So, Sam's Mets blog is taking a temporary break for the reason that I am en-route, right now, to Thailand, where I will be in uncertian conntact with both the internet and baseball for the next three weeks. I am writing right now in an airport in Japan that might or might not be in Tokyo (I'm embressed to ask).
Anyway, on the flight over I was lucky enough to catch a "The Battery" which is a heart-warming Japanese picture about middle school baseball players. The main character is an anti-social pitcher, who throws ridiculous heat. (makes Billy Wagner look like Tom Glavine) His two related problems are that his little brother is sickly and gets all of his mother's attention, and that he throws so hard that no middle schooler can catch him. (I would say that a seconday problem of his is that he dosn't have a breaking pitch, but more on that latter)
The main development in the movie is his relationship to a catcher, one of his few contemporaries that can occasionaly handel his stuff. The stongest thing about the movie is the extent to which the pitcher really is just an anti-social, silent jerk. He never says anything, or shows any respect to anyone, or does anything that doesn't relate to his pitching dominence. At the end of the moive, it turns out that his pitching is actually a sensative respons to his brother's illnesses-- but this is very unconvincing, and cements the movie's status as feel good crap.
The high point of the movie is five miniutes into the film when he asks his grandfather, a past player and coach to teach him his curve ball. It is the first time that he has said anything. The grandfather is played by awsome Bunto Shugwada (sp?) who plays everyone's grandfather in Japansese movies these days-- in the '70s he played Yakuzas. The grandfather replies, "no... you're not ready yet."It has a very nice martial arts feel to it-- unfortunatly this exchange lead to me to hope that the high-point of the movie would be the guy learning a breaking pitch (hopefully in a sweet montage), and that never happens. In fact, although the fact that he has no breaking stuff is alluded to once again, it never really comes up as an issue. And, if you are a middle schooler, pitching to midddle schoolers, throwing heat, I guess you really don't need a slider.
The other problem with the the film, from a baseball perspective, is that no refrence is EVER made to the offense of the team that he plays for. Apparently, in Japanese middle school baseball if you get a certain number of Ks per nine innings, it dosn't matter if you never score runs.
From a social point of view, another problem is that the arc of the movie involves every male member of the family, comming to terms with how much they love baseball, and don't care about the mother, or what she thinks or feels. The sickly younger brother starts pitching at the end, the borw-beaten father joines his companie's team, and the grandfather gets invigorated watching the "hero's" games. The last shot of the film is mom washing three different jersies.
While the move was feel-good crap, and hostile to wommen, the main character, for most of the movie is really interesting. He is handsome, and his stuff is just feroicus. But at the end of the day, the guy really is a distant, self absorbed prick, and the portrait is compelling. A second best moment in the film comes when he is talking to his catcher about his problems (which are that he throws so hard that no one can always catch him); at the end of the speach, which is by far the most that he has said in the entrie movie, the catcher tells him to just shut-up and throw.
Anyhow, the blog will be back fulltime, somtime around August 26-7ish. I'm not absolutley ruleing out posting anything while in Thailand-- particularly, I think that this thing might be worth checking after Glavine's next couple of starts.
The media options on All-Nipon air-ways are seriously sweet, although the food was dubius and I don't think they served hard alcohol. On the otherhand, the flight attendents looked as if they had been hired in a country that dosn't really go for discrimination lawsuites.