"Bull Durham 2: Manny Being Crash"
[The cramped ballpark office of CRASH DAVIS, manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers' Triple-A farm team, the Albuquerque Isotopes.
[CRASH is 52, two decades older than in the original movie, and the years show. For one thing, he is nearly bald, no matter how much the studio makeup people try to hide it. The past 15 years have been especially hard on him. He's still in the minors and his career seems to be going nowhere, at least not after "Waterworld," "The Postman" and "Dragonfly," which is the only reason he has consented to this lame sequel to a beloved classic.
[CRASH is going over the night's game with his coach, LARRY, whose career likewise has fallen since co-starring roles with Jack Nicholson in "Batman" and Tommy Lee Jones in "Cobb."]
CRASH: I swear, nobody hits balls that far without Robert Duvall ripping him in the press box and a backlit Glenn Close standing up in the stands. The first homer Nuke LaLoosh Jr. hit tonight went 520 feet.
LARRY: A new league record.
CRASH: His third home run went 540 feet and hit the Dippin' Dots man across the street from the ballpark.
LARRY: Another new league record.
CRASH: I tell you, Larry, Nuke Jr. is a natural. He's going to be better than his father, way better. For one thing, he doesn't throw like a girl, and he loves playing as much as I do. Hell, maybe more. Nothing can keep this kid from Cooperstown, unless of course, he's like his old man and gets banned by the right-wingers at the Hall because he's always bitching about U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and our lack of universal health care.
[There is a knock at the door. CRASH and LARRY look up to see MANNY RAMIREZ enter the office, followed by a five-man posse toting his luggage.]
MANNY: I'm too old for this crap. I'm 37 years old. What am I doing back in the minors? And where the hell is Albuquerque, anyway? Any chance it's a Yankees farm team?
CRASH: You're kidding, right? You're here because the league suspended you 50 games for a positive test for performance enhancers, and you need some time to get your swing back before you're activated. [He pauses, thinking about MANNY and his own career, and we hear his thoughts in a voice-over.] "God, I could have been in the majors if only I had tried steroids instead of acting so pure and self-righteous. I mean, I said some pretty clever things and it helped me get women, but maybe a little 'flaxseed oil' would have helped my career. Look at Hugh Jackman. No way he got that Wolverine body naturally." [He returns his attention to MANNY.]
Anyway, while you're here, I need you to help me. We've got a center fielder, Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh Jr. He's the son of the two-time Cy Young winner and one-time Oscar winner. He's got a gift. I swear, he's the best-looking player I've seen in my 30 years in the game. He's the Dodgers' top prospect, and he's just about ready for The Show.
OFF BASE ON ESPNEWS
Page 2 columnist and baseball guru Jim Caple appears every Wednesday on ESPNews to discuss his Off Base column.
MANNY: So you need me to room with him on the road and stay on his case and show him how we play this game?
CRASH: No, I need you to stay way the f--- away from him so he doesn't learn any of your bad habits. So help me, if I see you so much as ask him what time it is, you'll be selling Lady Kenmores.
LARRY: I sold Lady Kenmores after they canceled "Arli$$."
MANNY: That's too bad. I already made dinner reservations for him and me tomorrow night at 8.
CRASH: Tomorrow at 8? We have a game tomorrow night!
[CRASH, NUKE JR. and MANNY are with the rest of the Isotopes in the clubhouse listening to a bizarre little HYPNOTHERAPIST lecture the team.]
HYPNOTHERAPIST: Losing is a disease. As contagious as the swine flu, attacking one and then getting blown completely out of proportion by a ratings- and advertising-starved 24/7 media
[MANNY gets up and begins to walk out. CRASH yells after him.]
CRASH: Manny! Manny! Where are you going?
MANNY: The batting cage.
[CRASH chases after him.]
CRASH: No, you don't. I'm the manager of this team, and I say you park your a-- back here and listen!
MANNY: After 17 years in the majors, I don't have to listen to you or him or anything except what's on my iPod when I'm playing left field. Besides, I don't believe in that psychobabble. And the scene is from the wrong baseball movie.
CRASH: What do you believe in, then?
MANNY: Well, I believe in Big Papi, "Sweet Caroline," dreadlocks, ear buds, the hanging curveball, Dodger blue, good scotch at the Ritz-Carlton bar and that range factor and other fielding statistics are mostly self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe OPS is a far better gauge of a player's value than whether he runs hard around the bases or occasionally forgets how many outs there are. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment adding the designated hitter to the National League when I'm a free agent in two years. I believe in the Green Monster, working the count, reporting to spring training by Opening Day rather than in February, and I believe in long, intense morning batting practice that lasts three hours before any of my teammates even show up to the park.
JUNIOR: Oh, my.
[CRASH enters the clubhouse and finds JUNIOR buttoning his jersey over a lacy black bra. JUNIOR turns to his locker and tries to hide the fact he's wearing a bra.]
CRASH: That's hot. No, I mean it. That's a very hot look.
JUNIOR: I can explain, Skip. Manny says
CRASH: Don't worry about it. I understand. Manny told you you should wear a bra to break your slump. He thinks that if you wear a bra and also breathe through your eyelids like the lava lizards of the Galapagos Islands you'll relax at the plate and start hitting. It's OK. I hate to admit it, but he's right. It's working. You're in a 12-game hitting streak, and you have to respect a streak. So if you believe you're on a streak because you haven't had sex for three weeks or because you're wearing women's underwear, that's what you do. Because streaks don't come along very often.
JUNIOR: No, Manny told me to wear it because my breasts have gotten so big ever since I started taking estrogen as a masking agent.
[The outfield at an Isotopes game. MANNY is chatting casually with a worried JUNIOR.]
MANNY: What's the matter, man?
JUNIOR: I'm nervous because my old man is here and in real life he's married to Crash's lover, and my eyelids are jammed, and my bra strap keeps slipping, and I need a live rooster to sacrifice because my bat has a curse on it, and I don't know what to get Miguel and Millie for their wedding present. I'm dealing with a lot of s---.
MANNY: OK, well, candlesticks always make a nice gift.
[We see a fly ball bounce 10 feet to MANNY's left. He doesn't move a muscle. As JUNIOR looks nervously at the ball bouncing toward the warning track, MANNY continues to talk. The right fielder and shortstop chase down the ball behind him.]
MANNY: Or maybe you could find out where she's registered and maybe get a place setting or a silver pattern. Or maybe hold on a minute.
[He starts sprinting toward the left-field fence.]
JUNIOR: Manny, wait -- they already got the ball.
MANNY: What ball? I gotta go to the bathroom.
[We find MANNY in a dingy Albuquerque pool hall. He is chalking his cue while talking to SANDY, an aging ex-ballplayer.]
MANNY: I keep telling this kid, treat the game with respect. Don't cheat yourself. Even if you're trailing 3-0 in a best-of-seven series and you're down to your last out against the best closer in baseball, always give it your best. Because it all counts, though maybe not as much before the trade deadline. But I can't get through to him. He just gives away at-bats. He doesn't appreciate. He doesn't realize the difference between hitting .300 and .250. It's just 25 hits a year -- 25. That's one hit a week -- one flare, one gork, one groundball with eyes, a dying quail. Just one more dying quail a week and he could be in Dodger Stadium.
SANDY: Ain't that the truth. Hey, aren't the Isotopes playing a game right now?
MANNY: Isotopes? Who are the Isotopes?
SCENE 6[CRASH is at home, sitting on a porch swing next to ANNIE SAVOY. He is obviously exhausted.]
ANNIE: So the Dodgers called up Junior, too, when Manny finished his rehab?
CRASH: Yeah. He's going to be great, Annie. He really is. And I'm happy for him. But I've had it. I'm tired, really tired. I'm worn out from all the moving around, the miserable bus rides, low pay and the s----smelling foulness of minor league clubhouses you can't even imagine. I wish just once it could be me who swims through a river of s--- and comes up clean in the majors. It's like Junior told me before he left today when I caught him carving "Brooks Was Here" above his locker: "Skip, get busy living or get busy dying."
ANNIE: I think that's from another movie, Crash. Besides, you should take pride in every call-up. You give the players something. You teach them how to play and treat the game with respect and love. You make them feel confident, and they help you look good to the organization. Of course, what you give them lasts a lifetime and what they give lasts until August at the latest. Sometimes it seems like a bad trade but bad trades are part of baseball -- look at Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe for Heathcliff Slocumb, for crying out loud. But it's a long season, and you gotta trust it. After all, Joe Torre is 69.
[CRASH looks into her eyes and slowly begins to smile. He knows she's right. She's always right. He kisses her softly on the lips, then more passionately, then slips his hand up her skirt toward her exposed garter. But before the teens and 20-somethings we depend on for a big opening weekend get too grossed out watching sex between a balding 54-year-old guy and a 62-year-old woman, the camera mercifully pans away and through the living room window, where we see a TV screen, and on it a reporter is interviewing JUNIOR at Dodger Stadium.]
JUNIOR: It's like I learned from someone very wise and very important to me at Triple-A Albuquerque: Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes you have a sore throat and have to stay in the hotel bar.
[JUNIOR turns and we see the beginning of dreadlocks sprouting under his cap as we FADE OUT ]
BOX-SCORE LINE OF THE WEEK
Kansas City's Luke Hochevar won last week's award by throwing a complete game with only 80 pitches. This week he threw 90 pitches and finished only four innings in a 12-5 loss, one of three games the sliding Royals lost by that same score last week (they also lost a game 10-5). Pittsburgh's Paul Maholm gave up 14 hits (5 IP, 14 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 1 BB, 4 K).
But this week's award goes to Bob Feller, just for the opportunity to give an award to Bob Feller. In the inaugural Hall of Fame Classic over the weekend, Feller started the game at age 90, 53 years removed from his final major league appearance. Feller faced three batters -- Paul Molitor, Bobby Grich and Steve Finley -- and recorded one out (Grich).
"We made a deal," Molitor told reporters after the game. "He said no bunting and I told him I'd keep line drives out of the middle of the field."
Rapid Robert's line:
1/3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Feller will turn 91 later this year and the amazing thing is, he's still younger than Jamie Moyer. And throws harder.
TELL YOUR STATISTICS TO SHUT UP
Baseball gets a lot of criticism for its World Series start times, but what if Game 7 was postponed by rain and they held it the next day with the first pitch at 6 a.m. on the West Coast, as was the case with this year's U.S. Open? Good Lord. Baseball's biggest games might end late but at least they don't compete against Al Roker.
What is Donald Fehr's legacy as head of the players' association? Overall, very good, but with one glaringly bad stance. In a time when virtually every other union in the country was becoming toothless, he maintained the strength of the baseball players union. When basketball and football unions backed down on salary caps and other concessions, the baseball union remained nearly all-powerful, with salaries rising from an average of $289,000 per year when Fehr took over 26 years ago to $3.2 million this season. If your salary rose that much in that span, you probably would heap praise on your union chief, too. On the other hand, Fehr could be a humorless man (especially in the earlier going) whose very image sent fans into fits and who occasionally lacked perspective when protecting player benefits. But near the end, relations between union and management were somewhat amicable, and Fehr even smiled on occasion. His greatest failing, however, was dragging his feet over drug testing. The union was more at fault than ownership on this issue. True, if the players really wanted drug testing, they should have made Fehr push for it rather than resist it. But as their leader, he also should have known better. He should have seen the longer, broader view, taken charge and better represented his members. But that's in the past now. We'll see how his probable replacement, the highly recommended Michael Weiner, fills Fehr's shoes, which are so large a clown could wear them.
Disappointed that you went to a game recently and all you got was a lousy Brandon Morrow bobblehead doll? It could be worse. You could have gone to a Lowell Spinners game and gotten this, perhaps the worst giveaway in baseball history.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com