Bud, Mickey’s, Schlitz, Coors, PBR, High Life, Red Stripe

The headline is the brands of beer that alcoholic former minor-league pitcher Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) drinks in The Bad News Bears. Or at least, those are the ones I saw and remembered. It’s entirely possible that he drank more varieties, because he’s constantly drinking beer.

Luke, Sandy, Sarah, Stacey, and I watched The Bad News Bears Friday night, after I had read a couple of recommendations of it online from baseball fans who loved it as a baseball movie. And they were right. I had seen it when I was about three, but unlike another movie I saw when I was three, it didn’t leave very clear memories.

I feel like I shouldn’t say much about the details of the movie, because I think everyone who regularly reads this blog–all, what, eight of you?–would greatly enjoy it and should hie thee to the nearest video emporium, take its dusty box to the counter, and enjoy it in the company of a friendly six-pack. It’s funny, and it’s surprising, and it’s not hokey, and it’s utterly impossible to imagine being made in anything close to the same way today. (Don’t mention the remake. Unless Bill Murray’s got the Walter Matthau role, it’s going to suck.) I tend to be suspicious of aesthetic or artistic creeds–stifling little things, aren’t they–but if you were to pin me down, make me choose a style or tendency in movies (and, to some extent, in books), I’d pick works of art that mostly show–without making a pretense of being truly real–people going about their business in the world. A lot of my favorite films–Yi-Yi, Maborosi, George Washington–are a bit that way. And that’s what’s most surprising to me about The Bad News Bears: it’s a sports movie and a kid movie, and it fits more or less into the sports and kid movie patterns, but it has a rhythm and sensibility of its own that hew much more closely to real life than anyone would have expected.

And it loves baseball. The baseball scenes are great. The swearing is great. And the talk about baseball is great, and funny. Rent it while you wait for Sunday night’s game.

Original comments…

Toby: Unbelievable, Levi. This movie has been playing on HBO the last month and I have watched it about 10 or 15 times. Like you, I hadn’t seen it since I was a kid and, like you, I appreciate it so much more now than I could have then.

I think one of the things that’s so great about it is that everyone can identify with one (or more) of the Bears. At age 10, I had Timmy Lupus’ ability and Albert Ogilvie’s personality wrapped up in Mike Engleberg’s body. My best friend, Troy Nelson, was Kelly Leak to a “T.”

I would peg you for identifying with Ogilvie.

Plus, is there any better ending line for a baseball movie than “Just wait ’til next year…” (uttered by Lupus)

I’m also very hesitant to watch the remake (which will star Billy Bob Thornton and Greg Kinear) when it comes out…

I just downloaded the prelude to Bizet’s Carmen from iTunes (the theme used in the movie). This is a scary coincidence, Levi.

thatbob: So, any more thoughts about coaching a Little League team of your own? I understand there’s an opening at Cabrini-Green ever since Keanu had to go fight demons.


Of fountains and squirrels

Levi forgot to mention one of the best features of Saturday’s Pirates-Cardinals game. During an inning break near the end of the game, the scoreboard had a question for us to vote on: what would you like to hear during the next half-inning?

1. “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll.” A Pittsburgh favorite! Cheers and applause.

2. “Bad to the Bone.” Another Pittsburgh favorite! Cheers and applause.

3. Video of a water-skiing squirrel. The crowd went wild!

As advertised, during the next break between half-innings, there was video of Nutty the Water-Skiing Squirrel water-skiing on the scoreboard.

On another note, initially, I had planned our entrance into Pittsburgh on Saturday to be from the south, via state route 88. It’s the way I always drove in when I lived in the town of Library, in the south suburbs, right on 88. It’s a fairly scenic drive that goes through some small western Pennsylvania towns, and I thought Levi and Maura might enjoy it.

That went out the window when Fox ordered the time of the game changed, which meant we had to get into town as quickly as possible, which meant the boring old entrance on I-376.

However, we did get a substitute Western Pennsylvania experience. After the game, for dinner, I suggested we go to Station Square, a development across the river from downtown Pittsburgh, since I knew how to get there via the subway and I knew there was a fairly good selection of restaurants. Levi, Maura, Allison, and I opted not to eat at Hooters, but instead went to a concept restaurant called the Red Star Tavern. Although it was technically a barbecue restaurant, Levi saw beer-cheddar soup on the menu and was happy.

Full of barbecue and $7.00 beers (cost, not value), we wandered out into the courtyard, where there was a fountain that had a bunch of different nozzles spraying in various combinations. Suddenly, the water stopped. Suddenly, the lights went out. And then it started: a synchronized water and light show, featuring various KDKA radio personalities talking about the history of Pittsburgh, interspersed with various Pittsburgh-related songs, including “We Are Family.” Almost as if it had been planned, during the fountain display, two freight trains went by on the tracks between Station Square and the Monongahela River. Levi later said it was the best fountain in the history of fountains, even better than the General Motors Fountain at Comerica Park (which didn’t teach us about the history of the automobile, or about Detroit, or about much of anything). However, there were no squirrels water-skiing in it.

Then we walked over the Smithfield Street bridge and continued for the 12 blocks or so back to the Hilton, some of us marveling at the fact that downtown Pittsburgh doesn’t have anywhere near as many abandoned buildings as downtown Detroit.

Original comments…

Allison: Thanks for adding the fountain story; that definitely was worth the trip over to Station Square. And an odd note. I was back in NYC on Monday night, and ordered a draft 20 oz beer of the same brand that cost seven dollars for a 12 oz bottle in Pittsburgh. The cost? $6.50. Go figure.

Levi: What is the world coming to? Beer more expensive in Pittsburgh than NYC?

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, unless there’s a souvenir cup involved

Hmm, Levi and I should have coordinated our vacations so we didn’t have weeks where only one of us has to carry the blog load.

Anyway, potential guideline for the baseball trip: no drinking “beer by the yard,” even if it’s really only 18 inches, because once you’ve consumed one of those things, it’s pretty hard to get up the next morning and drive somewhere. Trust me.

I meant to check out for Levi what the current odds were on the Cards winning the World Series, but I was too busy collecting my winnings on a certain non-baseball bet I placed at the sports book on Monday afternoon.

Original comments…

Steve: So did you drink a “yard” or a “half yard?” A yard is about equivalent to 40oz of beer. After sitting by the “beers of the world” stand at Comiskey the other night and paying $5.50 for 16oz PBR, I think the yard of beer is your most economical beer selection at the ballpark. I don’t endorse you drinking a yard of beer a day becuase I wonder what that would do to your diet of Hostess Baseballs. It could get ugly.

Jim: I drank a full yard (of Dos Equis amber, this being a Mexican restaurant, which was primarily pushing margaritas by the yard, but you could get any drink that way). It was $13.95, but that’s Vegas hotel pricing, not ballpark pricing.