by Josh Mosley
I’m not a huge believer in magic. Bunnies out of top hats? LAME!!! Sawing a lady in half? NOT BUYING IT!!!! Marko Jaric ever being able to pull lady like Adriana Lima without being rich? Okay … Got me there.
But here’s what I do believe- a good sports movie is magi-friggin’-cal. You take a movie where anything can happen once pen hits paper and sports, where we watch every game to hope to see if the impossible can happen.
With that being said, some of them go far BEYOND the ridiculous. So whenever the mood strikes me, I’m going to take a classic, hot fire baseball movie and prove why it absolutely would NEVER fly in real life. This week’s selection: Rookie of the Year.
PLOT- Henry Rowengartner (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is a suburban Chicago little leaguer who’s lack of throwing and catching prowess makes you wonder if he is, in fact, legally retarded or sporting a camel toe underneath that protective cup. He has two equally incompetent best friends and lives with a single mother who throws better than he does. Sweet dude. He idolizes “The Rocket” Chet Steadman (Gary Busey … Save your jokes for later) whose best days are behind him.
So old Hank is going out for a fly ball in the school yard when he slips on a ball he doesn’t see and tumbles to the ground in a fashion that was YouTube fodder before YouTube was cool. He goes to the doctor to find that the break in his arm has wound the tendons up so tight that he now has the ability to throw a fastball a gajillion miles an hour, something he does while sitting in center field at Wrigley during a Cubs game.
Hank proceeds to get signed by the Cubs and becomes a household name around the Chicagoland area. He’s on Sports Illustrated, he’s doing Pepsi commercials, he gets offered a spot on the Real World. I made that last one up but you get the idea. Through all of this, his mom’s douche boyfriend is managing him and getting jealous of the attention Henry’s mom is paying to Busey (because clearly Busey is a nice player and chicks go weak in the knees for him). The boyfriend tries to trade Henry, Henry refuses, etc.
Meanwhile the Cubs have managed to climb the standings, with one final game to clinch the division over the Mets. Steadman gets the start and has one last hurrah before Henry comes in to relieve him. Henry is THREE OUTS from the pennant when he slips on a strategically placed baseball and biffs his arm back to normal. He improvises with some hidden ball trick and a game of chicken with a base runner to get down to the final out. He’s confused, he has no idea what to do. He gets two strikes on the final batter, including an ode to Carlton Fisk with a foul/fair ball conundrum.
Puberty is a bitch huh, Henry? Suddenly he finds that his mom’s name in his glove only to find out that she was a badass ball player in the day (more on that later). She tells him to throw the floater for the final out. He strikes him out. The Cubs win, jubilation, euphoria and herpes spread throughout the crowd. Movie ends with Henry showing his World Series ring.
HERE’S MY PROBLEM- I got a few of them:
1.The Cubs winning the World Series. Hey guys, Clemens admitted steroid use, Americans found Bin Laden and Flava Flav put together a full coherent sentence. Wait, none of those would happen either.
2. No random fall on grass is going to mess my arm up to the point where I go from having no mechanics to being able to throw 100 mph cheese. That’s like breaking your dong and going two hours in your first post-break go around. Not gonna happen.
3. The school scenes were filmed at Haven Middle School in Evanston, just a few blocks from the home of fellow Swinger Andy Paschen. If this kind of plot doesn’t happen to Andy in real life, then I’m not buying it on screen.
4. I call bullshit on any movie that doesn’t portray Busey as a head case who still seems to be recovering from that last sip of bong water.
5. There is a little montage of Henry striking out some of the game’s great players of the time including Bobby Bonilla (hold your laughter), Ozzie Smith (LIE) and Barry Bonds (he was the best in the game when this movie came out in ’93 so this was a shock. Plus he wasn’t carrying an extra 50 pounds of ‘muscle’). If Henry Rowengartner is doing this, then sign me the fuck up.
6. His mom was a great ball player. Read that sentence again. HIS MOM WAS A GREAT BALL PLAYER!!! As a staunch chauvinist, this little twist at the end really chafes my nads. GO MEN!!!
7. Did I mention the Cubs winning it all? I did? Well I’m putting it down again.
There it is. I’m not discouraging anyone from enjoying this classic baseball movie in the future. Just know that none of this could happen to any of us at any point on any planet in any galaxy or lifetime. ENJOY THE FILM!!!