Mar 02

My Favorite Baseball Movies: Field Of Dreams

It’s difficult to make a good baseball movie because of the physical requirements involved from the actors. Quite simply, some of them can’t go through the swinging and throwing motions that make them look realistic.

imgresThere are also unbelievable story lines, historical inaccuracies and the concept of editorial license gone out of control. Even so, in honor of the Academy Awards tonight, I’d like to share with you my top five favorite baseball movies:

FIELD OF DREAMS: It’s the story here matters, plus the bond between fathers and sons, which is the essence behind the film. The acting is superb and the writing terrific. James Earl Jones’ monologue on baseball being woven into the fabric of American history and life is priceless.  Yes, they have Ray Liotta – Shoeless Joe – batting right-handed, which really is unforgivable, like wearing cross trainers in a gladiator movie. Even so, the interaction between Kevin Costner and Jones is terrific, and Burt Lancaster, for a small role, is a driving force in the film. And, the end, when Costner meets his dad, is a powerful scene. “Dad, wanna have a catch?’’

EIGHT MEN OUT: They at least have Shoeless Joe batting left-handed in this one, but it is a realistic telling of a historical story that carries this one for me. The in-game scenes were well done and there doesn’t appear to be the stretching of editorial license, as was the case in *61. Another thing I like in this film is there is no super star actor that diverts your attention from the story. I liked this movie even before Charlie Sheen’s “Two And A Half Men.’’  I liked everything about this movie, and loved the ending when John Cusack was watching a Jackson in a semi-pro game twenty years later.

COBB: Yes, that was Roger Clemens in a bit role. By the way, for his tough guy reputation, had Clemens played in Ty Cobb’s era he would’ve been eaten alive. Cobb would have bunted down the first base line and run up his back. No telling what Cobb would have done if Clemens threw a piece of a broken bat at him. It’s a powerful biography that shows Tommy Lee Jones depicting Cobb in a less than flattering light.

PRIDE OF THE YANKEES: Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig in a sentimental tearjerker. Of course liberties were taken, but the movie reveals the human and fragile side that was Gehrig. There were times when it was hard to tell whether Cooper was playing Gehrig or Will Kane, the stoic sheriff who stood up to the evil Frank Miller to save the town.

42: The most realistic version of the Jackie Robinson story ever on the screen. The scene when Branch Rickey – played by Harrison Ford – tries to bait Robinson in his office is as good as it gets. “I want a player with the guts not to fight back,’’ Rickey tells Robinson before offering him that historic contract. It’s hard to pull off a historic moment, but they got it right when Pee Wee Reese put his arm around Robinson. One other thing, Chris Merloni plays a good Leo Durocher, put I still see him as Detective Elliot Stabler.

 

MISSING THE CUT

Bull Durham: Fun movie, but too many clichés. Did love the scene on the mound when they were figuring out what to wedding present to get. Tim Robbins as Nuke LaLoosh just didn’t look like a pitcher.

For the Love of the Game: Another with Kevin Costner. They lost me when Costner’s catcher wore his Tigers cap outside the stadium. That just doesn’t happen.

Bang the Drum Slowly: Sorry, too sappy. Plus, Robert DeNiro is a gangster.

The Natural: I know what they were trying to get at, but hitters don’t carry homemade bats in a violin case and knock the cover off the ball.

I would love to know your favorites.

Mar 02

Mets Today: Matsuzaka Starts Against Cardinals; Throw Dates For Parnell, Niese And Colon

The fifth-starter candidate having the inside track, Daisuke Matsuzaka, will start today against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Also scheduled to pitch for the Mets is Jeurys Familia, Jose Valverde, Steven Matz, Carlos Torres, Joel Carreno and Jack Leathersich.

Eric Young, who missed the first two exhibition games with a strained side muscle, will make the trip to Jupiter, Fla. If he’s traveling, bet on him playing.

METS BATTING ORDER

Juan Lagares, cf

Ruben Tejada, ss

Curtis Granderson, rf

Ike Davis, 1b

Josh Satin, 3b

Brandon Allen, dh

Travis d’Arnaud, c

Andrew Brown, lf

Wilmer Flores, 2b

In addition:

* Closer Bobby Parnell, who pitched batting practice Saturday, is penciled in to pitch in a “B’’ game Thursday against Houston in Kissimmee.

* Also scheduled to throw that day will be Jonathon Niese and Bartolo Colon.

ON DECK: In honor of Oscar, my favorite baseball movies

Mar 01

Mets Wrap: Good News On Lannan, Parnell; Duda Homers

On the bright side for the New York Mets, Lucas Duda homered and has hit the ball hard in the first two exhibition games.

He didn’t pitch in the game, but closer Bobby Parnell threw batting practice, and said, “I’ll be good to go,’’ when asked about being ready for Opening Day.

Also, fifth-starter candidate John Lannan threw two scoreless innings in his first game action since undergoing surgery to repair a tendon linking the thigh muscles to his left knee.

“I was just grateful to be back out there and feel pretty good,’’ Lannan said.

Other than that, there wasn’t much positive Saturday for the Mets, who lost 9-1 to the Marlins, including Kyle Farnsworth, 37, who gave up a homer and whose fastball was 88 mph.

But, it is early.

Mar 01

Mets Week In Review: Niese, Davis, Trade Rumors

Since injuries to starting pitchers are more important than temper tantrums by struggling first basemen, undoubtedly the most important news item of the week was the MRI on left-hander Jon Niese.

The MRI showed no structural damage, but revealed weakness in the back area of the shoulder, which Niese took responsibility for, saying he didn’t work that enough.

That disclosure raised numerous questions about the Mets’ handling of the injury.

Niese’s first exhibition start, Tuesday against Houston, will be pushed back. He is to resume throwing and will be given a set of exercises designed to strengthen the back area of his shoulder.

Manager Terry Collins named Niese his Opening Day starter, and so far that hasn’t changed.

Also this week:

* Ike Davis verbally sparred with New York Post reporter Mike Puma, saying he didn’t “approve’’ of his story the first baseman concealed an oblique injury last year. Davis said he didn’t want to disclose the injury because it was about the time he was to be sent to Triple-A Las Vegas and didn’t want it to come off as making excuses.

Davis did not refute the accuracy of the story and produced a line-drive quote: “I sucked last year because I sucked.’’

However, Puma did him one better, and when asked what would happen if Davis took a swing at him, said: “He might miss.’’

* In the wake of the Davis story, Collins said he wants players to reveal injuries and indicated last year could have been different for Davis had he done so. Later, Niese said he didn’t want to tell anybody about his shoulder ailment.

* In a meeting with his staff, general manager Sandy Alderson said he thought 90 victories were possible, which would be a 20 percent improvement. Talk about setting the bar high.

* The Mets remain ambivalent about Ruben Tejada being their Opening Day shortstop. Alderson did not close the door on free agent Stephen Drew and talked trade with Seattle about Nick Franklin.

* Prospect Noah Syndergaard struck out five in two innings in Thursday’s intrasquad game. Syndergaard threw a nasty curve and fastball that topped out a 97 mph. His first exhibition start is scheduled for Monday against Atlanta.

* Outfielder Eric Young and pitcher Bartolo Colon missed time with muscle strains.

* Collins announced his tentative starting rotation: Niese, Colon, Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler and the fifth starter, which is to come from the group of Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lannan and Jenrry Mejia.

* Collins said he would ease David Wright and Daniel Murphy into games, and indicated Wilmer Flores would get time at shortstop.

Mar 01

Bobby Parnell Throws BP; Line-ups Against Miami

New York Mets closer Bobby Parnell said he cleared a “mental hurdle’’ after throwing a 35-pitch batting practice this morning. Parnell threw to David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Eric Young. He threw a mix of curveballs and fastballs.

Parnell was especially satisfied with his command, and that he experienced no discomfort when he followed batted balls with his head.

“Going early like this, you don’t expect to be perfect,’’ Parnell told reporters. “By no means was I, but everything was down and I feel like I can work off that really well. … I didn’t know how I’d react to balls off the bat. I try not to do a lot of herky-jerky stuff with my neck.’’

Incidentally, Parnell’s session marked the first on-field work for Young, who had been sidelined with a strained muscle in his side.

Young is not expected to play in an exhibition game until early next week.

In another injury-related item, Jonathon Niese (sore shoulder) and Bartolo Colon (tight calf) played catch. There is no word when either will throw off a mound next.

Here’s today’s starting line-up against Miami:

Chris Young, cf: Leading off for the second straight game.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, rf: Seems to have fallen off the map.

Andrew Brown, dh: Likely minor league candidate.

Lucas Duda, 1b: Had a hit Friday. Makes first appearance at first.

Zach Lutz, 3b: Replaces Wright again.

Taylor Teagarden, c: Makes first appearance.

Matt den Dekker, lf: Coming back from stomach virus

Anthony Seratelli, 2b: Long-shot to make team.

Omar Quintanilla, ss: Will stick as infield reserve.

John Lannan, lhp: Fifth-starter candidate.