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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Where Did the Great Hollywood Baseball Movie Go?

The silent spaces in baseball used to be filled in by novelists and filmmakers. They supplied quick-witted, slang-driven repartee that felt both revelatory and reassuring for dugout conversations and meetings on the mound. The makers of films like 1989’s “Major League” and 1988’s “Eight Men Out” gave us the thoughts of the batters as they dug into the box, the catcher’s mantras and occasional trash talk, the umpire’s endless exasperation. And while all that may have been fantasy, it convinced you that what you couldn’t hear or see while watching a baseball game could be translated directly into cornfed American English.

Some mix of skyrocketing salaries, the steroid-era hangover and camera technology has rubbed away that implicit charm. Relatable baseball heroes are in retreat — and Hollywood seems to have lost interest in creating them. Over the past decade, there have been only four major studio baseball releases. Compare that with the late ’80s and early ’90s, when a handful of baseball movies came out nearly every year, including classics like “Bull Durham,” “Major League,” “Field of Dreams” and “A League of Their Own.”

Phil Alden Robinson, the director of 1989’s “Field of Dreams,” attributes the decline in the number of baseball movies to Hollywood’s need to court foreign audiences and financing — despite increasing numbers of international players in the majors. He also acknowledges a cultural shift. Two decades ago, baseball and its sepia-toned past could stand in for any number of sentimental ideas about the country. No longer. Robinson says football might better fit the American psyche, “a reflection of more violent times.” He believes he could probably scrape together the money to make “Field of Dreams” today, but, he told me, “it would have been a lot less money.”

Baseball’s visual clock, which once kept time for a changing country, now seems frozen.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Selig Years, Part Three: Baseball’s Current Position

MLB is an increasingly dominant hegemon on the American and the global baseball scene. That hegemony affects almost every pitch that is thrown in the United States, from youth baseball all the way up to the World Series. It is a product of a confluence of events largely outside the realm of baseball, including such developments as the civil rights movement and population shifts following World War II. MLB’s domination of the sport was not inevitable, but that is what has happened over the past fifty or sixty years. Just as it was not inevitable, it is also not irreversible.

gehrig97 Posted: January 10, 2017 at 09:27 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese baseball, major league, minor leagues, nba, nfl, rob manfred, selig, wbc

 

 

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