Tag Archives: hall of fame

Handicapping the Oscar Races for Baseball Fans Part Two

With Oscar Day nearing, here are the rest of our inane, wildly important comparisons between Oscar nominees and their MLB counterparts. As Stanley Kubrick once said, “The Oscars and MLB go together like…” Who knows what he said, but the connection was there!

The Supporting Actors

 

Alan Arkin

 

Above: Everyone’s Grandpa. A man meant for the movies, and good for everyone he encounters.

Arkin won his first Oscar in 2006 for Little Miss Sunshine, but he also received two nominations in the ‘60s. He’s never been the It Guy at any given time, but Arkin has been giving memorable performances like this one in Argo since the Millard Fillmore administration, give or take. A Hollywood kid from a Hollywood family, Arkin’s been one of the good guys in the business for half a century. Can’t imagine he has an enemy anywhere. Alan Arkin is…Kevin Millwood. Looks like a really nice guy, and there’s no evidence to suggest he’s otherwise. A long career of solid, and at times All-Star, performances. He even deserves more than what I’ve just written. Oh well, for another time.

 

Happy where he was, and the baseball world better for it.

Robert De Niro

He’s actually asleep in this picture. It’s just how his face relaxes.

 

With a legitimate chance at winning on Sunday, De Niro will be seeking his 3rd win. This marks his 7th nomination (7th!). As usual, De Niro seems to be right in the midst of the big race as well, as Silver Linings Playbook is a favorite to snag Best Picture. He’s been turning in iconic performances since he was Vito Corleone and even before, but his role in Playbook was filled with real, pure emotion, perhaps marking a difference from many of his bigger, louder roles. A man who would have been a HOF lock two decades ago, De Niro has not shied away from expanding his repertoire at any point, even allowing his role to become a supporting one so as to allow young stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper to shine. De Niro is…Todd Helton. He still delivers remarkable performances, but still he allows for younger stars to shine as the franchise/films shift towards the next generation of talent.

 

Helton reacting to finding out he made it onto our blog. Wonderful to see such enthusiasm from such an accomplished man. The privilege is ours, Todd.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

PSH releasing Andrew Garfield from captivity, it would appear.

 

With his nomination for his work in The Master, PSH has now received nominations in four of the past eight Oscar races, with a win in 2006 for Capote. He’s a quirky man, to say the least, but Hoffman has been doing it right for a long time, including 2008, when he received two Golden Globe nominations. A true student of the craft, Hoffman has shown in recent years the ability to jump from biography to political drama to romantic comedy (HOW DID HE NOT GET AN OSCAR FOR ALONG CAME POLLY?!?!) without sacrificing his effectiveness. He does have a baseball connection, having portrayed Art Howe in Moneyball despite looking NOTHING like Art Howe! Not necessarily a late bloomer, but he has received well-deserved praise—at least from the Academy—only in recent years, as his prime seems to be dwindling. PSH is…Roy Halladay. Somewhat of a late bloomer, at least late to become a certified star. Also, both men are certainly quirky fellows trending towards crazy, “method actors” in their respective fields.

Can’t deny his talent…or the crazy eyes.

 

Tommy Lee Jones

 

BUT I AM SMILING!

Jones won an Oscar for The Fugitive in 1994, and this year marks his fourth nomination. He has a good chance this time around (in case you haven’t noticed, this category is WIDE OPEN, with 5 worthy nominees), and maybe a win would even get a smile out of Agent Kay. A wily, stoic veteran of the trade, Jones has been frowning his way through hits since Fugitive and then some. Lincoln was fantastic, and in this “credible” critic’s mind, the Picture race should come down to it and Playbook. That being said, I don’t think Jones should be bringing home a trophy of his own. Nevertheless, he has cemented himself as a staple of the industry and a stabilizing force amidst the chaos that is Hollywood fame. Tommy Lee Jones is…Michael Young. The workman of baseball, pure consistency over the course of a career, all accomplished without controversy or smiles. Epitome of professionalism as well as stoicism.

I’M SORRY, OK? I’m just not used to doing this.

 

Christoph Waltz

Just wanted to make sure more people got to enjoy this laudable facial hair/armor.

 

Having won a fully deserved BSA Oscar for Inglorious Basterds, Waltz has a good chance at making it two wins in two tries, thanks to his unique work as Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained. We naïve Americans unfortunately did not know of this Austrian treasure—the anti-Schwarzenegger—until recent years, but I for one am glad we have the chance to see what we can. A delightful presence onscreen and off, and a solid SNL host if you didn’t see, Waltz is a late bloomer to our country but is making the most of his time. Tarantino knows he has a keeper, and don’t be surprised to see Waltz lurking in this category a couple more times before he’s done. Christoph Waltz is… Ichiro. As soon as he got here, his presence was felt with MVP caliber performance and sustained excellence. We wish he had been here longer, but we should enjoy the time we have to admire his unique brand of individual brilliance.

Shame he has to wear that jersey, but still a talent to be enjoyed by all.

 

  

The Supporting Actresses

 

Amy Adams

 

I’ll be yah Doug!

Only 38 and now four Oscar nominations with her work in The Master? Damn, girl. Four nominations in eight years is quite the run. Adams also has a baseball tie, but we as a site have decided to deny the existence of Trouble With the Curve, shockingly not nominated for any Oscars. She’s been always entertaining for about a decade now, whether as a nun, Chahhhhhhlene, or Princess Giselle. Side note: I am not ashamed to admit that Enchanted is and always will be wildly entertaining, and I can only hope the rumored sequel will soon become reality. A talented and adaptable performer with plenty of time left to fill up her trophy case, Amy Adams is…Prince Fielder. The fact that they look like siblings aside, both are winners who we often neglect when considering the finest in their generation. Overshadowed by other talented people at times, both continue to deliver impressive work. Princess Giselle and Prince Fielder? You’re welcome, future lovers.

 

I I do NOT eat meat! ‘Cept for steak, ham, bacon. You know how it is.

Sally Field

Oh sweet, Sally Field. You’re just so casual.

 

Can’t say I’m a huge fan in general or of her performance in Lincoln itself, but I cannot deny that this is her third nomination, with two wins in her first two tries. Still find her a little annoying, and her barely bearable Oscar victory speech (NO, I will not provide a link. I’m not an enabler.) is, well, barely bearable. She’ll be remembered as a talented, successful actress who was recognized for her notable performances. Still, Sally Field, I really don’t like you. I really, really don’t. Sally Field is…Alex Rodriguez. He was great then he bottomed out, was sort of great, then plummeted again. He is a member of the I Could Have Been One of the Best Ever Without PEDs But Now My Career is Forever Tarnished group. Field has no known link to PEDs, but for me her career was tarnished when she seduced her way to earning Forrest Gump a football scholarship.

Which half is the ass?

 

Anne Hathaway

She can be happy! Be happy, girl. You’ve earned it.

 

The probable winner in this category, Hathaway now has two nominations for uber-depressing performances, for Les Miserables this year and Rachel Getting Married in 2009. A somewhat polarizing actress since her breakthrough in 2001’s The Princess Diaries (everyone loves it, so don’t be ashamed), Hathaway has confirmed her place among the elite performers of her generation, and she will undoubtedly be found on A-lists and Oscar lists for years to come. Forgetting Bride Wars, as I’m sure she has, Hathaway has built up an impressive body of work, including her great performance in last summer’s blockbuster Catwoman Rides the Batpod. She has her prime before her at only 31, and her talent is apparent. Anne Hathaway is…Ryan Braun. An electric young talent with nearly limitless potential, generally admired but with some polarizing feature. Hathaway perhaps acted with a chip on her shoulder following personal troubles. Braun’s middle finger to the world of a 2012 season was fun to watch and underappreciated.

He don’t look like he’s done proving himself quite yet.

 

Helen Hunt

Helen Hunt? Jodie Foster? Yes.

 

Real talk: no one saw The Sessions. No disrespect, and it’s nice for Hunt to receive a second nomination (she won for As Good as It Gets), but she will not be taking home the statue this year. She was in Twister, so there’s that. Certainly talented and respected by most everyone (me included, despite this mean take), Hunt is enjoying the ride as she nears 50. She had a solid ‘90s run as a go-to big name, but now Hunt is a solid performer winding down an All-Star, but probably not Hall of Fame career. She is… Edgar Renteria. He had some memorable moments around the same time of Hunt’s peak (see his 1997 World Series heroics), and he got a win as his career dwindled (2010 with the Giants), but in all truly a somewhat typical career. Sorry, you two.

Just happy to be here. Thank you. Red Sox fans wonder how he won two World Series.

 

Jacki Weaver

Heeeeeeeeeeere’s Jacki! Yes, she is actually that short.

 

Two nominations in three years ain’t so bad, and as you may have noticed, I unabashedly loved Silver Linings Playbook. She probably won’t win, but Weaver helped make a film that should not only be recognized as this year’s best, but as one of the best works in recent years. I’m not being mean about this one; Weaver actually hasn’t done that much work that anyone will remember. At 75, she seems content with the excellent performances she’s turned in the past few years. With great talent that most of us have only seen for a brief time period, Jacki Weaver is…the inverse of Rocco Baldelli. He came up as the prospect to watch and then burned out for reasons out of his control. She came to the forefront late but made an impact. She’s a little old for Rocco, but their careers kind of complete each other. Sounds like a movie waiting to be made…

HOW did I end up on your blog again?

Well, that concludes our biting Oscar commentary. Enjoy Sunday night and what is sure to be a memorable performance by Seth MacFarlane. Some have been alluded to, but here are our final predictions for the big ones:

Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis

Actress: Jennifer Lawrence

Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz

Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway

Director: Steven Spielberg (although David O. Russell would be a worthy victor)

Picture: Silver Linings Playbook

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Opinion, Oscars, Posted, Random Thoughts, Sleepers, Weekend Hijinks

Calm Before the Storm

couldn't find a screencap of Larkin in the game...

Barry Larkin, Hall of Famer.  And good for him, honestly.  It’s easy to forget just how good he was (though he was always a superstar in Backyard Baseball, obviously).  Did you know he has a higher WAR (70.4) than HOF-er Luis Aparicio (63.6)?  Than Pee Wee Reese (69.7)?  How about higher than Roberto Alomar (68.0) and Ryne Sandberg (62.6)?  My point being, Mr. Larkin (who is a pretty darn good analyst, too, in my opinion) certainly deserves his spot among these peers.  He is a member of the 30-30 club (1996, a ridiculous year), had a career OPS of .815 (and that’s low due to his waning years), and trailed only Cal Ripken Jr. (883) and Jay Bell (735) at shortstop between 1990 and 2000 with 680 RBI.  In that time he also led in SB (280), was 4th in HR (148), and second behind Jeter with an OBP of .388.  Did I mention he was a leader of those teams and from Cincinnati?  How cool is that?  Barry Larkin was a precursor to the ‘new wave’ of shortstops, hitting for power, stealing bases, and playing great defense.  I remember being surprised, but impressed when I would read his baseball cards.  I remember playing with him in Backyard Baseball.  I remember him looking incredibly, impossibly smooth when he played.  He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

So why was I so troubled when I found out he was the only one going in this year?

I couldn’t immediately put my finger on the sense of unease as I read about the vote and the Hall of Fame in general.  Then it hit me as I began thinking back to my card-collecting days, sorting out all the ‘superstars’ and putting them in 3×3 protective sheets in protective binders (still in my closet).  So I pulled out the binders and leafed through the pages.  The source of my skepticism became immediately clear – there they were page after page, in all the binders, tainted superstars.  Barry Bonds.  Mark McGwire.  Sammy Sosa.  Even my favorite players like Jeff Bagwell and Nomar Garciaparra.  They all now exist under the cloud of steroid scrutiny.  Some deserve it, some do not, and all are subject to the widespread judgments.  But Larkin in no way falls under that same blanket, let me make myself clear.  No, my concern grew out of the realization that all these players I grew up rooting for (and against), collecting, respecting, idolizing were under an entirely different microscope than any other era.

I have more of this specific card than I can count. I lied. It's 8. I have 8.

On the surface, most baseball fans would have no problem with this.  Despite the fury dying down, people are still very frustrated by the whole ‘steroid era’ and feel the players have gotten a relative free pass.  Understood.  But the longer I thought about Larkin and the others in my Binders, the more complicated my thoughts on the Hall of Fame became.  I arrived at a simple, direct and likely controversial conclusion: since when did these bozos with the votes get the right to invoke some ‘morality clause?’

It’s total B.S.

Did you know the Chicago White Sox threw the 1919 World Series?  Of course you did.  Did you know their owner, Charles Comiskey, was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1939?  Though I have not seen a report (Mitchell or otherwise) linking Comiskey to the actually fixing of games, historians agree he was ruthless and a bit of a jerk, which may have contributed to the players’ desire to make an extra buck.  Speculation and even history aside, isn’t the mere implication he knew anything enough to hold him back from election?  Don’t we dismiss others for far less than such a supposed connection?

Or how about the late Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey, Ty Cobb, and former Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, all falling on the spectrum of notable racists (before you start, Kuhn proposed and constructed a separate wing of the Hall of Fame to put the Negro League players in…).  All are in the Hall.  Yawkey, by all accounts, was a popular owner for a time.  He was, by many of the same accounts, an enormous racist and had to be convinced to integrate the Sox in the 70’s.  Cobb was one of the greatest players of all time.  He was also one of the most despised.  Sharpening his spikes, spitting racial epithets, and being an overall poor human being.

The list could go on and on of players who skirted rules and behaved immorally.  Baseball players are not supposed to be moral beings, they’re supposed to be playing a game.  I realize that morality and rule breaking are different arguments, but when it comes to the Hall of Fame, where is the line?  What is the ‘morality clause’ and where did it come from?  I suppose I understand the argument that if a player cheated and was caught, they deserve to be punished.  But at what cost?  Do we banish Bonds and Clemens at the expense of innocent players?  Let’s not forget, too, that technically, at the turn of the millennium (where most of the questions lie), the steroids in question were NOT banned.  It was undeniably cheating.  I see a distinction between the two.  Clearly I’m in the minority.  If we let scumbags in, drug addicts and womanizers, why are we casting such a shadow on a whole era of players?  I’ll give you Brett Boone.  I won’t argue for him.  But are we really prepared to keep Jeff Bagwell out just because he played in a tainted era?  How about Jim Thome?  This Steroid/Hall-of-Fame issue is not going away and not being addressed properly.  With the first really controversial class (2013) looming, a decision needs to be made.  If you keep out some, you must keep out all.  There can be no picking and choosing, no sliding scale of guilt.  Are we willing to let the Pedro Gomezs, the Joel Shermans, the WOODY PAIGES cast their judgments on players who have not been found guilty of anything other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Sports is a bunch of man-children gathering together for extended periods of time facing constant scrutiny from amateurs. And yet we expect them all to behave, all the time.

Congratulations, Barry Larkin.  You deserve your election, the historic jump in percentage vote.  You also mark calm before a storm.  The coming years are only going to intensify the steroid issue.  Be happy for Mr. Larkin.  Be wary of the votes ahead, fans.  It’s gonna get ugly.  Like Marge Schott ugly.

-w

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, Cajones, MLB, Opinion