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Great Movie, Terrible Baseball

December 17, 2020

He’s one of the Facebook friends that you meet because they are a friend of a friend. I wasn’t sure we had much in common, but I’m pretty open on my facebook page. Unless someone is an obvious Bot or Troll, I’ll accept the friend request. (I hide many of them.)

And with the Facebook algorithm who knows which of your friends’ posts you’ll see? So, it was unusual to see a post from him. And the post was even more unusual. Not text. Just a picture. And not like a meme or something. Just a picture of an actor wearing a baseball uniform.

It was Ray Liotta. And although it wasn’t clear in the picture, he was dressed as Chicago White Sox outfielder Joe Jackson frin the movie “Field of Dreams.” He was known as “Shoeless Joe.” Jackson got the nickname not because he played barefoot. He wore shoes like every other ballplayer. But during one game his shoes hurt so he took them off and played the rest of that game barefoot. The nickname stuck.

But, Jackson was most famous for his nickname, of course. He, along with seven of his White Sox teammates, cheated and intentionally lost games in the 1919 World Series. They were known informally as “The Black Sox.”

But, in the movie, Jackson isn’t a villain. He’s not even viewed as a bad guy. He is dead, of course. The movie is set in 1989. Jackson died in 1951. The movie is almost a redemption project for Joe Jackson. Characters talk about how Joe might not have even been in on the cheating, (he was) because he had such a great series (he did.)

That’s not even the worst bits of bad baseball in the movie. Ray Liotta bats right handed and throws left handed. Joe Jackson batted left handed and threw right handed. But in the context of the movie?

No one cares.

Ray eventually invites the other 7 of the cheaters, all banned for life from baseball. They play on the “Field of Dreams” that Kevin Costner built in the middle of a corn field. They play a pickup game. But, it’s clear that one of the players on the field is wearing catcher’s gear. But, the catcher on that 1919 White Sox team was Joe Jenkins. He was not one of the cheaters. In fact, one of the ways the cheaters were found out is that the two pitchers who cheated, Eddie Sicotte and Lefty Williams didn’t throw the pitchers that Jenkins called. But, in the context of the movie?

No one cares.

See, “Field of Dreams” isn’t really a baseball movie. It’s really about parents connecting with their kids. It’s about a romanticized view of America that was all apple pie and dirt infields. Even the big “conflict” in the movie is irrelevant. The farmer plowed under his crop to build the field and now he’s going to go broke.

I lived on a farm in Minnesota for a year. We were just North of Iowa. Here’s the thing: a baseball field is probably about 5 acres. A corn farm is hundreds of acres. No way, a little 5 acre baseball field will make a difference. But, in the context of the movie?

No one cares.

I hit the LIKE button on my friend’s post. As I said, there was no context, not text, nothing to explain by he posted it on a Tuesday in December.

But, the World Series wrapped up over a month ago. Spring Training won’t start for for another couple of months. This is the baseball dry season. So any baseball reference is appreciated.

And it was a really good movie. . .even if it got most of the baseball wrong.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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