If you’re a nerdy nerdlinger like me, you may be at least somewhat excited that FXX is celebrating its acquisition of the show’s catalog by running every goshdarn episode in a row starting Thursday at 10 a.m. Here, in no particular order, are the best episodes that involve sports, or at least have a tangential sports reference (at least up until around Season 11, when I stopped paying attention; if you’d like to suggest post-season-11 episodes that are worth our while, please do so in the comments).
Season 2, Episode 5
Marathon air date: Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
After firing up the home crowd at a Springfield Isotopes game, Homer becomes their official mascot. He soon gets the call-up to the big leagues in Capital City.
“Homer at the Bat”
Season 3, Episode 17
Marathon air date: Friday, 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Burns commands Smithers to “scour all the leagues: the American Leagues, the National Leagues, the Negro Leagues” in order to compile a team of ringers to win a beer-league softball bet. The list of MLB players who show up in this episode is basically every coveted Topps card from the 1980s and ’90s: Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Ken Griffey Jr., Steve Sax, Ozzie Smith, Jose Canseco, Don Mattingly, Darryl Strawberry and Mike Scoscia.
“Marge Be Not Proud”
Season 7, Episode 11
Marathon air date: Sunday, 7 a.m.
Bart gets busted shoplifting a video game at Christmastime. In the end, he gets “the one video game every boy wants,” according to Marge: Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge.
“The Cartridge Family”
Season 9, Episode 5
Marathon air date: Monday, 5 a.m.
This episode’s main story line — Homer buys a gun to protect his family — is sparked by a trip to a soccer game featuring Mexico and Portugal. The writers take some gentle shots at the Beautiful Game with the commercial that kicks off the show — “open wide for some soccer! — and Kent Brockman’s dour play-by-play.
Season 9, Episode 6
Marathon air date: Monday, 5:30 a.m.
Homer becomes Bart’s peewee football coach and goes mad with power. Joe Namath makes an appearance, promising to help Bart and warning him about the dangers of vapor lock (his car had broken down).
“Sunday, Cruddy Sunday”
Season 10, Episode 12
Marathon air date: Monday, 9 p.m.
The episode, which aired directly following Super Bowl XXXIII on Fox, deals with Homer’s bungled attempt at planning a Super Bowl trip. He ends up buying counterfeit tickets — “Yeah, see, the hologram’s missing … and there’s no such team as the ‘Spungoes’ … and finally, they seem to be printed on some sort of cracker” — before finally breaking into Rupert Murdoch’s suite and celebrating in the locker room. John Madden, Pat Summerall, Dan Marino, Rosey Grier and Troy Aikman all guest-star.
“Brother’s Little Helper”
Season 11, Episode 2
Marathon air date: Tuesday, 3:30 a.m.
Bart is prescribed a drug called Focusyn to treat his ADHD. He soon becomes paranoid that Major League Baseball is watching over the people of Springfield. Mark McGwire shows up to convince the citizenry that they have nothing to fear, saying, ““Do you want to know the terrifying truth, or do you want to see me sock a few dingers?” Which didn’t prove at all prescient in real life a few years later.