Jason Lane has not hit a home run in the big leagues since 2007. Heck, he was out of the bigs for the past seven years too, only recently resurfacing as a relief pitcher. Yet a home run of his will be featured in a movie coming out soon.
The movie: “Boyhood,” the new movie from Richard Linklater of “Dazed and Confused” and “Before Sunrise” fame. The flick seems crazy-ambitious: it was filmed over 12 years with the same boy Ellar Coltrane, playing the lead role from age 6 to age 18, being shot a few days at a time on an annual basis. One year, they filmed a scene with Coltrane and Ethan Hawke, who plays the boy’s father. It takes place at an Astros game and they actually filmed it during a real Astros game. During filming, Lane gave them a gift. From Salon’s interview with Linklater, following a question about the level of improvisation in the film:
I was thinking about that scene at the Astros game, where that guy hits a home run. You couldn’t possibly have known that was going to happen.
Yeah, I just — in the script, it says “At Astros game.” There’s little dialogue: “Hey, Dad, do you have a job?” That’s all kind of worked out, but where to fit it in and how to do that, no. That was a wonderful collaboration with the unknown, and the film gods were with us. I’m pointing my camera for one inning, and the Astros are one of the worst offensive teams in baseball at this time. I’m pointing my camera down the third base line, basically the point of view of my people. I’m just saying, well, let’s just hope something happens. I need something! And then Jason Lane, who’s my favorite player of all time now, hits a home run. It’s not out of the frame, it’s not to center or right. It’s right down the line, in the shot. You know, it wasn’t planned, but it just happened.
I hope if “Boyhood” is nominated for an Academy Award that Lane gets an invite to the ceremony. With Adam Dunn going to the ceremony this year and maybe Lane next year, we could have a cool tradition on our hands.
Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:
Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.
The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?
Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.
The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.
I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: