"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

No Foolin’

It is supposed to rain all weekend here in New York. Opening Night could be a long, soggy affair. But that won’t stop the hype. Today, Godon Edes examines the difficulties that the Sox face in trying to repeat; Jack Curry has a feature on David Wells; Joel Sherman and John Harper profile Alex Rodriguez, and Lee Jenkins has a piece on why New York baseball is better than ever.

Actually, the Times is in rare form this morning. Alan Schwartz, who wrote an excellent article about steroids for ESPN earlier in the week, celebrates the 20th anniversary of George Plimpton’s Sidd Finch hoax for Sports Illustrated. I remember when that issue came out. I was in middle school, hanging out in the library when the rumors started buzzing around that the Mets had some yokel with big-ass feet that could throw the ball 168 mph. Natrually, I got caught up in the excitement. I don’t remember how long the ruse lasted; I think it was a couple of hours. Then of course, we all learned that it was an April Fool’s joke. I just recall thinking, “How could I have fallen for that. Duh, nobody can throw it that fast. Nobody could be that good.” But 1985 was Doc Goodon’s rookie year. While he wasn’t exactly mythical, he was damn close, especially that first year.

Oh, and by the way, Tom Boswell did an on-line chat the other day that was pretty funny. (I didn’t know he was down with that kind of thing.) I like this bit about his favorite baseball movie:

Favorite movie–by a million miles–is “Bull Durham.” Sorry, but I absolutely HATE “Field of Dreams.” It epitomizes every sentimental fake-poetic piece of crap ever written or filmed about baseball. Kinsella is an idiot. (He doesn’t even like baseball anymore.) Okay, he’s not an idiot. But my views, temperament are very much from the gritty, funny, hard-nosed (and sexy) “Bull Durham” view of what the game really is up close. “Field” is for the third-tier poets like that guy Donald Hall. heh, heh, got that off my chest. 🙂

Dag, why you gotta go diss the poet like that?

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1 Rob   ~  Apr 1, 2005 7:02 am

1.  Hooray for Sidd!

I thought Dwight's wicked curve was an april fools joke in itself. How could anyone hit that thing?

I can tell it's already starting. I wore my Yankee hat to pick up some take out last night and I already started hearing shit (which of course I gave back in due measure) about Sunday night. Despite all the scandals, baseball seems to be getting better and better (at least for me!)

Looking forward to Sunday.

2 kcboomer   ~  Apr 1, 2005 7:27 am

2.  Screw Boswell. I liked both movies. Even "Shoeless" Joe batting from the wrong side of the plate.

3 Kevin   ~  Apr 1, 2005 7:53 am

3.  127 comments on one post!

I don't know how to feel about my ol' pal Wells. I was with my Dad at the Stadium for the perfect game against the Twins, so he'll always have a soft spot in my heart, but I can't say I'll be totally thrilled if the Yankees fans give him a warm ovation on Sunday. I know he was great for the Yanks -- but I can't get that Game Five in the 2003 World Series outing out of my head.

I'll be watching Sunday night's game from home, but I'll be keenly interested in the fan's response to Wells. I'd like to say I would cheer him were I there in person -- but I don't know.

4 Ken Arneson   ~  Apr 1, 2005 8:31 am

4.  Sorry, I messed up the comment numbering. I'm fixing it now...

5 Alex Belth   ~  Apr 1, 2005 8:39 am

5.  I'm with Boswell on this one. Actually, other than "The Bad News Bears," I thinkt that "Bull Durham" is the only really good baseball movie ever made. There are other ones that have their moments ("Eight Men Out," "Long Gone"), but in general, I think it's a lousy genre.

6 NetShrine   ~  Apr 1, 2005 9:22 am

6.  Godon Edes is about 3 months behind me on the Sox. Back in December, I said it would be all up hill for them in 2005 and history back that up: http://www.netshrine.com/nextyear.html

7 NetShrine   ~  Apr 1, 2005 9:26 am

7.  On Bull Durham, the problem that I have with that movie is that you cannot watch it with your kids - at least the movie version. You ought to be able to watch a baseball movie with your kids for it to be among the best.

8 Zack   ~  Apr 1, 2005 10:18 am

8.  Really the biggest problem with both movies is Costner, who can't act, period. Its funny, most football movies are about the actual game, about the intensity and pains of playing the sport, whereas many baseball movies seem to be less about the actual on field saga than what happens off the field.

9 Nick from Washington Heights   ~  Apr 1, 2005 10:41 am

9.  I think of Bad Lieutenant as the 3rd best baseball movie of all time. It's a weak genre.

10 Alex Belth   ~  Apr 1, 2005 10:44 am

10.  I can't agree with the sentiment that all baseball movies should be kid-friendly. You wouldn't want your kids to see what really goes on in a locker room anyhow. It just wouldn't be appropriate. And I think one of "Bull Durham's" strenths is that it deals with the sexual nature of the game. I think it's okay not to be appropriate for kids. It's funny, but "Bad News Bears" would be uncomfortable for some parents today because it is so politically incorrect.

Richard Linkletter is remaking the movie and will star Billy Bob Thorton. I'm suspicious but both of those guys are decent so it could still be good, dirty fun.

Yeah, I don't think that filmmakers have ever been able to capture the game on the field in any kind of realistic or interesting way. It's always about the clubhouse. I think it's too bad because baseball is an interesting game visually. But basketball and football are more suited to the highlight-mentality of most filmmakers. It's just plain boring to most baseball fans to watch slow motion home runs and strike outs. But the worst sin is that movie makers haven't been able to convey the sense of space that exists on a baseball field. Not to mention the speed, danger and pyschology of the pitcher-batter confrontation.

You'd either the ultimate insider along with perhaps the ultimate outside to be able to make a baseball movie truly interesting. But these movies don't make money. And unless Jim Jarmush--who is a big baseball fan--decides to make one, the independent/art house film community isn't dying to make the dream baseball flick.

11 NetShrine   ~  Apr 1, 2005 10:46 am

11.  You might change your mind when you have kids. That's what happened to me.

12 NetShrine   ~  Apr 1, 2005 10:50 am

12.  FWIW, I thought the game action footage in The Natural had a god feel to it. IIRC, most of the extra players were players at one time or another. Super Joe was in it - but, just as someone standing on the line for the NA.

There was another baseball movie - I have to think of the name - that had a lot of real players in it for the game footage. I want to say that Phil Lombardi was it in - and maybe Rudy Law? It could have been "Talent for the Game"? Let me check on that.

13 NetShrine   ~  Apr 1, 2005 10:53 am

13.  Talent for the Game was it!


Bobby Tolan .... 'Angel' Baseball Player
Derrel Thomas .... 'Angel' Baseball Player
Lenny Randle .... 'Angel' Baseball Player
Barry Moss .... 'Angel' Baseball Player
Frank Mendoza .... 'Angel' Baseball Player
John E. Coleman .... 'Angel' Baseball Player
Danny Davidsmeier .... 'Angel' Baseball Player
Sean Collins .... Baseball Player
Todd Cruz .... Baseball Player
John D'Aquisto .... Baseball Player
Damon Farmar .... Baseball Player
Charles Fick .... Baseball Player
Victor Hithe .... Baseball Player
Lee Lacy .... Baseball Player
Rudy Law .... Baseball Player
Phil Lombardi .... Baseball Player
Steve Ontiveros .... Baseball Player
Tony Tarasco .... Baseball Player
Dejon Watson .... Baseball Player

Now, come to think of it, For Love of the Game had some too, IIRC. I think Ricky Ledee was in that one.

14 Alex Belth   ~  Apr 1, 2005 11:33 am

14.  Rudy Law! That's great. What about "The Kid From Left Field," with Gary Coleman. Did that have any pro ball players in it?

Of course, there is the new Farrelly brothers movie with the Red Sox. But you can count on me skipping that one. I'm not a fan of their movies--though "Kingpin" was entertaining--and Jimmy Fallon is about as cute and boring as they come.

"The Bad Lt." Ah yes, vintage Mad Dog Russo on the soundtrack. You know, I've been meaning to go back and see that again just for the Russo stuff. Grim movie, but the betting on the Mets stuff was good.

15 NetShrine   ~  Apr 1, 2005 12:39 pm

15.  Fever Pitch, IIRC, is the new Farrelly brothers movie. I too will pass. FWIW, Adam S. may have put the whammy on Yankee fans with the Boone HR being in "The First 50 Dates."

16 Rob   ~  Apr 1, 2005 1:08 pm

16.  I thought Mr. 3000 was a hyper realistic view of the modern game, the pressures of the modern athlete, the dirty nature of the business and the.......... april fools!

17 alsep73   ~  Apr 1, 2005 1:10 pm

17.  I actually think Mr. 3000 was awfully good, both as a character study of a selfish athlete finally figuring out why he loved the game and as a look at the relationship between athletes and the media.

Speaking of the Bad News Bears movies, when I was a kid, they rarely, if ever, showed the original on free TV (too difficult to bleep all of Tanner's lines, I guess), so I grew up seeing The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training, like, three dozen times. As an adult, I can see everything that's wrong with it -- for starters, why on earth would you actually let the Bears get good? -- but as a kid I thought it was awesome.

"Let them play! Let them play! Let them play!"

18 Dan M   ~  Apr 1, 2005 2:22 pm

18.  I have come down a bit from my "under no circumstances will I pay to see Fever Pitch" ever since I saw the clip where Jimmy Fallon puts tickets in a ring box and asks Drew Barrymore if she'll go to Opening Day with him. I haven't been to a Yanks home opener in years, but I was raised in a family where Opening Day was one of the sacraments, so the clip struck a chord I guess. But the Sox saturation is a bit much right now.

19 NetShrine   ~  Apr 1, 2005 2:28 pm

19.  "the Sox saturation is a bit much right now"

That's OK. Let it hit tsunami levels. The higher the head, the louder the eventual thud.

20 Dave D   ~  Apr 1, 2005 3:28 pm

20.  Anyone going on Sunday night? I won't be at the home opener since I'm upstate in Saratoga but I will be watching on YES. This is all new to me since I lived in Boston for the last year and a half and haven't seen any YES games (not even sure who's announcing) in awhile. It's going to be a mini event here, pizza, booze, the works.

21 Reese Cromwell   ~  Apr 1, 2005 4:52 pm

21.  I wish that I could be fortunate enough to go to the game Sunday night but I will be watching from home. Just the same, I am excited about the season and all of our "boys." The Yankees bring back memories of my father and his undying dedication to the team. I think we'll have a good season but, good or not; I'll be cheering.

22 Zack   ~  Apr 1, 2005 5:49 pm

22.  I am surprised no one mentioned *61. There were some momements in that movie that floored me. The way he captured Mantle's swing, and especially his trot, amazing. Pepper's Maris was almost too dead on too. Love him or hate him, Crystal has a real love of the game and did his studying for the film...

Ps. What about Major League as well?

23 steffens   ~  Apr 1, 2005 10:52 pm

23.  Bull Durham is automatically disqualified as a "baseball movie" for having a star pitcher that throws like a girl.

Besides that, it's just a bad movie:

24 Jen   ~  Apr 2, 2005 3:07 am

24.  I'll be at the game. Finally took the plunge and got season tickets. Secion 39.

25 Alex Belth   ~  Apr 2, 2005 11:06 am

25.  I read Theo Epstein saying something to that effect about Tim Robbins throwing like a girl in Entertainment Weekly. That's funny. But he wasn't as bad as Robert DeNiro trying to pass for a catcher in "Bang the Drum Slowly." How about Richard Pryor's form in "Brewster's Millions?"

The guy who really should have been cast in a baseball movie when he was younger was Kurt Russell, who was a minor league player.

I didn't really care for *61 but the two leads were cast very well, especially Maris. I know Allen Barra loves that movie though. If you look in Salon.com's archives I'm sure you could find his review.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver