokin' Joe Frazier, Rosey Grier, Ken Griffey Jr., Bret "The Hitman" Hart, Tony Hawk, Chick Hearn, Larry Holmes, Magic Johnson.
Tom Kite, Jack LaLanne, Lisa Leslie, John Madden, Dan Marino, Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Joe Namath, Pete Sampras, Steve Sax, Mike Scioscia, Ozzie Smith, Darryl Strawberry, Pat Summerall, Johnny Unitas, Serena Williams,
On the way home from an apron expo, the family stumbles across a prison rodeo -- which Homer, of course, has to attend. In typical horrible-father style, Homer dangles Lisa over the wall to get a bull's attention and soon finds himself trampled by the beast. A riot ensues.
88. The Benefits of International Waters:
While on Mr. Burns' yacht in international waters, Homer proves to Bart that you can do anything out here. "See that ship over there? They're re-broadcasting Major League Baseball with implied oral consent, not express written consent -- or so the legend goes."
87. Finders, Keepers:
The Department of Labor discovers an entire Brazilian soccer team working in the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant's reactor core. Mr. Burns' imperious response? "That plane crashed on my property!"
86. MENSA Rules:
One too many political shenanigans forces Mayor Quimby to flee town. According to the town charter, a "council of learned citizens may rule" in the mayor's place -- and who is more learned than the members of MENSA? A plan for turning Springfield into a utopia is soon in place, but Professor Frink hijacks the agenda slightly. "Well, first of all, we're going to ban such barbaric sports as bullfighting and cockfighting. Also boxing, both, uh, kick and the kinds with the gloves, there. And hockey, football, push-ups, and anything in general where you have to take off your shirt, which is embarrassing."
Infatuated with the "Tango de la Muerte" movie, Lisa wants to learn how to dance. Next stop, Li'l Vicki Valentine's School of Dance -- after all, Li'l Vicky's perky smile and dancing brought America out of the depression. Lisa enrolls in tap dancing, but she's terrible and isn't allowed to dance in the recital -- which is the opposite of nearly every youth-participation activity known to man.
Lisa: But my parents are counting on seeing me dance! And I've worked ever so hard.
Vicki: I'm sorry, Lisa, but giving everyone an equal part when they're clearly not equal is called what, again, class?
84. "Simpson! I order you to buy those shoes!"
Vicki: That's right. And I didn't tap all those Morse code messages to the Allies 'til my shoes filled with blood to just roll out the welcome mat for the Reds.
Homer and Tony Hawk go to extremes.
Flanders shows off his new "Assassin" athletic shoes, and Homer wants a pair -- complete with velcro straps, a water pump in the tongue, built-in odometer, reflective sidewalls, and little vanity license plates. Even though he knows Marge will be mad if he spends $125 on shoes, he spoils himself (thanks to a little creative memory of his conversation with Flanders). The shoes are promptly destroyed by Santa's Little Helper.
83. "That's game, Hendrix!"
Homer and God are having a conversation in heaven, and they stroll past Ben Franklin finishing off Jimi Hendrix in a game of air hockey.
82. "De-fense! De-fense!"
Homer's dimwittedness is reversed when a crayon is removed from his nose. But the pressure of being smart is too much, and he asks Moe to make him dumb again. A couple whacks with a mallet and the crayon is back up the nose, causing Homer to shout "De-fense! De-fense!"
Moe: Eh, that's pretty dumb. But, uh ... (taps once more)
Homer: Extended warranty? How can I lose?
81. Demolition Derbies:
This family definitely spends a lot of time in the bowling alley.
American's finest demolition-based pastime has twice figured prominently:
Lisa forces Homer to go to places she likes (such as the Smithsonian exhibit and the book fair, which Homer contends "that if it doesn't have Siamese twins, it's not a fair!"). But after putting Homer through a hallucinatory sensory-deprivation trip at a new-age clinic, she settles for spending some quality time with him at the demolition derby.
After recovering from a broken jaw, Homer becomes a button-downed, productive member of society (don't ask). To break from the family doldrums, Marge enters the family car in a demolition derby, and it takes Homer to resume his wild ways (this time involving a particularly troublesome donkey and a beer-induced Popeye impression) to save his wife.
80. Gone Fishin':
Homer tries to combine a weekend of marriage counseling at the Lovejoys' retreat and a fishing trip. When he hears of the legend of General Sherman -- a huge catfish that lives in the lake where they're staying -- he can't resist. By catching the fish, however, he only proves to Marge how selfish he is, so Homer throws it back. But Homer's achievement doesn't go unnoticed:
Clerk: Yep, "General Sherman." They say he's 500 pounds of bottom-dwelling fury, don't you know. No one knows how old he is, but if you ask me (and most people do), he's hundred years if he's a day.
Customer: And no one's ever caught him?
79. So Many Dreams, So Little Time:
Clerk: Well, one fella came close. Went by the name of Homer. Seven feet tall he was, with arms like tree trunks. His eyes were like steel, cold, hard. Had a shock of hair, red like the fires of Hell.
Marge muscled in on many of Homer's dreams.
One of Homer's lifelong dreams is to run out on a baseball field during a game. But this is hardly his only lifelong dream. Others include to eat the world's biggest hoagie, work in a bowling alley, manage a beautiful country singer, be a blackjack dealer, be a contestant on "The Gong Show", be a monorail conductor, and own the Dallas Cowboys -- all of which he achieves, except for owning the Dallas Cowboys (see No. 10). Homer must abandon one of his dreams -- working in a bowling alley -- when Marge becomes pregnant with Maggie.
78. Basketball Skills, and Grammar to Boot:
The family attends a WNBA game, and lo and behold Ned Flanders is chosen for the halftime giveaway shot. Flanders sinks it, and tells Homer that, along with hard work, honest living and flossing his teeth, tail and toes, a little prayer never hurts. Bart enjoys this exchange with WNBA all-star Lisa Leslie.
Bart: Hey, Lisa! You got game!
Lisa Leslie: Isn't it "I have game"?
77. Ivy Envy:
Returning from a Yale-Harvard football game, Yale alum C. Montgomery Burns remarks how he doesn't even know why Harvard bothered to show up this year & "They barely even won. Well, I say let Harvard have its football and academics. Yale will always be first in gentlemanly club life."
76. Prison: Truly a Savage, Roach-Ridden Cesspool:
Back in Springfield Minimum Security Prison after having another murderous plot foiled by the Simpson children, Sideshow Bob is planning his revenge when he's interrupted by another inmate who is drifting by in a rowing shell.
Man: Say, Terwilliger's a Yalie.
Coxswain: Bob! Come along. We need an eighth to row against the Princeton alums.
Sideshow Bob: Princeton?! (groans)
75. Not the Yankees?
With the town caught in a rabid anti-immigration movement, Apu feels obliged to prove his love for America by wearing a cowboy hat and a baseball jersey. "What do you say we take a relaxed attitude toward work and watch the baseball match? The N.Y. Mets are my favorite squadron," he says to a customer, pronouncing N.Y. as "nye."
Greg Collins is a freelance writer based in Seattle and can be reached at email@example.com.