In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.
In honor of the Power Rangers reboot we didn’t ask for, the Baseball Continuum is going through the baseball episodes of the Power Rangers franchise. Last time, we looked at an episode from the original Mighty Morphin series. This time, we are looking at an episode from its immediate successor: Power Rangers Zeo, which first aired in 1996 and adapted the Sentai series Chouriki Sentai Ohranger.
Now, by this time the Power Rangers franchise’s fad stage was coming to a swift end, and I personally stopped watching for one reason or another sometime during this series. And while I can’t remember much about it, I can remember that the theme song, like the original Mighty Morphin theme song, was catchy.
So, anyway, head below the jump for a look at the Power Rangers Zeo episode entitled “Rangers in the Outfield.”
First off, let us get caught up to speed here: The Power Rangers had to get new powers after a string of set-backs against the bad guys that included (and I’m not making this up) getting turned into children, having to have alien Power Rangers come and fill in and then having the headquarters get destroyed. Oh, and Rita and the other Mighty Morphin villains like Lord Zedd got chased off due to a new threat called the Machine Empire coming to try and conquer Earth.
So anyway, at the end of all of that, the Rangers got new powers that were kind of like the old powers, but different enough to justify new costumes and thus new merchandise.
The Rangers are…
- Tommy Oliver, AKA the Red Ranger. Formerly the Green Ranger and Gold Ranger, Tommy is still played by Jason David Frank and is the team’s leader.
- Adam Park, AKA the Green Ranger. Formerly the second Black Ranger in the Mighty Morphin era, Adam is played by Johnny Yong Bosch, who has since become an accomplished voice actor.
- Rocky DeSantos, AKA the Blue Ranger. Formerly the second Red Ranger of the Mighty Morphin era, Rocky is portrayed by martial artist Steve Cardenas.
- Tanya Sloan, AKA the Yellow Ranger (not color-coding because yellow is hard to read). Portrayed by Nakia Burrise, Tanya was the only original member of the Zeo Rangers that hadn’t already been a Ranger during the previous seasons.
- Katherine “Kat” Hillard, AKA the Pink Ranger. Formerly the second Pink Ranger of Mighty Morphin, portrayed by the Australian-born Catherine Sutherland.
- And while no longer having his Ranger powers, there is also former Blue Ranger Billy Cranston. Still portrayed by David Yost, he serves as tech support in the series.
Let’s get started:
We open up at the Angel Grove High School baseball diamond, where Rocky and Adam are members of the team, along with Tanya’s boyfriend, Shawn. Shawn is the star of the team, and bats right-handed:
Now, one thing that you immediately notice in this scene is that the actor who plays Shawn probably isn’t actually very good at baseball. At one point he hits a ball that clearly looks like it would be at best a pop-up, but we see others looking up in the air like he has just socked a giant dinger:
Also, it should be noted that baseball practice in Angel Grove is pretty lax as far as uniforms and equipment, given the fact that nobody seems to be wearing an actual uniform. Although that could just be to allow Adam and Rocky to have their Ranger colors on at all times:
It is a fact that if you become a Power Ranger, everything you own turns into a shade of your superhero color. Honestly, I’m surprised that Adam and Rocky don’t have green and blue baseball bats here. We do later see that Rocky has blue batting gloves.
Tanya arrives at practice and flirts/distracts Shawn during his BP, while also demonstrating she knows nothing about baseball: she tells Adam she doesn’t know who Babe Ruth is. When a foul ball comes straight at her, though, she catches it bare-handed, much to the surprise of everybody. And then she throws it to the coach, apparently well-enough where he decides immediately to send the pitcher to the shower and asks Tanya to come to the mound:
Anyway, she pitches:
The simulated game continues, and Tanya is able to strike out Shawn in just three pitches. This pisses Shawn off and he leaves the plate all huffing and puffing while the coach asks Tanya is she’d be available to pitch tomorrow.
Amazingly, this is the first time in Bizarre Baseball Culture where we have seen one of the most bizarrely-specific tropes of baseball fiction: the ace female pitcher. You see, whenever a woman is involved in actually playing baseball against boys in a work of fiction, she almost inevitably ends up a pitcher. You see it in places like Bad News Bears and Pitch. While there may be some truth to this trope in history (See: Ila Borders, Jackie Mitchell, Mamie Johnson, Eri Yoshida, Mo’Ne Davis, Kelsie Whitmore, etc.) and biology (men are usually stronger than women so one would think a woman would have a better chance at success pitching rather than hitting) it is somewhat weird you never see a infielder like recent Sonoma Stomper Stacy Piagno or Negro League players like Toni Stone or Connie Morgan.
Anyway, while I’m pointing that out, the evil Machine Empire is laughing at the Rangers for playing stupid games while they plot to take over the world. The King and Queen of the Empire decide to task their son, Prince Sprocket, with coming up with the monster of the week.
Back on Earth, Shawn is getting mocked for striking out against Tanya, and is generally being passive-aggressive about it, even to Tanya and friends. Trying to cheer him up, Adam suggests he join Rocky and he at the batting cages.
In space, Prince Sprocket sees this and declares his plan:
To be more exact, he’ll send a pitching machine that will suck in anybody who hits a ball thrown from it. After that, they’ll use the two captured Rangers (and their fellow baseball-playing friend) to lead the rest of the Rangers into a trap. And then… WORLD DOMINATION! MWAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Or something like that.
Next, we see some Machine Empire Cogs modify a pitching machine, and then doing a high-five for a job well done:
Of course, there is one thing that is tripping up the plan: Bulk and Skull. Now junior police deputies, they are supposed to be cleaning up whatever entertainment center-park area they are in, but, of course, they decide to go into the cage and take a few hacks.
After they fight over who goes first, of course:
As the two of them argue after Skull’s umpire impression gets on Bulk’s nerves, the three ballplayers arrive. After breaking up the fight, the three get ready to take their at-bats when Shawn drops out because he forgot his batting gloves and doesn’t want to risk getting a blister (seriously).
Rocky steps up, hits the ball… AND DISAPPEARS:
What follows is a surprisingly well-shot action sequence in which Adam dodges some ball-blasts from the Pitcher, but then gets distracted by Cogs who come and steal Rocky’s Zeonizer (AKA Morpher). For some reason, the People Pitcher doesn’t take advantage of this distraction to suck in Adam and instead he just…leaves. I think that is an odd move. But, hey, I’m not a robotic demon pitching machine, so what do I know?
So, conveniently left un-captured, Adam calls up Billy, who says he can detect Rocky’s Zeonizer somewhere in the other side of the park. Adam morphs and calls the rest of the team, and… hang-on… is that a Hidden Mickey?
Sorry, I got distracted there. A fight with the Machine Empire ensues at various parts of the park as the Rangers try to find Rocky and his Zeonizer and keep that Zeonizer out of enemy hands. This fight includes one scene where a Cog grabs the Zeonizer and tries to make a getaway in a dune buggy, only for Adam to jump on said dune buggy:
Eventually, though, the People Pitcher sucks up Tommy (who was trying to make a getaway in a go-kart), sending him into a weird pocket gear-filled dimension. The joke is on the People Pitcher, though, as Tommy also has Rocky’s Zeonizer, allowing him to morph into the Blue Ranger.
The two of them then reverse the gears, which sets them free from the People Pitcher for some reason. Hey, I’m just saying what happened.
After that, we get the standard formulaic Power Rangers climax, where they fight, call in the Zord, etc. Although, obviously, there are baseball catch-phrases thrown in:
At first, it looks like the fatigue from pitching AND fighting space-robots is too much, and soon there are men at the corners and the state’s home run champion up to bat. And then, just when it looks like she’ll escape with a strikeout, the hitter launches one deep to right…
But don’t worry, Adam catches it:
And they all lived happily ever after:
Next time in Bizarre Baseball Culture: We continue our look at baseball-related Power Rangers as we enter series I am not familiar with whatsoever. What horrors and wonders may await? Find out next Friday.
Previously on Bizarre Baseball Culture:
Prologue: “Rockets on the Mound” (short story)
20. Shortstop Squad
21. Cosmic Slam
23. Mariners Mojo
32. Mr. Go
36. Dick Cole
48. Fallout 4
51. Kool-Aid Man
53. Human Target
55. Power Rangers Zeo “Rangers in the Outfield” (You are Here)