Two things didn’t fly this week: Howard’s fastball and Leonard and Penny’s chances at happiness (per Sheldon). All three had to face fears and judgments brought on by diamonds—an engagement ring in Penny and Leonard’s case, a baseball field in Howard’s. By the bottom of the ninth, only Howard’s fears were fully realized because, yep, he really does suck at sports. The nearlyweds, however, remained mostly in the same place, loving each other despite their difference—and, unlike Amy and Sheldon and their clinical partnership, perhaps because of their differences. Plus, if Leonard can still love Penny with that haircut, he really must be in love. (Oh, come on! I kid because I care!)
At the top of the episode, Howard gleefully, foolishly, announces that he’s been invited by NASA (after several other astronauts were too busy) to throw out the first pitch at the Angels’ Space Day. A round of practice on Leonard and Sheldon’s Wii is accompanied by some pretty harsh heckling from Raj; when Howard returns home, Bernadette serves up her own tough love by deriding her husband for getting sore from throwing air at a TV. Though Bernadette offers her skills as a former softball player (adding, ”maybe we can butch up your run for when you head out to the mound”), a trip to the gymnasium and a backfiring pep talk with astronaut Mike Massimino (one word: YouTube) only serve to compound Howard’s anxiety. The next day, he’s acknowledged that his physical prowess has no chance of impressing the crowd, so he turns to science. And, yes, the idea of a Mars Rover prototype zipping the first pitch to home plate certainly must have sounded exciting… that is, until the Rover moves at a speed slower than Leonard and Penny’s relationship. Cue a stadium full of boos—Raj’s jeering loudest of all, of course. What else are best friends for?
Speaking of Leonard and Penny, the fiancés find themselves in the unenviable—and pot-stirring—position of going on a double date with Sheldon and Amy. Turns out Sheldon’s train trip caused him to default on several date nights mandated by the Relationship Agreement that Amy describes as “better than hot, it’s binding.” Unfortunately, the foursome can’t even make it down a single flight of stairs before Sheldon matter-of-factly states that Leonard and Penny’s relationship is inferior to his with Amy. In terms of quality, he claims ShAmy rank first, followed by Howardette, then Raj and his girlfriend; in fact, Lenny come dead last in the ranking, just behind Penny & Chardonnay. (Penny rebuts, “Actually, I drink Sauvignon Blanc.”)
At the restaurant, Sheldon posits that all things can be quantified and cites Berscheid, Snyder, & Omoto’s Relationship Closeness Inventory test, which has put the stability factor of his partnership with Amy at an 8.2 out of 10. Frustrated that Sheldon has to be best at everything, Leonard wants to take the test, but Penny stridently refuses. They step away from the table, where even Leonard admits he’s nervous about how little they have in common. Penny flips: “Well, that’s not good! You being blindly infatuated with me was the rock we were building this relationship on!” Leonard tries to make light of their worries, to no avail, but eventually saves the night by being irresistibly adorable. ”Marriage is scary,” he says. “You’re scared, I’m scared. But it doesn’t make me not want to do it. It just makes me want to hold your hand and do it with you.” Amid all this, it’s worth noting Amy acquiesced that this double date could count as two dates because Leonard and Penny are “a lotta work.” Sheldon really does win everything!
The Laughter Surplus:
Sheldon: Not athletic? May I remind you that you’re talking to the seeker [points to Raj], beater [to Leonard], chaser [to Howard], and [to himself] water boy of the third-place Griffith Park quidditch team?
Penny: I know. Watching your boyfriend run around with a broomstick between his legs isn’t something you forget.
Sheldon: Did you enjoy my lecture?
Amy: No, and neither did our waiter.
Sheldon: If you’re going to serve Cornish game hen, you should either be familiar with the history of Cornwall or be prepared to learn it.
Amy: It’s hard to argue with that. And I know because I saw a man with a sad man with a pepper mill desperately try and fail.
Howard [shocked at the real-world length of 60 feet, a.k.a. the distance between the pitcher’s mound and home plate]: You realize this isn’t one of those times I want you to exaggerate how long something is?
Amy [turned on by Sheldon’s comparison of the 13 colonies to a romantic relationship]: It’s a good thing I’m not wearing flag underwear right now because there’s about to be a fire.
Sheldon: Everything is quantifiable. This French fry, a 7. Spider-man, a 9. The number nine? Oddly only a 4.
Leonard: How ridiculous is he?
Penny: A hundred.
Raj: I love how they put a waterfall at center field. It really ties the whole stadium together.
Penny: Look at you, talkin’ sports!
Sheldon: Okay, new plan—we go to Disney Land, play hide and seek on Tom Sawyer’s island… and then come back and see the end of the pitch.
Raj: YOU SUCK, WOLOWITZ!
Sheldon: HE MAKES A VALID POINT!