Now the longest-running comedy in television history, THE …
Updated: Friday, 21 Aug 2009, 12:03 PM MDT
Published : Wednesday, 12 Aug 2009, 10:14 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The enduring pop-culture craze of "The Simpsons" brought a famed filmmaker to Albuquerque Wednesday to document the influence of the animated family on America and one particular ballpark.
Morgan Spurlock , perhaps best-known for the Academy Award-nominated documentary "Super Size Me," calls Isotopes Park the mecca for Simpsons' fans.
Yet you won't see Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa or even Maggie taking in a game. Just the name of the minor league baseball team was enough to get major attention this week.
Who among true friends of " The Simpsons " 20 seasons can forget Homer discovering his beloved Springfield Isotopes were moving to New Mexico. “There's no Albuquerque Isotopes,” Homer says before awakening to the insidious plot hatched by the mayor of Albuquerque.
Oh yes, there is an Albuquerque Isotopes, and the nation is about to get an up-close and personal look recorded during Wednesday's game against the Tacoma Raniers while 'Topes fan Heather Rigby watched.
“It's Morgan Spurlock," she said. "I heard he was doing a documentary on "The Simpsons" here."
It's a documentary that will take Spurlock, who also created the FX network series "30 Days," to Springfields across the nation. But he will only visit one Isotopes Park, and that's the one in Albuquerque.
“My dad and I were having a discussion about this," Rigby said. "He's convinced there's no way they named the team after the Simpsons episode. He doesn't think it has anything to do with it."
Bye, bye Dukes
The previous team to play on the site, the Albuquerque Dukes, moved to Portland, Ore., after the 2000 season and became the Portland Beavers. On March 4, 2001, while Albuquerque longed for baseball and politicians wrangled over rebuilding the stadium, the Simpson's episode " Hungry, Hungry Homer " aired with the tale of Homer going on a hunger strike to keep the Isotopes in Springfield.
Then new investors bought the Calgary Cannons baseball team, but because someone else owned the Dukes brand, the new team arrived in Albuquerque nameless until it officially became the Isotopes late in 2003.
While the Isotopes team history makes no mention of "The Simpsons," a popular movement and a local newspaper survey at the time forever linked the team and the dysfunctional TV characters.
There's also that connection between a nuclear isotope and New Mexico's atomic history, but now back to our regularly scheduled program....
The focus of Spurlock's documentary is chasing the influence the Simpsons have had on American culture. The famous family has made major contributions to the English language.
It didn’t take me long to find a fan at the ballpark who knew at least a couple of catchy phrases Homer Simpson made famous starting with, “Hmmm. Doughnuts.”
Documentary notes Simpsons 20 TV seasons
As for Spurlock, he brought his own die-hard but tired Simpson fan with him.
“He's been a fan for years," Spurlock told KRQE News 13. "He just thinks the show should be retired; maybe the show's been going on long enough."
Possibly to convince him the Simpsons need to stay on the air, the two sat down for a game this Wednesday and watched the real-life embodiment of the animated series.
“We're here talking Simpsons and talking Isotopes,” Spurlock said.
In truth, though, the only thing related to the Simpsons at the park is the Isotopes name itself. At least for now, you can't buy any Simpson memorabilia at the ball park.
“Essentially that's it," Isotopes General Manager John Traub said. "We're not allowed to sell Simpsons merchandise or really promote "The Simpsons" or the tie."
And that's a tie that could bump up sales even more although the connection has worked out well already.
“You have a team that has sold more merchandise than any other team in minor league in the series,” Spurlock said.
The documentary will include interviews with players, fans and elected officials from around Albuquerque.
"The Simpsons Anniversary Special - In 3-D! On Ice!" will air on KASA Fox 2 on Jan. 14.