Monday, February 23, 2015

How Ubiquitous Is Baseball in Pop Culture?

Every Wednesday on the podcast Effectively Wild, Sam Miller from Baseball Prospectus and Ben Lindbergh of Grantland discuss listener e-mails. I started listening to the podcast last summer and recently starting e-mailing the guys on a semi-weekly basis. So far, three of my questions have made it onto the show. As part of my baseball season preview, I'll review some of those questions on How Blank. The way I figure it, if a query is interesting enough for two of the best baseball writers out there, it's interesting enough to discuss on my rinky-dink blog.

Anyways, here's the first question, which Miller and Lindbergh discussed on Effectively Wild Episode 594:

Hey guys,

I've been re-watching The Wire this holiday season, and in the second episode of the last season, an Orioles home opener figures into the plot. As the Baltimore Sun reporter mills around outside of Camden Yards, whose name do you think the announcer dropped? That's right...Effectively Wild celebrity Nick Markakis! 

So my question is this: What is your favorite random baseball pop culture reference? 


There were two major aspects of that e-mail that found their way into the hosts' hearts. First, they're both huge fans of The Wire, for which I share an affinity. Second, Miller and Lindbergh have turned Markakis into a running joke on their podcast, pointing out that he is one of the best players ever who has never appeared in an All-Star game or received an MVP vote. Every season, the two writers rejoice when Markakis is left out of the Midsummer Classic and fails to garner a down-ballot MVP vote.

In the episode of The Wire in question, the evil Scott Templeton creates a story about a fictional disabled Orioles fan, one of many lies that eventually leads to a Pulitzer Prize for Templeton. After discussing The Wire for a bit, Ben and Sam tried to answer my question. They mentioned baseball references in Interstellar, Cheers, and some other movies and TV shows. Finally, Sam settled on his favorite pop cultural baseball reference: a commercial for a yogurt shop called Blizzberry that mysteriously features Barry Bonds.

The commercial mostly consists of shots of the yogurt shop, then it pans to Bonds for roughly 1.3 seconds, then it's over. As Sam Miller put it, "It's just Barry Bonds eating yogurt along with a bunch of other people." But, hey, experience the Blizz!

Like Ben and Sam, I have trouble narrowing my favorite baseball pop culture moment to just one. Off the top of my head, I loved the "Homer at the Bat" episode of The Simpsons (of course), the "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?" line in "Mrs. Robinson," and a different Cheers episode than the one mentioned by Sam Miller. He discussed an episode featuring the voice of famous announcer Jon Miller, whereas my favorite baseball connection on the show is Wade Boggs. Or, I guess I should say, WADE BOGGS!

If you're a baseball nerd, check out Effectively Wild, especially the one that featured my first e-mail. I'll post some other similar questions in the next few days.

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Follow FranT on Twitter at @frantweet and follow Brian Kavanaugh at @btkav

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