Monday, December 22, 2008

I have loved baseball my entire life. It is my favorite sport to watch. I have been a New York Yankees fan since 1974 and I really hate the Boston Red Socks. So, it should be no surprise at # 11 is, Bull Durham and Field of Dreams

Now, I have no idea why but Kevin Costner and Baseball seem to like each other. Back in the late 80's he stared in both of my #11 films. In "Bull Durham", Kevin plays Crash Davis, a long time minor league baseball player, who is asked to mentor the teams new rookie pitcher "Nuke" LaLoosh (played by Tim Robbins). In "Field of Dreams" Kevin plays Iowas farmer Ray Kinsella who upon hearing voices, interprets them as a command to build a baseball diamond in his corn fields; he does, and Shoeless Joe Jackson returns to once again to play baseball.

A few years ago, I had drinks with the foreign Samsung Lions players and Hanwha Eagles Outfielder Jacob Cruz. We were talking about baseball and I asked them about "Bull Durham". Each of the players then told me a story about their time in the minor leagues and all 3 of them told me that they had had similar stories like Crash had had. I would say that is the main reason that I love the film "Bull Durham", It shows men who play baseball for a job money and for the love of the game.

But to really understand these films one has to know baseball. With the expat community here in Korea, a lot of the teachers have never seen a live game or watched a game on television. This is what could be a huge problem in understanding the little stories that all come together in both of these films.

What we see in this film is a career minor league player, "Crash" Davis, who is now back in Class "A" baseball. He is asked by management to try and mentor the latest million dollar arm, "Nuke" LaLoosh. As the film states, a million dollar arm and a dime (10 cents) brain to go with it.

We are also shown Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) romance "Nuke" to make him a better man and a baseball player because she, every year, has chosen a player on the Bulls to be her lover/student. She tells him to start to listen to "Crash". The next scene where its the pitcher talking to his catcher is pure baseball. They talk about where to throw strikes, how to win the crowd and how to scare the batters. When "Nuke" listens to his catcher, he becomes a great pitcher. When he tries to think for himself, he gives up a lot of home runs.

Annie likes Nuke but she is realizing that the man for her might actually be Crash and its a triangle that is played out until the end of the film. Nuke gets called up to pitch in the Major League of Baseball(MLB) and Crash is released. He is told by management that they will have a few coaching positions open up next season and they would love for him to be one. After Crash's season is over he goes to Annie and they become a couple.

For a film that was turned own by all of the major studios and was shot for only 9 million US$ Dollars, it really tells a great story of the game of baseball. The film was best said in his review for Sports Illustrated, by Steve Wulf. He wrote, "It's a good movie and a damn good baseball movie."

The film works because the stories are based on real people that the director Ron Shelton met while playing minor league baseball in the USA. The story about the baseball players needing the day off, so they turned on the water sprinklers at night, really happened in Amarillo, Texas. Annie is based off of many different baseball groupies that Shelton met. Every baseball team has a "Crash." Someone who keeps working in the minors, who hopes that one day he can play in MLB.

If you have never seen the film 'Bull Durham" then over the holiday season. please watch it and I think that you will like the movie.

Now for "Field of Dreams", I have shown this film to various ladies that I met though out my life and, to a core, none of them has ever figured out why I love this film. One even went to say, "Why did you want to rent this film? It's about baseball and corn." She did not get it.

The film is basically, For all of his life, a man was searching for his dreams. Then, one day, his dreams cam looking for him.

Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) is a novice farmer who becomes convinced by a mysterious voice that he is supposed to construct a baseball park in his corn field. One day he is walking in his corn field and he thinks that he hears a voice tell him to "Build it and he will come." He is then quickly shown a baseball field where his corn is growing. Ray thinks that he is going insane but he decides to make his baseball field.

He is also thinking about his dad, Ray's deceased father, John Kinsella, he loved baseball, the Chicago White Soxs and Shoeless Joe Jackson. (Now if you have no idea about Joe, then please click on this link and here for a better understanding of the man.)

He then decides to plow the field and replant the corn to try and save the farm, but later on that night, he sees Joe in the field. A shocked Ray comes out to the field to hit him some fly balls and pitch to him. Joe is thrilled to have a field on which to play, and asks if he can bring some friends. The line of the movie is stated when Joe ask Ray, "Is this Heaven?" when Ray states, "No it's Iowa."

The next night, all 8 players who were banned by the Black Soxs scandal show up to play at the field. Ray thinks that this was the reason but the voice has more roads that he must go on before its done.

The voice states, "Ease his pain," and he goes looking for Terence Mann (played by James Earl Jones), who had once written about the golden days of baseball and has retreated into a life of solitude. He convinces Terence to got to a Red Socks game where they both see a message about a 1920s ballplayer named Archibald "Moonlight" Graham (played by Burt Lancaster). The voice states to, "Go the Distance."

What I really liked about this part was when they found that Graham had died in 1972, they do research to find out why the man quit baseball. Later that night Ray goes out for a walk and is transported back to 1972 to meet Dr. Graham and the doctor tells him that he wanted to save lives as a doctor and not travel and stuck in the minor leagues. Ray does offer to take Dr. Graham to his "Field of Dreams" but the Dr. turns him down.

On the trip back to Iowa, they decide to pick up a young hitchhiker. After a brief talk of how the man is trying to find a way to play professional baseball, the young man introduces himself as Archie Graham. The younger version of Dr. Graham.

They all arrive at the field and Terence can see them all playing baseball. Ray is about to have the bank foreclose on his property and Terence tells ray not to do it and he states this speech about baseball

Terence Mann: Ray, people will come Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters.

The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.

He decides not to sell his farm and he slowly starts to look at Joe. The film ends with this moment when Ray asks Joe, is his pain healed?

Wikipedia.....Shoeless Joe then tells Ray, "If you build it, HE will come", and glances toward a player near home plate in catcher's equipment. The player removes his mask, and Ray recognizes his father, John, as a young man. Ray assumes the voice was Joe's: "It was you." Joe assures him, "No, Ray, it was you." Joe then walks across the field and disappears into the corn.

At his wife's suggestion, Ray introduces John to his granddaughter, Karin, catching himself before telling Karin who he is, and simply introducing him as "John". As his father is heading toward the outfield, to leave with the rest of the players, Ray asks his father to play catch, finally calling him "Dad", and father and son choke back tears. As they play catch, the viewer is pulled back and high above the field. A long line of cars approaches the baseball field, the trail of headlights extending to the horizon and the twilight.

To me it was perfect ending to a perfect movie.

It took me along time to really understand the ending of this film and I think I finally have it now.

I lost my father to cancer back in 2004 and I wish, like Ray did, that he could play a simple game of catch with the bot that he help raise into a man. To this day, I still miss our talks about boxing, baseball and life. I saw this film a few weeks ago and I was wishing that i could build a field and that me and my dad could play catch on it and just talk without and stupid b.s. that either me or him would bring into these talks. Just a simple game of catch.

In the end of this film, everyone's pain was released and it bothered them no more.

Please see both of my #11 films when you get the chance.

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