Dec 29

Baseball Movies For The Snowed In; Liking Kevin Costner And John Cusak

Saturday afternoon and it’s coming down. With no college games worth watching, channel surfacing has brought me to “Bull Durham,” one of my favorite baseball movies. Is there a better time to watch a baseball movie than during a blizzard?

Most baseball movies, actually sports movies in general don’t come across as believable because it is hard to duplicate the game-action scenes. Robert Redford had a decent swing in “The Natural,” but the movie lost me with the home run that blew up the lights and hitting the cover off the ball. I realize Hollywood takes its liberties, but that’s too much.

I like “Bull Durham,” but it’s not my favorite baseball movie. Not close. Maybe I expect too much, but the more I see it there’s more I find unbelievable. For one thing, nobody will hang around long enough to hit 247 minor league home runs.

Oh well, I guess I’m being too picky.

That being said, the following are my three favorite baseball movies:

1) FIELD OF DREAMS: There’s nothing realistic about this movie, but you go into it knowing it is a fantasy. This is a movie about fathers and sons as much as it is baseball, but it’s more about the bond between fathers and sons that is baseball. To me, that’s powerful and timeless.

There’s a limit on the baseball action scenes and Ray Liotta has a good swing for a right-handed hitter. Too bad Shoeless Joe Jackson was left-handed. That’s unforgivable. There’s such a thing as having a Hollywood license, but that’s just weak. Couldn’t they have reversed the film or something similar?

2) EIGHT MEN OUT: This is a gem. It’s one of those films, like my all time favorite, “Casablanca,” that I’ll stop on it whenever I channel surf. I’m a history buff and this is almost a historical documentary. The action scenes are believable and they got Shoeless Joe’s swing down. I thought John Cusak as Buck Weaver was great, beginning with his scenes with the street kids and concluding with end when he watched Shoeless Joe in a semi-pro game.

3) COBB: Tommy Lee Jones is good in just about everything and this is no exception. If you’ve read the book, this was dead on. It showed what a miserable person Ty Cobb was, but also how driven and intense player, one who hated Babe Ruth.

I thought the saddest part of the movie was the scene at the Hall of Fame when Cobb’s former teammates and colleagues wanted nothing to do with him and shunned him at a party. It was akin to the book about Johnny Carson when his former classmates ignored him at a high school reunion.

I guess “Bull Durham” is fourth. Major League 1 was humorous. Major League 2 was reheating a souffle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 28

Upon further review; time for more replay in baseball.

Sorry for the late post, but it has been a rough day. I think I might have come down with what’s been going through the Mets’ clubhouse.

REYES: Ump blew call big time last night.

Anyway, like you I saw the play involving Jose Reyes at third base last night. Umpire Marvin Hudson blew it on all levels, from not seeing the play, to falling for the acting of Washington’s third baseman Jerry , to making a bad call, to not asking for help.

I don’t think he was in proper position to make the call in the first place.

Reyes was clearly safe, and his animated protest illustrates to me he knew he was in there and he never left the bag. The Mets were fortunate the blown play didn’t cost them the game. MLB odds were not affected.

Umpires are going to miss calls, that’s part of the game. Nobody is perfect, and that includes umpires. But, to blow it so bad, and not even hear a comment from him later, borders on being reprehensible. I want the umpires to be as accountable as the players. The goal is to get the play right, and last night they didn’t.

Since getting it correct is the goal, it is time to expand the use of instant replay. It is implemented on home runs and it is time for use on the bases. The extra three or four minutes it would add to the game is worth it for the goal of getting it right.

It shouldn’t be too hard because the bases are fixed locations, just like fair and foul, and the walls on homers. Cameras on fixed locations could ascertain in the runner came off the bag, whether the fielder applied the tag and if the tag was on time.

They’ll never have instant replay on balls and strikes, but having it on the bases is the logical next step. The umpiring has been on decline for several years and doesn’t appear to be getting any better. The game is getting faster and faster, and it is expected calls will be missed. But, that shouldn’t be used as an excuse to accept poor performance from the umpires.

It is bad enough there’s no consistency behind the plate, but Major League Baseball shouldn’t have to endure the same on the bases, especially when that would be an easy one to fix.

The sport is making a pile of money and there should be a fifth umpire located in the press box with a monitor to evaluate the replay. Enough is enough, get it right.

Nov 30

Updating the mess that is Perez

News Oliver Perez has thrown 10 scoreless innings in the Mexican Leagues is best greeted with a who-cares yawn. Afterall, we’ve heard news of such prowess during spring training and rehab assignments before only to watch him unravel when facing major league hitters.

Word his fastball barely touches 90 isn’t encouraging news. Low-velocity pitchers can be successful, but only if their control is impeccable and they know how to set up and work hitters. That has never been the case with Perez.

When Perez was having problems several years ago, I wondered how he might do in situational relief because he still had his fastball. But, that’s gone and he must rely on guile and smarts, both of which he has in short supply.

Even so, Perez will probably get a chance to earn a role in spring training because the Mets don’t have many options and it doesn’t appear as if they’ll be signing anything significant this winter.

They’d love to trade him, but that’s not going to happen. Nobody wants to pay $12 million for all that baggage. Even if the Mets eat a large portion of his contract, Perez isn’t attractive based on what has happened.

Cutting him loose is something we all think about, but Sandy Alderson isn’t likely to do that because the Mets don’t want to pay for nothing. Solution? They will role the dice in the hope Perez finds something that will make him viable. With Hisanori Takahashi gone and Pedro Feliciano declining arbitration today, Perez will get an opportunity by default.

Even when he was Coin Flip there was a chance of him throwing a good game. Now, there is none.

If Perez doesn’t have it in the spring and refuses a minor league assignment again, then I can see the Mets ditching him. Alderson is here to change the culture and I don’t see him putting up with another year of carrying Perez on the major league roster and not using him.

Perez’s attitude and performance last year was poisonous and no good can come with duplicating last year.

Nov 22

Mets to tab Collins as manager

Terry Collins is 61 years old and hasn’t managed in the major leagues in 11 years, but will become the 20th manager in Mets’ history.

I’m happy about the selection and don’t believe for a second the team doesn’t have its fingers on the pulse of its fans, many of whom remain infatuated with 1986 and preferred Wally Backman get the job.

I’m pleased with the selection because it showed the Mets followed through on their promise to make a thoughtful decision and didn’t cave to make the popular pick, the easy pick just to placate the emotions in the stands.

Doing so could have set the team back several years.

Sandy Alderson knows more about what’s going on than the fans and the media. He has a proven track record and was hired to rebuild this franchise. I trust he knows what he’s doing and want to see how things develop before trashing his pick.

Alderson conducted an exhaustive search of ten candidates before narrowing it down to Collins, Bob Melvin, Chip Hale and Backman. Collins’ reputation is one of being fiery – the description of Backman, who has 444 less career major league wins as a manager – and of being solid in player development, essential for a team looking to rebuild.

Hale is expected to remain with the organization, but no word yet on what will become of Melvin and Backman. Both worked for the Mets last season and could be brought back.

Alderson has a rebuilding plan and it won’t happen overnight. Collins will be given a two-year contract, time enough to lay a strong foundation.

The Mets are a team in transition. Their first step was to add a well-respected front office, which has now made it first move.

Let’s see how it works.

Nov 10

Mets’ manager interviews to have second phase

The Mets’ managerial search will include a second round of interviews with Terry Collins, Don Melvin and Wally Backman. No word on any others getting a second round.

Speculation is with the hiring of Paul DePodesta to oversee the minor leagues and player development departments, Collins has become a frontrunner for the managerial job.

Collins, the Mets’ minor league field coordinator last season, has a better grasp of the Mets’ minor league system overall than the other candidates overall. Melvin was a major league scout last season for the Mets and Backman was manager of their Single-A Brooklyn affiliate.

Both Collins and Melvin have major league managing experience.

Initially, it was thought the new manager should not have ties to the Mets, but all three do, as does Tim Tuefel.