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The 10 Best Simpsons Sports Episodes

Andrew BlumettiCorrespondent IMay 10, 2012

The 10 Best Simpsons Sports Episodes

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    Twenty-three years...

    Not too old if you're a tree, but for a television show? That's an eternity. Heck, most hope to make it a fraction of that time. Twenty-three years ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked like Creamsicles, Ozzie Canseco had hopes of a successful big-league career, and Bryce Harper was still nearly three years away from being born. 

    In those nearly two and a half decades, an animated institution, "The Simpsons," has and continues to leave its mark in the history books of classic American television. A cartoon that started off about a crudely-drawn yellow suburban family with a bratty son and oaf father has journeyed into space, feuded with a president and managed to feature three living Beatles as guests.

    It really seems like the Springfield family has done it all in those 23 years, and don't think they haven't dipped their golden toes into the sports world as well. They've hung around with Hall of Famers, All-Stars, Olympic champions and the Capital City Goofball. Outside of a game itself, "The Simpsons" has provided us with some of the most memorable comical sporting moments in television history. 

    Part of the charm of the show is that despite all those wacky antics and mad-cap adventures, they're just like your family and mine: a bit goofy, a bit silly, a bit out of left field, but always loving, funny and genuine. 

    When you're successful for nearly a quarter century, you've become a rock; something dependable, something that's always there, not unlike the crack of the bat on a Saturday afternoon or the roar of a crowd at a football game on a crisp Sunday in October. When you think about it, it only seems natural that some of the greatest episodes are when the family and sports come together.

    So let's take a walk down memory lane and look back at the "Pin Pals," "Dancin' Homer," Steve Sax's arrest and all the most memorable sporting moments in the great history of "The Simpsons."

10. "Tennis the Menace"

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    Air Date: Feb. 11, 2001

    Written By: Ian Maxtone-Graham

    Directed By: Jen Kamerman

    Serves up! The Simpsons become the most popular family in town after building a tennis court in their backyard. Nonstop losing causes Marge to become frustrated with Homer's hopeless ability, and she chooses Bart to become her doubles partner instead. 

    An insulted Homer picks the reluctant Lisa to partner with him, leading to an unexpected charity tournament showdown featuring pro tennis players Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, and Venus and Serena Williams. 

     

    Notable Quote

    "C'mon, Marge, all sports have their loveable clowns: John Rocker, O.J. Simpson, Dorf."—Homer Simpson

9. "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday"

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    Air Date: Jan. 31, 1999

    Written By: Tom Martin, George Meyer, Brian Scully, Mike Scully

    Directed By: Steven Dean Moore

    Homer and the men of Springfield fill a charter bus for a free ride to Miami for the Super Bowl. When they discover their cracker-printed tickets are counterfeit, the group must figure out a way inside the stadium.  That means they were able to witness John Elway's long-awaited arrival into Super Bowl MVP territory. It also means they had to watch a Cher halftime show. Can't win 'em all.

    John Madden and Pat Summerall also guest starred. 

     

    Notable Quote

    "But this might be my last chance to win one!"—Homer Simpson, after being caught trying to steal the Super Bowl trophy

8. "Hungry, Hungry Homer"

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    Air Date: March 4, 2001

    Written By: John Swartzwelder

    Directed By: Nancy Kruse

    Homer's pursuit to "stand up for the little guy" leads him to uncover evidence that Duff Beer, owner of the local minor-league-baseball team, the Springfield Isotopes, is planning to move them to Albuquerque. His fasting protest is soon compromised when Duff moves him inside the park as a promotional stunt.

    Rumor has it no one tried the same trick when the Montreal Expos were planning to move. 

     

    Notable Quote

    "That's crazy. It would've been on a talk radio show like 'Sports Chat' or 'Sportszilla and the Jabber Jocks.'"—Kirk Van Houten

7. "Dancin' Homer"

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    Air Date: Nov. 8, 1990

    Written By: Ken Levine and David Isaacs

    Directed By: Mark Kirkland

    The Springfield Nuclear Power Plant hosts a family night at the local minor-league ballpark. After sharing some oversized beverages with his boss, a drunk Homer hoists himself onto the dugout, dances up a storm and quickly becomes the team's official mascot. 

    The team goes on a winning streak, but Homer's eventual call to the big leagues turns into a disaster, as the big-city crowd is unimpressed with his minor-league antics. Turns out the Phillie Phanatic has a tougher job than we initially thought. 

     

    Notable Quote

    "Ah, sitting with the employees. I guess this proves I'm their friend. You did get me something on an aisle, Smithers. I don't want to be surrounded by them."—Mr. Burns

6. "Bart Star"

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    Air Date: Nov. 9, 1997

    Written By: Donick Cary

    Directed By: Dominic Polcino

    After his heckling causes Ned Flanders to quit, Homer inherits the coaching job of the local pee-wee football team. Bart becomes angry and quits when Homer's favoritism leads him into the quarterback position, a spot he cannot handle. Turns out Bart is Springfield's Tim Tebow. 

    Hall of Famer Joe Namath guest stars to warn the audience of the dangers of vapor lock after it causes his car to break down near the Simpsons' house.  

     

    Notable Quote

    "We drove 2,000 miles for this?"—cameo from King of the Hill's Hank Hill

5. "Dead Putting Society"

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    Air Date: Nov. 15, 1990

    Written By: Jeff Martin

    Directed By: Rich Moore

    Fore!  Well, close, it's No. 5. 

    Homer jealously blows up and mocks Ned Flanders and his perfect family, leading to a wager between the fathers when their sons sign up for a children's miniature golf tournament. 

    Homer teaches Bart to channel his anger towards his opponent, while Lisa uses mediation and spiritual teachings to help Bart's game. The boys learn a valuable lesson that there's more to sports than just winning.  

     

    Notable Quote

    "Come on, Bart! Remember what Vince Lombardi said: 'If you lose, you're out of the family!'"—Homer Simpson 

4. "The Homer They Fall"

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    Air Date: Nov. 10, 1996

    Written By: Jonathan Collier

    Directed By: Mark Kirkland

    Moe the Bartender, a failed boxer, becomes impressed with Homer's ability to withstand a nonstop barrage of punishment. To Marge's reluctance, he convinces Homer to become a boxer and takes on the job of his manager and agent. 

    Homer's matches start off well, as the local hobos exhaust themselves against him, but when Moe's former agent sets up a match with the current heavyweight champion, they may have bitten off more than they can chew. Ring announcer Michael Buffer guest stars. 

     

    Notable Quote

    "They called me Kid Gorgeous. Later on, it was Kid Presentable. Then Kid Gruesome. And finally, Kid Moe."—Moe Szyslak

3. "Team Homer"

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    Air Date: Jan. 7, 1996

    Written By: Mike Scully

    Directed By: Mark Kirkland

    Mr. Burns, in a medicated stupor, is tricked into funding money to sponsor Homer, Apu, Moe and Otto's bowling-league team, the "Pin Pals." The foursome wins a string of games in the league competition until a sobered Mr. Burns kicks Otto off the team so he can join, threatening their chances to win. 

     

    Notable Quote

    "Ho, ho, why certainly Poppin' Fresh!  I owe my robust physique to your tubes of triple-bleached goo."—Mr. Burns

2. "Lisa on Ice"

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    Air Date: Nov. 13, 1994

    Written By: Mike Scully

    Directed By: Bob Anderson

    Lisa, in fear that she may fail her first class ever, must sign up for an organized sport to pass her gym class. As it turns out, she has a surprising talent for playing hockey and becomes the goalie for Apu's team. 

    Thanks to pressure from Homer, a sibling rivalry develops between her and Bart, star of Chief Wiggum's team. Things come to a head when the opposing teams face off in a championship battle. Any episode that ends with an animated pee wee hockey riot deserves the No. 2 spot on this list. 

     

    Notable Quote

    "Lisa, if the Bible has taught us nothing else, and it hasn't, it's that girls should stick to girls' sports, such as hot-oil wrestling, foxy boxing and such-and-such..."—Homer Simpson

1. "Homer at the Bat"

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    Air Date: Feb. 20, 1992

    Written By: John Swartzwelder

    Directed By: Jim Reardon

    Perhaps the greatest episode of "The Simpsons" ever aired. 

    After making a million-dollar wager, Mr. Burns hires a group of professional baseball players as ringers for the Nuclear Power Plant softball team. 

    Unfortunately, all but one of the players are sidelined by unfortunate and bizarre accidents (Ozzie Smith falling into a mystery dimension portal, Ken Griffey Jr. overdosing on nerve tonic, etc...) leaving the original ragtag team to contend for the championship title and Mr. Burns' money. 

    An example of a show where the guest stars didn't overshadow the story or the comedy, "Homer at the Bat" featured appearances by former MLB greats Don Mattingly, Darryl Strawberry, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Ken Griffey Jr., Steve Sax, Ozzie Smith, Mike Scioscia and Jose Canseco. 

    Ryne Sandberg and Carlton Fisk turned down appearances for the episode.

    Terry Cashman provided the closing song, "Talkin' Softball," which he claims is now more requested than his original classic, "Talkin' Baseball."

     

    Notable Quote

    "I still like him better than Steinbrenner."—Don Mattingly, after being fired by Mr. Burns

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