Tuesday, November 2, 2004


A wise man named Wayne* once said, with regard to baseball:

What an amazing sport with a subtext that reflects a combination of real life, fairy tales (in the lightest and darkest of senses), mythology, filled with tales of redemption, retribution and the always present sense of unlimited possibilities.
He was talking about the Yankee win in the 2003 ALCS, but it better suits the 2004 season of the Boston Red Sox.

Here was a team that overcame being 3 games down against the Yanks to win the next four games to win the playoffs - Something that had never been done before! - to then go on and sweep the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The astounding story of the Bosox would make for a great tale of fantasy: a band of warriors up against a Ghost, a Curse, and an Evil Empire to the South. One of the players might have found his strength in the length of his hair like Samson; another beat the odds against a grievous foot injury better than Achilles ever could. And the final battle was played out in the shadow of the Great Arch under a total lunar eclipse.....

An account of this season has been chronicled by fan Stephen King the best-selling author of horror fiction, but perhaps W.P. Kinsella, well-known for his baseball fantasies, ought to give their mythic moments his flourish.

Baseball has been the basis for several fantasy movies - "Angels In The Outfield", "Damn Yankees", and "Field Of Dreams" (based on Kinsella's "Shoeless Joe"), although the story of the 2004 Red Sox may be more in keeping with the magic realism of "The Natural". But the reality of the Sox success is now entwined in the magic of the movies, thanks to the Farrelly Brothers. As it became evident that the Bosox just might pull off a miracle after all, the filmmakers (responsible for such movies as "There's Something About Mary" and "Stuck On You") had to quickly rewrite the ending for "Fever Pitch", their movie about a rabid Red Sox fan and the woman who loves him.

And that's why you saw Jimmy Fallon in a lip-lock with Drew Barrymore in the center of the celebrations on the infield after Game Four.

But "Fever Pitch" won't be telling the Bosox Story. For that they would need to make a mini-series! Only with a story spun out over successive evenings could the full glory of this season be told.

That way, all the angles could be played - the hiring of Terry Francona, the trade of Nomar, and the visit by fans to the grave of Babe Ruth. All of the players would get their showcase moments dramatized - David Ortiz and his game winning blasts, the chance for Johnny Damon to finally shine, the agony and the ecstasy surrounding Curt Schilling's ankle, and the pathetic bitch-slap by A-Rod.

Even the darkest shadow on their quest must be recounted - the tragic death of Victoria Snelgrave, the fan who was fatally shot through the eye by a police pepper spray bullet.

As to who should play the players - I'll leave that up to casting experts like Lin Stalmaster or Mary Jo Slater. There must be plenty of unknowns out there with passing resemblance to Pedro, Manny, and Baby Face Epstein. Just so long as they let Wally The Green Monster play himself.......

Maybe there will never be a mini-series based on the first Red Sox championship since 1918, so let's give another option a chance to make the play at the plate while a third idea warms up in the bullpen. (There's no analogy or metaphor I won't take a swing at!)

I have to figure David E. Kelley will write an episode that weaves the World Series into his own series, 'Boston Legal' on ABC. He must love the town - three of his series were set in Beantown ('Legal', 'Boston Public', and 'Ally MacBeal'). And since he relies so heavily on quirky courtroom cases, having James Spader as Alan defending Ted Williams' frozen head would be a Shore thing!

Well... maybe dealing with the Sox legend's noggin should be left to Jordan Cavanaugh, the Boston medical examiner of 'Crossing Jordan' over on NBC. And what better place to showcase a storyline about the Red Sox than in an episode of 'Clubhouse' on CBS? You could even get a few players - like Trot Nixon and Bronson Arroyo; even the principal owner, John Henry - to play themselves.

If this was a perfect TV Universe, that mini-series idea would also be an opportunity to revisit some old friends from long-ago shows. The most obvious choice would be Sam Malone - wouldn't he have been invited to join the victory parade through the streets of Boston as did other past Sox players like Yaz and Pesky? If it had been still on the air, 'Cheers' could have even rushed out a quick opening for an episode; in which Norm and Cliff and Carla are standing outside the bar and watching the parade pass them by.

Calista Flockhart as 'Allie MacBeal', Avery Brooks as Hawk ('Spenser: For Hire'), Mariette Hartley as Jennifer Barnes ('Goodnight, Beantown'), Chi McBride as Principal Harper ('Boston Public'), and even coverage by the guys on 'SportsNight'... these are just a few of the fictional cameos that could proudly grace the parade route.

And they could even take the opportunity to explore the secret labyrinth of passageways beneath Fenway Park, which were revealed in an episode of 'Relic Hunter'!

At the very least, I'm sure there are plenty of big name stars who are Bosox boosters (Matt Damon, Matthew Perry, Lenny Clarke, and Seth Myers), and who would be more than happy to lend their faces to such a project, either as one of that bunch of Idiots (Ben Affleck as Varitek?), or as themselves. (Is Denis Leary a fan?)

Music could be provided by Aerosmith, the Cars, and the J. Geils Band. And Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore could even recreate their movie moment yet again to twist all of the parallel dimensions into a pretzel!

And depending on how today's election turns out, perhaps a scene could be written which would utilize either fan and candidate John Kerry, or Curt Schilling out on the stump for Bush.



*I know Wayne's wise. He married Marsha. (It's an Iddiot thang.)

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