Everyone in the Orioles clubhouse says that Adley Rutschman has tremendous powers of recall and mental acuity.
He can use this to be discerning in the batter’s box, or to call a great game for a starting pitcher. But this power extends beyond the practical — and into the absurd.
Rutschman, 25, is also a walking, talking database of movie and show lines, and one of his favorite shows — which happens to be one of my favorite shows — released a new season this week.
No, we’re not talking about “Succession.” We’re talking about a show that is much, much sillier, with much lower stakes: Netflix’s “I Think You Should Leave,” which launched season three on Tuesday.
It’s not prestige TV, but it is a guilty pleasure.
Rutschman has encyclopedic knowledge of show lines and catchphrases, captured by the MLB video team. They released a supercut just over a minute long of the catcher reciting lines from the show: “You think this is slicked back? This is pushed back,” or “Slop ‘em up!,” or “You gotta give!”
These lines may mean little to most people, but the show maintains an extremely online cult-like following (I myself maintain several text threads almost exclusively devoted to ITYSL references). Created by Saturday Night Live castoff Tim Robinson, it’s a sort of Monty Python for our times: zany, silly and highly quotable. It also indulges in vulgar language and ludicrous bathroom gags.
It’s a sense of humor that’s Rutschman’s exact style. The MLB video vaulted him into maybe the most famous ITYSL fan in sports, something that the 25-year-old finds wildly entertaining.
“I just thought it was funny, because we were doing video for three-plus hours that day,” he said. “And it was funny that the video that they came out with was just all of those quotes.”
We’re all trying to find the guys who did this. Because they are heroes.
It’s an accurate representation of how devoted Rutschman is to the show, too, and how he spouts off references constantly. During spring training, he lived in a house with Gunnar Henderson, Kyle Stowers and Colton Cowser, and “I Think You Should Leave” was playing on repeat in the background.
Henderson has his favorite sketches — like Rutschman, he appreciates the one featuring a fedora with safari flaps — but he hasn’t even watched all the episodes.
“Just our little group that we hang out with, we’ve been asked to watch it,” Henderson said with a gentle eye roll. “So we can all watch Season 3 which is coming out soon. We’ve been talking about it since spring training.”
I spoke to Rutschman about the show on a Monday: He had rewatched five episodes of the first two seasons the night before, and was planning to finish that night. Every time he watches the series again, he finds appreciation for something new.
“The skits I really loved at the beginning, I don’t watch as much anymore, and the ones I hated are the ones I loved,” he said. “Last night I watched Bozo Dubbed Over, that was one I watched at the beginning, I was like, ‘This is really dumb.’ And I watched it again, and it’s actually hilarious. Same with Calico Cut Pants. That’s one for me when I was watching the first time, I was like, ‘This is OK.’ And now I think it’s hilarious.”
Don’t understand the fascination? I don’t know what to tell you, bud.
What’s most compelling about Rutschman’s relationship to the show is how it reveals a goofier side to a player who can be publicly buttoned up. When he talks about a game, he hews strictly to cliches and business-like answers that reveal very little about his personality. But in the clubhouse, among his teammates, he’s known as a lover of groan-inducing dad jokes, or insanely precise movie references.
Rutschman doesn’t only know all the lines from every ITYSL sketch — he knows about most of the sketches that Robinson has ever written for multiple shows, such as SNL’s Roundball Rock. He can also quote comedies and romcoms and superhero movies. In other words: He’s doing the best at this.
“Any genre, he will know the line and exactly what scene it’s from,” Henderson said. “It’s incredible.”
The thing about watching a show like “I Think You Should Leave” is that there is a compulsive need to find others in on the joke. Rutschman has evangelized the show to other corners of the locker room: He sent a sketch to fellow catcher James McCann earlier this week “to get the ball rolling.”
Henderson and Terrin Vavra (who started to get into the show this week) will be watching the new season with Rutschman on Thursday in San Francisco on an off-day — three of Rutschman’s West Coast-based friends are coming over for the marathon, too.
No spoilers until Thursday, please.
Despite the MLB social media team’s best efforts, Rutschman does not make a season three cameo. So far, he hasn’t even tried to leverage his big-league influence into meeting Robinson.
“I don’t know if I could swing it,” he said. “If I ever had that opportunity to meet him, it’d be awesome.”
It’s a good idea, and he should stand by it.