BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE: Power Rangers Zeo in the Outfield

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.”

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BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE: The Power Rangers take on Babe Ruthless (with a special bonus!)

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.

Nostalgia is a word made up of a Greek word for “homecoming” and a Greek word for “pain”. Normally, nostalgia is used as a word to mean an aching for going back home, or the general past. Given the roots of the word, though, you could make a case that it also means the pain that comes from a homecoming, like when you watch what was your favorite show when you were five in advance of a big-budget movie reboot  and see just how stupid and inane it was.

Yes, it is time to head onto Netflix as we start a look at the baseball episodes of the Power Rangers franchise, beginning with the 32nd episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, “A Star is Born”.

screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-11-37-51-amMay the power protect us… after the jump.

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The Hall of Very Good has added four, and I helped by honoring Jose Canseco’s Bizarre Baseball Cultural Life

The Hall of Very Good has added four new members: Bill Buckner, Jose Canseco, Russ Grimsley and celebrity inductee Thomas Ian Nicholas (AKA Henry Rowengartner), with the Glenn Burke Memorial Courage Award set to be revealed on Friday.

As part of the celebration of this eclectic group, I did a rundown of Jose Canseco’s many bizarre appearances in Pop Culture, from Reading Rainbow to the upcoming movie Slamma Jamma. Check it out.

Continuum Classic- Bizarre Baseball Culture: Pokémon in “The Double Trouble Header”

Today, February 27, is the 20th anniversary of the release of the first Pokémon games in their native Japan. In honor of that feat, here’s the classic Bizarre Baseball Culture look at “The Double Trouble Header”, an episode about baseball fandom and the world of Pocket Monsters.

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 a first for Bizarre Baseball Culture, we’re going international to look at one of the more strange appearances of baseball in Japanese culture. To be more exact, we’re looking at an old episode of the Pokémon anime, entitled “The Double Trouble Header”.

Okay, are you done laughing/rolling your eyes? Good. Now go below the jump for this installment, which has been weeks in the making:

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(Blogathon ’16!) The Sliding Scale of Fictional Baseball Realism

This post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

Earlier today, in my look at Touch, I mentioned that you can make a 0-10 scale of baseball realism in works of fiction, with zero being baseball-in-name-only and ten being actual footage of a game.

Well, I’m going to expand upon that:

0: Baseball In Name Only

In this category, it’s not really baseball at all. They may call it baseball, but it certainly isn’t the actual sport that we know. The Moe Cronin version of baseball fits here.

1: Utterly Absurd

In this category, while it’s clearly meant to be baseball, the rules of the game and the laws of physics have clearly taken a vacation. Some classic cartoons fall into this category.

2: Very Absurd, but still with some realism

In this category, the work might have cartoonish physics and occurrences, but it still is grounded in reality enough to have the rules of baseball still be mostly the same. In theory, a baseball movie where the rules are not consistent or are wildly different but where everything else is played straight could also qualify here. Classic cartoons that aren’t “utterly absurd” usually fall in this category.

3: Absurd, but mostly consistent

Works in this category are clearly absurd and cartoonish, but are at least consistent: the laws of physics may not be what they are in the real world, but they don’t suddenly change mid-game, nor do the rules suddenly change simply because the story demands it. Most “cartoon” baseball video games, like Backyard Baseball and the Mario Baseball series, fit in this category.

4: Many absurd elements

While clearly meant to be a realistic world that has our baseball’s rules and our laws of physics, the amount of absurd, cartoonish or unrealistic elements in the work make it more strange than realistic. Consider Mr. Go, for example, which has two baseball-playing gorillas, a little girl acting as a first-base coach and a finale that involves the baseball coming undone into a million pieces, which sort of overwhelms what would probably otherwise be a 6 if, say, it only had one gorilla.

5: Equal Mix of Realism and Fantasy

A work that sort of teeters between being realistic and being bizarre. This is more of a transitional spot on the scale, as it’s rare that anything ever stays at 5, inevitably going to 4 or 6 instead.

6: Realistic, but with one or two “big lies”

This is mostly realistic but it has one or two big elements (or the equivalent of one or two big elements made up of lots of smaller elements) that keep it from being something that you can honestly expect to ever happen in the real world. Sidd Finch could fit here, as could most of the movies in which a kid becomes a big league skipper or ballplayer.

7: Realistic, but highly unlikely

There’s nothing in this work that couldn’t happen, but it’s highly unlikely and any real event like this would probably instantly become one of the most notable things in baseball history. You could argue that Major League fits here, sort of.

8: Near total-realism

While some rules might be bent or not enforced on a strict basis, and some things might happen that are unlikely (although not nearly as unlikely as things that fall at seven on the scale), this is pretty realistic. Casey At The Bat, the classic poem, could be considered as this, with only the ability of everybody to seemingly hear everything keeping it from being a nine.

9: Utter realism

The only things that are not realistic in works of this category are omnipresent techniques like camerawork and editing for time, or stylish touches added in to indicate, say, that a player is angry. Bull Durham could, in theory, fit in this category, as could most (but not all) fairly true-to-history biopics and most realistic baseball video games.

10: Actual Baseball Footage used/Documentary

If you are watching an actual baseball game, or watching a documentary that uses baseball footage and does so without changing things for dramatic effect, you are watching a 10.

 

Feel free to consider where on the sliding scale your favorite piece of baseball fiction would fall!

6 PM: First References

This post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

 

(Blogathon ’16) Mr. Go, if adapted for American audiences

This post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

Mr. Go. The classic tale of a girl, a gorilla, and the Korean Baseball Organization. Truly, one of the greatest Bizarre Baseball Culture entries of all time, and one you should totally consider purchasing if you are a fan of such things. But what if it was brought to American screens? How would it be adapted?

I have a few ideas:

The cute little Chinese girl, Weiwei, would stay, as would the backstory of her and her gorilla, Ling Ling. Similarly, the main antagonist of the film would be Liao Xiaogang, AKA “Tianjin Guy”, a corrupt nouveau-rich businessman/gangster.

This is a purely economic move. China is now one of the leading movie-going countries in the world, and the only way a baseball movie is going to get any attention there is if it has a Chinese person in it. Also, so much of what drives the plot is the fact that Weiwei is an outsider just trying to keep her friends and circus at home from being folded up.

The jerk-with-a-heart-of-gold scout, Sung Choong-Su, would instead be an American named Samuel “Sunny” Chance, played by James Franco.

For one thing, James Franco has experience with apes, and also he is able to do both comedy and drama, which this film would require. Also, I think civilization in general needs to see James Franco make drunken confessions to a baseball-playing gorilla who is also drunk.

Instead of going to the Doosan Bears, Ling Ling/Mr. Go would be a member of the San Diego Padres.

Don’t try to argue with me on this, you aren’t going to win.

The general manager of the Padres will have an expanded role and be played by John Goodman.

Because, really, imagine John Goodman delivering this line:

Jonah Hill would make a cameo as a sabermetrics expert who suggests how they can best use Mr. Go.

Both because he’s always in movies with James Franco, and as a reference to Moneyball.

There would be a subplot about how some people think Mr. Go isn’t playing the game the right way after he unleashes an epic bat-flip.

It’d provide realism to the affair.

After Mr. Go’s rampage, Weiwei and him would go on Jimmy Kimmel to prove he isn’t a monster.

Of course they would.

Instead of a bidding war between the Chunichi Dragons and Yomiuri Giants, it would be the Red Sox and Yankees.

Because of course it would be.

The veterinarian’s role would be expanded and made into a female love interest for Franco’s character, probably played by somebody quirky like Zooey Deschanel or wittily sarcastic like Anna Kendrick.

Because every goddamn movie, it seems, needs a love interest of some sort, and it sure as heck isn’t going to be Weiwei and Franco.

The NC Dinos, the main opponent of Doosan, would be replaced by the Dodgers. Also, the Division Series at the end of Mr. Go would be replaced with a final regular season series where the NL West title is on the line.

This both would better explain why every game is a home game for Mr. Go (in the Korean movie, they come up with an excuse about renovations at NC’s stadium) while still providing plenty of drama.

Leiting, the evil pitching gorilla who faces Mr. Go, will be renamed “Lightning” instead of “Zeros”.

Because Zeros was a dumb name.

The ending would be left more open to the “Football-playing Gorilla” sequel than the original movie was.

Every movie needs to have a opening for a sequel.

And, finally, it goes without saying that Andy Serkis would be playing Mr. Go.

Duh.

At 4 PM: AAA.

This post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

 

Coming later this month: “International Baseball Culture”

Bizarre Baseball Culture is perhaps my most popular segment on the Baseball Continuum. In it, I, as I say: “…take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.” It’s seen comic books, video games, novels, TV episodes, animated shorts, a radio drama, and even a full-length movie. They’ve ranged from the well-known to the hyper-obscure, leading Michael Claire to dub me the “Indiana Jones of baseball comics“, which I guess isn’t the worst thing to be put on a tombstone.

Anyway, in search of good material, I have recently began to look overseas. Some of my favorite Bizarre Baseball Culture posts have been from elsewhere in the world. The Pokémon episode, for example, was pretty popular. Mr. Go might have been the most fun I’ve ever had doing Bizarre Baseball Culture (well, until you see what the 50th installment is). My most recent installment was, of all things, an episode of an Ultraman TV series.

However, here’s the thing: it is stupid to assume that everything foreign is bizarre. Oh, to be sure, plenty of it is, just like how the American-made works of fiction I’ve covered here on the Continuum have been bizarre (intentionally or not). I mean, no matter what country it was made in, a movie about a gorilla playing baseball would have been bizarre.

But to say it is all bizarre, simply because it is foreign, would be highly ignorant and also disrespectful. These are places with their own traditions, not only in baseball but in their popular culture. To immediately dub a fairly mundane (i.e. no baseball-playing gorillas or evil glove monsters) baseball comic from Japan or a baseball film from Korea “bizarre” would be like being the baseball entertainment equivalent of the crotchety old columnist who claims that Latin American players aren’t playing the game the “right way” despite the fact that that’s the way they’ve played all their lives. And, guess what, I am not a crotchety old columnist, although I wish I was being paid like one.

So, with that out of the way, I am proud to announce that, starting with a piece in this year’s blogathon, there will be a new recurring feature on the Baseball Continuum: International Baseball Culture. It will cover baseball entertainment from outside the United States and sometimes Canada* that isn’t “bizarre”. Now, there will continue to be foreign-sourced baseball works in Bizarre Baseball Culture, but they will only be those that would qualify for the series due to their content. If it turns out that there’s a Mexican movie in which luchadores play baseball against mermen from Atlantis, that’s still going into Bizarre Baseball Culture. But if it’s a serious drama about a baseball team called the “Luchadores” who are playing a team called the “Mermen”, that would be International Baseball Culture.

So, please join me during the Blogathon when I begin my International Baseball Culture travels with the beginning of a series of articles on Mitsuru Adachi’s Touch, a baseball dramedy/romance manga and anime that won awards, set viewership records in the 1980s, and was in 2005 named one of the ten greatest anime ever… and yet has never seen an official release in North America.

*I’ll be taking Canada on a case-by-case basis. For example, you could argue that the works of W.P. Kinsella are Canadian because Kinsella is from Canada, but you’d be ignoring the fact that most of his baseball stories are set in America and deal pretty specifically with American baseball. But if somebody were to make a French-language drama about a man and a woman who fall in love over their shared longing for the return of the Montreal Expos, that would probably fall under International Baseball Culture.