Dan McQuade: April 2009 Archives

cinema.airbud.box.jpg Each week, Dan McQuade reviews a baseball movie. This week in Cinema Varitek: The 2002 straight-to-video Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch, starring Caitlin Wachs, Kevin Zegers, Patrick Cranshaw, Chantal Strand, Richard Karn and five dogs (Shaq, Dakota, Shooter, Sniper, Tango), directed by Robert Vince, screenplay by four freaking people: Sara Sutton, Stephanie Isherwood, Anne Vince and Anna McRoberts.

Perhaps the worst genre of film ever conceived is children's sports movie. The plot is almost always aped from Bad News Bears: Team of losers gets together and wins (or loses) the big game, while the bullies learn valuable lessons in the process. Of course, our children who watch these films also learn the valuable lesson of cheating.

The good guys invariably cheat to win in every kids' sports movie. Ladybugs? Dressing up the kid from Neverending Story II as a girl to reach the finals Mighty Ducks 2? Lassoing an opposing player, at the Junior Olympics no less. Little Giants? Using flatulence as a weapon. Angels in the Outfield? Using angels as a weapon. The Big Green? Don't kid me, nobody's ever seen that movie. In Racing Stripes, a whole team of characters (pigs, goats, cartoon flies voiced by David Spade) conspires and cheats to help a zebra win the Kentucky Derby.

Maybe the worst offender, though, is the Air Bud series, which teaches children if you aren't good enough to win, you should find a dog to play for your team. In Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch, the fourth film in the original five-movie Air Bud series, Buddy plays for a junior high baseball team, despite not attending the school in question.

Seventh Inning Fetch actually doesn't mention baseball until exactly 23 minutes into the movie, though. The opening of the film details the movie's subplot: Two mad scientists are attempting to kidnap Air Bud and his puppies (a different set of puppies than the talking ones in the Air Buddies spinoff series -- confusing, I know!). The mad scientist duo -- who take their cues from Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci's Home Alone villains, which should tell you horrid this film is -- wants Buddy and his puppies so they can extract the "super sports gene" and sell it to athletes.

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Oh, but Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch has other interwoven subplots as well. They're surprisingly disgusting: Young Andrea (Caitlin Wachs) is so sad when her brother Josh (Kevin Zegers, from the in-theater Air Bud movies) goes to college she chases him down on her bike and nearly sacrifices Buddy in order to stop his bus to say goodbye. Andrea and her friend Tammy (Chantal Strand, who's in all three direct-to-video Air Bud movies) is also nervous about going to junior high! Also, Blue from Old School (the late Patrick Cranshaw, also a three-time Air Bud vet) is in this movie as Sheriff Bob. You're my boy, Bob!

The movie doesn't even mention baseball until exactly 23 minutes in, when, while Andrea and Tammy search for an extracurricular, Tammy suddenly says, "That's it! Baseball!" Brilliant exposition and foreshadowing. The two characters do eventually try out for the baseball team -- strangely, coed fall baseball -- and while Tammy is the best player on the team, Andrea makes errors on every play at practice. Tammy explains to the coach the two are BFF ("Best friends forever," she says) and Andrea must make the team, too. So she does! Lesson to kids: If you can't make the team by yourself, force your way on.

The first pitch of the baseball season is a foul pop, and Tammy does a little shout out to another baseball movie with dogs in it while making the catch.

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Well, well, well! Since things went so well the last time I liveglogged a game, I figured I'd entertain the troops (e.g., bored office workers) with another liveblog today. The Phillies are mashing the ball this year, but the pitching isn't quite as hot. Brett Myers leads the team with an ERA of 5.04 and the Phils are only 6-7.

The Fightin' Phils go up against the Brewers today, with Cole Hamels taking on Dave Bush (a Philly-area local!). I'll be guiding you through this game until I fall asleep from all the Robitussin I've taken for my cold. It starts at 1:05 p.m.!

12:25: Did youse all read that New Yorker article about Adderall, Provigil, etc.? It was okay, I guess. I just read it now. Yeah, I'm just waiting for the game to start. COSTE RULES!

12:28: What's really awesome is that New Yorker article mentioned Piracetam and fish oil. If it had mentioned DMAE, and it would have given me the win on my Supplements That Get Hyped By Twenty Year Olds On The Internet bingo card.

12:34: Before the Phillies game, Comcast SportsNet has decided to show a half-hour pregame show! Ha ha, just kidding, it's actually an infomercial for something called 10 Minute Trainer. I was kind of hoping for the Shark Steam Mop, but this will do.

12:35: You now have to head after the jump to read my ramblings. COSTE RULES!

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Many a Phillies fan I know was not able to get through the playoffs last season without the use of some sort of intoxicant. While some may have enjoyed the playoffs with one of baseball's traditional drugs (steroids, amphetamines, beer, LSD), it's clear a lot of Phillies fans needed a lot of weed to get through the first meaningful playoff baseball since 1993. I know, I smelled it on Broad Street after the World Series win.

The Phillies apparently did, too, and have rewarded the team's faithful stoners by holding a dollar dog promotion today, 4/20. It might get rained out, so this intro is kind of ruined, but whatever: Grab your dugout, get out your one-hitter and put in your harmless tobacco, people. It's time to learn what I could learn about marijuana and baseball in five minutes of Googling.

• We all know that beer has done good (Babe Ruth:beer::Popeye:spinach) and bad (Mickey Mantle's liver) for baseball. But did you know the demon weed has done bad for baseball, too? Former Braves prospect Joe Winkelsas blew his chance at baseball because he couldn't stop smoking pot.

Winkelsas loved two things when he entered the Braves farm system as a free agent in 1996: baseball and marijuana," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote. "But probably in the reverse order." Hey, I write the jokes here! He pitched once for the Braves in 1999 and registered a 54.00 ERA. But Winkelsas kicked the wacky weed and returned to the majors in 2006. While that's a pretty cool comeback time-wise, he wasn't much better as a pitcher. But his ERA was a little lower!

• Ha ha, remember in 2002 when every single player on the New York Mets was a pothead? You'd smoke every day, too, if your GM was Steve Phillips. The New York Times reminds us of the controversy, which started when Newsday wrote at least seven (SEVEN!) players on the Mets and in their farm system smoked a little pot. GASP!

Grant Roberts, a pitcher, acknowledged that he was the player shown smoking marijuana in a photograph that was published with the Newsday article, but he said the photo was provided by a woman who was extorting him. ''I'm sorry,'' Roberts said to a roomful of reporters and television cameras at Shea Stadium. ''I'm very embarrassed by the situation. I made a mistake. The picture that you all saw is from the off-season in 1998. The woman who gave up the picture has also tried to threaten me and do other things, to get me to do stuff and give her things. And obviously I did not. Again, I'm sorry and I apologize to the New York Mets organization and to their fans. I love and respect this game a lot and I'm going to continue to play and I look forward to putting this behind me and moving on.''

As you no doubt remember, Roberts lost his sponsorship deal with Kellogg's.

There's a bonus with this story, too, since it's from 2002: A Bobby Valentine sighting!

The developments made for a bizarre scene at Shea, where team officials departed from their usual policy and closed the clubhouse and adjacent hallway to news media representatives for nearly two hours. When it was opened, reporters swarmed around players and team officials. At one point, Manager Bobby Valentine, trying to illustrate the potential dangers of playing under the influence of drugs, struck a pose as a disoriented hitter swinging an imaginary bat. The day ended with the Mets losing to the Montreal Expos, 6-1.

Geeze, if this was how the Mets spent September of 2002, what were they on in September of 2007? (My best guess: PCP.)

• That's it! Every other thing I found while Googling was about college baseball teams being busted for weed, or some random baseball-related people getting hit for possession. Even Rex Hudler! Enjoy the rest of your day!

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Are you as pumped for the first businessperson's special of the year?!?! I know you are. Hi, I'm Dan McQuade, author of Way Back Base Ball (which I occasionally remember to turn in) and I'll be your guide during today's inevitable Phillies loss to the Atlanta Braves.

But don't fret! It's ring day for the Fightin' Phils, and we can be safe in the knowledge that one day, some young player from this team will sell his championship ring like Darren Daulton decided to; hopefully whoever does this (Kyle Kendrick?) down the road will be using the proceeds to finance a book about metaphysics.

Liveglog is after the jump, folks - Rob