[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.
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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.