Editor’s Note: In the spirit of seeking sunshine during a gray winter, and to help usher in the upcoming baseball season we will be featuring baseball movies every Monday between now and Opening Day. Today we fall in love with the game and visit the first side of the Kevin Costner baseball triangle.
Kevin Costner has made three baseball movies in his career playing a Minor League catcher who creates rain delays and catch phrases, a farmer who hears voices in the corn and build a ballpark, and a Major League pitcher who dates John Travolta’s wife.
Today we are focusing on the movie where he played a pitcher, For Love of the Game, which also happened to be the newest of the three Costner baseball movies.
By the time the third leg of the Costner baseball triangle rolled around though it was clear that he did not have much left in the tank.
While Bull Durham and Field of Dreams provided entertainment from start to finish, along with a few tears, For Love of the Game has moments where it turns into that extra inning game that you just want to end so you can fight the traffic and go home.
Still, it is hard to not count the complete Costner trilogy in a listing of baseball movies since each one contributes pieces to the entire picture.
The movie focuses on Costner as a 40 year-old pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. Throughout the course of pitching what could be the final game of his career Costner flashes back to various points of his career both on and off the field and thinks about the events that made him the person that he became.
The movie is helped by the presence of Vin Scully calling the on-field action as only Vin Scully can.
When the day comes where Vin Scully is no longer able to call baseball games it is nice to know that his voice will live on not only through his massive archive of actual games called but through a few silver screen games as well.
There truly is no one left in the world of baseball who calls a game like Vin Scully.
Of course For Love of the Game is not just a baseball movie.
Like the previous movie on our countdown, Fever Pitch, For Love of the Game probably could also fall into the romantic category but as Fred Savage’s character in The Princess Bride comes to learn, you likely won’t mind the “mushy stuff” as the movie draws to its conclusion.
The baseball action is strong for the most part and the flashbacks do not seem to water down the present day action.
Not to give anything away for those who have not seen the movie but viewers are rewarded in the end of the film in much the same way that a fan is rewarded with a walkoff home run after watching a 21-inning game into the wee hours of the morning.
Again, For Love of the Game is not Kevin Costner’s strongest baseball movie, but it does deserve a place on the shelf next to the other two sides of the Costner baseball triangle. And of course like I said there is Vin Scully to listen to so one really can’t go wrong there.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to listen to some vintage Vin Scully broadcasts.
Over the Labor Day weekend a hacker released dozens of photos taken from various celebrity’s personnel databases exposing a vulnerability in the move to cloud based data storage.
Victims of the hacking ranged from singers to models to actresses to athletes.
Within hours of the release the internet was abuzz with news of the latest celebrity hacking with some people denying that the photos were them and others admitting that the photos were of them and threatening legal action for their release.
Of course once anything is let out of the internet bag and released for all to see it never really goes away and can be found in some dark corner somewhere meaning that the violation of privacy never really goes away.
Among the victims of the release was Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander who is now facing questions about photos with his girlfriend, Kate Upton, instead of being completely focused on the race to the postseason.
To his credit Verlander stated that he does not let things like this distract him when he is pitching but it is hard to believe that someone could totally tune out such a violation of privacy.
And make no mistake it is a complete violation of each of the hacked celebrity’s privacy that the information and photos that they considered private was released for the world to see.
While celebrities are public figures they still have just as much of a right as the rest of us to keep aspects of their lives private and to choose what to share with the public.
This is certainly not the first instance of celebrities having their photos released and it will certainly not be the last in this digital age in which we find ourselves.
And while such celebrity hackings make the headlines each day, there are likely thousands of lower level hackings that occur whether through individuals cracking a cloud account, or data breaches of consumer credit card data showing how fragile each of our identities really are.
Earlier this week it was revealed that shoppers of a certain depot for the home may have had their information leaked. This follows credit card breaches at a variety of retailers this year from Target to Albertson’s and many in between.
This is not to say that computer networks are not safe, or that hacking is anything new, but a move to computerized systems makes it much easier for someone to succeed.
Consider if you will the world as it was before the internet and the cloud. If a company had data to protect they would lock it away in a safe or vault. And if they wanted to ensure that the information was secure in the event that the vault was swallowed up by a giant sink hole or other unforeseen disaster, they would store a copy in a second vault for redundancy.
The vaults that hold the recipes for Coca Cola and Colonel Sander’s 11 secret herbs and spices for fired chicken are still safe to the best of my knowledge in their vaults.
I am not pointing this out to make you thirsty for a soda and some chicken but merely to observe that in this store everything in the cloud world sometimes low tech solutions are the best.
While someone might have needed to crack a safe to steal sensitive information in the past, with the information superhighway one need only an internet connection and some time to crack even the most sophisticated computer systems.
While I am not advocating that we all trade in our cars for a horse and buggy and shun all technology, there is something to be said for not putting one’s trust in electronic systems that can fail.
In many science fiction movies, such as the Terminator and Matrix franchises, the future is depicted as one where the machines have taken over and mankind is left to fight the technology that they created.
I do not foresee a future where Neo and John Connor need to save the human race from robots, but I do see a future where perhaps someone needs to save society from their faith in the cloud.
Perhaps it should not be a shock that, despite the best efforts of many smart computer programmers and security firms, the cloud seems to be porous and an easy target for hackers.
The last time I looked at a cloud in the sky I did not think “wow, a cloud looks like the strongest structure there is.”
Instead I saw the cloud for what it was a fluffy floaty thing that traveled at the whims of the wind that sometimes was shaped like a bunny rabbit and sometimes got dark and made me wet on the way to my car.
Does that really sound like the most secure place to put your most private data and vacation photos?
Perhaps a certain commercial for an auto insurance company had it right and the wall where we post our photos should be made of stucco and not binary code.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to go stare at some fluffy clouds and see what shapes they make.
Another non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone in Major League Baseball.
As is the case every year when Major League Baseball’s Silly Season concludes there were winners and losers with the rich in talent teams getting richer and the rebuilding teams continuing to rebuild.
Each year teams are labeled as either buyers or sellers at the deadline as they seek to either add players to help them in the short term or trade away players for prospects that they hope can help them in the long term.
What is often lost in the midst of the trade deadline are the teams that are caught in the middle of having the record to be deemed a contender and those that are in wait until next year mode.
The Tampa Bay Rays, who were considered by some experts to be World Series favorites at the start of the season, found themselves in the murky middle ground when it came to their ace pitcher David Price.
Many teams would give their left arms for a chance to add the former Cy Young Winner to their rotation but with the Rays overcoming a rough start to the season to finally play solid baseball which has them only eight games out of first place in the division, and about five games out of a Wild Card spot, one could argue that Price was needed to make a valid postseason run.
Repeatedly team management stated that it would take an epic “knock their socks off” offer from a team that included several top tier prospects to make them part with their ace at the deadline.
In the end the Rays traded Price to the Detroit Tigers for a less than sock losing trio of players that appear to have far less upside at the moment than Price.
With the trade the Tigers now have three Cy Young winners in their rotation and seem destined for another American League Championship Series showdown with the Oakland Athletics who also added depth to their rotation prior to the trade deadline.
Trades in baseball are nothing new but when a team trades away a fan favorite and leader in the clubhouse, such as Price who spent seven seasons with the Rays, there is always bound to be push back from the fans.
As expected when news broke that Price had been traded, many fans filled team message boards with angry comments saying that they were done supporting the Rays. Others asked how they could have traded Price for so little in return.
The answer to why the trade was made comes down to economics. The Rays have a long history of trading their aces when they are due big raises in free agency since Tampa Bay does not have the payroll flexibility to match many other teams when it comes to salary offers.
David Price just becomes the latest pitcher to be traded by the Rays joining Matt Garza, Scott Kazmir, and James Shields. What makes the Price trade different is the fact that it came in the middle of the season while the Rays were still driving for the playoffs.
Previous trades of pitchers and other impact players were usually made during the offseason.
In reality the Rays still faced a tough task in making the playoffs even with Price since the Orioles were winning just as many games as the Rays making it impossible to cut into Baltimore’s division lead.
But the Rays certainly still had a shot at making the postseason. Trading Price away during that run will likely affect clubhouse morale as well as well as fan reaction to the perception that the Rays have given up on the current season.
Many fans get heavily invested in players and when a long-time player is dealt it can feel like losing a close friend or family member.
I can still remember the disappointment I felt while sitting at Minute Maid Park a few years ago after learning that the Houston Astros had traded Lance Berkman to the New York Yankees right before he was scheduled to play. It had seemed like Berkman would spend is entire career as an Astro.
The harsh reality is most teams do not base their business decisions on the desires of the average fan.
Baseball is a business and like any other business it is driven by profits and the bottom line. For baseball teams the bottom line is enhanced through corporate sponsorships, suite sales, and television revenue.
While the money generated by a fan attending the game’s in person is certainly icing on a team’s financial spreadsheet it is a mere drop in the bucket for most teams meaning that the loss of a few hundred or even a few thousand fans is not going to affect them long term.
Once of the reasons often given for any new Ballpark or stadium project is the need to add additional luxury suites to increase revenue from the corporate community. Suites equal big bucks for teams at all levels of baseball. Rarely, if ever, will a team say that they need a new facility to make more affordable family seating in the outfield.
While those shots of happy families eating cotton candy look great on television, the fact remains most teams would prefer to have a Ballpark full of corporate clients spending big bucks on suites as opposed to stands full of families.
That is just the reality of the game and fans can either accept that fact to continue to have their hearts broken whenever a favorite player is traded away.
The days of a player spending their entire career with a single team and retiring to either become the manager of the team or a broadcaster covering the games are very likely behind us.
In fact, when the farewell tour of Derek Jeter’s 20 years in Yankee pinstripes is over it is likely that there will never be another player to spend two decades with the same team.
Time will tell if the fans boycott Tropicana Field the rest of the season as some have suggested in response to the Price trade.
Attendance at the Trop, and the desire for a new stadium, will likely continue to be a hot topic between St. Petersburg officials and team ownership this off season as has been the case for several years now.
But as long as the high rollers keep going to the Ballpark and filling the suites the loss of some disgruntled fans is not going to affect the Rays pocket books.
Welcome to the new reality of baseball where the bottom line trumps the box score every time.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to see how DJ Kitty is handling the news.