SBS Film Vault: Angels in the Outfield

Written by :
Published on : March 19, 2017

 

Disney’s Angels in the Outfield came out in 1994 and is full of everything that you’d expect when you think of a kid’s sports movie and 90’s Disney. It’s an underdog’s story with slapstick jokes that gets pretty cheesy. But it’s chalk full of charm and movie stars. So let’s dive into the SBS Film Vault and rewatch a nice Christian baseball flick.

 

The story

Angels in the Outfield is the story of Roger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a young kid from a broken home who loves the local baseball team even though they are in last place. Roger just wants to have a family to call his own because his dead-beat dad ditched him and sarcastically answers the question of “when are we going to be a family again?” with “when the Angels win the pennant.” And that will never happen because the Angels stink. No hitting, no pitching, no chemistry. Nothing. But one night, while praying, Roger asks God for a family and explains that can only happen if the Angels win, “so maybe you could help them win a little?”.

 

This is when things get real wild. Roger goes to the next game and sees a pair of real life angels help the baseball Angels win a game! But no one else can see them but Roger. Christopher Lloyd plays Al, the head angel who talks with Roger. He explains that Roger asked for help so they are here to help. Through some crazy circumstances, Angels manager, George Knox (Danny Glover), discovers that Roger is responsible for the divine intervention and starts bringing him to every game. Roger quickly becomes an integral part of the team and even has a special sign for when he sees his flying friends.

 

angels gif

 

The cast

Talk about a loaded roster, this movie is packing serious firepower from top to bottom. Leadoff with Danny Glover, then star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, followed by Christopher Lloyd. Oh yeah also Matthew McConaughey, Adrien Brody, Dermot Mulroney, Neal McDonough, Ben Johnson, Tony Longo, Brenda Fricker (the Pigeon Lady from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York) and Taylor Negron. Plus the jerky sports announcer guy is played by fantastic character actor Jay O. Sanders. Also, Tony Fucking Danza is in it. Ever heard of him? Most folks agree, he’s the boss.

 

Give me a second. I’m too star-struck to think right now.

 

The insanity

This is the official *****SPOILER ALERT***** If you haven’t seen the movie yet and/or want to watch it with virgin eyes then skip this section. Now, that the children are gone, let’s unpack all the wacky things this movie tries to pull off.

 

In the last game of the season, Al shows up to talk to Roger, he explains no angels are coming to help because it’s a championship game (for the division crown) but that he is there to keep an eye on Danza’s character, pitcher Mel Clark, who will die in 6 months and is picked to become an angel. As Roger tries to process this, Al continues to say that Clark smoked for years. And that’s basically it. They just drop this huge bombshell on this kid, then use all that as an anti-smoking campaign. It’s crazy.

 

tony danza angels

 

That’s not even the most insane thing about this movie. At the end, Danny Glover adopts the fucking kids and everyone is cool with it. This rage-aholic baseball manager gets to adopt two kids even though he has no partner and he works 9 months of the year.

 

Angels in the Outfield is part of the strange sub-genre of orphan/lost kid sports films. There is something about a child with a broken home that makes them the ultimate underdog. My last thought about this picture is that it flirts with being anti-sports and competition. It’s not fair for one team to have supernatural assistance. At least let the other side use steroids to level the playing field. I want Roger to have a family but not at the cost of the integrity of baseball.

 

Believe.

 

 


SBS Stadium Series: Angel Stadium of Anaheim Time

Written by :
Published on : June 7, 2016

 

Living in Southern California, it can be hard to see my beloved Detroit Tigers in the flesh as often as I’d like. So when I do get the opportunity, I jump at it. The Tigers rarely come to Los Angeles, so I make a once-a-year trip to Angel Stadium of Anaheim to watch my Motor City Kitties play the Angels.

 

Normally, it doesn’t go so well. I’ve had the (dis)pleasure of seeing my team get spanked in Angel Stadium on more than one occasion. On one particularly painful visit to the OC, I even got to see Mike Trout hit a 1st inning grand slam en route to a 10-0 Angels win. This was the final meeting in a three game series, and the Tigers had already dropped the first two games. The odds of a win were in our favor. This had to be it.

 

Traditionally, my pregame experience at Angel Stadium is pretty weak. The consumption of alcohol inside the stadium parking lot is illegal, so I’m forced to get a spot in an offsite lot. Considering my long drive from LA and my lack of a desire to pay $100+ for a spot in a tailgating lot, I end up sitting in my car and drinking beers before the game (with the engine off and keys out of the ignition, of course). This is while trying to avoid the gaze of the many law enforcement officials in the area. Pretty lame. But this time, I vowed things would be different!

 

Portillos

 

I recently discovered that for some reason there is a Portillo’s in Buena Park, right near the Stadium. For those who don’t know, it’s a delightful Chicago-area chain known for it’s dogs and beef. I headed on down with a couple fellow expat Michiganders to enjoy some food and beers before we hit the ballpark. I was delighted to find that both were comically low-priced as far as things go here in Southern California. I downed my combo Italian beef and sausage sandwich. Things were already going my way.

 

We decided to stop into a bar before the game and have one last reasonably priced alcoholic beverage. We were lucky enough find Keno’s Sports Bar. This place was great. To get there you have to go through Keno’s Restaurant, which looks like a more respectable version of Denny’s. It was really weird. It’s like the restaurant was too big, so they decided to build a sports bar in a corner and separate it by tinted glass double doors. Another bonus was that they actually had Keno (Hot Spot here in Cali), a great lottery-style gambling game that is responsible for taking my money in bars all over Michigan. But not this day! I wound up trying my luck and left that bar $10 richer. The good day continued, now if only the Tigers could seal the deal.

 

We arrived a little late and settled in to our nosebleed seats just as the 3rd inning was getting underway. This was right around the time that I realized that my two friends that I convinced to come with me on this trip south were not very interested in baseball. They were both from Michigan, but they were also ladies who spent more time talking about their work as ER nurses and the latest Snapchat filters than watching the pitcher’s duel happening before our eyes. The stadium was pretty empty and it made it so that the sound carried really far. Not only could people hear my friends talking about everything except baseball, but I could hear all types of stereotypical ballpark sounds as well. Random heckling, cheers of encouragement and vendors selling their peanuts and crackerjacks filled my ears as I soaked it all in.

 

 

The Tigers starter on the mound was rookie, Michael Fulmer and as of the late he has been the best part of the team’s rotation. This June 1st game was no different. It was scoreless going into the 5th inning when the Tigers put the first run of the game on the board. It was right around this time that I realized that the young gun was pitching a no-hitter thus far. I began to get very anxious. My two friends were oblivious.

 

The 6th inning came and went and neither team got a hit. The score was 1-0 and the rookie’s no-no was still intact.

 

In the top of the 7th, the Tigers added another run and while I was excited at that fact, my focus was totally on this possible no-hitter. It took every bit of restraint I had to not tell my friends to shut up and watch what could be the best pitching performance any of us had ever seen. I kept my mouth shut. Even as Michael Fulmer got through the first two batters of the 7th without allowing a hit and my excitement level went through the roof. All I wanted to do was talk about it, but I would be damned if it was me who jinxed this thing.

 

AngelsGame

 

That’s when CJ Cron hit a single and ruined it all. Obviously there was some other Tigers’ fan idiot out there who lacked the same level of self control as me and said something about the no-hitter out loud. What an asshole. I was finally able to tell my friends what had been happening but I was crushed. Sure, my team won the game 3-0 and only allowed 2 hits, and maybe I was being greedy, but I really wanted that no-hitter.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy that I finally got to see my team win in Angel Stadium but it could have been so much sweeter. It would have been the perfect revenge for all the awful games I’ve seen there. But sometimes you’ve just got to be happy with what you get. I just have to relish the win and the fact that there’s a chance that the Tigers might have something special in Michael Fulmer. He just had another strong outing last night and might be the new Ace in the rotation. Who woulda thought?

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode I)

Written by :
Published on : February 27, 2016

 

 

Last week on Monday Night Raw, Shane McMahon made a shocking return to the WWE after a six year absence. And it was soon announced that he’d be facing the Undertaker inside ‘Hell in a Cell’ at WrestleMania 32. I wonder if maybe, just maybe, Theo Epstein happened to be watching. Because just three days later, Dexter Fowler’s surprise return to the Cubs was as close to a WWE-style swerve as an actual non-scripted sport can get. The only thing it was missing was cued-up entrance music (“My Way” by Fetty Wap, would have been perf) and his Cubs teammates chanting ‘holy shit’ and ‘this is awesome’ (clap clap clap clap clap) after the big reveal.

 

Until that very moment, the consensus foregone conclusion was that Fowler had signed with the Baltimore Orioles. It was speculated and anticipated for weeks by baseball’s talking head community until it evolved into a full-blown fact. Right up until the moment it wasn’t. And after receiving a text that just said “Fowler!” from my ‘Go Cubs’ iPhone message group, I was so confused and skeptical that I didn’t believe the news until I actually saw the video of a 6’5″ dude in street clothes who looked a lot like Dexter Fowler walking onto the field with a guy who looked a lot like Theo Epstein and being greeted by a group of guys in Cubs uniforms who looked exactly like the rest of the Chicago Cubs. It wouldn’t take long for a meme to go out on social media with Steve Harvey holding the Miss Universe card and saying, “DEXTER FOWLER HAS SIGNED WITH THE ORIOLES.”

 

 Fowler will be back with the Cubs.

 

And while I could talk about what the Fowler signing means for the 2016 Cubs (the best team in baseball on paper just got better, Jason Heyward can now move back to right field where he’s won three Gold Gloves and it creates an insanely flexible lineup depth with Fowler, Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, Ben Zobrist and Kyle Schwarber in the other outfield slots, etc.), it’s probably best to use this as further proof that conventional wisdom at the start of Spring Training doesn’t necessarily equate to actual regular season results. And everything we think we know about the 2016 season before it starts is probably just as true as the fact that Dexter Fowler is the new leadoff hitter for the Baltimore Orioles.

 

All that being said, I still can’t think of a reason why it won’t be the Cubs’ year in 2016. Yes, I’m still worried about the Cardinals. And I still think the Pirates are probably vastly underrated. And I know that saying, “Anything less than the World Series would be a huge disappointment” is a statement that is probably held equally true for the Mets and the Dodgers. And I know that the Nationals were the team that looked like the hands-down best-on-paper team last year. That is, of course, until they weren’t. But it’s still February as I type this. And hope still springs eternal. So as of right now, I’m a believer.

 

Around the League

 

The more I think about the 2016 Boston Red Sox and their high win projections, the more I have a problem with them. Pablo Sandoval showed up to Fort Myers looking like me after a cake bender. And if you combine that with Hanley Ramirez at first base, I don’t see why every team they face wouldn’t just put on a dead-ball-era bunt clinic until the Red Sox can figure their own shit out? But the good news for the Red Sox is that every team in their division has a really good reason why they won’t win either. The best one is that 5’8″ Marcus Stroman is going to become the the ace of the Blue Jays like he’s pitching’s Jose Altuve. And Jose Bautista’s contract looks like it’s already a distraction. As are the whispers that Troy Tulowitzki can’t hit outside of the thin air of Coors Field. And those two teams are the favorites in the division. If you add to that, the uncertainty of the rotation and age of the position players in New York, a possible 30-40 game suspension of Aroldis Chapman, a Tampa Bay Rays team that doesn’t score runs and an Orioles team that doesn’t prevent runs, it leaves me throwing up my hands and saying, “Let them eat cake.”

 

I’m increasingly curious to see Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios in Minnesota. Not to mention Miguel Sano and Byung-ho Park. That’s too much young talent to not pan out in a division where I’m totally ready to see something new and exciting happen. That could also occur if the White Sox can score runs and if the Indians can play defense. I just don’t want to see a scenario where these Kansas City Royals, who have the 13th-highest payroll in baseball and who will not be sneaking up on anyone this time around, can become the 1998-2001 Yankees or the 1988-1990 Bash Brother A’s. I can only take so many cuts to Happy George Brett in the owner’s box before I get sick of this double-tapered shit.

 

 Can the Royals really do it again?

 

My way-too-early AL MVP pick is going to be Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros. Especially now that they created the Chase Utley Slide Rule to protect him. Mike Trout is still probably going to be the best player in the league. But he’s going to get ‘LeBron Ruled’ out of the award until the Angels can put a decent lineup around him. The same probably goes for Josh Donaldson and even a returning Miguel Cabrera because nobody likes repeats. So that probably leaves us with Manny Machado, who probably won’t be in playoff contention and Correa who probably will. And my backup choice is obviously Dexter Fowler, the definite new right fielder for the Baltimore Orioles.

 

And while I haven’t decided on my pre-season NL MVP pick quite yet, I will say that if the Diamondbacks are really going to be in contention, then there’s no reason it won’t be Paul Goldschmidt. But you can’t rule out never-been-picked guys like Giancarlo Stanton (with his zero facial hair and his Barry Bonds) or whichever Cubs player hogs up the most attention in their historic season. Or it could even be whoever this Royce Harper guy is Dusty Baker keeps talking about. I’ll have to get back to you on that.

 

Well, we have actual Spring Training games next week. We’ll get to see Lucas Giolito and Julio Urias and Corey Seager and Byron Buxton and Joey Gallo and start forming actual thoughts about these teams as they move towards the regular season. I’ve given you my picks for World Series champion and AL MVP. And with just a little bit more information, I can form enough of an opinion to the wrong about the rest. Stay tuned.

 

 


Great Expectations: A Spring Training Preview

Written by :
Published on : February 23, 2016

 

Oh no. This is a really weird feeling for a Cubs fan to have. For the first time that I can ever remember, the Lovable Losers on the North Side of Chicago seem to be both the unanimous pick to win their division and also a trendy choice for the 2016 World Series. And on paper it even makes sense. Last year, they proved that their young squad was ahead of their projected timeline, won 97 games and then went deep into the playoffs until they ran into a freakishly overachieving Daniel Murphy and a young Mets pitching staff that seems to remind everyone of the nineties Atlanta Braves. And then they went out in the offseason and got the best healthy pitcher and the best position player from their hated Cardinal rivals, and also added a guy who led the majors in WAR in 2009. Oh, and the rest of their seemingly-all-rookie lineup from last year is back and probably better than ever and still way too young and dumb to comprehend how a jaded, cynical asshole like me can still hesitate to be bullish on the prospects of a Thousand Year Cubs Dynasty.

 

This has to be too good to be true, right? There’s too much pressure. The Cubs never follow up a good season with another good season. Look at 1985, 1990 and every other year since The Year That Shall Not Be Named. And Jake Arrieta has to regress. Because he just has to. And John Lackey is 137 years old. And their bullpen isn’t quite there. And Jason Heyward isn’t a natural center fielder. And because they’re the fucking Cubs. Right? Like, why should I get my hopes up just to have them crushed again and again like I have my whole life? Why? Well… Because of Theo Epstein. And because of Joe Maddon. And because of that offense. Oh, that offense. And Kris Bryant. And Addison Russell. And Kyle Schwarber. And Anthony Rizzo. And the fact that Heyward is actually younger than Anthony Rizzo. And the fact that Heyward could win a Gold Glove in center. And because Arrieta may have pitched an assload of innings last year, but he famously stays in excellent shape. And because of how great of a story it would be if they actually did do it. And because, on paper, the Cubs just so happen to have the best team in baseball by a decent margin. Oh no, indeed.

 

 

The Rest of the NL Central

The Cubs may have kicked their ass and stolen their girlfriend, but the Cardinals are still the Cardinals. You just kind of assume they’ll be playing in October, no matter what. But even with Adam Wainwright back, the mystique feels like it’s gone, with a bad offseason and Yadier Molina needing to grow another thumb. Maybe their insane luck will finally run out. I also thought that about the Alabama football team back in September. Not that I should talk about football in the same breath I talk about St. Louis. Anyway… Then there’s the Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s not like they sucked last year either. But nobody likes to talk about them because they’ll probably just get to the Wild Card and lose again, if they do anything at all. And the only fun thing about that is if Sean Rodriguez goes HAM on another water cooler. This division will inevitably be drowned out by the tidal wave of Cubs expectations. And the Reds and Brewers have probably already
drowned in it.

 

The NL East

According to EVERYONE, the Mets have the greatest pitching staff of all time, ever. And, yes, it’s horrifying. Matt Harvey is another year removed from Tommy John surgery. Jacob deGrom is a floppy-haired pitching monster. Noah Syndergaard actually is Thor. Big fat Bartolo Colon doesn’t age. Steven Matz would be a #1 starter on every other non-Mets team. And Zack Wheeler will be back in July to seal the already-done deal. Plus, all of them except Colon are 19 years old or something. The only problem is that nobody knows what type of hangover these guys will have from all those innings they ate up against Kansas City in the World Series. Or if they’ll even stay healthy. But if they do all bounce back, holy shit. Plus, they re-signed Yoenis Cespedes, which all makes for an excellent case for them to go back to the World Series. No matter how much I hate that.

 

 

Overall this division is horrible. But Bryce Harper and the dysfunctional Nationals should contend. Even though Dusty Baker is their new manager. And nobody knows what to make of the Miami Marlins quite yet. Don Mattingly is their new manager. Barry Bonds is their new hitting coach. Giancarlo Stanton will be healthy. So will Jose Fernandez. But we’ll have to see what all that means, if anything. Or if those guys can even stay healthy in the first place. And anyone looking to make a bold prediction on the division a la the 2015 Cubs and Astros might want to keep their eye on the Atlanta Braves, who are building a monster farm team, even though they’ll most likely be just slightly less shitty than the Phillies in 2016.

 

The NL West

I hate to say it, but 2016 is an even year. So we can probably throw all the analytics out the window and just hand the San Francisco Giants their fourth world title seven years. Their pitching staff picked up two possibly-great/possibly-hugely-disappointing acquisitions in Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. And that could give them an edge in what everybody seems to think will be a three team race with the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks.

 

The Dodgers lost Zack Greinke. To the Diamondbacks. They also have a rookie manager in Dave Roberts. In a market that wore out Mattingly and sent him to Miami. They also didn’t do anything with their gigantic payroll in the offseason. And any time you need to rely on Yasiel Puig for anything other than drama, it’s a pretty scary predicament. But this is a deep team with a crazy-good farm system. And they’ll probably be in enough contention by the time the trade deadline rolls around to throw money at whatever problems they have (that don’t involve lack of team chemistry). Plus they still have Clayton Kershaw. At the end of the day, as a resident Angelino, I just want to see Vin Scully go out in style. And if that means the Dodgers have to be good for that to happen, I can accept that.

 

 

Yes, Arizona got Greinke. And Shelby Miller. And they still have unrecognizable superstar, Paul Goldschmidt and equally unrecognizable AJ Pollock. But their projections aren’t too high as of now because of a lack of offensive depth (sup, Yasmany Tomas?). And it seems more likely they could be this year’s Padres and/or White Sox. As for the 2016 Padres and Rockies, I’m not wasting my time. It is an even year, after all.

 

The AL East

Every team in the division not named the Baltimore Orioles seem to have a chance this year. But the overall consensus comes down to the rebounding Boston Red Sox and the reigning division champion Toronto Blue Jays. Personally, I don’t know how acquiring David Price and Craig Kimbrel turns a 78-win last place team into a division favorite, but that’s just how the east coast media bias works. But it will be fun to see how fat Pablo Sandoval is. And if Hanley Ramirez can play first base. And it’s also the swan song for Big Papi. Plus, David Price is actually really fucking good. So I don’t know.

 

 

The Blue Jays have the best offense in baseball. And reigning MVP, Josh Donaldson. And their offense might be even better than last year since Troy Tulowitzki never got comfortable in Toronto in 2015. They’ll just have to stay healthy. And hope somebody on their team can pitch. As for the Yankees, they’re really old. And look how that worked out for them last season. Plus, you never know about that staff. And as good as their bullpen looks right now, we still don’t know what’s going to happen with Aroldis Chapman’s domestic abuse suspension. And the Rays have Chris Archer and the rest of their great starting five, but they’ll basically need everybody else on the lineup to be awesome to compete. Oh, and also the Orioles are in this division too, I guess.

 

The AL Central

The Royals won the World Series last year, no big deal. And they were one Madison Bumgarner away from being back-to-back World Series champions. Yet for some reason, Baseball Prospectus has them projected to be in last place in the Central in 2016. What gives? Maybe you can’t project things like ‘putting the ball in play and its positive consequences’ or ‘playing with a chip on their shoulder’, but whatever they did the past two seasons worked, so I don’t know why it wouldn’t work again. They have the defense. They have the bullpen. It’s just so hard to make a good enough argument for or against a team with relatively zero stars, that’s this mediocre on paper, going to three straight Fall Classics.

 

 

The hot pick in the AL Central continues to be the Cleveland Indians because of an extremely good pitching staff. Add Francisco Lindor’s defense behind them and they could be a powerhouse. Or Michael Brantley could be hurt and their offense could struggle and they won’t have the money to make acquisitions at the trade deadline to compete. And while I have a soft spot for the Detroit Tigers, they’re also getting a little long in the tooth. They got Justin Upton to aid a pretty good, but aging offense. And they picked up Jordan Zimmermann and K-Rod to help out a healthy, but aging Justin Verlander-led group of arms. Health is the key here. And if they have it, they might compete. The White Sox might also compete, even though nobody outside of Bridgeport is talking about them. They got Todd Frazier. They have Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and a full season from Carlos Rodon. It’s just that everybody is distracted by the heat of a thousand suns ™ on the North Side. And the Twins have Miguel Sano, who is going to hit 40 dongs this year. Even though they were so terrible last year, that even when they were in first place for a while nobody bought it. If that makes any sense. Not that it should. Why would anything in this division make sense? I mean, Royals went to the World Series the past two years.

 

The AL West

Even though the Astros are the unanimous choice to win the division, everybody would rather talk about the Texas Rangers. Their 2015 playoff run was nothing short of a miracle. And now they’ll have full seasons from Cole Hamels and a healthy Yu Darvish. It’s just that nobody really expected the Astros to be where they were last season either. And now nobody expects them to regress. And the former hot choices in the division seem like yesterday’s newspaper. Mike Trout has no talent around him in Anaheim. Nobody wants to get fooled by the Mariners ever again. And the A’s need too much to get anything done.

 

 

So there you have it. Now you’re ready for the baseball season. And now you know why your team probably sucks and why you should switch allegiances to the Chicago Cubs. Or at least that’s how everything looks right now. Spring training, when nothing counts. And before the actual season comes with all its shitty reality to break hearts, launch new stars into the stratosphere and ruin every expectation, rendering long-winded predictions like the one I just spent way too long typing on a nice afternoon completely worthless. But hey, that’s baseball.

 

What else were we gonna talk about, Donald Trump?

 

 

 


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