A big hat-tip to Shysterball for pointing out wezen-ball's terrific recap of the classic "Homer at the Bat" episode of The Simpsons (wezen-ball is quickly becoming a must-read for The Common Man and has just been added to the blogroll). In the episode, Mr. Burns brings in a bunch of real-life ballplayers as ringers to help his company softball team. On the way to the game, however, almost all of them are waylaid (except for Darryl Strawberry, who plays Homer's position).
This got The Common Man to wondering, if a sequel for the episode (Springfield Softball Goes to Japan?) were recast today, who would be on Mr. Burns' roster (besides Cap Anson)? It would have to be a player with the right mixture of ability, notoriety, and mockability. Here are The Common Man's picks, followed by how The Common Man figures they'd be held up on the way to the game, as well as the original player for that position and what happened to him. Then feel free to use the comments section to pick apart The Common Man's choices or suggest your own.
Joe Mauer--With his polite demeaner and his matinee idol good looks (except for that weird mole that he should probably get looked at), Joe is the living embodiment of Corey, the non-threatening boy Lisa gets obsessed with calling in "Brother From the Same Planet" (here are some words that rhyme with Corey: gory, story, allegory, montessori). The Common Man imagines an unhinged Lisa would trick Joe into the Simpsons' basement, where he'd be forced to stay until Lisa became interested in bad boy Nelson Munce or settled for Milhouse.
(Position was initially filled by Mike Scioscia, who contracted radiation poisoning from working at the plant.)
Prince Fielder--More on Prince below. See The Common Man's note for Starting Pitcher
(Position was initially filled by Don Mattingly, who Mr. Burns kicked off the team for having (apparently imaginary) sideburns.)
Dustin Pedroia--An incredibly effective young player, Pedroia has picked up some major hardware in his first two seasons, winning the AL Rookie of the Year and MVP award. And he seems to be a relatively good citizen. However, to distract from another of his many illicit affairs, Mayor Diamond Joe Quimby will be crusading against illegal immigrants, and deport Pedroia back to the Red Sox Nation.
(Position was initially filled by Steve Sax, who was arrested by Springfield police for every unsolved crime in New York City. (Sax was playing for the Yankees at the time.))
Alex Rodriguez--Who is more mockable or famous in the majors today than A-Rod? The Common Man imagines that, like Don Mattingly, Mr. Burns would kick A-Rod off the team, probably because he failed to fulfill the old man's high expectations. His homeruns weren't going far enough, or he was only able to field his position, and not cover SS or LF as well. Or maybe he was involved in a Princess Diana-esque/Paparrazzi-caused car accident.
(Position was initially filled by Wade Boggs, who was knocked out by Barney in Moe's Tavern during an argument over who was Britain's greatest Prime Minister (Pitt the Elder or Lord Palmerston). By the way, no one seems to get that this argument mimics exactly the kind of idiotic, who was the greatest RF of all time arguments that lead to stupid fights in local dives around the country.)
Derek Jeter--See, and he'd have to take over some of SS because of Cap'n Jete's poor range. And, by the way, maybe Jeter is even more famous and mockable. Like Jose Canseco before him, Jeter would get caught up doing good deeds, rescuing kittens from a fire or hammering out peace in the Mid-East or tending to the sick of Calcutta or whatever else Yankee fans think Jeter does on his off days.
(Position was initially filled by Ozzie Smith, who fell into the Springfield Mystery Spot while sightseeing and who is, presumably, still falling.)
Manny--Make that two players who are more famous and mockable than A-Rod right now. Manny, because he's not busy at the moment, would make it to the game on time (like Darryl Strawberry before him, and start in place of Homer. Once again, Homer would be called on to pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded, two out, and the game tied because Manny is in the bathroom or chasing a firetruck or something.
(Position was initially filled by Jose Canseco, who (playing against type) got busy rescuing a woman, her child, her cat, and all her possessions from a burning house.)
Ken Griffey Jr.--As the last active player from the original episode, The Kid would be invited back to reprise his role in the sequel. Healed from his gigantism, Mr. Burns would have high hopes for the former prodigy. Unfortunately, Griffey would tear a groin muscle in his sleep and miss the game.
(Griffey missed the game the first time around after taking a nerve tonic given to him by Mr. Burns that causes gigantism.)
Ichiro!--Hmmm...Perhaps he commits industrial espionage (or steals signs) for the rival Japanese team. And gets kicked off. Or maybe he refuses to play against his countrymen and commits seppuku.
(Position was initially filled by Darryl Strawberry, who was the only player to play in the game, and took Homer's spot in the lineup. After hitting several homeruns, Strawberry was lifted for a pinch hitter (Homer) with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth during a tie game because Burns wanted a right-handed batter to face the lefty pitcher.)
CC Sabathia--The Common Man envisions CC and Prince Fielder going out the night before and getting into some kind of eating constest that is still ongoing as the game starts the next day. Perhaps they're each tackling the Sir Loin-a-lot that killed old Red Barclay (too obscure?). By the way, who would win that contest? Either way, Tony Randall would have crushed them both (again, too obscure?). Below, of course, is Sabathia and Fielder trying to eat one another.
(Position was initially filled by Roger Clemens, who was hypnotized into thinking he was a chicken (though, arguably, that's better than a PED-user who cultivates relationships and sleeps with teenagers).
OK, your suggestions are welcome below.