By Gabe Guarente
If you need us, we'll be disappearing down a Homer-sized rabbit hole -- starting August 21, the FXX network (which still sounds slightly NSFW) is airing an insane 12-day marathon of The Simpsons. All 552 episodes. In a row. To quote the immortal Ralph Wiggum, "That's unpossible!"
You can get the full printable schedule right here. But, since we see everything through the prism of athletic competition (including listing almost every Star Trek episode that features baseball), we figured we'd highlight some of the funniest sports moments in the series' history.
These are just some of the best that we could recall, so feel free to add a link to your own favorites in the comments section.
Episode 52: Homer at the Bat
Might as well begin with a classic. In what some might consider the best Simpsons episode of all-time, Mr. Burns hires big leaguers like Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Ken Griffey Jr., Ozzie Smith, Don Mattingly and Darryl Strawberry to beef up his employee softball team for an upcoming game with a competing plant, because there's $1 million riding on the showdown.
But all of the superstars, except for Strawberry, have incidents -- Griffey Jr. comes down with a case of gigantism, Mattingly gets kicked off the team for not shaving his sideburns and Smith falls into some sort of bottomless vortex -- that prevent them from playing.
The sight of seeing Jose Canseco saving people and animals from a burning building is triply funny now, but stay for the La Russanian moment that Coach Burns has when he subs in Homer for Strawberry (even though Straw has slugged nine homers in the game), just to take advantage of the righty-on-lefty matchup.
Episode 156: The Homer They Fall
Homer finds out that he can't be knocked out during a bar fight, so Moe starts training him to be a boxer. During his big fight with a Mike Tyson parody called Drederick Tatum, it looks like Homer could really get injured so Moe flies in to save him. Stupendous. Simply stupendous.
Episode 21: Bart the Daredevil
Homer tries to convince Bart that skateboarding is dangerous, and accidentally proves his point when he falls on Bart's skateboard and leaps directly into a chasm. The real laugh comes at the very end after Homer is airlifted into an ambulance. This was The Simpsons at the peak of its powers, when the show would take slapstick humor and tack on an extra twist at the end that really would send you over the edge.
Episode 183: The Cartridge Family
Soccer has come a long way in America since 1997, as evidenced by Springfield's downward spiral into hooliganism following a Mexico-Portugal match. To be fair, anything involving Groundskeeper Willy inciting violence is instantly funny.
Episode 155: You Only Move Twice
After Homer's supervillain boss Hank Scorpio succeeds in taking over the East Coast, he gives Homer a football team. Homer, who wanted the Cowboys, gets the Broncos instead. The datedness of his disappointment only speaks to the remarkable turnaround the franchise has made since.
Episode 227: Brother's Little Helper
When Bart is ordered to take medicine to address his ADD, he begins to become paranoid, convinced that Major League Baseball was spying on the citizens of Springfield through satellites. Which couldn't be further from the truth! Haha... hehehe... ha... ha... umm... *nervously looks around the MLB Advanced Media offices* DINGERS! DINGERS! DINGERS!
Episode 260: Tennis the Menace
Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, and Venus and Serena Williams make an appearance in this episode when Homer and Marge dump their respective doubles partners for Venus and Serena in a town-wide tennis tournament. The two sisters then replace the Simpsons with Sampras and Agassi, and Homer ends up stealing money from the 14 Grand Slam title winner's wallet. Probably a little too cameo-heavy, but still solid for middle-period Simpsons .
Episode 18: Dancin' Homer
Homer takes over as mascot for the Springfield's baseball team, the Isotopes, because of course. Like many early era Simpsons, this one sparkles with the creativity of a writing staff coming into its own, with plenty of great gags, including a sendup of overlong, soulful renditions of "The Star Spangled Banner," courtesy of Bleeding Gums Murphy.
Episode 184: Bart Star
When Homer takes over as Springfield's pee-wee football coach he makes Bart quarterback, despite protests from his team. Bart ends up geting advice from Joe Namath, but he still proves to be a trainwreck at the position and quits. When has advice from Broadway Joe ever worked out?
Episode 467: MoneyBART
Lisa takes over a Little League team and calls Bart (who's at an amusement park with Mike Scioscia) to ask advice about Ralph Wiggum. Ralph can't play because he's too "juiced." This, we should add, is Scioscia's second appearance on the show; in Homer at Bat the Angels' manager comes down with radiation poisioning. Bonus points for a Bill James sighting.