BRONX, NY – In the movie The Natural, Robert Redford’s Roy Hobbs hits a colossal game-winning home run, setting off a pyrotechnic explosion of short-circuited stadium lights, and securing the NL Pennant for the New York Knights. In the novel The Natural, by Bernard Malamud, Roy Hobbs strikes out. Hollywood endings are great fun, but most sports situations play out in a more real novel-like fashion. Here are some examples of both.
Jacob deGrom. I’m writing this post while thinking deGrom was pitching against Cam James’ Cardinals. Had they not been rained out, I probably would have tuned in eventually, but I couldn’t bare to watch deGrom get abandoned on the side of the road by his team yet again. (*Apparently, he got the jump on his teammates and gave himself a night off from no run support – something ab0ut a “lat issue”*) Jacob deGrom is absolutely living in a novel. Best pitcher in baseball, arguably one of the top players in the game, 2 Cy Young Awards, and struggling mightily to win 100 games. I’m not one for book burning but, please make it stop.
Miracle on Ice. A bunch of pimply-faced college kids beat the unbeatable Russians and win an Olympic Gold. There has never been a Hollywood ending like it, which is why it’s probably the greatest sports moment ever.
Mike Trout. Not only is Mike Trout in a novel, he’s in a William Faulkner novel. Just like it’s virtually impossible to overcome a sad and cursed Southern Gothic family, it’s virtually impossible to overcome the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Trout could hit .450 this year and club 50 homers and the Angels still ain’t doing squat. It’s his fate. Even his last name, Trout, sounds like a symbolic Faulkneresque Christ figure. The Angels, meanwhile, are sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Daniel Jones. I’m tempted to put Daniel Jones in the movie category, but it would be more of a “check your brain at the door” comedy. John Cusack in One Crazy Summer is a good comparable. Like Cusack’s Hoops McCann, Danny Dimes is saddled with a nickname he can’t live up to. It’s not his fault and, unless you really hate the Giants, the comedy stops there. So, no, Mr. Jones is living in a fairly boring book.
Tiger Woods. Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods could’ve been a movie, but he needed a better director than himself. So, instead of being happy to play Golf Superman, he became part of the director’s cut of Showgirls. His novel still has a chapter or two to go, but this last one was pretty depressing.
Speaking of NFL Films…
Tom Brady. Not only is Brady in a formulaic “All-American boy makes good in football” movie, he’s made six insufferable sequels! Screw the studio heads at NFL Films for green-lighting all of these films!
Francisco Lindor and Edwin Diaz. I’m not calling this one just yet. I’m still holding out hope this can be a buddy comedy with a happy ending, like Midnight Run. But this sure has all the trappings of a “small town guys get eaten alive by New York City” novel. Let’s see how it all plays out.
Speaking of “played out,” I think I’ve gotten about as much as I can get out of this idea, if you want to call it that. Come back tomorrow for Buddy Diaz, who has been reading the same New York Knicks novel for well over 20 years.