The Murray Brothers’ Extra Innings Is A Perfect Introduction To Minor League Baseball
This week, the Murray brothers, actors Bill and Brian Doyle-Murray, embarked on the beginning of a new series on Facebook. The show is a ten-part, Minor League Baseball journey called Extra Innings.
The brothers travel to a different minor league ball park each week, and began their first episode with the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL). The show almost exclusively features interaction with fans and players, along with a cameo character reprisal.
But, most importantly, it sets the tone for what this show is meant to relay. This series, from the opening theme song to the ending credits, encapsulates the “farm system” fan experience.
Each episode is 10 minutes long and is scheduled to be released every Monday.
The cartoon-themed and invitingly melodic take-me-out-to-the-ballgame-type opening is not meant to send a “strap on your seat belt” signal to viewers that you might expect. Instead, “The Things About Baseball” was written by the brothers and Paul Shaffer and offers more of a dry and discreet stimulus, much like the brothers’ humor. There is plenty of that in the show.
It also leads the viewer perfectly into the next scene – surprisingly the only one where they are together – where Bill and Brian are mockingly going over an imaginary player’s statistics, spitting each time they ask or answer a question.
Then, they’re on their own. Caddyshack fans will instantly recognize a resurrected Carl Spackler as he rides along the back of a groundskeeper’s cart, pelting animated gophers as they pop up in the outfield.
“I have issues with my own personal space,” Murray narrates as he wanders towards the cart, armed with a watering can full of baseballs. “In an ordinary situation, I need about a meter around me to be comfortable. However, on a baseball field, I need to be far away from any burrowing animal.”
He even reprises his outfit, with the floppy bucket hat and shredded cargo shorts. However, it isn’t the most memorable moment from the episode.
That award goes to Brian Doyle-Murray.
The elder Murray brother is often seen waiting in line for the bathroom. It’s comical, but his best work comes when he offers two young ball players a foreign substance. The deviation from the obvious jab at steroids is set up perfectly as he presents an example involving Hall-of-Famer, Rollie Fingers and his very recognizable mustache:
“What do you suppose Rollie Fingers might have handy to put on a ball?” Doyle-Murray asks while gently twisting his pencil-thin upper lip hair. “Maybe some mustache wax… what’s the most popular mustache wax,?” He asks, with both players shrugging. “It’s Pennoud! From Paris, France, a foreign substance!”
He continues on to suggest “Murray’s 100% Pure Australian Bees Wax” (another real, but foreign substance), before finally handing the non-facial hair growing players some “Honest Amish Beard Wax” which is also “real” because it is domestic, and thus legal. Doyle-Murray is a clear proponent of bend but don’t break when it comes to baseball boundaries.
All in all, the first glance at this series is promising, albeit without a clear construction. You don’t get the feeling that most of the gags are meant to connect in any way. As a result, it is much more catered towards the observant viewer than those looking for a storyline.
However, that is also why the series presents a great introduction into the world of Minor League Baseball. It’s a world clearly adored by Bill who is part-owner of both the Charleston Riverdogs and the St. Paul Saints. A lot of the attractions, promotions, and games that draw the affection of the average sports fan are not intended to wow, but, simply, to entertain. While some see the MiLB as inane, others are captivated by its original irregularity.
That is what this episode and (as far as we know) show has to offer. A little off-the-cuff, offbeat enjoyment that is, as advertised, an unscripted comedy.
I’ll be waiting for Extra Innings episode #2 on Monday.