Recently in Cinema Varitek Category

I know we've all seen this scene from The Naked Gun, but whatever: I came across it on YouTube and had to post it. (Plus, I'm feeling lazy today.) Is there a better baseball parody ever made?

Well, okay, the blooper scene is also awesome.

Hey, it's Dick Enberg, now the San Diego Padres' announcer!

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Who's name is that on the big screen up there? Hey, look, it's Pete Rose! Yes, the all-time hit king hosted WWE Monday Night Raw earlier this week, on the week before Wrestlemania no less! In the foreground of this photo is Shawn Michaels, who wrestled at the pay-per-view I attended with my dad at the Spectrum in 1990. (I was seven.)

Also on the big screen in this photo: Pro wrestler Kane, shown hitting a piledriver on Pete Rose at a previous Wrestlemania. Charlie Hustle has been beaten up by Kane every time he's been at a WWF/WWE event, and as guest host tonight ordered Shawn Michaels to face Kane.

That is, honestly, the only thing Pete Rose did. I remembered why I hadn't watched an episode of Raw in like 12 years: It's completely unbearable! The annoying owner of the company a major part of several storylines, there is a lot of interview time taken up by people who can barely talk and now the WWE product is aimed at 10-year-olds now so Vince McMahon's wife has a shot at winning the Republican nomination for Senate in Connecticut. That all adds up to a really boring two hours of television.

Rose did show up one more time, of course, a moment I've captured on video below. After Shawn Michaels defeated Kane, Rose went back to his dressing room to celebrate.

Now there's an actor. You should also note it says "HIT KING" on the one side of his collar.

As part of my not-so-secret goal to turn Walkoff Walk into an Air Bud fan site, here's the third post in a series on Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch.

This is the ending to the film, where Air Bud is signed by the Anaheim Angels and leads them to the World Series. Can anybody identify the baseball players?

Happy Friday!

all.star.76.title.jpg Whenever the hell he feels like it, Dan McQuade reviews a baseball movie or TV show for Walkoff Walk. Today in Cinema Varitek: The awkwardly-titled All-Star '76 - Champions of Pride, a mini-movie narrated by Joe Garagiola about the 1976 All-Star Game, held in Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.

While most baseball media is spending the baseball offseason endlessly tweeting about where Roy Halladay is going to end up, MLB Network has been showing a bunch of old All-Star Games. The more recent affairs get the full-game treatment, with the only differences a few on-screen graphics and introductions from Hazel Mae.

But the older games? Well, maybe MLB doesn't have the complete footage anymore, because we are treated to condensed, half-hour mini-movies, like the one from the 1976 game. I watched the full 1996 All-Star Game (also from Veterans Stadium), and for my money the half-hour mini-movies are much more entertaining. I don't really need to see Ricky Botallico pitching a scoreless fifth inning. I'm not saying I necessarily want all my baseball highlight packages to be trippy 1970s affairs (as you'll see in a moment). Obviously, there's a place for both full game broadcasts and condensed specials. I just hope that, as we move forward, the condensed specials continue to be made.

You're probably wondering why I enjoyed Champions of Pride so much. Well, how about the weird giant Electric Company-style words that open the broadcast?

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Concentration! Power! Acclaim! Challenge! The old All-Star Games may not have had giant St. Louis Arch-shaped magnets, but they sure knew how to encapsulate the game in four words. If this isn't doing it for you, how about this dramatic re-telling of a Fred Lynn homer (the only run the AL got), also in the opening?

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For some reason the 1976 All-Star Game was apparently played with a comet instead of a baseball.

Air Bud, Defender of Freedom

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We all learned in late April that the greatest baseball movie of all time is Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch. I mean, a dog wins World Series MVP at the end of it! What more do you want? (Amazingly, in the third Air Bud movie, Air Bud: World Pup, Air Bud replaces Brianna Scurry in goal after she's injured during a penalty shootout. He makes the winning save and the U.S. wins the Women's World Cup, despite the clear rule violation of using a male dog.)

But I digress (obviously). Sometime over the summer, reader Brian sent me an email letting me know about a little bonus tidbit in my Seventh Inning Fetch review. Look closely at the date on the newspaper screencap, he wrote. I complied, and found this shocking piece of data.

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Holy crap! There are a couple of possible explanations for this.

  • It's simply a really weird coincidence. Eh, this is no fun.
  • The paper's a weekly, and prints on a Monday with a Wednesday date. This one doesn't work, either; the paper clearly has a "daily" price in the corner.
  • The front page has all the news about the horrible terrorist attack, and this is just the sports section. This one sort of doesn't work: Every newspaper was pretty much all 9/11 coverage that day; even sports sections were full of stories like, "How will 9/11 effect the NFL?"

That brings us to two possibilities:

  • It's an incredibly awesome sick joke put in to a kids' movie by someone who worked on Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch. Considering the movie came out in June 2002, it was maybe still a little early for 9/11 themed-humor -- which makes this little hidden joke all the more amazing. If this were true, my opinion of Seventh Inning Fetch would go from "best movie of the decade" to "best film in history."
  • In the Air Buddyverse, the 9/11 terrorist attacks didn't happen. Since Air Bud inhabits a world just like ours, one can only assume that Air Bud stopped the terrorist attacks. I'm not quite sure how. Maybe he bit Osama bin Laden or barked really loudly at Mohammad Atta? The real Air Bud (the one who could actually shoot basketballs) died after the first movie. If only we could have saved him!

Incidentally, there's a new Air Bud movie (the ninth) just out, although it's part of the Air Buddies spinoff series. Santa Buddies: The Legend of Santa Paws, with George Wendt, Christopher Lloyd, Richard Kind, Tom Bosley and Tim Conway, came out yesterday. No word if there are any 9/11 jokes in it.

The.Pen.Logo.jpg Each week (or so), Dan McQuade reviews a baseball movie. He also reviewed MLB Network's six-episode reality show The Pen, featuring the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen, which aired Sundays on the MLB Network. Previous installments: Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4, Episode 5.

In the final episode of The Pen, we all learned what the show could have been. I know he was a starter at the beginning of the season, but The Pen really should have been The Chan Ho Show.

The producers gave a couple of the bullpen guys cameras to document what they did over the All-Star Break. Yes, the final episode of The Pen was pretty much exclusively about the break. Turns out the baseball highlights were necessary to carry the show, because absolutely nothing happened in this final one.

But back to Chan Ho Park. He took the camera, and put on a comedy spectacular.

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But he also had a message for Brad Lidge (oddly, not really even present in this episode).

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Look, we all know The Pen was kind of a doomed idea from the start, and the producers did a yeoman's job at times with the material. But they really blew it here. Clearly, Chan Ho Park should have been given a chance to do his stand-up.

But as you can see, not all reliever cams are created equal.

The.Pen.Logo.jpg Each week (or so), Dan McQuade reviews a baseball movie. He's also reviewing MLB Network's six-episode reality show The Pen, featuring the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen, airing Sundays at 8 p.m. on MLB Network. Previous installments: Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4.

Sadness grips the land. There is only one episode remaining of The Pen, the smash hit reality competition that has everyone talking. While we are excited for the finale, we are also sad that this incredible masterpiece of television history will have no new episodes after Sunday.

Hmm, no, that's not right. The Pen isn't a super-hit like American Idol or Dance Your Ass Off, it's a show about the Phillies' bullpen that I have somehow forced myself to get locked in to watching. Something other than sadness has me gripped.

The penultimate episode of The Pen was probably the most interesting yet, mainly because we learned about the game routines of J.C. Romero and Brad Lidge. (This was probably Episode #1 material, but who's asking? Wait: I am.) Romero and Lidge spend most of the early parts of the game chilling in the clubhouse sitting in desk chairs lounging in luxury.

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It's settled: I need to become a major league baseball reliever. I figure with today's performance enhancing drugs and the lack of mandatory PED testing for all Americans, that I've never really played the sport won't hurt me. I'm going to have to get LASIK twice to get my vision better than 20/20, Tiger Woods-style, and I'm totally writing it into my contract that they have to get me an Aeron chair for the locker room.

Speaking of performance-enhancing drugs, we learned in this week's episode that Chad Durbin just wastes Red Bull willy-nilly! That stuff's like $3.59 a can!

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There are a few other possibilities, I guess. He could be pouring several cans of Red Bull into a larger can, or he could be saying, "We don't need this Red Bull anymore, we've got five-hour energy shots!"

mathnet.title.jpg Each week (or not), Dan McQuade reviews a baseball movie. And he also does TV sometimes, like when he doesn't think he has the attention span for a whole movie. This week in Cinema Varitek: "The Problem of the Missing Baseball," the pilot episode of Mathnet, starring Joe Howard and Beverly Leech, written by David D. Connell and Jim Thurman and directed by Charles S. Dubin.

One of my favorite shows as a kid was Square One TV, the educational math show broadcast daily on PBS in the late 1980s and early 1990s. At the end of each program was a short segment of Mathnet, a Dragnet parody where detectives' knowledge of mathematics helped them solve crimes. This was a trend in the 80s; you no doubt also remember the game and show Carmen Sandiego, where you could solve crimes with your knowledge of geography and flags.

The show followed detectives George Frankly and Kate Monday in the Mathnet division of the Los Angeles Police Department. Yes, during the 1980s L.A. apparently had a division dedicated to solving crimes (usually non-violent small ones) with mathematics! Later, the NYPD would adopt the same tactic with George and Pat Tuesday. While DARE may get more press, I think Mathnet is Darryl Gates' real success story in policing. (He gets a "Special Thanks" in the credits here.)

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In the interest of journalism, I recently watched "The Problem of the Missing Baseball," a math/crime hybrid that this website says is the show's pilot. I didn't remember this episode from my childhood, but the plot was familiar; the episode opens with a group of kids looking for their missing baseball signed by Babe Ruth. They had been playing, uhm, sandlot baseball with it and it went missing after a home run. If they don't get it before the kid's father gets home, he's going to get it!

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Of course, in The Sandlot, LAPD officers do not investigate the missing baseball.

The.Pen.Logo.jpg Each week (or not), Dan McQuade reviews a baseball movie. He's also reviewing MLB Network's six-episode reality show The Pen, featuring the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen, airing Sundays at 8 p.m. on MLB Network. Previous installments: Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3.

Hey, The Pen is back! After a break last week to show Bob Costas' interview with Cal Ripken Jr. (the only MLB Network programming less exciting than The Pen), the Phillies' bullpen gets its time in the spotlight again. And what do we get?

Hot hot Brad Lidge texting action!

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Okay, maybe that's not so exciting. We also get a shot of Chase Utley doing his best Richard Nixon impression, which is a little more exciting.

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Surprised at this development? Don't be. Utley has been a Nixon fan for years, as seen in this photo.

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Baseball.Bugs.logo.jpg Each week (or not), Dan McQuade reviews a baseball movie. This week in Cinema Varitek: Baseball Bugs, a 1946 cartoon starring Bugs Bunny. Almost all voices by Mel Blanc. Written by Michael Maltese and directed by Friz Freleng. These reviews usually contain spoilers, but if you can't guess who wins when Bugs Bunny takes on an entire team in a baseball game... well, yikes.

I love cartoons. I grew up watching the Ninja Turtles eat pizza, Garfield eat lasagna and Heathcliff eat... I dunno, garbage, maybe. (Didn't he live in a garbage dump -- or was that some supporting character?) I still love The Simpsons; the recent HD episodes look fantastic. I sat through all four Futurama movies, even that horrid second one. I was also a daily watcher of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show.

Growing up, of course, there were also great classic cartoons that would run on UHF stations (sometimes during The Bozo Show). Like you (probably), one of my favorites was the classic Looney Toons short where Bugs Bunny strikes out the side on one pitch. I recently came across the short, Baseball Bugs, and since it has been taken down from YouTube, I think it's only right to review it here. While I cannot expect to match U.S.S. Mariner's sabermetric review of the game, I will do my best. (NB to Glenn Stout: This review of Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch is the best sports article of the year. Maybe ever. And I'm pretty hard on myself, usually.)

Baseball Bugs opens with the Gas-House Gorillas defeating the Tea Totallers at the Polo Grounds. Let this be a lesson to you, kids: If you abstain from alcohol and tobacco, you will totally suck at baseball. I particularly liked one of the opening shots from the grandstand:

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You don't see fans toss their hats and beers into the air anymore, since their 59Fifty hats cost like $29.95 and their beers even more (at least at Fenway).