The Jackie Robinson movie “42” to open next April 15

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Just got a press release announcing that the Brian Helgeland film, “42,” the Jackie Robinson story, will open next year on April 15, the anniversary of Robinson’s entry into the big leagues.  They accompanied the announcement with this pic of actor Chadwick Boseman, who will play Robinson. Harrison Ford plays Branch Rickey.

I’m pretty stoked for this, not just because it’s a Robinson story, but because of Helgeland. He did the adaptation for one of my favorite flicks ever: “L.A. Confidential.” Based on how sprawling the book was, it was NOT an easy trick to get it into a workable motion picture, but he pulled it off. People’s lives — especially complex people like Robinson — aren’t always well-suited to the movies either, as a pile of good-but-flawed biopics over the years shows.  Here’s hoping that Helgeland can work that same kind of magic again.

We’re just gonna forget that he also wrote the Kevin Costner disaster “The Postman,” OK?

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?