When the TCU baseball travels west to take on New Mexico this weekend, it will mark the end of the Horned Frogs' regularly-scheduled trips to Albuquerque as a member of the Mountain West and close the window of opportunity for us here at Spit Blood to make references to two of the best television programs ever produced- Breaking Bad and The Simpsons- as part of our coverage of the Frogs taking on the Lobos on the road.
The connection between the city and Breaking Bad is fairly obvious- the drama depicts Bryan Cranston as a cancer-stricken high school chemistry teacher who ventures into the world of cooking crystal meth and slowly but surely becoming a leading figure in the Albuquerque drug scene. Anytime the Frogs enjoyed a decisive road victory over New Mexico- such as the three game baseball sweep of the Lobos last year in which TCU scored 46 total runs or the 66-17 football thumping of UNM in 2010- I delighted in comparing the ferocity of those wins with the savageness of Uncle Hank's beating of Jesse in Season 3:
Unless you are an avid fan, though, the connection to The Simpsons may not be quite so straight forward. It all dates back to the March 2001 episode entitled "Hungry, Hungry Homer" in which Homer goes on a hunger strike to keep Springfield's minor-league baseball team, the Isotopes, from moving to Albuquerque. For a series that was already in its decline, this seemed like the kind of ridiculous plot device that would be quickly forgotten.
But then in 2002 the Florida Marlins' AAA affiliate, the Calgary Cannons, announced that they were moving south of the border and were, like the Springfield Isotopes, planning on relocating to Albuquerque. The city had previously had a minor-league team- the Dukes- from 1915 until 2000, so many just assumed the new team would carry that name. Those people underestimated the dedicated nerdiness of Simpsons fans, though. A whopping 67% of the voters in an online contest run by the Albuquerque Tribune picked "Isotopes" as the desired name for the new team, and after a bit of push back the team's front office signed off on the idea, creating a "life imitating art" legacy for the long-running animated series.
If any Frog fans are headed to Isotopes Park (also the home field of the New Mexico baseball team) this weekend, you can get your picture taken with the life-size statues of Homer and Marge at the stadium: