A daily accumulation of history and present as I follow the 2011 year through the baseball season and reflect on the glories and disappointments of the greatest game on Earth.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Terence Mann

It's a recognized fact that Kevin Costner became a baseball star at some point in his movie career. There was the great Bull Durham. There was the ok For Love of the Game. And there was Field of Dreams. People tend to gravitate more to Bull Durham or Field of Dreams depending on who they are. For me, I'm more about the love story of Bull Durham than I am about the science fiction of Field of Dreams, but I still like it. It's just not the greatest movie of all time in the way that Bull Durham is, but that said, it does have its moments.
For instance, there is no annoying wife in Bull Durham. Sure, there's Millie, and she needs to be fed to the sharks, but she can catch Nuke and let the religious guy do whatever he wants to her, but other than her daddy donating the scoreboard, she's probably replaceable. But getting back to the annoying wife and her incredibly annoying take on no censorship, perhaps Amy Madigan is the one character that really keeps me from truly enjoying Field of Dreams. She wasn't good for John Candy's Uncle Buck, and frankly, she's no poetic muse adjunct English teacher at a junior college for Kevin Costner's Ray Kinsella either. For in comparison to all of Madigan's annoyingness, Annie was still lovable (despite her sleeping with a different ball player every season)... even if she did end up hooking up with Tim Robbins' Nuke Laloosh for half of the season (and over 15 years of real seasons).
But it's more than just the leading woman, for there is also no James Earl Jones and his Darth Vadar voice in Bull Durham. There's no trip across country to follow the directions of the voice that is coming from afar to rescue him from a life of being angry at the world. There is no inner and outer journey for Costner's Ray Kinsella to go and ease their (the Black Sox) pain. There is no need to eventually create a field for Archibald Moonlight Graham to play out his only at bat (before he messes with Marcellus Wallace's suitcase and gets himself killed). There is no hokey injury to the daughter that can only be saved by Graham.
And moving back to James Earl Jones, in Bull Durham, there is no angry 60s radical that needs to find meaning in baseball again (in that, there is no speech: 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.
And I get that the speech is the key to the movie. My one friend is very nostalgic to the memories of his father and wanting to have the game of catch again. I understand what that means... but to me, the real speech is at the end of Bull Durham: I got a lotta time to hear your theories and I wanta hear every damn one of 'em...but right now I'm tired and I don't wanta think about baseball and I don't wanta think about Quantum Physics... I don't wanta think about nothing... Right now, I just wanta be.
And Annie can do that, too, and that's the answer because there are all the things that we believe in and the greatness of the game and there are the beautiful moments in life. Perhaps catch is a beautiful moment... if that's your memory, but sitting on the porch after the rain and just smelling the summer air and looking forward to the good life that will come when you're with the one that you love...
That's a good thing.
And for the way it makes me feel... to think about being with my wife in the Siesta Zone and enjoying life as it comes... it's all good.

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