Addressing the protests that shut down Baltimore last week wasn’t an easy topic for Saturday Night Live to approach for this past weekend’s show. But the show’s writers and cast found a way into some comedy through last Wednesday’s Orioles game against the White Sox that was played in front of a closed ballpark with no fans in the stands.
Similar to a skit SNL created in response to the Ferguson riots last November, the Orioles sketch featured broadcasters Jim Palmer (played by Taran Killam) and Frank Robinson (Kenan Thompson) calling the ballgame and trying to approach the surrounding circumstances cautiously. While calling the game, the overwhelmed pair constantly use phrases that would normally be innocuous (“Baltimore is on fire!”), yet seem inappropriate and inflammatory in light of the unrest occurring in Baltimore.
Guest host Scarlett Johansson is also in the sketch as sideline reporter Amber Theoharis, with Jay Pharoah playing Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (and looking entirely believable trying to swing a Nerf bat).
It’s even awkward out there for hot dog vendors and the Kiss Cam when no one is in the ballpark and the National Guard in riot gear are guarding the stands. But kudos to those officers for going for it, as Robinson said. (By the way, can anyone vouch for Thompson’s Texas drawl being accurate? Dos Robinson actually sound like that?)
Personally, I also think SNL might have hit onto a future event for MLB’s All-Star weekend festivities. How about incorporating a Nerf bat into a contest baseball’s best and brightest? Home Run Derby with more of a challenge or a new game like Hit the Ball Out of the Infield Derby, perhaps? OK, maybe that works better in the warped fantasy of this skit.
And no Gary Thorne in this sketch? Surely an SNL performer would have had fun parodying his excitable style saying something unintentionally inappropriate or his hushed golf tones while calling the action in an empty ballpark.