I have no problem with outlandish story lines and far-fetched plots. It's Hollywood, and movies are best appreciated when the audience suspends their disbelief and accepts whatever's on the screen as a possible scenario. Films offer us a chance to use our imagination- stretch our concepts of what's real and tangible, and be taken away by a story.
I get that, I'm all for it. But what I can't stand are mistakes stemming from lack of attention to detail, especially in sports movies.
So while watching Rookie of the Year the other night, I was less concerned with the fact that a 12-year old was the focal point of the Cubs' bullpen than I was with the idea of Henry Rowengartner wearing blue jeans in his Little League game at the beginning of the movie.
You're kidding me- jeans? What self-respecting Little Leaguer shows up to his game rockin dungarees? Not one who expects to play, or walk away from the field without a wedgie, I assure you. "Man, I wonder why no one takes me seriously at baseball. I get no respect- I show up to games with my jersey untucked and wearing denim pants, what could be the problem?"
Another thing that leaves me scratching my head is the press conference scene. A reporter asks Henry the obvious question that immediately comes to mind when you discover your home town team has just signed a 12-year old right-hander: "Can you pitch?" Henry assures the media that he can indeed pitch, but what happens next is inexplicable:
The reporter tosses Henry a baseball- almost taunting the newest Cub- urging him to "Prove it." A ridiculous move in the first place, but Henry's response is even more absurd. What does he do?
He cocks his arm back, ready to throw a 95 MPH heater into the sea of reporters. Are you joking- the kid gets rattled this easily? With mental instability like that, he won't be Big League ready until he's at least 14. Luckily the owner's sleezy nephew was there to grab his arm and stop him, saving dozens of innocent lives.
Another thing that bothered me was simply an error of detail. Henry is doing a load of laundry in the basement, implementing a move that had kids everywhere begging their Moms to help load the washing machine. He goes into a full windup and hurls the soap toward the strike zone sized open door, hitting his target and yelling "Striiiiike one!"
But wait- didn't he just announce that it was full count while doing his imaginary play-by-play? Man, the batter's gotta be relieved- he coulda sworn he just struck out. How does stuff like this make it out of the editing room?
And lastly- does the opposing hitter who hits the bomb at Wrigley really think he needs to slide to avoid the tag after Henry throws a frozen rope from the bleachers into the plate? It went over the fence, it's a homer. Sure, it'd be more fun to have fans throwing cut-offs and nailing guys at the plate on a regular basis, but sliding? You're a Big Leaguer- learn the rules.
(Also, I'm pretty sure that whole hidden ball trick with the rosin bag is some type of balk.)
So, am I embarrassed that I recently spent two hours watching Rookie of the Year, and then went and devoted even more time to write about it? No, I'm not- and I'll tell ya why.
1) It was on TV. Had I NetFlix'ed it or even popped in my own copy of the DVD, sure I'd feel a little self-conscious. But it was on TV, and we all know that you get a free pass for watching bad movies if they're on TV. Right? And if that's not true, then "There was nothing else on."
2) As a boy, I loved this movie- every kid of my generation did. Although I look back on such movies today and realize how bad they really are- Mighty Ducks, Little Giants, the list goes on- I will always have a soft spot for these childhood classics. I'm aware of how much joy they once brought me- they bring back great memories, and I'm only slightly embarrassed that I can still quote the majority of the lines verbatim.
3) Pitching Coach Phil Brickma makes this movie enjoyable even today.
Where is Henry Rowengartner now?
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