Happy 40th Birthday, “The Bad News Bears”

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For me, it is essential for a movie to portray real human emotions and real human behavior. Which may sound crazy given how often I’ve made references to superhero movies and sci-fi and stuff around here. But it’s not crazy. Yes, I know that Tony Stark is a far-fetched creation, but the way he’s written and acted gives us a character that has a lot to say about ego and hubris and humor as a defense mechanism and stuff like that. If he wasn’t real on that level, “The Avengers” wouldn’t be a good movie, it’d just be a video game. Likewise, one of my favorite movies ever is “Dark City.” The premise is preposterous, but the characters all portray and embody real human emotions like loss and depression and nostalgia and things. I know it’s kind of out there to make the case for “realism” of such movies, but a movie only works if it shows real people doing real things on some level, even if we have to read into it a little bit to find it.

Same goes for baseball movies. People ask me why I don’t like “Field of Dreams.” It’s not because I’m heartless or pessimistic or whatever. I just don’t think it’s very real on a number of levels. No, not the stuff about ghosts coming out of a cornfield — like I said, I’m very pro-sci-fi and magical realism if it’s well done — but it’s not real on a human level. It taps into some pretty heavy human emotions at times, but it does so, in my view, in some pretty manipulative ways. I realize people love the movie, but what if I told you that you could tell a story about a father-son relationship that DIDN’T require one of the parties to be dead and the stakes to be made so preposterously high? “The Avengers” is a big superhero spectacle supported by some real human undercurrents. “Field of Dreams” tries to be a real human movie but it uses pseudo-deep magical realism in order to do the heavy lifting. Sorry, it’s just wrong to me. On the other hand, “Bull Durham” delievers the human parts of the movie with real human stuff while giving us some entertaining baseball as well.

Which brings us to the “The Bad News Bears.” Which came out 40 years ago. Today Dan Epstein has a great writeup on the flick at “Rolling Stone,” and as he notes, perhaps the greatest thing going for this classic is that it’s unflinchingly real. Those are real kids acting in the profane and crude ways kids really act. That’s a super flawed human being coaching them and the movie doesn’t give him the un-earned heart of gold so many other movies might. The baseball looks real. The setting looks real. It’s all so real and resonant, even if it came before a lot of you were born.

Anyway, it’s a great look at a great flick, so you should read it. Then when you’re done, as you always do, fill the comments up with vitriol about how horrible a person I am to not like “Field of Dreams.” I’ve heard it all before so I won’t be reading it. It’ll be like you’re having a catch with yourself.

“Have a catch.” Please. Like anyone in Iowa says that. GTFO here.

Pujols has 2 more RBIs, Cardinals beat Pirates 8-7 in 10

Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols drove in two more runs and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a two-run single in the third inning to push his career total to 2,218 RBIs. That came a night after he broke a tie with Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol then removed the 42-year-old Pujols at the end of the inning. St. Louis opens postseason play Friday when it hosts a best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Juan Yepez gave the Cardinals the win when he hit a tiebreaking single with one in the 10th inning off Chase De Jong (6-3) to score automatic runner Ben Deluzio.

“Tonight was interesting because you’re fairly scripted in who you want to use and who you don’t want to use and what you want tomorrow to look like so you can get ready for Friday,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one to still figure out a way to come out on top.”

The Cardinals threw out the potential tying run at home in the bottom of the 10th when automatic runner Kevin Newman tried to score from second base on Oneil Cruz‘s line single off the glove of first baseman Alec Burleson. The ball deflected to second baseman Brendon Donovan, who threw home to catcher Andrew Knizner.

The Pirates challenged the call, but it was upheld on video review.

“I thought we were going to get it overturned,” Newman said. “I just thought he didn’t tag me until he got higher up on the body.”

It was the Pirates’ 100th loss, the second year in a row they have reached that mark.

The Cardinals got two hits each from Donovan, Corey Dickerson, Knizner and Paul DeJong.

Cruz had three hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds, Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Ji-Hwan Bae added two apiece. Miguel Andujar drove in two runs.

Chris Stratton (10-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“They weren’t the prettiest two innings I’ve ever pitched but I got a great play from the defense in the 10th inning to help me out,” Stratton said. “It was a good play all the way around.’

Pujols’ hit put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 but the Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom of the third. Andujar’s run-scoring double highlighted an inning that includes RBI singles by Castro, Suwinski, Ben Gamel and Bae.

The Cardinals then scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 7-all. Donovan hit an RBI single, Dickerson drove in two runs with a double and the tying run scored on a throwing error by Cruz, the rookie shortstop.

Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson was rocked for seven runs and nine hits while the Pirates’ JT Brubaker allowed three runs on four hits.

Brubaker was activated from the injured list before the game. He had been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.

HELSLEY HURT

Reliever Ryan Helsley, the Cardinals’ closer, left in the eighth inning with a jammed right middle finger. Helsley was injured after catching a line drive by Bae and using his hands to brace himself while dodging a piece of a broken bat.

Helsley said he expects to be ready to pitch Friday.

“I don’t think there was anything super wrong with it,” Helsley said. `Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Pirates optioned right-hander Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Brubaker. They also recalled infielder/outfielder Tucapita Marcano from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Jose Godoy to the same club.

PIRATES AWARDS

Center fielder Bryan Reynolds was voted the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, emblematic of the Pirates’ MVP, by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mitch Keller won the Steve Blass Award for best pitcher. Former infielder Michael Chavis was voted the Chuck Tanner Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill (strained right hamstring) has been ruled out for the wild-card series but St. Louis is hopeful he can play in the NLDS round if it advances. . 3B Nolan Arenado (left quadriceps tightness) missed his second straight game but could play Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Have not decided on a starter for Wednesday, though Marmol said LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.46) and RHP Jake Woodford (4-0, 2.33) are possibilities.

Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (4-3, 3.12), who was acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 1, gets the start.