Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Mysticism That Drives Us

There is something covertly mystical about the character of
Jake Taylor (played by Tom Berenger) in the movie Major
League. In the main scheme of the movie, he is arguably
the main character as the story follows his 'in and out of
the majors' baseball career and his attempts to win back the love
of his life (Lynn - played by a young Rene Russo). Although
Sheen's wild thing representation of pitcher Ricky Vaughn
captures the most screen time, Jake Taylor makes this
movie what it is - a timeless classic of sentimentality,
baseball and friendship.

I guess I have a pretty deep emotional bond with this movie,
though. My best friend Bri (and next door neighbour for many
years) was always a Cleveland Indians fan. There was nothing
really that drove him to that decision to become a fan - except
for maybe a little influence from his older brother, Rob. From
a young age, he started wearing Indians apparel in any chance
he had to be public about his baseball opinion. Brian and I were
what you would refer to as 'game geeks'. I can remember many
long afternoons (and evenings) in his cool-tempered basement
playing Earl Weaver Baseball on a PC that didn't even have a
colour monitor.

We would make up our own teams and this game (advanced for
its time) would actually keep a running tally of each player's
stats. Brian beat me most of the time. When I started to get
decent at it, we were too old to really enjoy it anymore. The
interesting thing about the teams we made, though, was the
fact that Brian's players were all just hilarious pun-type names
(i.e. Al Coholic, Buck Naykid, etc.) but my players were all
friends of mine. I think it's because, in some weird way, I liked
to actually picture my friends playing in that very game and
having the chance to be heroic.

In the aforementioned film, there is a scene that gives me
chills (even though I'm well aware that it is basically a comedy
movie with a very light dramatic undertone). Jake Taylor
comes on to the field before the first game of the season and
envisions himself at the plate, pointing to the bleachers and
calling his shot before hitting a game winning homerun. I think
I love this scene because Jake's dream is not about his own glory -
his dream encapsulates not just his own good but the good
of his team. In actuality, his character spends most of the
movie as the glue of his often warring teammates.

If you've never seen the film, I highly recommend it on
a balmy, spring evening.

I'd like to think I'm a little bit like Jake Taylor.

I just hope I'm not like him in the sense that he wakes up,
at the start of the film, with a Mexican hooker across his
hung-over body.

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