Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Scout


This movie builds well, and then blows it all in the last twenty minutes. Albert Brooks plays one of those little-known guys, a talent scout for major league baseball. He goes to high school and college games with the dream of finding the next Mickey Mantle. A promising young man he recruits totally blows it, can’t bring himself to pitch in Yankee Stadium, and Brooks is exiled to Mexico, watching games in tiny towns where goats graze in the outfield. Then he finds a guy with a 109 mph fastball, who can also hit the pill 600 feet. Since he’s been fired, he now owns this guy all to himself, and soon he’s got him a $55 million/year contract. But this guy’s got troubles, too …

All that’s a lot of fun. Albert Brooks is the King of Bullshit, and watching him try to weasel himself out of bad situations is a delight. But then he has to take his star to a shrink to certify he’s not crazy, and it all starts to fall apart. The kid has been abused by his father. Suddenly he doesn’t want to play ball. It all climaxes in stupid scenes atop Yankee Stadium, and what disbelief we have been able to suspend comes crashing down. I mean, maybe it’s funny, at first, that this guy throws so hard he knocks the catcher over every time … but not really. Not over and over. Not when he knocks over the catcher and the umpire, too. Talk about overkill. Not only does he have to be good, not only does this dumb story require him to pitch a perfect game his first time out, he has to pitch an immaculate game: 81 pitches, 27 outs, no balls, no pop-ups, no nothing, something that has never been done in the history of baseball, not even stickball, not even sandlot ball, and never will be done. This isn’t funny, it isn’t inspiring, it isn’t anything but rampant stupidity on the part of the studio execs who forced Brooks and the director, Michael Ritchie, to film this dreck.

As if that weren’t bad enough, we have to endure the sight of George Steinbrenner, the man who has done more to harm baseball than anyone since Abner Doubleday didn’t invent the game, playing himself. He should only choke on a baseball suppository.