The 2016 MLB postseason was wonderful, with tense games and dramatic finishes topped off with an exciting “Battle of the Championship Droughts” World Series and a Game 7 unlike any we’ve ever seen.
But the greatest pleasure the baseball world got to experience this October was the Fox studio show, moderated by Kevin Burkhardt, with analysts Alex Rodriguez, Pete Rose and Frank Thomas.
This group’s brilliance didn’t come from its ability to analyze baseball (which was passable, at best) but its wacky chemistry, which resulted in endless bad jokes and uncontrollable laughter. I found myself cracking up all month, at humor both intentional and unintentional. Often the funniest part wasn’t the joke, but how hard everyone laughed at the joke.
This Fox panel somehow made Rodriguez and Rose, two of baseball greatest villains of the past 30 years, into the most likable guys on TV. For that alone, it deserves our awe. But it also delivered more memorable moments that any studio show this side of TNT’s Inside the NBA.
The below list was originally going to be a top-10, then it became a top-12, and eventually, after reviewing the tape, I had no choice but to make it a top-15. And I still didn’t have room for Rose impersonating Snoop Dogg.
Anyway, here are my 15 favorite moments from the greatest studio show in baseball history.
15. Rose quacks, everyone laughs
Pete Rose couldn't stop quaking last night. pic.twitter.com/HBdEYdjW6r
— Danny (@recordsANDradio) October 27, 2016
The defining feature of this beautiful show was everyone laughing about something painfully unfunny. Such as Rose quacking like a duck for no reason.
14. Rose instructs Thomas on how to hold the microphone
Pete Rose giving Frank Thomas some lessons in television broadcasting. pic.twitter.com/cT5Vdf2M3d
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) October 26, 2016
Thomas was trying to actually talk about baseball, and there was no way Rose was going to let that happen, so he interrupted to give his colleague some useful tips about how to hold his microphone.
13. A-Rod loves Andy Pettitte
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 22, 2016
Andy and Alex, sitting in a tree…
Because the jokes weren’t flying fast enough between Rose, Rodriguez and Thomas, Fox brought in a guest zinger-er to make fun of A-Rod. Pettitte might have a future in this.
12. Rose throws shade at the Hall of Fame
"You make seven out of ten outs, you're gonna make the Hall of Fame. Well, most guys." – Pete Rose bringing the heat pic.twitter.com/z18kZTB8Vs
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) October 19, 2016
No one else on the panel seemed to pick up Rose’s little jab at the Hall of Fame, but it was flame-emoji-worthy nonetheless. For the record, Rose’s career average was .303.
11. Rose roasts Burkhardt’s hair
— Sean Flannagan (@SeanFlannagan1) October 20, 2016
Burkhardt spent much of the postseason as a babysitter, choosing when to let Rose hijack the show and when to bring the conversation back to baseball. Here, he was insulted on his haircut by a man who might not own a comb.
11. “I’m an Aqua Velva man”
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 20, 2016
How much did Aqua Velva pay Rose for this? Would he have done it for 20 bucks?
9. “He majored in eligibility”
Pete Rose says that Frank Thomas majored in "eligibility" at Auburn.
— Sports Funhouse (@SportsFunhouse) October 20, 2016
Rose makes a funny joke, then cannot stop chuckling about it while A-Rod tries to steer the conversation back toward the Cubs-Dodgers series. About 12 seconds after everyone else has moved on, Rose sneaks in one last jab at Thomas’ Auburn education. As we’re about to see, quick wit is not these guys’ strength, though exorbitant laughter certainly is.
8. A-Rod calls Rose old, Rose is not amused
— Sports Funhouse (@SportsFunhouse) October 23, 2016
When Fox showed some fans dressed as members of the 1908 Cubs, A-Rod couldn’t resist a good old-fashioned “Pete Rose is old” joke. But Rose’s fake laugh is what really makes this clip great.
7. Rose suggests the Cubs go to the Cincinnati Zoo… for some reason.
Pete Rose wants Joe Maddon to take the Cubs to the Cincinnati Zoo before tomorrow's game pic.twitter.com/CttUaT9YQv
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) October 19, 2016
The Chicago Cubs were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS, but Rose suggested they go to the zoo… in Cincinnati. Did he forget where he was? Is the Cincinnati Zoo so good that it warrants an off-day trip? Could the Cubs go to a closer zoo instead? No other Rose moment left us with quite so many questions.
Before we get back to the bad jokes, we should pause to remember that Rodriguez, Rose and Thomas are three of the 30 or so best hitters of all time and know a whole lot about baseball.
This clip went viral not for juvenile humor, but for a peak behind the curtain of three all-time greats talking shop.
Now back to making fun of Pete Rose.
5. A-Rod calls Rose a tool, Thomas says “hardware”
After FOX airs old A-Rod hardware commercial, Pete Rose asks if he has a favorite tool.
A-Rod: "Yeah, you!" pic.twitter.com/1bUQDsG5l4
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) October 29, 2016
What starts out with Rose mocking A-Rod turns around on the Hit King quickly. The funniest part of this is how long it takes A-Rod to come up with that hilariously uncreative joke.
But let’s talk about Thomas for a second, because he was often the forgotten man in the Rodriguez-Rose odd-couple routine. To the extent that Fox’s postseason show mirrored Inside the NBA, Rose was obviously Charles Barkley, A-Rod was Kenny Smith and Thomas was Shaq, good for an occasional quip, but otherwise happy to laugh along as a role player. Remember the SNL sketch mocking Inside the NBA where Shaq (portrayed by Barkley) contributed only uninsightful mumblings? That was Frank Thomas saying “hardware.”
Another night, another burn from A-Rod: "Pete, you know what I've learned about you? You'll do anything for money!" pic.twitter.com/TNVmStiUs0
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) October 30, 2016
After having some success the previous night with the “tool” joke, A-Rod feels emboldened, leading to this amazing sequence.
After the wrestling clip plays, A-Rod quiets everyone down and puts on a slightly smug “this is about to be a good one” face, then cracks up before he’s even done with the joke. Even though his zinger isn’t all that funny or original, everyone laughs uproariously, and Rose does something that looks like an imitation of a malfunctioning robot.
Pete Rose said that Derek Jeter inspired Alex Rodriguez…Rod wasn't lovin' that so much pic.twitter.com/dm6oktYc22
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) October 20, 2016
Apparently Rose is the only man in America who doesn’t know that A-Rod and Derek Jeter didn’t get along so great during their time in pinstripes. When Rose mentioned how much Jeter must have inspired his star teammate, Rodriguez couldn’t even hide his displeasure.
Credit to A-Rod for pivoting to Ken Griffey Jr. in a deflection any politician would be proud of.
Pete Rose, baseball analyst https://t.co/SAAmg326rW
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) October 23, 2016
If you can watch this without cracking up, you’re more mature than I am.
Pete Rose gets a case of the giggles as @kevinburkhardt plays traffic cop.
— Sports Funhouse (@SportsFunhouse) October 14, 2016
This, on FS1 after the Dodgers beat the Nationals in Game 5 of the NLDS, was when I knew we had something special.
What started with Rose mocking the Dodgers’ Pederson for giving a bad interview turned into laughter so raucous that Burkhardt had to ask Rose to close his mouth.
When I think back on the magic-in-a-bottle Rodriguez-Rose combination, my enduring memory will be the two of them giggling uncontrollably while connecting on a delirious high five.
Hopefully, the gang gets back together for next year’s playoffs. Regardless, we should consider ourselves blessed for October 2016.