Archive for July, 2007

15 years of baseball in 3 hours.

July 27, 2007
One week ago, I attended a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game. (Yes, they still have a team. Uniforms and everything. It’s really neat.) I was pretty excited: PNC Park, Primanti’s, and fireworks night. Also, we were playing the last place Astros, which meant a good chance at a W.
The seats were incredible, right behind the Bucco dugout. I had my Andy Van Slyke jersey on. The day was perfect. Then, in the first inning, a play happened that defined the rest of the game for the Pirates. And the game represented the past 15 years of being a Pirates fan.

The play in question was a long fly ball to left field. Jason Bay went back to the wall, made a half assed play at it, and the ball hit the top of the 4 foot wall and went for a 2-run home run. Even mediocre teams turn that play into an out.

The rest of the game played out like so:
  • Jack Wilson bunted foul with two strikes.
  • 4 lead-off doubles scored 1 run.
  • 11 players left on base, 5 in scoring position.
  • Bases loaded with one out in the 9th: Strike out, strike out, game over.

Oh, and that last strike out? Swing and a miss, the catcher missed it, and the ball hit the ump in the chest. For a few seconds the catcher couldn’t find it. Luckily, the runner at third wasn’t paying attention, got a late jump, and was out.

Missed opportunites and sloppy play. The game ran two hours and fifty-six minutes, but it was the last decade and a half that went through my mind. Did you know the last time the Pirates had a winning season, the X-Games didn’t exist?

So how does Pittsburgh still have a team? Well, the Zambelli fireworks show afterwards was the perfect metaphor. We don’t come to these games for the baseball, we come because of the entertainment. No one will remember who struck out in the 9th. People will remember that during the Pierogi Race, a giant banana came out and the speakers blasted the “Peanut Butter Jelly Song”.

This also leads to the continued cellar-ness of the Pirates. People stil come to games, and McClatchy still turns a profit. There will be no sale to Mark Cuban or someone that would spend some money when profits are to be made with bad baseball.

After the game, we rode home happy as clams. We saw fireworks and watched hotdogs get launched by an air cannon. We have the Steelers and Penguins for winning. The Pirates are for a relatively inexpensive good time.

Note: For any older fans out there, they played the classic video of the train guy shoveling baseballs into the furnace. Thing’s 20 years old, and the place went nuts. My girlfriend (a new Pirate fan, by default) looked at me like “What the hell was that?”

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Kids Baseball Movie Countdown from 1993 to 1994 – #2 Little Big League

July 17, 2007

#2 Little Big League

I know I know I know. It has been too long since the last post, and I apologize. This whole working world thing sucks, as do the other “writers”. But here we go with the countdown.

Little Big League: the youth baseball movie you forgot about. But it is certainly one of the best, especially when viewed a few years after your childhood. As ridiculous as it sounds, the premise is actually believable… well, more believable than movies about a 100 mph fastball throwing 12-year-old or angels helping the Angels win the pennant.

Starring:

Luke Edwards – As Billy Heywood, he plays a pretty convincing part. Even though he’s just reading lines, he really seems like he knows baseball (hell, I learned not to bunt my #3, #4, or #5 batters because of him). Too bad he doesn’t convince anyone else of his acting talent. His second best movie is American Pie 2 as “High School Guy”.

Timothy Busfield – Best known for the line “Don’t sell the farm” from Field of Dreams, Tim is pretty awesome in this flick as well. He plays the usual “old-time player/coach that hits on the main kid’s semi-hot mom” role.

Jonathan Silverman – My favorite character. He figures out how many hours it took for those two guys to paint the house. He also had the glove pump-up thing and the water balloon shenanigans. When your last name is Bowers, you can’t really help but be the team cut-up.

Dennis Farina – Probably the best actor in the movie. Went on to Law and Order fame as well as played a pretty awesome bad-ass in Snatch.

Plot Summary

Billy’s grandfather dies and leaves him ownership of the Twins (wish it was the Pirates). When Dennis Farina doesn’t stop being what I would figure Dennis Farina truly is like, Billy fires him. After impressing the assistant coach by explaining one game situation, he activates himself as coach. After the usual kid antics and the team starts winning, Billy gets sour and forgets his friends. Then he remembers them, and they make it to the playoffs. However, in a nice twist, they lose (only movie besides Friday Night Lights where I can think of this happening). But everyone’s happy and the old player gets the mom.

Shaky Premises:

Kids would fish for fun.

Someone wouldn’t know the horse’s name was Friday.

Probably the best thing Rickey Henderson has done in the past 20 years, and he didn’t actually appear in the movie.

The daughter of the owner of a baseball team would be single. Really? Not many guys out there would bend over backwards for the tickets alone?

Best Lines

Joey: If I owned the Twins, I wouldn’t even show up here. I’d just hire a bunch of scientists to do my homework. I mean, if you’re rich you don’t have to be smart. That’s the whole beauty of this country.

O’Farrell: Hey ‘Blackout! I didn’t get you for your curve ball. I don’t like your curve. I hate your curve. You know why? Because the damn thing don’t curve!

Do you think in his whole life, Batman ever ate at McDonalds or KFC?

Final Thoughts

If you don’t believe me about this movie, you need to check it out again. It really is better than you remember, though still ridiculously corny. But trust me, it’s not the same movie as when you were nine.