Baseball seasons are long. Really long. By this point, nearly five full months in, every team has had its share of highs and lows (the difference between the teams is just the relative frequency of one or t’other, really), and enough of them that even if you’ve been hanging on your team’s every movement all season, you’ve already forgotten several of the highlights and lowlights by now.
It’s a little bit like sitting in a movie theater for three or four hours, trying to follow a film convinced that the message it has to convey to you is so important that it’s worth taking up most of your day and all of your concentration. You’ll forget parts, you’ll love some parts and hate others. At the end of the day, you just try to hold onto the basic point, and even if it’s fantastic, you’re ultimately at least a little proud of simply being able to say you’ve sat through the whole thing.
More specifically, here are some epic films (not all of which I’ve actually seen — I’ll let you figure out which ones) that have a lot in common with a particular 2011 ballclub:
The Red Sox are like The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
The Red Sox opened in an atmosphere of impending doom, starting 0-6 and then 2-10, but quickly learned that greatness comes in all sizes, as a brave, gritty, gutty little Hobbit (Dustin Pedroia) persevered in the face of mounting odds, unspeakable evil, and a whole lot of professional athletes who are just much, much taller and more athletic than he is, and did what he had to do.
Helping him out are the lithe, speedy little elf (Jacoby Ellsbury), the slow-starting king of men who reluctantly steps into greatness (Adrian Gonzalez, who hit just one HR in April), and the plodding dwarf who swings a devastating axe (David Ortiz). I’m sure there’s a Gandalf in there somewhere, too, but I can’t quite make one fit.
Have you ever noticed how front-heavy the problems in LOTR are? I love the series, but it’s a bit silly. The first film ends on probably the darkest note in the entire series; and there’s a lot of foreboding and gloomy talk after that, and a few real down moments, but the gang keeps getting deus ex machina‘d out of jams, with things like ancient armies of sentient trees, or invincible ghosts. That’s pretty much what the Sox’ season has been like; things looked bad at first, but it’s pretty much been a cake walk after that, really. Of course, they haven’t defeated the unblinking fiery eye of the Yankees yet, either.
The Twins are like Titanic.
The ship sinks. Everybody already knows the damn ship sinks.
The ship’s leaders were too bold, were foolhardy, made ill-considered and ultimately disastrous mistakes, leaving hundreds or thousands of victims strewn across their bumbling path. Meanwhile, her captain (and you can use either Bill Smith or Ron Gardenhire here) somehow sloughs off safely to a lifeboat, leaving his underlings behind to suffer the consequences of his grave mistakes. Poor little Jack Dawson, the scamp with the heart of gold and easily the best person and most complete character we meet (Joe Mauer, who has been hurt and probably unprepared to play all year, apparently thanks to the team’s appalling failure of a medical staff, and who now is being blamed by fans and media for being hurt and not playing), gets just about the rawest deal imaginable.
And, by about two-thirds of the way through either Titanic or this Twins season, you’re ready to say “hey, can you just hurry up and drown already? I’ve got all this laundry and stuff.”
The Marlins are like Lawrence of Arabia.
T.E. Lawrence (Logan Morrison) is a British army lieutenant who doesn’t stand out much, except that he has a bit of a problem with authority. He embarks on a series of adventures, rising to prominence within the army, and then fame throughout the world, largely through his propensity to disregard orders and do things his own way.
Then comes his fall from grace — Lawrence is captured on a mission (which isn’t quite the same as a player being demoted by his own team, but pretend) and is badly beaten and otherwise humiliated. He returns to duty changed and invigorated, raising an army to fight off the Turks.
Morrison’s mouth and attitude have made him famous. His (perceived) performance got him (undeservedly) demoted, and he came back strong, going 2-for-4 with a homer in his first game back from that harrowing ordeal.
The Cubs are like The Bridge on the River Kwai.
The main characters for most of The Bridge on the River Kwai are
American British soldiers being held as Japanese prisoners of war, forced to spend their days building a bridge that will benefit the enemy. The work is pointless at best, and at worst a danger to the allies’ cause, which creates all sorts of tension and problems among the ranks, especially when the colonel starts demanding that they build it properly.
The project (like the Cubs) is largely a failure, but they’re continually prodded along toward the finish anyway. Some soldiers/players attempt to escape from their captivity; one is successful (Kosuke Fukudome) while the others (Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Pena) are shot down. Meanwhile, chaos reigns — the soldiers continue to build the bridge, alongside their Japanese captors, despite knowing that no good (and lots of bad) can come to them or their country from the task…in much the same way that the Cubs keep playing baseball games to no end at all.
Then toward the end, a newish cast of characters, the commandos, swoop in to try to just blow the whole thing up, which is exactlywhat Jim Hendry’s successor will have to do. Too little, too late, though: it’s all just a big mess. American soldiers are trying to save the bridge, American soldiers are trying to destroy the bridge. Just about everybody dies. It ends with one of the few survivors simply saying: “Madness! Madness!”
…Which should probably be adopted as the official slogan of the Cubs, 2009-2013 or so.