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.
The book heading into the series was that the Dodgers’ starters needed to come up big for them due to questions in the bullpen and that the Brewers’ bullpen was going to dominate Dodgers batters, so they had best do what they can to score off of Milwaukee’s starters. So, of course, the Dodgers starters turned in performances of three and four and a third innings and eight of their nine runs the Brewers have given up have come from their relievers. I dunno, man. It’s baseball. It lends itself to anticipatory analysis worse than any other sport.
All I do know for sure is that this series has been as close as it gets so far, with each game being decided by a run and the outcome being determined late. The first two games have given me a sense that the teams are just feeling each other out and that the next three, in Los Angeles, will provide a bit more coherence to all of this. Not that there isn’t something a bit fun about incoherence when it comes to a playoff series.
Your viewing guide:
NLCS Game 3
Brewers vs. Dodgers
Ballpark: Dodger Stadium
Time: 7:39 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Jhoulys Chacin vs Walker Buehler
Jhoulys Chacin had an excellent NLDS start against the Colorado Rockies, turning in five scoreless innings. If he does something approaching that tonight the Brewers will be in pretty good shape given that Josh Hader — who pitched three shutdown innings in Game one — is available again tonight. To the extent Craig Counsell needs to dig more deeply into his reliever corps, however, things could get dicey. Corbin Burnes, Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel and Joakim Soria have combined to allow seven earned runs in four innings. Brandon Woodruff, who has been dominant thus far, throwing five scoreless innings, stands a good chance of being the opener for Game 4, so Counsell will likely try to keep him off the mound tonight. That puts a decent amount of pressure on Chacin to get the game to Hader with as few innings remaining as possible.
For Los Angeles, it’s Walker Buehler who, the grand slam he gave up to Ronald Acuña in the NLDS notwithstanding, was the Dodgers’ most dominant starter down the stretch. In keeping with the somewhat flipped script so far, however, the Los Angeles bullpen has been solid, allowing just two runs over their ten and two-thirds innings in Games 1 and 2. Not that Dave Roberts wouldn’t love to see Buehler go deep tonight too.