Sometimes comedy illuminates hard truths with a pointed urgency that other means can’t quite achieve. Sometimes comedy is just funny. This series of posts is mostly about the former instances, but the latter is valuable, too.

This one is shared in tribute to the Rough Diamonds, the softball team that I’ve spent the summer watching, inspired to do so, as you might expect, by highly personal reasons. Among other things, watching the games helped me realize that sitting on bleachers and quoting The Simpsons episode “Homer at the Bat,” especially the parts involving Darryl Strawberry, is an evergreen entertainment.

“Homer at the Bat” is arguably the episode of The Simpsons that truly demonstrated that the series was operating on a whole different plane. Airing late in season three, which had already delivered a couple all-time classics in “Stark Raving Dad” and “Flaming Moe’s,” this episode brought in nine Major League Baseball players as guest stars and managed to give each and every one of them something funny and distinctive to do, without compromising the necessary focus on the titular family and also smartly, affectionately satirizing rec league softball. As if that weren’t enough to pack in, the episode closes with a spot-on spoof of Terry Cashman’s 1981 hit song, “Talkin’ Baseball.” It’s so spot-on, in fact, that Cashman himself sings it. And that is how producers of The Simpsons decisively demonstrated that they were prepared to go above and beyond to get it right.

Previous entries in this series can be found by clicking on the “Laughing Matters” tag.

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