O joy! The baseball season starts today, and making it even better the first game is the beloved Chicago Cubs playing their hated rivals the St. Louis Cardinals (who suck, I should mention).
The game is being played at Wrigley Field, which should be interesting for two reasons. One is that I'm not sure if scheduling baseball games in Chicago at night in early April is a great idea. It's supposed to be 44 degrees tonight, which actually is warmer than I expected. (Remember that just two weeks ago when I was there, it hit 29 degrees with two inches of snow.) The other reasons is that the ballpark is being renovated and because of the bitterly cold winter the work fell behind schedule, so things aren't completed. Among them, the left field bleachers are still being worked on, along with the massive new "Jumbotron" in left field.
While my preference is that they didn't put in a Jumbotron, I understand the reasons and am okay with it. But -- it's going to be idiotically massive, and there's no need for that. How massive? You may know the huge, famous scoreboard in centerfield of Wrigley Field. The Jumbotron will be about 50 percent bigger. Much too big. It's controversial for another reason, since it will largely block the field of the rooftops in left field -- which may be part of the reason for the size, for all we know -- and the owners are those buildings are suing for breach of contract. From what little I know, they may have a case, though the Cubs have made a compelling argument to go ahead. It's still in court, so we'll see.
(It's a convoluted situation. I understand the Cubs position that they don't like when people can see the game without paying for a ticket, I've never really accepted that argument, since I don't think most of those watching the game on the roofs would be buying a ticket to the game otherwise, they're just going for the rooftop experience. If you want to see the game, you'll go to Wrigley -- the rooftop seats are pretty far away and not great. Just fun, and a fun, social time with being served food all game. So, I do like the rooftops, and wish the Cubs weren't blocking them, in left field at least. The right field rooftops still have a fairly good sightline. But -- the Cubs believe they can make a great deal more money for the club with a Jumbotron that sells advertising. And in the end, to me, the betterment of the team far trumps comfort of a few hundred people outside the park each game, and so has my support. Even if I wish the Jumbotron could have been smaller and a happier medium could have been reached.)
Anyway, with the start of the baseball season, I thought this video was particularly appropriate. It's a long, interesting and fun conversation with Phil Alden Robinson, who wrote the screenplay for and directed the movie, Field of Dreams, about the making of that baseball classic. The 48-minute production was done University of California Television. It's long, and just talk, but I've known Phil for quite a while, and he's just a wonderful storyteller, and self-effacing.
(We first met back in my days when I was still doing was doing unit publicity, and LONG before Field of Dreams had been made into a film, I'd read about the production I tracked down the producer about my working on the film, since I'd read the novel, Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella. Even though it was sooo early in the process, he met with me, and it went wonderfully. Alas, because it was still so early, there was time for changes, and one of those was that the producer was replaced. So, I had to start at square one again. Eventually, as shooting neared, I'd worked my way up the ladder, and it came down to me and another person, so I got an interview with Phil. And again, it went wonderfully, we just had a great time talking about the book, about baseball, about the Chicago Cubs -- since there's a long sequence about the Cubs in the novel, which was cut from the movie -- about the Midwest and more. I even brought in some of my baseball paraphernalia. Unfortunately, the other person applying was a friend of the new producer. So...guess who got the job. But I did get a very lovely rejection phone call. Over time, though, my paths crossed with Phil a good deal more after I became a member of the Writers Guild. Still, I'd have loved to have worked on that movie.)
But I'm mostly glad just to get to see it, and often. Especially this time of year, when I'm sure it will again get shown on Opening Day. And here's Phil talking about making it. You'll note that he diplomatically leaves out the part about hiring the wrong unit publicist...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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