For those unaware, the FXX network is currently running a marathon of every “Simpsons” episode ever. When I went to sleep last night the one where Bart ruined Thanksgiving by tossing Lisa’s centerpiece into the fire had just aired. It’s somewhere in the third season right now. At 11:30 Eastern this morning one of the best early-season episodes of the show will air: the baseball-themed “Homer at the Bat” episode.
For those unfamiliar — and if you are, it’s probably because you’re some painfully young person, for whom 1992 was either far too early to have formed coherent thoughts or (shudder) before you were born — “Homer at the Bat” features a ton of actual Major League Baseball player cameos. Roger Clemens, Daryl Strawberry, Ken Griffey, Jr., Wade Boggs, Jose Canseco, Ozzie Smith, Don Mattingly and many others. They were assembled by Mr. Burns in order to create a ringer softball team. Calamity strikes, however, zaniness ensues, etc. etc.
A couple of years ago, Erik Malinowski wrote a history of the episode over at Deadspin, and it’s must-read material for both hardcore “Simpsons” fans and anyone with affection for baseball players of the 80s and early 90s.
But before reading it: shave those sideburns.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.