Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Natural


The World Series is happening as I write this, 10/24/19, and the Washington Nationals have just humiliated the highly-favored Houston Astros in Game Two, 12 to 3, on the road in Minute Maid Park. Today the Nats are on their way to Washington, leading two games to one. Lee and I always watch the playoffs and the Series, but not much during the season. This one started off badly, with the Dodgers going down in the Championship Series. So now we are rooting for Washington, partly because the franchise has never won a World Series, and partly because the Astros management are assholes. While this is all going on, he have watched as many baseball movies as we can.

I wonder why it is that baseball seems to uniquely lend itself to myth, legend, the supernatural? There is Field of Dreams, of course, but there are many other examples. How about Damn Yankees, where the Devil himself appears? These stories can be allegories, even fairy tales, such as Angels in the Outfield. That was made twice, once in 1951 and again by Disney in 1994. (I haven’t see either of them.) Offhand, I can’t think of a single football or basketball film that is mythical. There may be some, but I’m not aware of them.

So you are not meant to really believe that Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs hit a ball so hard and far that it crashed into the overhead floodlights and showered the field with fireworks for five minutes. I understand that this movie was radically different from the novel by Bernard Malamud, which had a tragic ending. No way Redford and Barry Levinson and Robert Towne were going to end a movie with Hobbs accepting a $35,000 bride to throw a game, then strike out, a combination of the Chicago Black Sox scandal as shown in Eight Men Out, and the Mighty Casey at the bat!

(P.S. When the Series went back to D.C. the Nationals promptly lost all three games. Things were looking dismal, Astros 3, Nationals 2 … but they rallied and won both remaining games in Houston! This became the only championship series in not just baseball, but in any major sport, where all seven home games were won by the visiting team! It’s not quite on a par with the wonderful 2004 ALCS, when the Red Sox came back from a 0-3 deficit to win against the Yankees in 7. I’ve always despised the Yankees, the biggest bullies in sport.)