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Tag: bryan curtis

Under Pressure

Over at Grantland, Bryan Curtis has a piece on the Arizona immigration law at spring training:

The Arizona law, known as SB 1070, went into effect in September. Six months later, half the players in baseball have reported to the greater Phoenix area. More than one-quarter of those players are Latino. Even though every one of them is fully documented, SB 1070 has made major leaguers into unwitting test subjects and spring training into a simulated game of “Who looks suspicious?” “The Dominican ballplayer that speaks Spanish, in the eyes of some, that’s ‘reasonable suspicion,'” says Raul Grijalva, a Democratic U.S. congressman from Tucson.

“I got a driver’s license,” Herrera says. Every time Herrera ventures outside the ballpark, he makes sure he takes it with him. Talk to Latino players in Arizona and you find them constantly patting their pockets for licenses, green cards, passports.

“I carry them all the time,” says Martin Prado, a Venezuelan-born third baseman with the Diamondbacks. “Just in case. You never know.”

[Photo Via: It’s a Long Season]

You Can Go Home Again

The Marvelous One returns to Brooklyn. Over at Grantland, Bryan Curtis has the story.

Saint and Sinner

Over at Grantland, here’s Bryan Curtis on Josh Hamilton:

By now, you and I could recite the outlines of The Story: Hamilton, baseball’s no. 1 overall draft pick in 1999, falls under the sway of crack and cocaine; abandons his wife and daughters; gets clean; gets acquainted with God; and in a semi-damaged, heavily tattooed state, leads Texas to the franchise’s first two World Series appearances.

While Texas fans still love Hamilton’s “story of redemption,” ESPN’s Jean-Jacques Taylor noted the other day, Hamilton “has abused that goodwill.” Not by having a bad season: Hamilton hit 43 homers, just one fewer than Miguel Cabrera, and posted a .930 OPS. No, Hamilton abused it by hitting into a first-pitch double-play ball against the Orioles and looking at just eight pitches in four at-bats and, with a frequency that seemed to accelerate when the Rangers needed it least, behaving like a flake.

Before we dive into how Texas fell out of love with Josh Hamilton, I want to be clear that I’m not making fun of Hamilton’s religion. I’m not questioning the events of The Story. What I’m suggesting is that Hamilton has become a prisoner of it.

…It’s not defending Josh Hamilton to say that he became despised this year for many of the things that, in the confines of a redemption narrative, once made him beloved. The Story swallowed the man. Hamilton seems like a reasonably friendly, occasionally defensive guy who is teetering on the edge of sobriety, who is prone to inconvenient bouts of detachment, and who gets hurt a lot. When he goes to his next team, I hope a new story will start there. But I have a sinking feeling that every time he loses a fly ball, Hamilton will again be a prisoner of redemption, trapped in a tale too flawless for any man.


Up Close and Personal

Here’s a thoughtful piece by Bryan Curtis on how TV documentaries bring us behind-the-scenes of our favorite sports and have changed the nature of reporting:

I take no pleasure in being the schmuck writer who points out that TV sports documentaries — also called “vérité sports” — have gotten really good. And not just good, but observant. TV is recording the small, telling details of an athlete’s life, capturing noisy moments and quiet moments, doing the delicate labor that sportswriters — if properly motivated — pride themselves on doing. So on behalf of writerdom, I ask: What the hell is going on?

[Photo Credit: Trent Park via Black Book]

Million Dollar Movie

Here’s a nice long piece by Bryan Curtis on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom over at Grantland:

It’s strange when two filmmakers can hardly stand to look at one of their movies. Especially when that film was as lucrative — and, for me, as beautifully sinister — as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. So when I met George Lucas in December, in advance of the release of Red Tails, I asked why he and Steven Spielberg always seemed to be renouncing it.

“Oh, I’m not renouncing it,” Lucas said. Which is fair enough. Lucas mostly sounds sad when he talks about Temple of Doom. It’s Spielberg who recoils from its heart extraction, its human sacrifice, its monkey-brain buffet. He once told a journalist that Temple of Doom was “too dark, too subterranean, and much too horrific.”

“People say, ‘Why’s it so dark?'” Lucas said. Then he began to explain.

“I was going through a divorce,” Lucas said, “and I was in a really bad mood. So I really wanted to do dark. And Steve then broke up with his girlfriend, and so he was sort of into it, too. That’s where we were at that point in time.”

I always liked Temple of Doom–maybe not as much as P. Kael, who gave it an over-the-top rave (after she panned Raiders)–but I thought it was scary and tense.

Here is a blurb of her review:

In this follow-up to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Steven Spielberg creates an atmosphere of happy disbelief: the more breathtaking and exhilarating the stunts are, the funnier they are. Nobody has ever fused thrills and laughter in quite the way that he does here. Momentum has often been the true-even if not fully acknowledged-subject of movies. Here it’s not merely acknowledged, it’s gloried in. The picture has an exuberant, hurtling-along spirit. Spielberg starts off at full charge in the opening sequence and just keeps going, yet he seems relaxed, and he doesn’t push things to frighten us. The movie relates to Americans’ love of getting in the car and taking off-it’s a breeze. Harrison Ford is the archeologist-adventurer hero; Ke Huy Quan plays his child sidekick Short Round; and Kate Capshaw is the gold-digger heroine. The plot involves them with an odious boy maharajah and with Mola Ram (an anagram for Malomar), the high priest of a cult of Kali worshippers who come right out of the 1939 adventure comedy Gunga Din. This is one of the most sheerly pleasurable physical comedies ever made. A Lucasfilm Production, from a story idea by George Lucas, and a script by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz. The score by John Williams is too heavy for the tone of the film, and it’s too loud. With Amrish Puri as Mola Ram, and Dan Aykroyd in a half-second joke.

Curtis gets  behind what was up for the filmmaker and why the movie was not beloved like the other Indy movies.

Are the Rangers Cursed?


Over at Grantland, Bryan Curtis asks: Is Good Luck in the Cards for the Rangers?

An hour before baseball’s trade deadline, I sat in a room on Long Island while a portly, mysterious man studied the ancient object I’d set before him. I didn’t know much about Professor Sánchez. I’d found him in the back pages of a Spanish-language newspaper. He spoke little English. He never gave his first name. Professor Sánchez is a mentalist.

“Profesor,” I said in crummy Spanish, “my favorite team is the Texas Rangers.” I nodded at the object I’d placed before him: a throwback Rangers cap from the era of Geno Petralli. “Do the Rangers,” I asked, meeting his eyes, “have any … curses?”

Breast or Bottle?

Head on over to Grantland for a long appreciation of the Chipmunks by Bryan Curtis. Nice to see Shecter, Merchant, Isaacs, Vecsey and company celebrated.

The only problem I have with the piece is how Jimmy Cannon is portrayed. It’s not that Curtis is inaccurate in saying that Cannon was tired and bitter by the mid-’60s, or that he was the foil that the Chipmunks needed (too bad there is no mention of Dick Young). Curtis lampoons Cannon’s writing style but I wish it was balanced with a sense of how good Cannon was in his prime. Cannon is seen here as he’s most often remembered these days–an out-of-touch old timer who had become a parody of himself. That’s a shame because while Cannon was sentimental to a fault when he was bad, he was terrific, one of the very best, when he was good.

[Picture by Bags]

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