Trouble with “Trouble with the Curve”

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I haven’t seen the new Clint Eastwood baseball flick, “Trouble with the Curve,” but the reviews from people whose opinions on such matters I respect are starting to come in and it’s sounding dire.

First was Grant Brisbee, who gives a very detailed review, complete with spoiling plot points, so be warned. To be fair, he does explicitly say that his review is precisely so you don’t have to see it. And he really recommends that you don’t see it.

The second one comes from Emma Span. Who, you should know, spends one night a week intentionally watching awful movies and (from what I can tell anyway) enjoying them unironically, even if, as I suspect, the habit began out of an ironic impulse.  She will sit and tell you about how good movies like “Sharktopus” are, for crying out loud.

Like Grant, Emma pans “Trouble with the Curve” on its baseball merits (Grant goes on about how lame the larger, non-basebally elements are too).  The upshot: its portrayal of the baseball world is just terrible. The bad guy — the Billy Zabka character, really — is a paper thin caricature of a stats-oriented analyst. And indeed, would have been the straw-i-est strawman in history even if the movie was written in 2002 by a person who prayed to an altar of Billy Beane made out of TI-85 calculators.

The line from the anti-Eastwood that sums it all up:

“I don’t need to see him play! I’ve got it right here on my computer.”

Even RoboSaberGM would fire that guy on the spot for saying such a thing.

But hey, “Titanic” made a billion dollars even though its villain all but twirled his mustache while tying a maiden to the train tracks, so I suppose “Trouble with the Curve” will be OK.

For my part, I’m off to watch “Unforgiven” instead.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).