ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The enduring pop-culture craze of "The Simpsons" brought a famedfilmmaker to Albuquerque Wednesday to document the influence of theanimated family on America and one particular ballpark.
Morgan Spurlock , perhaps best-known for theAcademy Award-nominated documentary "Super Size Me," calls IsotopesPark the mecca for Simpsons' fans.
Yet you won't see Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa or even Maggie takingin a game. Just the name of the minor league baseball team wasenough to get major attention this week.
Who among true friends of " The Simpsons " 20 seasons can forget Homerdiscovering his beloved Springfield Isotopes were moving to NewMexico. “There's no Albuquerque Isotopes,” Homer saysbefore awakening to the insidious plot hatched by the mayor ofAlbuquerque.
Oh yes, there is an Albuquerque Isotopes, and the nation isabout to get an up-close and personal look recorded duringWednesday's game against the Tacoma Raniers while 'Topes fanHeather Rigby watched.
“It's Morgan Spurlock," she said. "I heard he was doing adocumentary on "The Simpsons" here."
It's a documentary that will take Spurlock, who also created theFX network series "30 Days," to Springfields across the nation. Buthe will only visit one Isotopes Park, and that's the one inAlbuquerque.
“My dad and I were having a discussion about this," Rigbysaid. "He's convinced there's no way they named the team after theSimpsons episode. He doesn't think it has anything to do withit."
Bye, bye Dukes
The previous team to play on the site, the Albuquerque Dukes,moved to Portland, Ore., after the 2000 season and became thePortland Beavers. On March 4, 2001, while Albuquerque longed forbaseball and politicians wrangled over rebuilding the stadium, theSimpson's episode " Hungry, Hungry Homer " aired with the tale ofHomer going on a hunger strike to keep the Isotopes inSpringfield.
Then new investors bought the Calgary Cannons baseball team, butbecause someone else owned the Dukes brand, the new team arrived inAlbuquerque nameless until it officially became the Isotopes latein 2003.
There's also that connection between a nuclear isotope and New Mexico's atomichistory, but now back to our regularly scheduled program....
The focus of Spurlock's documentary is chasing the influence theSimpsons have had on American culture. The famous family has mademajor contributions to the English language.
It didn’t take me long to find a fan at the ballpark whoknew at least a couple of catchy phrases Homer Simpson made famousstarting with, “Hmmm. Doughnuts.”
Documentary notes Simpsons 20 TV seasons
As for Spurlock, he brought his own die-hard but tired Simpsonfan 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 beengoing 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 thereal-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 thepark is the Isotopes name itself. At least for now, you can't buyany Simpson memorabilia at the ball park.
“Essentially that's it," Isotopes General Manager JohnTraub said. "We're not allowed to sell Simpsons merchandise orreally promote "The Simpsons" or the tie."
And that's a tie that could bump up sales even more although theconnection has worked out well already.
“You have a team that has sold more merchandise than anyother team in minor league in the series,” Spurlock said.
The documentary will include interviews with players, fans andelected officials from around Albuquerque.
"The Simpsons Anniversary Special - In 3-D! On Ice!" will air onKASA Fox 2 on Jan. 14.
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