Yeah, I’m talking about The Natural again. It’s my blog and my rules!
One of my favorite scenes (of many favorite scenes) in the movie is when Roy comes up to bat for the first time. It’s the famous “Knock the cover off the ball sequence” and it is worth breaking down.
There are some parts of it that are awesome and other parts that spark a question or two.
Watch the scene again and then we’ll discuss.
0:13 – Does the confrontation between Wilford Brimley and Michael Madsen remind you of any real event? How about the Jim Leyland – Barry Bonds confrontation that took place 8 years after the release of the movie?
0:22 – I hate to say it, but Roy should have been ready to go when Wilford Brimley said “Hobbs, you’re up.”
0:42 – Not to spoil the mythology within the movie, but I have a hard time believing that “Wonderboy” didn’t break on a check swing or a pitch that came in too much outside. And when he DID break it, he did it on a blast that JUST curled foul. Just saying.
0:44 – With the sky that dark, why not put the lights on? I mean what’s the point of putting in light towers if your don’t turn them on? (For the record, I want to know who the electrician was who installed the lights? Evidently if one bulb gets hit by a baseball, the ENTIRE SYSTEM OF LIGHTS EXPLODE! Bad design.)
0:53 – Wilford Brimley says “Knock the cover off the ball.” I wonder what would have happened if he said “Hit the ball off of a pigeon.”
0:59 – What do you think the crowd is at Knights Stadium? I am talking actual attendance, not paid crowd. I am guessing 350. It’s a day game, the Knights are in a slump and it is probably going to rain. I can’t believe there are actually 350 people there.
1:10 – The announcer says “We don’t know too much about him. We’ll try and find out something for you.” I wonder where those announcers found info like that pre-Google.
1:20 – Damn, Redford looks like a ballplayer! 1984 was the height of collusion, but if I were a lousy team in the mid 1980s, I would have taken a chance on Redford. Are you telling me he couldn’t have made the Mariners bench better back then?
1:24 – The Phillies pitcher is named McBride. I looked up on Baseball-Refernce.com and there was no Phillies pitcher named McBride. Then again there was also no player named Roy Hobbs, no team called the New York Knights nor any potentially super natural bat called Wonder Boy, carved from the lightning struck tree of the hero’s fallen father… so maybe I should relax.
1:32 – I hate to say it, Roy… that was a strike.
1:37 – “Well welcome to the Majors, Mr. Hobbs.” Damn, the announcer is awesome. I always say that when I see someone making their first ever big league at bat. I think the announcer is the voice of director Barry Levinson. He also made Avalon, possibly the most underrated movie of all time… but I digress.
1:53 – Why were the pitcher and catcher taking so long to call a pitch? It’s an old rookie up at the plate for the first time and he clearly doesn’t have a good eye. Challenge him. (Or maybe they were listening to Randy Newman’s music. It IS good!)
1:58 – The umps should have called the game at the first sign of lightning. Even if it was the unleashed soul of the hero’s dead father.
2:00 – What is that ad on the wall in the background with the big crying baby head?
2:02 – McBride of the Phillies should have thrown the cover of the ball over to first. The rule is kind of murky about that and you might as well try to get the force out at first and let the umps sort it out.
2:04 – I have always wondered if someone caught the ball of string, if it would have been called an out? Or would you need the string AND the ball?
2:07 – RUN HOBBS! Christsake, you’ve waited your whole life for a shot at the big leagues. You get shot by Barbara Hershey and get benched by Wilford Brimley and now you have made it… and you are going to watch the ball. RUN DUMMY!
2:12 – Michael Madsen perks up. I always thought they should have traded his character instead of having him die crashing into the wall. It’s one of the few parts of the film that I don’t like.
2:14 – THROW THE BALL TO FIRST, McBRIDE! Heck, you could get out of the inning!
2:23 – I don’t care how devoted Kim Basinger is to Darrin McGavin… there is NO WAY she is sitting out in any kind of rain for this long. Why couldn’t they watch the game in the Judge’s suite like they do at the end of the movie?
2:27 – I give the right fielder some credit for actually throwing in the messed up ball to the infield. Unlike McBride who is still probably staring at the ball hide.
2:31 – Hey Hobbs… nice slide into third. But if you didn’t spend your time admiring the blast, you’d be at third standing.
2:45 – I love how nonplussed the other ump is. “That junk is the ball.” As if he’s been in this situation before.
2:49 – How awesome is the Phillies coach? “That’s no ball, we want a real ball!” Like the ump, he is no nonsense and wants a solution to a baseball exploding in the middle of the game.
2:59 – I love Darren McGavin’s salute to Roy. Does Darren think that this will be a regular occurance?
3:03 – Hey Roy… I think it is raining.