Cinema Varitek: December 2009 Archives

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.