Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The movie nerd part of me is going to ghostwrite this baseball post...

Welcome to another edition of unfairly taking vaguely amusing puff pieces ridiculously seriously. Because whenever I perceive an attack on my ironclad knowledge of pop culture and sports (mostly pop culture), you better believe I go on the warpath.

SI's unbelievably bizarrely named Extra Mustard has a photo gallery where they go about "Drafting Baseball Movie Characters". Here's the premise:

We've all seen some great players up on the big screen in movies -- both great, and absolutely horrendous -- about baseball. If a draft of baseball players from movies was ever held, this is what the 10 picks might look like.

One problem I think I should immediately raise is that they count it down from 10 to 1, so it isn't really a mock draft so much as a Top 10 list. Sounds like somebody didn't want to give David Letterman his due. Seriously, why claim it's a draft if you're not even going to bother going in the right order? Man, I'm already rankled. Rankled I say!

[By the way, if you find it singularly wrongheaded of me that this is the closest I've come to a baseball post lately...well, you're right.]

No. 10: Roy Hobbs, The Natural

Sure, he's arguably the best hitter anyone has ever seen, but his shocking numbers and ability to literally rip the cover off the ball at his advanced age raises red flags about the possible usage of performance-enhancing drugs. A potential Senate committee hearing, as well as his frequent destruction of stadium lights, may make Hobbs more trouble than he's worth.

Extra Mustard, you son of a bitch. How dare you suggest Roy Hobbs is a juicer. Why, Roy Hobbs is grit and hustle raised to their Platonic motherhumping ideals (read: Robert Redford is incredibly white). And hell, didn't you see the movie? The only performance-enhancer Roy Hobbs was on was *WHOOSH* MAGIC. And the day they figure out how to test for magic is the day Neifi Perez gets busted for stimulants (aw, shit).

Also, since I'm taking the logic of this stupid list absurdly seriously, I need to point out the crack about his age suggests you're getting Hobbs after the end of the film, or at least after most of the film's events have elapsed. This is relevant for later.

No. 9: Ed, Ed

The only thing less plausible than a chimp playing Minor League Baseball is Matt LeBlanc having the ability to throw 125 miles per hour. Although "Ed" was one of the worst films ever made -- but arguably not the worst movie ever made by a star of "Friends" -- putting a chimp on the field is a guaranteed way for a struggling franchise to put people in the seats.

Wouldn't the better pick from this movie be, you know, the dude with the 125 mph fastball? I mean, beyond the whole being human thing, his pitch is at least twenty miles per hour faster than even the wildest claims in fastball history. Also, the ninth pick - the "take this chimp before Roy Hobbs" pick, if you will - is admittedly just a publicity stunt. Pretty sure you don't need to draft a publicity stunt, dude; thing about them is, generally speaking, they'll do pretty much anything if you give them attention. Or, in this case, delicious bananas.

No. 8: Bobby Rayburn, The Fan

A change of scenery should do wonders for this former three-time MVP who looks an awful lot like a mustachioed, pre-juiced Barry Bonds. He may have had a poor year with the Giants recently, but you wouldn't play all that well either if you couldn't get your lucky number and had Robert DeNiro stalking you.

Wait, so Roy Hobbs is a PED risk, but a blatant Barry Bonds impersonation isn't? Extra Mustard, sometimes I wonder about your list credentials.

No. 7: Henry Rowengartner, Rookie of the Year<

Get past the child labor laws and you have a 12-year-old who had the best "Tommy John Surgery" of all-time and can now throw 103 mph.

First of all, putting Tommy John Surgery in quotes like that is lame. Two major reasons:

1. It wasn't Tommy John surgery. It wasn't anything like Tommy John surgery. Tommy John surgery, sometimes known as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, is where the tendon in the elbow is replaced with a tendon from somewhere else in the body. Everybody knows Rowengartner (or Rulenfurter, as crusty manager Sal Martinella dubbed him) got that way because his tendons healed a little tight. So yeah, you can't turn that into Tommy John surgery by putting it in quotes.
2. "Surgery" shouldn't be capitalized there, and I'm sure it's only the quotes that made them feel justified doing it. Unnecessary capitalization makes me sick.

My other big problem is that the Roy Hobbs thing seemed to establish that you're drafting the character after the events of the movie. Which, for those of us familiar with the plot of Rookie of the Year (and honestly, who isn't?), means you're getting Henry Rowengartner after his fastball had totally disappeared and he had to get by on such classics as the hidden ball trick and the eephus pitch. So yeah...if you want a twelve-year-old Jamie Moyer, be my guest.

(Not that Jamie Moyer isn't awesome in his way, of course, but come on, Extra Mustard, you have to play by your random, arbitrary rules for your weird bullshit list thingy. Otherwise there'd be anarchy, I tell you!)

No. 6: Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn, Major League

Despite the current trend of hard-throwing closers around the league, a history of run-ins with the law and a tragically dated haircut prevents Ricky from being taken any higher than sixth.

A closer? At number six overall? If I gave a shit about fantasy baseball, I imagine now is when I would derisively invite Extra Mustard to join my keeper league. Or something. (This same argument applies to Rowengartner as well, come to think of it.)

Also, in re the whole "dated hair" thing, I have to admit that no one with a bad haircut could ever dominate in baseball these days. Right Randy?

Ya darn tootin'.

(And yes, I'm seriously deconstructing a joke piece of analysis in a joke article. I'm completely aware of that. I'd feel worse about it if this article was actually, you know, good.)

No. 5: Amanda Wurlitzer, Bad News Bears

Any team would love to throw Amanda out on the hill once every five days. She's got an arsenal of pitches comparable to Dice-K, and mental toughness that comes from being the only girl in an all-boys league. The only drawback of this innings eater is fear of overuse by her first coach, Morris Buttermaker, who clearly didn't believe in pitch counts.

It's W-H-urlitzer, you misspelling putz (and yes, I misspelled "misspelling" the first time around). Problems with the analysis here...

1. A Little League pitcher that even this article concedes is an innings eater is ahead of Roy Hobbs and the unholy fusion of Barry Bonds and Wesley Snipes.
2. Part of the case for is based on "mental toughness." That's cognitive grittiness, that is, and I'm not going to stand for it! Pshaw!
3. Kelly Leak was clearly the best player on that team. I'd say more, but then I'd risk revealing I'm secretly Bill Simmons. Or at least his dark reflection.
4. Take a look at the accompanying photo:

That's not Tatum O'Neal. That's Sammi Kane from the Billy Bob version. Extra Mustard, once again, you are one sick son of a bitch. If you're going to do this inane list, at least have the common decency to quote the classics. And, by classics, I mean "had Walter Matthau and an adorable bigot."

No. 4: Montgomery Brewster, Brewster's Millions

For a team strapped for cash, this would be the ultimate "Moneyball" pick. This minor leaguer may get knocked around a bit in the Bigs, but he's the only player in the draft who would actually give $30 million back to the franchise that signs him. Somewhere Billy Beane is salivating.

Why am I guessing Donald Fehr would never, ever let that happen? Oh, and does MLB allow player-owners (which I'm almost certain Brewster would have to be for this scheme to work)? I'd throw in jokes, but on matters financial I'm deadly serious.

No. 3: Dottie Hinson, A League of Their Own

Who better to build a team around than a catcher who can call a great game, handle prima donna pitchers and flat out mash? Don't think she's tough enough? Name one major league catcher today who would have the guts to slide into second base to break up a double play while wearing a skirt.

Does Oscar De La Hoya count as a catcher? Sorry, that was a low blow. I would have used John Maine, which at least is sort of close to baseball catcher, but that story got discredited. I also wish they'd just said "major league player" instead of "major league catcher" so that I could have claimed Eckstein and Erstad are so gritty that obviously they'd do it. You know, because they just want to play. Or something. I dunno, that was kinda forced. Way to not set me up, Extra Mustard. Let's just move on.

No. 2: Ebby Calvin "Nuke" Laloosh, Bull Durham

Once described as "a million dollar arm with a 10 cent head," scouts agree

Wait, wait, I've got it! I've got the perfect response to the whole skirt/catcher thing. I mean, I'm a total asshole for even thinking of it, but whatever, it's the correct joke response, even if it's the cheapest of cheap shots. Extra Mustard, care to set me up again?

Name one major league catcher today who would have the guts to slide into second base to break up a double play while wearing a skirt.

Maybe...Mike Piazza?

No. 2: Ebby Calvin "Nuke" Laloosh, Bull Durham

Once described as "a million dollar arm with a 10 cent head," scouts agree the tutelage he received from journeyman Crash Davis during his stay in Single A ball has helped turn this former wild flamethrower into a top-flight pitcher.

Sure, why the hell not? I'm still basking in the sleazy glow of the Piazza thing.

No. 1: Jack Elliott, Mr. Baseball

Sure, he's a bit on the old side, but he'll show how much he appreciates playing major league baseball again here in the states by hustling harder than he ever has before just to avoid going back to play for the Nagoya Dragons. He will also be a huge draw with the ladies thanks to the best baseball mustache since Gorman Thomas.

Great, the number one pick is some Japan League exile who hustles a lot. I see it all now - this baseball draft of fictional characters is based on bullshit intangibles, isn't it? Where's the sabermetrics, Extra Mustard? Where's the sabermetrics?!

Seriously, here's who should have been on the list once you consider VORP and mLVR and so forth. I'll even do it from 1 to 10, you know, like a fucking draft. Oh, and since I'm making my own rules, you get these guys in their primes, whether that's what you see in the movie or not.

1. Steve Nebraska, The Scout: "...a young American with a perfectly consistent 100 mph fastball and who hits home runs on seemingly each at bat" (Wikipedia). For goodness sake, the dude threw an 81-pitch perfect game. There are schoolyard baseball fantasies with more realism than that.
2. Alejandro "Butch" Heddo, Rookie of the Year: Henry Rowengartner's nemesis got his job the old-fashioned way...by injecting truly heroic amounts of steroids.
3. Ty Cobb, Cobb: You might think that the character Tommy Lee Jones plays shouldn't count because Ty Cobb was real. That's only partially correct - the real Ty Cobb was a thousand times more vile. Since the movie Cobb doesn't randomly stab any bellhops, he can't be considered a true adaptation of the historical Cobb.
4. Benjamin Franklin "Benny the Jet" Rodriguez, The Sandlot: Grew up to be the spitting image of Rafael Palmeiro, which mostly is a good thing. Mostly.
5. Stan Ross, Mr. 3000: Not sure about his slugging, but he must have put up some pretty solid 8.0 WARPs for a long time to reach 3000.
6. Mighty Casey, Casey at the Bat: No idea how they made a 60 minute silent film out of the poem, but Casey's patience at the plate equals high OBP. Don't be deceived by his supposed lack of clutch.
7. Henry "Author" Wiggen, Bang the Drum Slowly: Basically Tom Seaver.
8. Billy Chapel, For Love of the Game: Easily the most talented Kevin Costner baseball character, I think he's supposed to be Tom Glavine or something.
9. "Esquire" Joe Callaway, The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings: So good that he apparently broke the color barrier ten years early. Loses points for being liked by Scoop Jackson. Or because I'm a racist. Take your pick.
10. Kelly Leak, The Bad News Bears: I know he's young, but think of him as the Christian Laettner of the draft. And yes, I know I'm not putting together a baseball team, I'm doing a draft. Why should I have to play by my own rules?

Ah, hypocrisy. Sweet, sweet hypocrisy.


Chris W said...


Archie Micklewhite said...

Like the label says, "I need to watch more baseball movies." I'm happy to switch Kelly Leak out in favor of Parkman if you'd prefer.