Nolan Ryan #1
September 20, 2010
This level of PSA Hell brings us the celebrity cameo... and a lot of pointlessness.
Linkara: (seated on his Futon) Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. And welcome, my friends, to "PSA Hell"!
("PSA Hell" title is shown)
Linkara: "PSA Hell" is where we look at the worst comics designed to educate, inform, or color our opinions. And of course, one of the tools used to do such a thing is the celebrity cameo.
(A comic featuring a celebrity is shown)
Linkara (v/o): After all, celebrities, be they sports stars or actors or the like, are supposed to be the people we look up to and admire. In theory, anyway.
(Cut to footage of Pee-wee Herman's infamous anti-crack PSA)
Linkara (v/o): So it makes sense to have them telling kids that drugs are bad or to stay in school. It's important to get the right people to do these things, too, or else the message might come across wrong or get garbled a bit.
(Cut to a clip of the Mr. T cartoon show)
Mr. T: If you believe in yourself, drink your school, stay in drugs, and don't do milk...
(Cut to a clip of Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, showing Michelangelo of the Ninja Turtles)
Linkara (v/o): It's even better when it's a cartoon character, since, let's face it, you show a kid the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and they'll be more inclined to listen to them than, say, George Bush.
(Cut to footage of the infamous anti-smoking PSA with C-3PO and R2-D2, in which the latter is having a smoke)
Linkara (v/o): Of course, it's easy to produce a PSA that's about how drugs are bad or something. It's an entirely different matter to have to deal with a PSA that's on a boring subject, like self-esteem and confidence issues. I'm not talking about issues like actual depression or anything, I mean stuff where kids are just being whiny.
Linkara: And thus we have today's subject, so let's dig into (holds up comic of review for today...) Nolan Ryan in "The Winning Pitch". I actually don't know if that's the title or not, but I'll get into that after the theme song.
(The theme song plays, followed by the episode's title screen, accompanied by "Polka Your Eyes Out" by "Weird Al" Yankovic; cut to a shot of the comic cover)
Linkara (v/o): So, the title of today's comic is "Nolan Ryan", except the full title is "Nolan Ryan in The Winning Pitch". And that's all well and good for the big logo taking up a third of the cover, but the copyright text actually states that it's called "The Winning Pitch". It gets even better when the inside cover has a letter from Nolan Ryan wherein he says this is an issue of Tony's Sports Comics, and the Tony's Sports Comics logo is indeed on the front cover. Someone want to make up their mind on just what the hell this thing is called? And yeah, that isn't really all that important in the grand scheme of things, but when the words "Nolan Ryan" take up that much space on the cover, I'd like to hope that the people who made this thing actually know what they're doing. As for the cover itself, it is incredibly bland. Apparently, the sun exploded or something, since the sky is completely yellow, and we have Nolan Ryan throwing a baseball that is apparently twitching based on those movement lines. Oh, and there's Tony the Tiger. Tony, I don't think it's allowed for you to be allowed on the pitcher's mound during the actual game. So first, there's the letter from Nolan Ryan...
Nolan's letter: Dear Sports Fan: I hope you enjoy this issue of Tony's Sports Comics(TM). "The Winning Pitch" is the story of how Tony the Tiger and I showed a boy named Paul that you don't have to be a great hitter to make it in baseball.
Linkara: (as Nolan) I laced my Frosted Flakes with something weird that morning. Ooh, boy!
Letter: Remember, everyone can do some things well and other things not so well. If you emphasize your strong points and work on your weak points, you'll never strike out.
Linkara: (as Nolan) Well, okay, you might strike out because you don't get to be good overnight, but that's not important. Don't ruin my baseball metaphor.
Disclaimer: To our readers: Remember, you should not try any new sports activities or exercises without the advice or supervision of a coach or physical education teacher.
Linkara: Do nothing on your own! Without supervision or guidance, you'll end up whacking yourself in the face with your own bat!
Linkara (v/o): And seriously, don't try new sports on your own? That's kind of a dick thing to tell kids. (the comic proper begins) We open to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. We see a tour guide talking to some kids about Babe Ruth and other players, while one kid, Paul, examines a statue of Babe Ruth. Subsequently, Nolan Ryan and Tony the Tiger are also there, yet no one seems to be crowding around the two celebrities.
Tony: Looks like that kid has a lot on his mind, eh, Nolan?
Nolan: Sure seems that way, Tony. I wonder what the problem is...
Linkara: (as Nolan) Whatever it is, I'm sure it can be solved by sugary cereal.
Tony: If he's talking to the Babe, I'll be it has to do with baseball!
Linkara: (as Paul, holding up paper) You see, Mr. Ruth, I think I figured out how the Death Star plans being on Geonosis could actually make sense in relation to the expanded universe novels.
Linkara (v/o): Tony encourages Nolan Ryan to go talk to the kid.
Nolan: Hey, son. Maybe I can give you a few pointers.
Paul: You--You're Nolan Ryan!
Nolan: Right! Now, why the long face?
Linkara: (as Paul) It's your shirt, Mr. Ryan. That thing is hideous!
Linkara (v/o): Paul explains that he sucks at being a batter, and he never seems to improve, despite all the practice he puts into it.
Nolan: Well, I'm not much of a hitter myself, but that didn't stop me from making it in the big leagues.
Paul: Sure--you're Nolan Ryan! Seven no-hitters, and over 5,000 strikeouts! But I'm just Paul Smith--I'm just starting out in baseball! If I can't hit the ball, I'll never make it!
Linkara: Kid, were you paying attention in the slightest? He just said you don't need to be a batter to get into baseball!
Linkara (v/o): To show how much of an idiot this kid is, Nolan Ryan goes through the museum with him and shows him various people involved with baseball, be they pitchers, outfields or, hell, just the team manager.
Linkara: So... where's Tony the Tiger during all of this? Did he need to get to a poker game with the Lucky Charms leprechaun?
Nolan: And those are just a few of them. This place is filled with people who made their mark without hitting the ball. Because hitting the ball is only part of the story.
Paul: Maybe for them, Nolan. But for me, it's the whole story.
Linkara: (holding up index finger) Um, why? You just admitted that you suck at it. Maybe you ought to actually try some different positions.
Linkara (v/o): The kid runs off, bitching that he has to go watch a baseball game that he won't be asked to play in. Here's a tip: stop being a whiny idiot. Maybe they'll let you play. Tony returns... I guess he had to use the bathroom or something... and asks Nolan how it went. He says it didn't go well.
Nolan: Let's follow Paul and get to the bottom of this!
Linkara: (looking up in thought briefly) Bottom of what? The kid said he sucks at hitting the ball. Do you think there's some sort of huge conspiracy behind this?
Linkara (v/o): By the way, this was published in 1992, when Nolan Ryan was still playing. Doesn't he have a career to get back or something? Anyway, they head out of the museum, but there's no sign of Paul. They start walking in no particular direction, and of course, it's time to give Nolan Ryan's biography. He talks about how much he sucked at hitting the ball as a kid until he discovered how good his pitching was, which, according to this comic and Wikipedia, was pretty damn impressive. Tony gushes for a while about how much Nolan and how they need to confer their wisdom onto the random child they ran into at a museum.
Nolan: ...and finding my strong points--that's what we've got to tell Paul...
Linkara: (as Nolan) He may not actually be good at playing the game, but maybe his true calling is as a waterboy.
Linkara (v/o): Paul, meanwhile, is doing what he does best: complaining about how much he sucks.
Paul: Nobody can help me! Not even Nolan Ryan!
Linkara (v/o): I'm starting to think this kid has a severe inferiority complex.
Paul: If I can't hit, there's no way the kids will let me play. I'll never make the school team... and if I don't get on the school team, I'll never get into the major leagues!
Linkara: Yes, the elementary school baseball team is obviously the step right before the major leagues.
Paul: It makes me so mad, I could--
Linkara (v/o): Uh, not say anything and just throw a rock at a soda can.
Linkara: (as Paul) Ha! Let's see those Mountain Dew cans make fun of me now!
Linkara (v/o): Magically, Nolan Ryan is now sitting on a nearby log.
Nolan: Got a pretty good arm there. I'd clock that pitch at, oh, sixty miles an hour.
Linkara: (as Nolan) Did I mention that I'm a human speed gun?
Nolan: The question is--
Tony the Tiger: --could you hit it again?
Paul: WOW! It's Tony the Tiger!
Linkara: (as Paul) Those drugs I took must really be working!
Linkara (v/o): Tony sets the soda can back up... with his mind, apparently... and tells Paul to try it again. The kid misses.
Paul: See? I'm no good at anything!
Linkara: (as Paul) My inability to hit a can twice in a row is obviously evidence that I'm a failure at life.
Tony: That was GR-R-R-REAT!!
Paul: Huh? You're kidding, right? I mean-- I missed!
Linkara: (as Tony) Oh, did you? I'm sorry, I didn't have my contact lenses in. Yeah, you suck, then.
Nolan: No, Paul-- Tony's serious-- and I agree! You've got a really strong pitching arm--you just need to–
Linkara (v/o): (looking at Nolan, whose eyes are rolled up) HOLY CRAP!! WHAT THE HELL'S GOING ON WITH NOLAN RYAN'S EYES?!? When did Nolan Ryan get possessed by a demon?! Is Youngbloods Disease spreading to baseball players now?! Er, anyway, Paul is pumped now about the prospect of becoming a pitcher. Shouldn't this comic be over now? But Nolan stops him and says there's a lot more to being a pitcher than just throwing the ball. He explains about an incident in 1967 when he hurt his arm, and that too many newbie pitchers overstrained their muscles, and how much you need to do to get yourself ready for it. This is one of those sadly ironic bits, since apparently Nolan actually did damage his pitching arm a short time before the planned retirement. The two go back to Paul's house. Just make yourself at home, guys.
Nolan: The firs thing to remember is good nutrition. You'll burn up lots of energy pitching those strikeouts, so you've got to make sure to start every day off right.
Linkara: (as Tony) See? I knew Frosted Flakes would help resolve this situation.
Linkara (v/o): And now it's time for aerobics with Nolan Ryan as he demonstrates some weightlifting techniques with light dumbbells. Jenny Craig, eat your heart out.
Paul: Wow. I never knew becoming a pitcher was so complicated...
Linkara: (smiling) That's because you're stupid, Paul.
Linkara (v/o): And you're not gonna believe this, but they then bring Paul outside to show him how to do different kinds of pitches. Um, when did this become an instructional video? I thought this was like a self-esteem thing, you know? To help Paul stop being a manic depressive? To show that there's more to baseball than the guy at bat? When did this become Nolan Ryan's guide to pitching? This goes on for two pages of a sixteen-page comic! Using Nolan Ryan's instructions, Paul sends a ball straight to Tony.
Nolan: You just remember the tips I I [sic] gave you...
Linkara (v/o): No, seriously, two "I"s there.
(Cut to a clip of Mystery Science Theater 3000 where Joel and the Bots are about to watch Attack of the the Eye Creatures)
Joel: Attack of the the Eye Creatures? What, did Mel Tillis write these titles or what?
(Cut back to the comic)
Nolan: Tony and I will come by next week...
Linkara: Yes, become more involved in the life of someone you randomly met an hour ago.
Linkara (v/o): A week later, the three head out to a practice field, but there's already a group of kids there. The kids ask Tony and Nolan to play, but they say they'd prefer to simply coach, but that Paul can play.
Kid: Paul? He's got the lowest batting average in town!
Linkara: Do the kids always keep the records of the batting averages of all the people around them? For that matter, why is everyone obsessed with being a batter? Why is this a town of idiots?!
Linkara (v/o): So, naturally, Paul is placed in right field until the pitcher is called away to dinner. Where did that come from? None of the background shots indicate any houses. No one believes that Paul can do any good, but they let him anyway, thanks to the "wisdom of Nolan". Nolan gives some more pitching advice and the psychology of it.
Nolan: Focus on the catcher. Create a tunnel in your mind--a direct link* between your hand and the catcher's mitt.
- NOTE: It's actually "line", not "link".
(Cut to a brief clip of Batman, showing Batman similarly creating a "tunnel" to zero in on the Joker, before cutting back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Paul manages to strike out the batter, and everybody celebrates, lifting him into the air. I think the people of this town put an overemphasis on baseball that gets transferred to their kids. They mock him for his inability to bat, he attaches his self-worth to the game, and they lift him up into the air like a hero just for striking out one guy. And so, our comic ends with an epilogue six months later, where Tony shows Nolan a newspaper headline about Paul leading their school baseball team to victory. Nolan decides to grab his mitt and runs off to practice even harder, or else Paul will surpass him! (laughs) It's funny, because... uh, yeah, it isn't that funny at all, really.
Linkara: (holding up comic) This comic sucks. It has no idea what it's trying to say. Is it an instruction manual for pitchers, or is it about self-esteem in sports? If it's for pitchers, why even bother with the story? If it's for self-esteem, well, credits for subtlety, but none for the kid being a moron. And why was Tony the Tiger even here? (slaps comic down on couch, gets up and leaves)
(Stinger: A shot of the back cover of the comic, showing Nolan Ryan's stats)
Linkara (v/o): On the back cover is this "Nolan Ryan stand up picture". Who exactly cuts up their comic books just for a drawing of Nolan Ryan and stats that will be out of date in a year?