Monthly Archives: February 2009

Movie Review: Days of Thunder

Days of Thunder is a peculiar movie about NASCAR that came out in 1990. It is peculiar because it is horribly inaccurate and the racing scenes will make any NASCAR fan cringe, but the story itself and the various acting performances make this particular film the type of movie you watch ’til the end no matter what scene you jump into or what you have planned later that day.

The incomparable Tom Cruise stars in this film as Cole Trickle (amazing NASCAR name) which means you will be treated to a couple of running scenes, some shouting, and plenty of close-ups of Cruise mugging for the camera. I am of the opinion that Cruise has never made a bad movie but then again, I have not seen Valkyrie. Robert Duvall, accompanied by a borderline cheesy southern accent, plays Cruise’s crew chief which is a lot like a coach. Randy Quaid is the owner hell-bent on creating the perfect team to win championships. Cary Elwes of Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Saw 1 (ya, he’s talented, but those are probably the only movies you know) and Michael Rooker (really nothing you probably have seen unless you think Slither or The Sixth Day are cool) play Cruise’s main rivals, always trying to run him off of the road.

Deserving of her own paragraph, is Nicole Kidman. She plays the head-trauma doctor assigned to treat (I can’t tell you, it would ruin the movie!!!). Anyway, she is Cruise’s love interest marking the first time the one-time couple were on screen together. I am not a Kidman fan, but she is angelic in this movie, partly because she keeps the Australian accent. Being a doctor, she is always bossing Cruise around (she really is like a foot taller than him, it is a lot like a kindergarten teacher addressing an unruly student).

The plot is not complex: Cruise is hired to drive for a new team. He struggles mightily. He gets better, a lot better. He suffers a severe setback (Talladega Nights style). He comes back. And he… (99.9% of fictional sports movies end the same way with the good guy winning, except for Little Big League and Bad News Bears which will be written about in the future). Talladega Nights basically copied the rise and fall and rise plot of Days of Thunder, but just added more humor and Will Ferrell in his underwear.

Days of Thunder is a good movie with some intense racing action, a few well-written lines, and some chick flick scenes. While this movie will not win any awards (it actually won the BMI Film Music Award and was nominated for an Oscar for best sound), it is thoroughly enjoyable. Cruise may not be shirtless for 384 minutes like in Top Gun, but any movie with the diminuitive star from 20 years ago can’t be all bad, right ladies?

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Filed under Auto Racing, Good Movies

Desperate, Young and Restless Ballplayers

So you would rather watch Desperate Housewives, The Hills, or Dirty Sexy Money than a baseball game? Okay, I can understand Desperate Housewives because of Eva or The Hills because of LC over a game between Minnesota and Kansas City, but did you know that baseball has plenty of sexy storylines better than any gossip found in People Magazine?

For instance, baseball is America’s favorite past time, but former Colorado Rockies’ pitcher Denny Neagle got in trouble with the world’s oldest profession. Much like Hugh Grant, Neagle was caught in a car with a prostitute so rough looking, that it would be an insult to the male race to say she looked like a man.

Boring?

How about Barry Bonds’ former mistress getting called to the stand to testify about the player’s alleged steroid use? A common side-effect of steroid use is that they make a man’s “baseballs” smaller. Do you think the prosecutors are going to ask her how Bonds likes his eggs? No, they are going to ask her if she noticed any “changes” to Bonds’ ah, um, you know…

Heating up a little?

How about in an interview with FHM, Alyssa Milano in regard to ex-boyfriend and former Yankee Carl Pavano, said that “just because you are 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, it doesn’t mean you are big all over.” She clarified in the next question that she was referring to Pavano’s hands but the damage has been done. And Major League pitchers have massive hands so I think we all know what she is talking about.

Now this blog is heating up. But there’s more.

Former Yankee Roger Clemens, when he was 28, allegedly carried on a decade long affair with country singer Mindy McCready…when she was 15!   And when he was married with two kids!  How crazy is that!?! It’s so crazy that I have used four exclamation points in the last two sentences.

Crazy? All those other stories are nothing compared to the next one.

Former Met, Kris Benson, is married to Anna Benson, dubbed by FHM as “Baseball’s Hottest Wife.” Anna is not shy. In regard to the locations of her and husband’s sexual encounters, she has said “We haven’t had sex at Shea [Stadium] yet. We’ve done Three Rivers Stadium, PNC Park and the Pirates’ spring-training camp.” I love how she threw in the word “yet.” And you know grounds crew and security guards at Shea Stadium might be volunteering for the late night shift.

And how about Alex Rodriguez and Madonna? You got marital infidelity, a 17-year age difference, Miami and New York. She went to his games, he went to her concert. It’s a perfect story for any soap opera. Madonna also “hung out” with Jose Canseco, a fearsome steroid fueled power hitter in the 1980’s and 90’s. Guess she has a thing for ballplayers on steroids.

These are just a few sordid stories regarding baseball players. So the next time a ball game comes on TV, go ahead and watch it. You might just catch a glimpse of the star of baseball’s next sultry sexcapade.

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Taking a Mulligan

“Pardon me miss, I seem to have lost my phone number, could I borrow yours?”

“Baby, I’m no Fred Flintstone, but I can make your Bedrock!”

“Did you clean your pants with Windex? I can practically see myself in them.”

Ladies, ever hear one of these lame pick-up lines? These ones are all so stupid that they are actually pretty funny. However, being the classy ladies that you are, these lines did not work. Right? You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.

Anyway, after you totally rejected the dude who tried one of these fine examples of flattery that would do William Shakespeare proud, that guy was probably feeling pretty low. He probably wanted another chance to impress you. In other words, he wants a mulligan.

A mulligan is a golf term used to describe a second shot after a particularly poor previous shot. Not allowed in the official rules of golf, mulligans are used by just about every amateur golfer in just about every round of golf. For instance, a golfer steps up to the tee box (where you hit the ball) and proceeds to try and hit a glorious shot. Instead, he takes a violent swing, hits the ground far too hard, barely hits the ball, and ends up hitting the ball shorter than he could throw it. Now, this is embarrassing (as embarrassing as getting turned down at a bar) so the golfer wants to atone for his weak, pansy shot by taking another shot.

This shot is struck perfectly, far surpassing the previous attempt leaving the golfer in position to shoot a desirable score. In the golfer’s head, the previous shot doesn’t exist and he won’t count it on his scorecard. The mulligan wipes the slate clean and gives the golfer a second chance. So the next time you are at a bar and a guy sidles up to you and says, “Do you have a quarter? My mother told me to call home when I met the girl of my dreams,” reply, “Sorry champ, I don’t have a quarter, and for a line like that, I am not allowing you a mulligan either!”

Try this out! Try using “mulligan” whenever a situation calls for a do-over. For example: You order something and you change your mind, say, “Can I get a mulligan on that order? I will have the caesar salad instead.”

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Filed under Dating, Golf

The Curveball: What is it?

Imagine you meet this terrific gentleman (no ring) at a place wherever people meet people. You hit it off, you go on a couple dates, and you think this guy could figure prominently in your future. You are hanging out in his apartment/condo/bungalow/villa one day thinking how awesome life is when suddenly the door opens, and in walks his wife who was away on a teaching sabbatical. You have just been thrown a big-league curveball.

You expected something and were delivered another thing, making you look foolish. That is what a curveball does in baseball. The hitter is thinking a fastball is coming (fastballs come in straight and with a lot of velocity), but the pitch is actually a curve (curves look like fastballs until the very end when they break sharply downward).

The effect is something awesome to behold. Hitters have roughly .25 to .3 seconds to react to a fastball traveling at 90mph+. Curveballs are significantly slower, ranging from 70mph to almost 85mph in some cases. The change in speed and the sharp break (curves break downward usually in a 12 to 6 or 1 to 7 plane if you pictured the numbers on a clock) can flummox even the best hitters.

Reggie Jackson, one of the most fearsome hitters of all-time, said “Everyone likes fastballs just like everyone likes ice cream.” Fastballs, while fast, can always be timed. The human brain, in all of its glory, knows where that ball will end up before the ball even arrives based on the straight path of the ball. Conversely, the human brain struggles to pinpoint where the curveball will end up.

The fact is, you may know a curve is coming, you may see the curve coming, the pitcher can even tell you the curve is coming, but that does not mean you are going to hit it. Much like having your happiness blown up by that wife walking through the door, the curve catches you by surprise and makes you look stupid.

Something to try: Start calling your surprising situations “curveballs.” Example: “The weather forecast called for sunny skies so I did not bring my umbrella. The weather threw me a curveball because it started to rain like crazy and I got all wet.”

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Filed under Baseball, Dating

Movie Review: Major League

Major League (1989) is a simple, formulaic movie centering on an aweful baseball team (the Cleveland Indians) and their meteoric rise to elite status as they attempt to make the playoffs.  While it won’t take a Ph.D. in film study to figure out what happens, this movie is in every guy’s top 50, most guys’ top 25, and this guy’s top 10.  The baseball scenes are terrific, the acting is great for a sports movie, and the cast is funny throughout.

Speaking of the cast, Tom Berenger plays the washed up catcher (that’s the guy who wears all the gear and sits behind the plate), a young Wesley Snipes (circa when he paid his taxes) plays centerfielder “Wille Mays Hayes” and Charlie Sheen plays the flame-throwing pitcher (Sheen actually was offered a scholarship to play for the Kansas Jayhawks). Playing Berenger’s love interest is the always sultry Rene Russo.

Major League is by no means a chick-flick with a great love story, but the scenes with Berenger trying win back Russo are well-acted and have more passion than anything Titanic or The Notebook have to offer (just kidding, got your attention though and the chick-flick scenes are decent actually).

The humor stems from the idea that the team is a rag-tag group of misfits, has-beens, never wases, and rejects. Among those characters are voodoo believing Pedro Cerrano (the black president from 24 and the guy from the Allstate commercials), a Bible-thumping over-the-hill pitcher, a prima-donna third baseman who refuses to play hard, a grizzled old manager, and the cold as ice owner hell-bent on moving the team to Miami. Bob Uecker plays the foul-mouthed play-by-play radio commentator and steals every scene he is in.

As the losses begin to pile up, the team digs deep and starts to win. The New York Yankees thoroughly embarassed the Indians early in the season, and it is poetic justice that the Yankees would be standing in their way during the final showdown. No spoilers here, you just have to go out and enjoy Major League. You will learn some baseball, laugh like crazy, enjoy a little romance, and learn why a pitcher would cover his hand in Vaseline and put chili peppers up his nose.

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Filed under Baseball, Good Movies

Baseball’s offseason: He’s Just Not That In To You

With the release of ‘He’s Just Not That In To You’ last Friday, what better way to illustrate the frustrations of baseball’s off season than to compare it with the frustrations that can sometimes accompany dating.

Baseball is currently in it’s off season, meaning there are no games being played and many players are without a team, making them ‘free agents’ (if free agents were in college, they would have ‘single’ under relationship status on Facebook because they are not in a relationship with any team, they are free to play the field so to speak).

Presently, the most prized free agent is Manny Ramirez, one of the greatest hitters of all time. Last year, he finished the season with the Los Angeles Dodgers and that team is desperately trying to bring him back. They offered Ramirez a 3-year $60 million contract that he ignored and he turned down their next offer for arbitration. Recently, Ramirez turned down LA’s 1-year $25 million offer.

Three offers, three rejections. Uh Los Angeles, Ramirez is JUST NOT THAT IN TO YOU! Being rejected three times by the same person is a pretty good indicator that they are just not that in to you which is a lot like baseball’s free agency system. For whatever reason, Ramirez is not happy with the contract, the team, Los Angeles etc. Maybe he eventually sees the light and signs with the Dodgers, but as for now, the Dodgers will have to try find a new special someone (other free agents).

The somewhat contentious negotiation between Ramirez and the Dodgers means that both sides should probably move on like a dude spurned by unrequited love. Besides, that would give my San Francisco Giants the chance to make a move on Ramirez  because we are soooo in to what he can bring to our team (CHAMPIONSHIP).

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Filed under Bad Movies, Baseball