The Hollywood summer movie list and the 2010 Houston Astros baseball season share this much in common: Neither has been very good – and both movies and the Astros have now reached the same point in which supporters of each spend more on concessions than they now do on tickets.
Maybe we were missing the boat by not suggesting this earlier, but its high time we had a good new baseball movie based upon the Astros. How about we use current movie titles with do-over scripts to make these film offerings more attractive. In this way, we shall also help the movie industry recover its own losses as we work hard to benefit our primary client, out hometown Astros.
In the spirit of the new re-make philosophy on old popular movies, I would like to start with a re-make proposal for the 1949 baseball movie classic, “It Happens Every Spring.” In this version, former Astros manager Larry Dierker is puttering around in his “build-your-own-senior-citizen-prescription-drugs-home-lab” when he accidentally invents a fluid that is repellent to wood. By placing the precious fluid in a sponge that he fits into the pocket of his old pitching glove, Larry finds that he is again able to pitch in spite of the injury that ended his original pitching career early. He goes to the Astros with a plan for making a comeback, without divulging how he plans to accomplish the same. Once Owner Drayton McLane, Jr., President Tal Smith, and General Manager Ed Wade recover from a case of falling down hysterical laughter, Dierker proposes that he be allowed to tryout in full view of their entire group and Field Manager Brad Mills.
A hasty tryout is arranged for Minute Maid Park. Larry promptly goes through the eight starters on 24 pitches and 24 swinging strikes for 8 K’s and an immediate contract to return as staff ace for 2011. He more than fills the gap, going 50-1 in the regular season, 7-0 in the playoffs, and 4-0 in the World Series against the New York Yankees. Dierker’s only loss came at the hands of Pittsburgh on the only day he forgot to bring his magic elixir with him to the ballpark. Because it took the Astros so long to reach this moment of glory, the original title of the first movie was altered sufficiently to match the Astros’ reality. The Dierker version is called, “It Happens Not Quite Every Spring.”
The summer movie titles offer other possibilities. Here are a few that I see, but perhaps you see others. If so, please add your suggestions as comments to this idea:
“The Expendables” - It’s the story of just about every player who remains on the 2010 Astros roster, but the featured stars need to be Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman.
“Inception” - General Manager Ed Wade dreams that he can build a Word Series club in Houston purely from former players and prospects acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies. In the movie, Wade talks about the importance of building a strong farm system and he proceeds to draft and sign all of his 2011 choices at 50% of the expected market cost, but that part of the movie turns out to be only a dream within the dream and an accomplishment that never happened. When he awakens at his desk in the movie’s final scene, an aide is handing Wade a trade proposal that has just arrived by e-mail from the Seattle Mariners. Wade is staring seriously at the message as the camera slowly moves in for a tight shot of his face. An Ed Wade voice-over quietly whispers as a thought we all hear: “Seattle Mariners. Who in the heck are the Seattle Mariners?” (Movie fades to black. “The End” flashes on-screen.)
“The Other Guys” – This plot builds around the history of the World Series since 1962, Houston’s first season in the big leagues. The primary angle here is how it’s always “the other guys” who win the World Series – and how the Houston club hardly ever (once, so far) gets to even go to baseball’s big show. This movie is not recommended for any Houston adult who may already be suffering from a serious inferiority complex – nor for any Houston child needing to build healthy self-esteem.
Despicable Me – For the first time in history, Hollywood makes a movie about a major league bullpen and they decide to shoot the film in Houston and use members of the Astros relief pitching staff. No parts have been cast in bronze, so far, but Matt Lindstrom is said to be in line as the top candidate for the title role. We hear that only a confirmed back injury stands in his way.
Salt – When the sign “No Pepper Games” goes up on the field at Minute Maid Park, Geoff Blum rebels against the prohibition by changing the name of the “bunt and catch” exercise to that other favorite table seasoning and just encourages everybody to keep right on playing. The decision keeps the game alive and also scratches an ancient Blumian itch to resist new rules-making by faceless figures of authority.
Step Up – In the most improbable animated film since “Fantasia,” the Houston Astros respond to some magic dust that gets stuffed in the A/C system at Minute Maid Park by a small mystical child. They step up so often that they rally from sleeping with Pittsburgh to ripping the Reds and Cardinals – and then going on to bake the Yankees in the 2010 World Series. As i said, it’s an animated fantasy.
Toy Story – This one sort of embodies the best parts of many current summer hits. Brad Mills dreams that the Astros get rid of all players who are either expendable or despicable by dumping them on the other guys. He then dreams that GM Ed Wade steps up to the plate and opens a magic toy shop where twenty-five very compatible and virtually unbeatable players are assembled and made available with a five-year warranty on their competitiveness potential at the highest level. All but one of these players is kept on Wade’s new Astros roster when a space has to be made for the return of Larry Dierker and his wondrous new “whip-it-on-‘em” out pitch.
“Eat, Pray, Love, Have a Sense of Humor” – Easiest movie plot of all: (1) Grab a great old ballpark hot dog! (2) Pray to God we all survive this down-time in Astros history; (3) Keep on loving the Astros and baseball in Houston in spite of the down times we are going through now; and, (4) Keep a sense of humor about this time and everything else that runs amuck every now and then. It’s the only way to survive – and the only known way that those first three items in this movie title make any real sense.
Have a dreamy weekend, everybody – and let us hear your own new Astros movie plots from any old or new movie title that comes to mind.