Fun piece from Rob Neyer at SB Nation on what the next great baseball movie might be, following the success of "42." He asks different people for their ideas -- Bob Costas says Barry Bonds (good luck finding an audience for that one), Allen Barra suggests Bill Veeck (definitely), Joe Posnanski suggests Roberto Clemente (makes sense), Richard Lally suggests the post-Black Sox life of Shoeless Joe Jackson (terrific) -- but my favorite idea came from Bill James, on 19th-century star Cap Anson. From the piece:
But the story of Cap Anson is not a cheerful story; it is, rather, a tragedy with many light moments. We all know for what Cap Anson is most famous now. He was the Alpha to Jackie Robinson's Omega. But that's an important story, too: to get people to understand that the evil of racism does not originate in a desire to be evil, but from a warped understanding of propriety. Cap Anson was a racist, and he was a bully, and he was proud and stubborn and obnoxious, and at the end of his life he was widely admired but impoverished and almost without friends. It is a story with an arc, a story with a destination. It might work, and that is as much as one can say for any movie idea.
My own idea, until Rob mentioned it right at the end of his piece, was the early 1970s A's -- larger-than-life figures like Reggie Jackson and Charlie Finley, players fighting with each other and fighting with Finley, the shocking mustaches of the era (!), the Mike Andrews World Series controversy -- although I'm not sure Hollywood is quite ready for another Oakland A's movie.
How about the 1995 Seattle Mariners? There is sort of a "Major League" story line here as the Mariners -- who had never made the playoffs at that point -- were trying to get a new stadium built or would likely leave Seattle, as had been rumored for years. Ken Griffey Jr. breaks his wrist but Randy Johnson and Edgar Martinez have monster seasons and the Mariners rally from 12.5 games back in late August to win the division. You could have scenes with an evil city council member fighting against public funding for the ballpark, Lou Piniella trying to rally troops, Griffey's dramatic return in August, the Doug Strange Game (Mariners fans know what I'm talking about) on the night the vote for the new stadium failed, and then the comeback win over the evil Yankees (lots of bad guys in this movie) in the playoffs. Closing credits show the special session of the legislature passing a bill to build the park, Safeco Field opening up, the 2001 Mariners winning a record 116 games and the World Series and the ensuing dynasty that was built.