Baseball Cinematic Universe

David knows all things movies and is writing a book about all things movies. Thanks to David, I have spent an inordinate amount of time this last week thinking about baseball movies and baseball scenes in movies. The following post is inspired by David.

On August 4, I want to walk in to the Grip ‘N’ Rip Baseball League tryout like Geena Davis in A League of Their Own — relaxed and cool and confident of my own abilities. I know there’s not space for everyone on a team, that “some of you’s are gonna have to go home,” as Madonna said. And it’s not that I wish ill of anyone else, I just don’t want to be one of the going-home-yous.

I fear my tryout will be a little bit like Major League. A comedy of poor throws and bad swings and former knee and ankle injuries wreaking havoc. I’m thankful for the couple months I have to try and get my body ready.

The Rookie is one of those movies that, if I’m channel surfing and come across it, I’ll stop channel surfing and watch it until it’s over. I love the tryout scene in it when Jim follows through on a commitment he made to his students while dragging his children along. “Don’t hurt yourself,” the scout says. These are the words that now catch my attention as I think about tryouts. Don’t hurt myself. Jim only tried out because of a promise he made to others and it radically changed his life as well as inspired millions. Baseball tells the best stories.

As a writer, I have plenty of years of practice being my own worst critic. I think I have a pretty honest assessment of my skills and limitations. I know that, should I make the cuts and be on a team, there’s a good chance I’ll be a benchwarmer. I have a lot of benchwarming experience. I know how to be a good teammate: warming up outfielders and cheering on my friends and keeping track of gloves and hats in between innings. And benchwarmers are important, too. Just ask Homer Simpson.

If I was given the freedom to write the ending for this baseball story, it wouldn’t end with a game-winning home run like The Natural. I don’t stand a chance hitting a ball over the 16-foot tall fence at U.S. Ballpark. But how cool are those Knights jerseys?

It wouldn’t end with a dramatic bunt like in Major League.

It would end like Field of Dreams, with a simple affirmation that I was good. Not that I was the best or great or an All-Star, but that I was a good ballplayer, and the silent acknowledgement that the real work I do as an author makes a tangible difference to friends new and old.

Only 100 days until tryouts.