Tag Archives: MLB

Sports on the Screen I – Angels in the Outfield (1994)

Greetings readers,

I thought that I would try to start a new series in my blog. As you know, there are a lot of movies out there. There’s a lot of sports coverage out there. What happens when you mix two together? Movies about sports? You’re right, readers! So to honor the baseball season, I’m going to review one of my favorite movies out there: Angels in the Outfield.

Just to make things crystal clear, I am not reviewing a movie on acting performances. I am not rating a movie. I am not summarizing the entire film. There’s two zillion blogs for that. Instead, I’m looking to see how accurate the movies are to the sport itself and the setting of the movie. WARNING: these will contain spoilers. Also, I will NOT provide links to watch the movie itself. Let’s get started with the review!

The movie starts off right outside Anaheim Stadium (named changed in 1998 to Edison International Field), and we see the “Halo over the A” a few times. The main characters J.P. and Roger (played by Milton Davis Jr. and Joseph Gordon-Levitt) bike down to their foster home. When Roger’s dad bikes up to the home, we learn that he probably won’t be reunited with his family unless the California Angels win the Pennant. In the previous scene, the radio announcer was talking about the Angels, on a 14-game slide and in last place of the AL West, hosting the Toronto Blue Jays.

The next scene sees the two boys in a tree right behind the stadium, watching the Jays vs. Angels in the 8th, with the birds up by 7. We see Norton and Williams collide in the outfield on a routine flyout, followed by another bonking of the noggins to add insult to injury. The manager George Knox (Danny Glover) comes out and pulls his relief pitcher. The pitcher, not being too terribly happy about the outfield missing a simple catch, gets into a fight with Knox. The Angles bench clears to separate the two, as well as the Blue Jays bench, but the manager pulls them back. The manager of the time was Cito Gaston, which is not accurate in the movie. I won’t go into detail on the roster differences though, throughout the review.

As Knox gets ejected, the kids are as well as the idle guard catches them and yells “You better have tickets for that tree!” The broadcasters goes off the air and says he can do better blindfolded. Spoilers: the broadcaster Ranch Wilder (Jay O. Sanders) is Knox’s rival. You can see that in the scene after the locker room where Knox decks him after the color commentator pulls the camera away towards him so the two can sort things out. You also hear that Knox managed the Cincinnati Reds for ten years but never won the World Series.

The next scene might not be related to sports, but Roger asks for God’s help to get him a family. So what do we get after that? Angels.

Next game, we see the same Blue Jays take on California. The starting pitcher, Whitt Bass (Neal McDonough), shakes up an 8-ball asking if he will win. First shake results in a “No”, and a quick second shake says “Maybe.” The first pitch was taken to the outfield, ruled as an error. Skip through a few innings, and the game is scoreless. The first batter for Toronto smacks the ball to deep left center field, and there’s the first Angel of the game. We’ll see them up throughout the regular season, as the Angels help the baseball team go from last to first.

By the way, Williams made the catch in the air, robbing Lazzato of that extra-base hit. After the catch, we see Al (Christopher Lloyd) come down and explain why the Angels are there. We’ll continue to see him control the Angels until the last game against the White Sox.

Since this review is probably reaching the “Too Long” status, I will only go over errors, important scenes, and the ending.

One of the scenes I will talk about is the Oakland Athletics coming to town.  In short, there is 19 errors in one play. ONE PLAY. Also, Bass starts in two straight games. Of course, that’s assuming that it hasn’t been five games between. Nowadays, pitchers aren’t as durable and need some rest, starters especially. It should of been a hit, followed by an error by the infield. Later, Knox says it was a home run (inside-the-park, obviously) when it should have just been a single with a few errors.

The scene where the kids play some ball against Knox is strange, mainly because half the kids are wearing a different team hat and jersey. Perfect example is “Babe Ruth”, wearing a Brewers hat and a Tigers jersey. Also, “running home” was funny as well.

The following montage sees the Angels play against Toronto and Detroit again, followed by Kansas City at home, New York and possibly Baltimore away (look for the orange top in the stands on that one scene.) It sets up the last game against the Chicago White Sox for the AL Division…but not before Knox almost loses his job believing in those Angels.

Last game is a showdown, as Mel Clark takes to the mound. The Angels need to win this game by themselves, since it is for the AL West Division. Chicago has a 2-0 lead until the 6th when a home run ties it. A squeeze play gives the Angels the lead at 3-2. Mel Clark pitches a complete game (with about 160 pitches) and the Angels win by the same score. The last play was a 3-2 Lineout to the pitcher.

Also, Ranch is fired after his comments about Knox not being smart for leaving Clark in to pitch. “You can’t fire me! I got a contract! I’M RANCH WILDER!”

To sum it all up, this movie stays faithful to the sport, minus the whole “Angels taking over the game” thing. The uniforms are all true to the era.

In real life, the California Angels were five and a half back in 1994. They finished 47-68 when The Strike wiped out the remaining season. The film does get that wrong, but it’s not entirely clear when this actually takes place. It is filmed during football season, hence why the home games were in Oakland. A few years later, Disney would buy the team and rename them the Anaheim Angels, as well as update old Anaheim Stadium to make it a baseball-only complex (remember the Los Angeles Rams?)

As a last interesting note, Tony Danza plays as Mel Clark, who we see for the first game against Detroit and the last game against the Chicago White Sox. Oddly enough, there was a Mel Clark which there was a player named  was a rightfielder for the Phillies and Detroit Tigers.

Give this film a chance, as it is a great movie.

Thanks for reading my review. Hopefully I can find a way to shorten it for next time.

Sources of information from IMDb, Sports E-Cyclopedia, and Baseball Almanac.

Until next time,

-Lee

Keepers of the Final Score

Greetings readers,

It’s been a while. Over two weeks to be exact. Where have I been? Working. Lots of working, including a new sportscasting project in Miami County. The other is a retail job to brush up on my selling skills. Anyways, I’ve been busy and I do feel bad for not updating like I normally do. Anyways, it’s time for a brand new post!

To introduce you to this topic, I started keeping score for baseball broadcasts during my first year as the WWSU Sports Director. At the station, we had a NCAA scorebook, which was used once before. I gave it a whirl and thought about how it improved my broadcast.

Late into that Wright State Baseball season, the SID at the time gave me a Bob Carpenter scorebook worth $40. That was when I really took it seriously and vowed to use it at every single game that I could. There I noticed that I livened up completely on my baseball broadcasts. I got the job again the next year and I improved each and every time in the book.

As I look to begin broadcasting baseball and softball, I found that old Carpenter book and looked back on how much I filled it out as time went by. There’s still things I can work on, but I think it’s some solid work.

Recently, I was asked by a friend on how to keep score in baseball. I figure this is a nice little way on explaining how to.

I’m going to say right now, you don’t need the expensive scorebook. There are cheaper ones out there, close to $6 if you look closely enough. Find one that will fit what you need it for. If you like to fill everything out, get one that gives you plenty of space to do so. I like to recommend that you find one that gives you more than nine innings to keep, because extra inning games can be common. Remember this though: the only person that matters in buying a book is YOU. What are you going to use it for? How much do you want to spend? What do you want to fill out?

How do you ACTUALLY fill out a scorebook? Well, you have your area for stats which you should fill out (but if you don’t want to, that’s your choice.) Next is actually filling it out during the game. Usually, you will find an example page in the scorebook itself. What I do is very basic, I just say “Hit” or “Walk” and draw a line with a dot on where that at-bat landed the batter (first base would be single or walk, second base double and so on…) If they advance, draw from that dot to the next base (but don’t dot it.) Runners crossing the plate receive a circle around their at-bat, but make sure to put a RBI somewhere for the batter that drove in the run.

For strikeouts, you could use the K and Backwards K, but I don’t do that. I write “SoL” (strikeout looking) or “SoS” (strikeout swinging) along with the count. For walks I use both BB and Walk. Stealing bases is a little tricky, since you don’t have that much space to write “Stolen Base” or “Caught Stealing.” I write the initials and put a little circle around it in the box. Passed Balls and Wild Pitches are the same story. If the runner is erased by being caught, I put an X near that base to simulate that event.

I’ll be honest, I have never seen a balk before. I have seen Batter’s Interference and Catcher’s Interference before, but I write that at the top of that player’s at-bat because those are rare to see.

For other outs, I will write “Line #”, “Pop #”, “Fly #”, “GO (groundout) #-#”, and “Foul #.” The numbers represent the defensive numberings on the field (1-9.) Errors are about the same setup, minus the whole base-runner.

For pitching changes, batting changes, and end of innings, I draw lines. For the changes, they are wavy lines.

This is a way that works for me. It’s clear, it’s precise, and it helps me keep track of every at-bat. You might follow along closer to the books tell you to do, instead of writing hit and whatnot. The point is, you need to keep score in a way that helps you.

Until next time (hopefully it isn’t another two week wait),

-Lee

Diff’rent Hats

Greetings readers,

Today’s topic is going back to the design portion of sports. As you all know, there are colors used for each team. Usually comprising around two or three, color palettes usually have some meaning to the team.

Today, when you walk into a sports store you will see replicas of the same hats that the athletes wear (for baseball and sometimes football, anyways.) However, what about the other merchandise with that same logo and different colors?

That’s the topic for today.

I’m near the Cincinnati market, as you might know. The majority of the baseball gear is for the Reds fans. Football is sort of mixed, due to the Browns’ long history in Cleveland and Cincinnati not arriving on the scene until the 60’s. There’s a nice selection of sports shops, especially in the Northern Cincinnati malls. There’s one store that I like going through called Cincy Shops, where it has a ton of ball cap hats to choose from, for pros and colleges. I guess you can say that’s why I chose to write this blog.

It seems like any store that carries a boat-load of hats always has the ones the players wear, but then has hats with different colors and different logos. The hat you see as the blog picture is one example. I know once upon a time, the Reds did have blue in their color scheme. However, they never had cyan during a time where it was popular to have. There are a few hats that take the “Wishbone C” logo and move it off-center of the hat. There was a design which took the away jersey script that the Reds wore until 2007 (sadly, I can’t find it online.) There’s some hats that use the Mr. RedLegs logo as the centerpiece of the hat. There’s a load of color mixes as well and not just for the Reds. The weirdest hat I saw online has to be a tie between a purple Reds hat and a Reds hat with ear flaps (it’s built like a ballcap except with ear flaps.)

You can find many more of these creations at your hat store in the mall or online. The site I used to find most of these is lids.com.

The main point of this article is not to spot all the hats or give out free advertising, but to rather question why the need for all of these designs. Should there really be an endless supply of hats? What was wrong with the styles that the teams wore? Why is it acceptable to use another team’s color scheme (let’s say, the Pittsburgh Pirates gold and black) and use another team’s logo (the Reds, who are red and white/black)? Maybe I’m just old-fashioned and think that these gimmicks in merchandise aren’t necessary. Of course, you the reader aren’t me and maybe these are the things you and the general people want. You do have to acknowledge the fact that you can’t say “Oh, they don’t have any styles of hats.” You do have a lot to choose from online, but the store experiences will vary. It also helps to be a fan of your team and shop around that area.

People continue to buy hats, so it’s not an issue but rather just an observation. To add one last positive point, at least with all the hats there is variety out there so you don’t see the same hat over and over again.

As a final closing note, there are camouflage football jerseys. Don’t believe me? Instead of continuing on with the article, I’ll end it at this. Why?

Until next time,

-Lee

A Festivus For The Reds of Us

Greetings readers,

I wanted to release this the day after I released the “Snow Days” article, but you see how well that went. Anyways, without further ado…

If there’s a party going on in North, shouldn’t there be one in the South? If you don’t catch my drift, it’s RedsFest Time!

On December 3rd and 4th, the Duke Energy Convention Center will be home to the festival where the Cincinnati Reds give the fans a chance to interact with most of the team.

Some events that are included include autograph sessions, a reading room, and chances to buy Reds gear. Here is what some of the photos taken at the RedsFest last year. There are plenty of activities for fans, including a wiffleball game and a chance to purchase rare memorabilia.

I know that most people would rather just go to the site and just look at all the fun things scheduled, but before I sound just like I’m writing a commercial on RedsFest, here’s a few reasons why you should go:

1. Reds! Every year, there’s a few players and coaches that will stop by for autographs. When I say few, I mean like this many. We’re not talking just players, but coaches and broadcasters too. The list of people coming is varied and plentiful.

2. The list of activities and things to do. There’s a ton of stuff to do. I previously mentioned some stuff, but there’s also physical events (like running to the bases.) There is also a poker tournament held by the Reds Community Fund on  December 4th (not available on the 3rd.) Keep in mind, it costs to watch or play at the tourney. Yes, I said watch but you get food and beverages.

3. Unless you go to Goodyear, Arizona for Spring Training, this will be your last chance to see your baseball team for awhile. Like I mentioned, there will be a big list of Reds folks there. While everyone might not be there, the majority of the team will be.

4. There is something for everyone! Check the website for more events and details.

The fest will be on December 3rd and 4th, in Cincinnati (oh, I thought Redsfest would be in New York!) at the Duke Energy Convention Center. If you are a true Reds fan (that can go that Friday/Saturday), you should check it out.

Until next time, readers.

-Lee

Snow Days in Cleveland? When does that happen, again?

Greetings readers,

I’d figure I’d try something different for this post. Usually all I talk about is news or issues involved with sports. Today, I bring a strike of good cheer. This offseason, the Cleveland Indians are holding an event called “Snow Days” on November 26th, at Progressive Field.

What does this have to do with sports?

It is a business decision to get people interested about the Indians, who have the Triple-A Champions in the Columbus Clippers. It’s a business decision to get the fans to see the park differently. It’s for the people of Cleveland. It’s for the people.

This project, which is taking some time to get all the equipment in, will be around for the Holiday season. There will be a walking path surrounded by winter lights. There will be a ten-lane snow tubing, beginning from the bleachers and ending near the infield. There is also a kids play place named “Slider’s Snow Zone”, as well as a home run porch where food and beverages are served, and a frozen mile to skate.

All attendees will need to fill out a waiver before entering Snow Days, for safety reasons.

There will be nine days that are not available to the General Public, but the rest of the days will be available for everyone. Tickets will be available to the general public today (Monday, November 15th) and the event will happen until January. Yes, Snow Days will go on during Christmas and New Years. For the full schedule, give this link a try.

I think this is a really nice way to give back to Cleveland and get more people interested in going to the ballpark in the future. Like I previously mentioned, there is something for everyone. Personally, I’d love to go but that is a trek from Southwestern Ohio to Cleveland. We’ll see though, as I wouldn’t mind getting the chance to skate in the infield or sled down from the bleachers to the outfield.

I recommend anyone who can make it to have fun at the ballpark in November.

Next post will be about something going on in Reds Country. No, there isn’t going to be a super slide from the View Level seats into the dugouts, but this is becoming a strong tradition in Cincinnati. I think you Reds fans already know what I’m talking about.

Until next time,

-Lee