Tag Archives: MLB

The Atlanta Braves group-hugs the World Series 2021

I began watching tonight’s game in the fourth inning and the Braves were in the lead with 3 to the Astros’ 0.  It still felt like either team could win it until sometime in the sixth inning when the Braves increased their lead to 6.  By the seventh inning, when that score went up again to 7, the probability of the Astros tying the game decreased significantly.  It felt a bit like being a football fan and knowing that the team you’re cheering for is going to win because they’re up by at least two touchdowns and maybe a field goal and there’s only two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

It’s so great to see men group-hug and blink away happy tears.  Oh yes, the Atlanta Braves beat the Houston Astros 7 to 0 in Game 6 and won the World Series.

It feels so good to see other people that excited and euphoric.

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Would You Wear the Green Sash?

Envision yourself on a quest where you must arrive at a specific location by Christmas and follow through with a promise you made the previous year.  If you keep your word, you will lose your head…literally.  A woman offers you a green sash (or is it more of a large ribbon? belt?) that as long as you keep it tied around your body, you will never die (or at least never be mortally wounded).  Do you accept?

Of course you accept…and to wonder anything more would be to venture into spoiler territory, which I shan’t do.

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Since the start of the year, I’ve only vaguely kept up with what movies would be playing in theatres in my city.  I still have not been to a movie theatre since I watched Tenet a year ago.  Among other films, I skipped The Green Knight (David Lowery, 2021) when it came to town.  As the months went by, I was no longer sure I would see it at all…and then it came out on DVD.

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Passively waiting until it was available on DVD was the right choice in the end.  I got to enjoy the subtitles and a few making-of featurettes, which really contributed to my positive regard for the film.  In one evening, I viewed the film nearly twice from start to to finish with a few repeat-watches of specific segments.  I wasn’t expecting to see a fox companion…that eventually talked [somewhat like the one from Lars von Trier‘s Antichrist (2007) but minus the ridiculous delivery].

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Not long after Gawain (Dev Patel) encounters the fox, he sees giant entities traversing across the landscape before him.  On the one hand, it shifts abruptly the viewer’s perception of the time-and-place and even genre of the film, but on the other hand, Gawain did just unknowingly eat some fungus that isn’t meant for dietary consumption.

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I really like The Green Knight and I don’t know why.  Perhaps it is due to the film’s fairy-tale tone and story.

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In sports headlines, the Atlanta Braves may bring competitive glory to this here city once again (in general but also for themselves and longtime Braves fans).  I remember the 90s Braves and watching them win the World Series in 1995 against Cleveland on TV.

This moment…the pile-up at the end:

Now that I think back on the last decade before the turn of the 21st century, there was a period of time when I watched a lot of televised baseball and so many of the games were of the Braves.  Why?  Now that decades have passed, I realize fully that it was because of Fred McGriff (who played first base) and Javier Lopez (the catcher).

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While we’re at this juncture in the corner of reminiscence, check out these videos:

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Et plus, the Atlanta Falcons beat the Miami Dolphins 30 to 28 (via 3 touchdowns and 3 field goals).  Get game summary, stats, and play-by-play here.

Pic creds: IMDB

42’s Legacy

By the time Audrey Hepburn had made her Hollywood debut and won a Best Actress Oscar for her role in Roman Holiday (William Wyler, 1953), Jackie Robinson had played major league baseball for six years with the Brooklyn Dodgers.  When he was inducted into the Baseball of Fame on July 23, 1962, Marilyn Monroe was still alive, James Bond* was a few months shy of being introduced to the public as a cinematic icon, and by the end of the year prisoners from the Bay of Pigs incident in Cuba went back home to the US.

In case you haven’t guessed, I watched the sports biopic 42 (Brian Helgeland, 2013).  It depicts key moments in Jackie Robinson’s life between 1945 and 1947, though the extent of historical accuracy in the sense of X actually happened in the manner presented is up for disclaimers.  Please see SBNation, History News Network, and ESPN for more information in that regard.

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The film opens with a historical context reel narrated by Wendell Smith (Andre Holland).  America might have saved the (modern) world from the horrible agendas of the Axis Powers but back home, a hero’s welcome is hard to come by…even harder if you aren’t white.  It is in this existentially fraught environment that Jackie Robinson (a terrific Chadwick Boseman) goes about doing what he was born to do: play baseball.

42 is a beautiful film; it’s wonderful to behold for its subtle humor and cinematography. The acting is excellent all around too (Nicole Beharie is especially impressive as Robinson’s fiancee, and it’s always good to see Christopher Meloni playing someone who isn’t doing detective work in a special victim’s unit).  The wardrobe department and set designers and decorators must have gone to great lengths to imbue the film with a historically authentic mise-en-scene.

Despite its visual splendor, it isn’t the tightest film.  When it ended, I wondered if it wouldn’t have been more effective as a series of vignettes juxtaposed against conversations from scholars, journalists, historians, and any surviving friend or relative of Robinson’s.  (Shameless, unaffiliated plug for the documentary about Jackie Robinson by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon that airs April 11 and 12 9pm and 11pm EST on your local PBS station — check your local listings!).  

As a sports biopic, 42 is formulaic, psychologically powerful without being excessively tense, and eager to fill you with hope.  The contrast between two specific sequences produces an effect that both clobbers and heals the heart.  The first ugly scene occurs when the Philadelphia Phillies are playing the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Phillies’ coach, Ben Chapman (Alan Tudyk), hurls so many racist remarks at Robinson that one wonders if there will be any reprieve from or retribution for having witnessed it…as a film-goer.**

If you don’t come away from that scene feeling as though you’re ashamed to be in the same “room” as the Phillies coach and want to travel back in time to apologize to Jackie Robinson on behalf of a less bigoted future, then you have achieved satori and there’s nothin’ left to see here.  If, though, you do find it uncomfortable hearing those words and remembering that, “hey, are we any kinder to each other in 2016 than the people of 1947 were to one another?”  (Peut-etre un peu? Pas du tout?), then, you’re going to demand for some kind of pay-back.

As a much needed and pleasantly surprising challenge to that scene is the second, marvelous sequence when the Dodgers play in Cincinnati.  Pee Wee Reese (Lucas Black) puts his arm around Robinson.  The camera films in a high-angle medium shot as he smiles and you can hear the crowd gasp.***  That unassuming but profound gesture of Pee Wee walking up to Jackie and sharing in the human experience is what the 21st century needs to remember.  You see, isn’t your heart mending already?

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And yet… what 42 and the Jesse Owens biopic Race have pushed me to consider is whether or not a person is worth a chance to be welcomed and accepted if a person doesn’t demonstrate a capacity for excellence in the performative, physiological, or intellectual achievements of being human.  Do the best and brightest have to take on the mantle of pathfinder before the lukewarm and decent can even have a place to get a better view?

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*Dr. No (Terence Young, 1962), starring Sean Connery, was the first Bond film to be released.

**SB Nation has a good summary of this moment.  And, every time I see Alan Tudyk I think of Steven Weber.

*** Note: According to the Jackie Robinson documentary by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon, that gesture was a thing of myth-making; it probably never really happened.  If it did, the press would’ve reported it and surely there’d have been witnesses…still living witnesses.

Peaking at Any Age

Some of us know people who peaked in high school or college, people who were never more radiant than at their prom or a fraternity ceremony or working at their college newspaper.  Some of us know people whose lives couldn’t have gotten any better the moment they were no longer single in the eyes of the law or the moment they finally realized what would truly give them happiness in a capitalist system.

And then there are people like Mike Fiers (fear-s?  fires?  fyeers?), who did something he will not soon be forgetting in the area of pitching in a baseball game.

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Have you peaked yet?

World Series 2010 Game 4: Giants hose down the Rangers

Being back in the Lone Star State was advantageous for the Texas Rangers as they defeated the San Francisco Giants 4 to 2 in the third game of the World Series last night.  Would Texas be able to reprise their victory in Game 4 or would San Francisco have something else in mind?  Televised by Fox, the Giants went to bat first and demonstrated a modicum amount more offensive spirit tonight than yesterday.  Their defense was spot-on when it was the Rangers turn to bat.

The Rangers demonstrated defensive confidence in the second inning that the Giants mirrored right back.  Infielder Freddy Sanchez made an incredible backwards leap of a catch (followed by backwards roll) in the bottom of the inning.  The top of the third inning saw the Giants put two runs onto the scoreboard (via outfielder Andres Torres and infielder Aubrey Huff).  San Francisco 2 and Texas 0.

Alexi Ogando had to leave pitching duties for Texas in the sixth inning due to an injury of some sort (pulled muscle?).   Darren Oliver replaced him.  The Giants got another run in the stop of the seventh inning when an Andres Torres hit enabled Edgar Renteria to get home.  San Francisco 3 and Texas 0.  Giants catcher Buster Poesy increased his team’s lead with a solo homerun in the top of the eighth inning.  San Francisco 4 and Texas 0.  Final score.

Pitchers for the Giants were Madison Bumgarner and Brian Wilson.

Pitchers for the Rangers were Tommy Hunter, Alexi Ogando, Darren Oliver, Darren O’Day, and Derek Holland.

Observations & Miscellania:

1.  Lyle Lovett sang “The Star Spangled Banner” with an accompanying cellist.  He wore a World Series jacket and looked severely dehydrated.  His version of the National Anthem was rather somber.

2.  The first pitch was thrown by former Presidents George Bush and son.  They rode in from the left gate.  Dad wore red and son wore blue.  Nolan Ryan served as catcher.  Barbara Bush was taking pictures with a digital camera.  Laura Bush sat next to her.  George W. actually threw the ball; his father stood back and watched.

3.  Joe Buck and Tim McCarver were commentators.  Buck wore a beige suit jacket, a lavender button-down shirt, and a navy-lavender diagonally striped tie.

4.  Andres Torres got himself to either second or third base in the top of the third inning.  Aubrey Huff hit the ball out of the park, and that produced the two runs.

5.  One of the spectators was dressed like a Jack Nicholson Joker with Heath Ledger hair and makeup.  Another spectator was dressed like Elvis, the latter years.  Another spectator was wearing a Captain America costume.

6.  Giants first baseman Travis Ishikawa nearly did a split in the bottom of the fourth when he stretch to catch Freddy Sanchez’s throw (to get Michael Young out at first).

7.  HOLY SAN MARIANAS TRENCH!!! In the top of the sixth inning, upon returning from commercial break, the telecast went to the press box where Joe Buck was pointing out the Halloween decor.  He also made a reference to Hamlet!  There was an off-screen skull and Buck remarked, “You can even say ‘Alas poor Yorrick, I knew him well, Horatio.”

8.  For me, the suspense in baseball results from both the pitching and the batting when there’s someone on a base.  Every time the batter strikes out, doesn’t bother, or some other scenario that prevents him from hitting the ball, it makes me think of a football team’s inability to get another set of downs.

9.  4 Troops sang “God Bless America” in the middle of the seventh inning.  They should’ve done it acapella.

Click here for the Giants’ roster and here for the Rangers’ roster.

Get game summary, stats, and play-by-play here.

Read about Game 1; read about Game 2.