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Four Days in October (documentary)

Four Days in October is one of the many documentaries in ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. It focuses on the Boston Red Sox during their improbable comeback in the 2004 ALCS against the New York Yankees. As you might recall, the Red Sox were down three games to none in a best of seven series. The Red Sox were playing their hated rivals for a chance to go to the World Series and break the “The Curse” once and for all. But no team had ever come back from a three game deficit, and one more loss would mean the end of the season. It looked like the Yankees had it in the bag.

But there’s one thing that separates baseball from most other sports: there is no clock. You have to play to the last out. It sounds cliché, but it’s really not over until it’s over. Positive attitudes, clutch performances, and key hits kept the Red Sox alive. They proceeded to win the next four games in spectacular fashion, inspiring a nation along the way. Those four days in October gave baseball fans some of the most memorable moments in MLB Playoff history: Kevin Millar and his motivational pep talks, Curt Schilling and his bloody sock, Dave Roberts and his game-shifting steal, and the invincible bat of David Ortiz are just a few that stand out.

You don’t have to be a baseball fan to appreciate this documentary, but it certainly helps. It also helps if you hate the Yankees. Four Days in October does a good job of capturing the excitement and energy happening in the Red Sox dugout and locker room. You can tell the players know that they are in the middle of something special. They know that destiny is on their side; they just have to enjoy the ride.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The baseball season is winding down and right now four teams are trying to get to the World Series. The Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox are competing for the American League Pennant, and the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers are competing for the National League Pennant. The two Pennant winners get to play each other in the World Series to determine the championship team. All four teams are solid, all of them deserve to be there, there are no underdogs… and that’s bad for baseball. In fact, it’s terrible for baseball. The Tigers were just in the World Series last year. They got swept by the San Francisco Giants in four games. The Cardinals won the year before in 2011. The Red Sox won it in miracle fashion in 2004 and then again in 2007. That wasn’t that long ago. And the Dodgers have one of the highest payrolls and most star-studded lineups in baseball, and have turned themselves into the Yankees of the West. You either love them or hate them, but you still have to respect them. And unless you’re a fan of one of those four teams, you probably don’t care who wins. In fact, you probably want all of them to lose. I know I do. Especially the Dodgers. I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky that the Yankees didn’t even make the playoffs, but I’ve got to bitch about something. All four of those teams are legitimate contenders. And that bores me.

Critically Rated at 4/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Baseball is the best sport ever. Hands down. There is no debate. Baseball is America’s pastime for a reason. It is timeless. It means something. The love and passion that you have for your team is something that you can share with family, with friends, with complete strangers. If you’re in a strange new place and you see someone wearing your team’s hat, you have something to talk about. If you’re in a strange new place and you see someone wearing your rival team’s hat, you have something to talk about.

Cincinnati Reds Ken Griffey Jr

Baseball is an easy game to comprehend, but it takes a lifetime to master. People who have never seen baseball in person know that three strikes and you’re out at the old ball game. There is beauty in its simplicity. You can be a casual viewer and just be aware of the situation and what’s at stake. And you can also be a diehard fanatic and follow every single pitch, every play. How can such a simple game get so complex?

Baseball is all scenarios and statistics. It’s all about who is pitching and who is at the plate and who is on base and how many outs there are. Every single detail is accounted for and every single player is rated. This gives baseball a continuous feel. You know that Ty Cobb could play today. You know that Ichiro Suzuki could play back then. When you cheer for a team you can celebrate the accomplishments of the current roster and you also honor the past. I am a Giants fan, born in 1985. I never saw Willie Mays play, but I am proud that he was on my team. I can claim him as my own. You can’t do that with basketball, or football, or soccer. A baseball team has a legacy, a history, and if you are a fan of a team you celebrate the past, the future, the present.

Football has lost its way. You used to cheer for a team. Now everyone plays Fantasy Football and you cheer for individual players. You hope the Saints will lose but that Brees has a good game. That’s not what competition is. It’s about having pride for the team that represents you. It’s about each player having their moment to shine, but it’s the team that gets the win, not the individual.

The Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908. And they still have some of the most loyal fans in professional sports. You love your team, win or lose. And if they lose and you still root for them, each victory means more. That MLB: The Show commercial where the Cubs win the Series tugs at the heartstrings of every fan that knows what it’s like to lose. With the start of each new season, you hope that this is the year.

Like I said, I’m a Giants fan. I was brought up being a Giants fan. I heard stories of Willie Mays and Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal from my grandma. I grew up watching Barry Bonds (steroids or not, he was still the best player of that era). I experienced the joy of making it to the World Series and felt the despair of losing in spectacular fashion in 2002. And somehow we made it back and won in 2010. I went to the parade to celebrate. I felt that I helped contribute to the win just by watching and believing and hoping. My aunt thanked me for going to the parade and representing our family. It meant something to them that I was even there participating. I thought about all the Giants games that my grandma watched and how she never got to experience the thrill of a championship in her city. The game is more than a game; it’s a link between generations. A win for the Giants is a win for all the Giants fans across the ages.

Baseball has no time limit. It can go on forever, and sometimes it seems like it does. And it’s never over until you make the final out. Take the 2011 World Series for example. The Texas Rangers were a strike away from winning it all. And the Cardinals came back to tie it. And then the Rangers were a strike away from winning it all again. I remember commenting to my friend, “How many times are the Rangers going to have to win this game?”… And then the Cardinals came back again and won the game. And won again the next night. And they won the series even though logic and common sense said they should have lost.

The defense has the ball. That is different from most other sports. It adds drama, it adds tension. It’s a game of skill. The best players only hit the ball slightly more than three out of ten times. If you fail 70% of the time you are still considered good.

Baseball is a marathon not a sprint. The regular season lasts 162 games over 6 months. More games mean less tension. Each game is still important, but it’s not a matter of life or death. So you’ll see less fighting on the field and in the stands. You’ll still see rivalries and trash talking and the occasional fights, but you don’t see riots and brawls like with soccer. This helps to make it more of a family game. You go with your parents and grandparents when you’re young, and you go with your kids and grandkids when you’re old. And you talk about who’s on first, and what’s on second, and you laugh and joke and sing Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

Baseball is a great game. It is casual and complex and fun and frustrating. Sometimes it is all you have to talk about, all you have to live for. It’s more than a game. It’s a way of life. At least for 6 months out of the year.

Critically Rated at 17/17


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The Babe (film)

John Goodman stars as the great George Herman “Babe” Ruth in director Arthur Hiller’s The Babe. Babe Ruth is an American icon; many consider him to be the best baseball player of all time. He was larger than life and lived like he was. This biopic covers the rise and fall of his career, playing as much to the myths as to the facts. There’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die. And yes, I did steal that from The Sandlot.

The Babe Movie Poster

The movie starts with Babe’s dad giving up on him and dropping him off at St. Mary’s, an orphanage/reformatory. He’s a chubby troublemaker who gets picked on constantly. That all changes when he picks up a bat and discovers that he was made to play baseball. He’s a phenomenal pitcher and has a powerful bat. In a few short years he catches the eye of the Baltimore Orioles and leaves the orphanage to conquer the world.

Babe is too big for Baltimore, and he goes to the Boston Red Sox. Babe is too big for Boston, and he goes to the Yankees. The bulk of the film takes place in his Red Sox and Yankee days. They explore how success has gone to his head. Babe wants it all, and he can suddenly have it all, and since he’s just a big kid he goes nuts. He has a good heart, but he’s brash and impulsive and hurts people without meaning to.

John Goodman does a decent job as the Babe. He is a little too old to be playing him, and he’s also too fat. Most actors would have to gain weight to play him, but Goodman could stand to lose a few pounds. There are dozens of actors that could have done a better job. Babe Ruth was larger than life, it was his exploits that make the movie interesting, not Goodman’s portrayal of him.

The Babe is like a kid. He has no manners. He is blatant and just says whatever is on his mind. He has no social skills; he uses other people’s toothbrushes and farts at fancy parties. He wears his heart on his sleeve, he will be ecstatic one moment and having a tantrum the next. He has a habit of calling people Dad, a sign of his broken childhood.

Trini Alvarado plays Helen, Babe’s first wife. He loves her, and marries her, and starts a family with her. And he wants to be with her. But he can’t. He can’t be contained. He wants to party and go to the city, not stay at home and play house. So he goes out, and girls throw themselves at him, and people kiss his ass, and he feels happy. But he hurts Helen over and over again. They separate, but the whole relationship shows how damaged Babe is. Eventually he finds love again, and this time Claire (Kelly McGillis) is able to handle him, she acts like a parent figure and gives him rules and boundaries.

They humanize Babe off the field, and they embellish what he did on it. He never hit a popup so high that he got an infield home run. He never hit 2 homeruns for a sick kid in the hospital. He might have called his shot, but it was not that dramatic. He hit three homers in one game in the twilight of his career as a Brave, but he didn’t retire right after.

People often debate about who the best baseball player of all time is. Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Lou Gehrig, and Stan Musial are all in discussion, but Babe Ruth was a 100% natural talent. He singlehandedly changed the game. Not only is he arguably the best homerun hitter of all time, but he’s also considered one of the best pitchers of all time.

This is not a great baseball movie. It’s not really a good movie either. It’s just an average movie made about a great man. I’m not one for remakes, but I think we can do a better Babe Ruth movie. It doesn’t have to be 3D or in IMAX, but Americans love baseball and Americans love Babe Ruth. So anyway, this is an alright movie, it could have been better.

Critically Rated at 9/17

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