The White Sox had a bad weekend. The offense was anemic. Jeff Keppinger kept hitting balls right at guys. Adam Dunn struck out a bunch of times. It was the same old same old.
Instead, let’s talk about the movie “42,” which I saw on Saturday night. It is the story of Jackie Robinson’s struggle to break the color line in Major League Baseball. “42” is a great baseball movie. And it is a great movie.
Some critics have panned “42” for being one-dimensional. Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey are unassailable good guys. The bigots who pepper the movie come straight out of central casting. Robinson’s Dodger teammates, who are reluctant to accept him, eventually come around.
Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey weren’t 100% pure, they argue, and everyone else wasn’t 100% bad. That is true, of course. No one is totally good and very few people are evil incarnate.
Don’t get lost in the shades of gray. It’s never fun being first out of the trench, and Jackie Robinson had fight through a metric ton of institutional and cultural racism. That fact is not up for dispute. Jackie Robinson didn’t “solve” racism, either. The comments sections of newspaper websites are polluted with the “insights” of the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the people who shouted the n-word from the stands.
The performances were terrific. Harrison Ford was a delightfully crusty Branch Rickey. John C. McGinley was almost unrecognizable as Red Barber. Chadwick Boseman, who had steady work as a TV guest star, was fantastic as Jackie Robinson.
I also have to say that the White Sox meatball in me was happy that the first Dodger teammate to stick up for Jackie was Eddie Stanky, the infielder who later managed the White Sox in the mid 1960’s (he was the skipper during that heartbreaking summer of 1967).
The best part of the movie was the CGI. Ebbets Field, The Polo Grounds, Forbes Field, ShibePark, and a number of other fallen ballparks were brought back to life thanks to blue screens and computer generated imagery. They did such a good job I want Bill Murray to finally make “Veeck as in Wreck” so we can see a CGIComiskeyPark.
Then again, with Cub fan Bill Murray at the helm, the movie will be nothing more than two hours of Veeck planting the ivy at Wrigley Field. I always thought the Summer of 1977 would be a good framing device for Veeck’s life story. Plus, ComiskeyPark would be able to live, breathe, and roar once again…thanks to CGI.
A guy can dream, can’t he?
In other White Sox news, Jim Margalus at South Side Sox examines the April of Jeff Keppinger’s discontent. Dude’s having a snakebit 2013. Take yesterday, when he went 0 for 4:
Those are four good PA, in terms of approach. He entered the game having seen just four three-ball counts on the season, but he worked two of them on Sunday. He picked good pitches to swing at, and he put good swings on said pitches. And yet it's just another kick in his stats' nuts, coming a day after Keppinger took a fielder's choice on a line drive that dropped in front of the center fielder. Tyler Flowers misread the liner and didn't get to second in time, and it went in the books as an 8-6.
If you want to take any solace in the Sox slow start, it’s that the players could eventually bounce back to their career norms. If that happens, the dizzying rocket ride to normalcy will be a hell of a lot of fun.