Bud Black helps us all find a cinematic baseball fix in our time of need. His top 10 baseball films in no particular order: The Sandlot, Major League, The Rookie, Eight Men Out, Field of Dreams, Bang the Drum Slowly, The Natural, Bull Durham, Rookie of the Year, and For Love of the Game.
The Denver Post has a supplemental poll for readers to vote on their own favorites of the 10; Major League, The Sandlot and Bull Durham fare at the top so far.
Ben Palmer of Pitcher List ranked his top 15 a month ago, and recurring themes within those films help us understand baseball intricacies even better. Palmer ranks Bull Durham first—such fine intricacies are presented through Kevin Costner’s character, Crash Davis. “‘The world is made for people not cursed with self-awareness,” Annie says, and that’s what this movie is about. Self-awareness.” Palmer goes on to rank Moneyball second, and A League Of Their Own third.
If you’ve already watched your fair share of movies and would rather see Black himself on your television screen, pull up his start from July 24, 1983. He threw six innings for the Royals, allowing four runs to the Yankees, and was pulled before George Brett was ejected in the infamous ‘Pine Tar Game’.
As we continue to long for the gates at Coors Field to open, The Denver Post is running a series of articles on the greatest moments in ballpark history. We’ve got interesting playing circumstances for numbers 21 and 25; cold weather games, fireworks games, games that don’t end, and owner Dick Monfort shoveling snow before a game.
The Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization are broadcasting live scrimmages. Their first one took place Monday night on their YouTube channel, and they will lace them up Wednesday, Friday and Sunday this week as well. If you’re sick of baseball movies on repeat, there is at least one alternative in the form of live baseball.
Could baseball do the same thing for hitters and pitchers?
“NASCAR has suspended racing until at least May 9, and with literally nothing else to do, series executives and iRacing put together the inaugural eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series in roughly one week.”
Driver Denny Hamlin won this virtual race barefoot, driving a rig that cost an estimated $40,000. He appeared on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt on Monday night, and they discussed how racing is one of the few sports that could run such an event virtually.
The practicality of this happening in baseball has inherent limits, but if someone is willing to dish out $40,000 for a racing rig, perhaps something similar could be done with a pitching machine, pitch tracking device, batted ball tracker, pitching mound and batting cage.
Set up a Rapsodo Pitching unit to do its’ thing: Jon Gray throws a pitch in a bullpen, and within seconds the Rapsodo unit tells us everything we need to know about spin, axis, velocity, break and release. Nolan Arenado then faces a pitching machine, set up anywhere in the world, capable of adjusting to the parameters of the exact pitch Gray threw, delayed just a few seconds. A device like Rapsodo Hitting or HitTrax can track the metrics of a batted ball—launch angle, exit velocity, distance—and show where it would land on a field. Maybe you could find a way to show the pitcher throwing it with a projector lining up with the machine, too. Drew Goodman and Jeff Huson could even commentate on a live feed.
It is far from a flawless concept, but yesterday’s NASCAR simulation suggests their race isn’t a perfect simulation either. Seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson didn’t do so well familiarizing himself to virtual racing on Sunday. Hamlin has reportedly raced in a setting like that for years.
A baseball simulation like that assumes a pitcher is willing to use their bullets during this shutdown. Some may (like winter Trevor Bauer) or may not like to. It would still be pretty awesome to see action like this, especially right now. Publicize a showdown ‘Arenado vs. Scherzer’ like a boxing match. 10 rounds of at-bats.
Or, if a pitcher and hitter are quarantined together, perhaps they could just face each other in a cage, in person.
And lastly, if you just want to hear a sports broadcaster talking about something new, Fox Sports staple Joe Buck is willing to get some practice reps in. He says he’ll only respond to videos of “daily stuff”; take a video doing the dishes, feeding your dog, brewing some iced tea or something. Send it in and a World Series broadcaster might narrate it.