Aubrey Plaza challenges Drake, takes swings on Celebrity Sluggers

August 18th, 2022

Aubrey Plaza is known to many for her portrayal of April Ludgate on “Parks and Recreation” -- a character known for her brooding intensity and dry, sarcastic sense of humor.

Turns out, that’s also her demeanor in the batter’s box when trying to crush homers against a rather unforgiving pitching machine.

With her new film “Emily the Criminal” out now, “Spin Me Round” arriving on Aug. 19 and the upcoming FX premiere of “Little Demon” coming up on Aug. 25, Plaza was the featured guest on the fourth episode of Celebrity Sluggers, a new series from MLB Originals that finds notable celebrities/entertainers sharing a bit about themselves, their projects and their personalities while facing off against a pitching machine offering up fastballs of varying velocities.

“I was Aubrey first! And you’re ashamed of the name anyway, bro,” she says during an interview segment with host Hannah Stocking after the suggestion is made to issue a challenge to rap star Drake (full name: Aubrey Drake Graham) over which of them truly deserves to be a famous Aubrey. (Plaza and Stocking also discuss witchcraft, among other fun, highly irreverent topics).

When it was time to (attempt to) crush dingers, a segment that saw Plaza don a customized Phillies jersey and take hacks against the aforementioned pitching machine fed by Stocking, she was as focused as anyone’s ever been at such a challenge.

So when Plaza was unable to light up the scoreboard like Juan Soto at Dodger Stadium, she let loose -- at times aggressively shouting to nobody in particular, “I told you, this is the best day of my life!” and slamming her bat in frustration at grounders poking through the infield rather than sailing over the fence enough to satisfy Plaza’s intense competitive spirit.

That fiery, competitive spirit, she explained to, comes about partly due to the competitive softball leagues she participated in back in the day.

“I grew up playing softball, I was on a travel team. We made it to Oklahoma City nationals, so yeah, I took it really seriously growing up. I just tried to remember what 12-year-old me would do out there.”

Always willing to commit to the moment, Plaza was also more than game to field typical “So, tough day out there today. What went wrong?” questions from the perspective of a downcast pro athlete … even questioning if the pitching machine was regulation.

“Emily the Criminal” stars Plaza (who also produced the film) as a struggling food delivery employee who, desperate for a way to pay down her student loan debt, succumbs to the allure of a credit card fraud scheme and quickly finds herself totally in over her head.

It’s definitely not a “comedy” role, but it’s one Plaza says she’s especially excited for people to see.

“For people that know me and the things that I’ve done, this is unlike anything I’ve ever been in," she said. "It’s a completely different character for me. … It’s a thriller, so it was kind of a chance for me to show a different side of myself and do something serious, take on a more dramatic part.”

Upcoming episodes of Celebrity Sluggers will feature social media star Charli D’Amelio and actor Xolo Maridueña (of the Netflix series “Cobra Kai”).

Following each episode, MLB will make a donation to Stand Up To Cancer in the name of the participating Celebrity Slugger. It’s the latest program from MLB Originals, a content slate of series and longform features around baseball stories on and off-the-field, including the acclaimed mic’d up series PLAY LOUD.