Baseball’s Oscar Gamble


This post don't seem to be like it is, but it do.

[Editor’s note: An apology: I’m reading the title of this post again now and I feel that in retrospect it might seem a bit misleading for some of you. Some of you probably came here expecting a requiem for hair of fame outfielder Oscar Gamble. That could actually be pretty cool, but that isn’t what I had in mind. This has surely caused some unnecessary anger and confusion and for that I am deeply sorry.]

This year the Academy Awards had everything: a scared and confused pizza man, a Samsung commercial that broke Twitter and the controversy surrounding John Travolta being left out of the In Memorium montage after suffering a stroke onstage. The show was so chock full of EVERYTHING that you probably didn’t even notice what was missing.

Well, guess what? Baseball was missing.

After the mid-90s kid’s wish fulfillment baseball fantasy movie boom fizzled out there wasn’t a lot to get excited about. There definitely wasn’t anything worthy of the Academy’s attention. Oh sure, there was that one where the doofus from Friends high fived a chimp, but that is a good example of attracting the wrong kind of attention. Recent years however have shown that this trend is changing. Long gone are the days of the flighty baseball comedy.  Not only is Hollywood making baseball movies again, but they’re making them as important prestige pictures.  Moneyball was just the beginning. Yeah, Trouble With the Curve was terrible, but it had Oscar bloodlines. With the release of the Jackie Robinson film 42, 2013 was supposed to be baseball’s year. 42 was everything that the Academy usually loves unconditionally: a civil rights hero biopic period piece with an over-the-top supporting performance from Harrison Ford (FUN FACT: as Branch Rickey, Ford consumed 31 whole cigars and chewed so much scenery that the movie’s final act had to be filmed on green screen). When it debuted in April it seemed like an Oscar shoo-in despite tepid reviews. A funny thing happened when the nominations were announced though: the mighty Jackie was shutout.

Since conventional methods seem to no longer be working let’s try something a little bit different and reverse engineer some great baseball movies using the titles of this year’s Academy Award winning and nominated films!

A gritty, aging ballplayer dreams of representing the United States on the world stage. When his country betrays him by putting together a team of conventionally talented players he grinds and scams his way onto Italy’s World Baseball Classic roster…seeking revenge. Nick Punto stars.

A gripping courtroom drama explores the backroom conspiracy to stop Mark Cuban from purchasing the Texas Rangers through bankruptcy court.

When a maverick owner announces his intention to hire baseball’s first female manager, baseball lifer Phil Garner trades “Scrap-Iron” in for a flat iron to take one last shot to get back in the game.

The seedy underbelly of the baseball card collecting community is exposed when the only known copy of a Tom Herr error card goes up for auction.

Christopher Nolan helms a dark reboot of The Scout, reimagining Steve Nebraska as a brooding anti hero.

With recent past failures will an enterprising executive take a chance on another high-concept feature? That’s baseball’s Oscar gamble.

Welcome to Beyond the Valley of the Daals! This is my blog. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

A Post-it of the Artist as a Young Man

A Post-it of the Artist as a Young Man

Hi, I’m Justin Drummond.  You might remember me from such Tumblrs as A.J. Ellis Facts and such Twitter interactions as I AM NANCY BEA.  By day I’m a low-level employee in a mid-level bureaucracy, but by night when I’m not asleep I’m an aspiring writer/humorist and an avid Dodger fan (I’m also a fair to adequate softball player).

I’ve been actively tweeting about baseball and the Dodgers for a few years now and telling jokes on the internet for even longer than that (Try and find my old American Idol recaps on MySpace.  I dare you.).  If you count A.J. Ellis Facts I’ve technically been a baseball blogger before, but this I think is the year I finally expand my horizons and write more than one sentence at a time.  Also, by horizons I mean character limit.  Let’s take a look at a recent tweet of mine:

This is admittedly a pretty great tweet.  It’s got baseball, an old pop culture reference, multiple puns…and exactly 140 characters.  If you’re not familiar with the rules of Twitter, that is the absolute limit.  One more character and the entire enterprise falls apart.  I often toss completely great material simply because I can’t make it fit without compromising the soul of the joke (I type this realizing that I may be presenting myself as a huge douche, but humor is something I take VERY seriously).  Well, no more do those jokes have to suffer that fate.  WordPress has no limit that I’m aware of.  In fact, I’m currently at 275 words for this post with no signs of slowing down.  I’m literally figuratively drowning in my own words and it feels pretty wonderful.

So, what should you expect to see here at Beyond the Valley of the Daals?  I’m honestly not entirely certain.  I’ve kind of jumped into this without a specific plan in mind.  There will be Dodger things and general baseball things…and we’ll see what else pops into my head.  I love all of the new analytics employed in baseball, but I am myself am not much of an analyst so mostly I hope to put a humorous spin on what’s going on with the team.  Occasionally you may see some longer essay-type pieces and maybe even some fiction (non-erotic).  I’m generally not a very spontaneous person so this is all a bit frightening.

I can say more definitively what you won’t be seeing.  The internet is full of wonderful sites that do game threads and nightly recaps (my personal favorite was the wonderful Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness which is now the even more wonderful Dodgers Digest).  At this time I don’t feel like I have anything additional to add to that arena, and honestly I don’t think I have the time (and currently I don’t even have a legal means to watch any games, so…).

If you’ve gotten this far you’re probably wondering about the very long and tedious to type name of this blog.  When I was first getting the urge to start this blog and spitballing names I was set on using wordplay to combine a pop culture reference (the Roger Ebert penned cult classic film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls) with the name of a random former player (left-handed wispy mustache haver and two-time Dodger Omar Daal).  I feel like I’ve done that and a little bit more.  If Chavez Ravine is the metaphorical “Valley of the Daals” then I feel the title gives you, the reader, the sense that hey, this is a Dodger blog but may also explore topics outside of just the Dodgers.  Trust me when I say that when this popped into my head I was like, “Yeah, that’s the stuff.”  If you’re curious, alternate titles I considered were That’s So Ravine! and crazysexycool-a-coo.  I didn’t register those so they are free for you to have for your very own blog.  Just promise to pay it forward.

When I teased the blog I thanked EephusBlue (from Twitter and Paint the Corners) for creating the artwork for the header/logo.  I would like to thank him again now.  I think he perfectly designed something that both mimics the original Beyond the Valley of the Dolls movie poster and doesn’t infringe upon Omar Daal’s personal image rights.  Thanks again Eephus!

Let’s recap:

(1) I started the post with a strange hand drawn self-portrait and

(2) shamelessly embedded and overpraised one of my own tweets.

Oh yes, we are off to a very strong start.

With any luck I’ll be at this for a very long time, look back at this post years from now and feel deeply ashamed.

I’m an optimist.