Many things in life make no sense. Wonderful guys like Jeff and myself being single, for instance. Or the Cardinals winning the 2006 World Series. Sarah Palin becoming a de facto leader of the Republican party. The world is a crazy place. However, nothing reminds me of this fact quite so much as when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces the Oscar nominations around this time every year.
Another mixed-up Oscar
Seriously, are you guys smoking crack? 13 nominations for Benjamin Button? This movie already won an Academy Award a decade and a half ago when it starred Tom Hanks and they called it Forrest Gump. Making the same movie in reverse shouldn’t qualify it to win another Oscar. Speaking of which, here’s an idea for the studio that will save them several million dollars. Why not just buy some old VHS copies of Gump and play them on rewind. There, you’ve seen Benjamin Button and you’ve helped save the environment by reducing demand for new movies and packaging. Don’t get me wrong, it was a cute movie. But it’s three hours of Brad Pitt being Brad Pitt and it leaves us with the oh-so-original thought that we leave this world much like we came into it. Really? I paid twelve dollars for that?
And from the inane, we move to the insane. This category breaks down into two major subcategories, “How did that make it in?” and “How did that get left out?” In the first subcategory, we have the multiple nominations for The Reader. Yep, I’m sure it’s a good movie. Yep, Kate Winslet is an amazing actress. But this fixation the Academy has with anything Holocaust skews their judgment in a major way. Without a doubt, Ben Button also falls into this first subcategory but I think I’ve already made my point there.
However, the second subcategory is where we find the real problems. For instance, how does Gran Torino get completely shut out? For all the amazing films Clint Eastwood has been part of over the years, this one has to rank up near the top. He makes Jack Palance look like a pansy. He’s as clutch when it comes to film making as A-Rod is choke when it comes to post-season baseball. Similarly, there is no possible way you can say that Mr. Button deserved a best picture nod over both The Wrestler and The Dark Knight. Arguably, those are the best two films of the year and neither one of them is even up for the award. That’s more than a shame, that’s a crime. And neither the Boss or Clint being nominated for Best Original Song is beyond embarrassing.
Anyway, I’m done. The anger is gone. I have nothing left and I’m lying in a puddle on the floor, soaking in my own impotent, rage-filled tears. And yes, I realize that this is probably the third post in a row with only the most tenuous connection to baseball but don’t worry. Pitchers and catchers report soon and I’ll once again be on the floor, sobbing as the Tigers’ pitching staff takes the field.
My favorite movie of the year so far is “The Dark Knight.” I could wax rhapsodic about this movie for hours (and have) because it encompasses the tension, debate and ambivalence swirling in the atmosphere surrounding the United States these days. However, the one quote from the movie that really stuck with me is when Harvey Dent says, “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” The funny thing is that this sentiment is just as true in baseball as it is in Gotham City’s political arena.
This season saw the return of Jim Edmonds to the Midwest but probably not in the colors people expected him to wear. And I’m sure the Cardinals faithful, like my friend Mr. Lung, wished for a moment that he would have either retired or suffered some fate that would have kept him off the diamond as opposed to watching him run onto the field at Busch Stadium wearing Cubbie blue.
I’d bet it’s the same way Red Sox fans feel when they see a well-scrubbed Johnny Damon patrolling center field in the Bronx. Let’s be honest, the age of free-agency (and especially the Faustian machinations of Scott Boras) has not been kind to baseball fans. No sooner have you purchased your CC Sabbathia Milwaukee Brewers jersey then he’s shipping out to the east coast and the Steinbrenners’ warm embrace.
However, all this is nothing compared to the uproar if and when Manny signs with the Yankees. Yeah, he may have dogged it in Boston to secure a trade. He may have pushed around old men while he was there, too. But can you really imagine Manny in Yankee pinstripes? Even talking about it sounds kind of dirty. But that’s how it works today. One day a Cardinal, the next a Cub. Heart of the Red Sox in 2006, soul of the Yankees in 2008.
So what’s a baseball fan to do? How do you accept it when the guy who is the face of your franchise leaves for greener pastures? How do you not see the old hero you loved as the Benedict Arnold he has become? Well, it turns out that there’s one other movie franchise that reflects the world around us almost as well as Batman. And earlier this year in “Quantum of Solace” one of Mr. Bond’s associates said it best: “When one’s younger, it seems very easy to distinguish between right and
wrong. But as one gets older, it becomes more difficult… the villains
and the heroes get all mixed up.” It’s fitting that Bond would add nuance to a formerly black and white world. Still, that isn’t going to get me any money back on that Ivan Rodriguez Tigers jersey.