So yesterday I caught the end of "Rookie of the Year" on TV, for the first time in a good 15 years. To refresh your memory, that's the one where a kid breaks his arm and it heals weird so he can suddenly throw 102 miles and hour, and the Cubs sign him, and he ends up playing in the Division Series against the Mets. (A rare baseball movie where the evil team is not the Yankees but still, please note, from New York).
I realized several things while watching this - well, the last 20 minutes or so, which is all I caught. The first was "holy shit, that's that kid from American Pie" - not Jason Biggs, one of the other ones, the guy who was dating Tara Reid. Never realized it at the time.
The second was "holy shit, at one time Gary Busey used to be considered a viable love interest."
Then the third thing. In the Big Game at the end of the movie, the kid, Henry, is pitching in the ninth with the Cubs up by a run (of course). And all of a sudden his arm stops working weirdly - he doesn't throw 102 anymore; just like that, he's back to normal 12-year-old-kid velocity. And it's not like he has an amazing curve or anything to fall back on. Once he realizes what's happened, he gets one out using the hidden ball trick; the second out by repeatedly calling the runner on first base a chicken and goading him into trying to steal and then basically tagging him out with a really weird variation on the hidden ball trick; and the third out by throwing a Folly Floater-type eephus pitch to the Mets' huge and ludicrously villainous slugger (who when he steps to the plate actually says, "Mwa ha ha ha ha!").
Of course I love the hidden ball trick, and you know I love the eephus. (I'm slightly less enthusiastic about a pitcher actually clucking and directing a chicken dance at a base runner... maybe not the classiest way to back into the World Series, plus I'm surprised the ump didn't warn him there). But this is where I thought: can you imagine the online fan reaction to the manager, Sal Martinella, during that ninth inning? Oh my god, TAKE HIM OUT OF THE GAME! The kid's got nothing! His velocity just dropped 30 miles an hour between pitches, you don't want to maybe get the trainer out there to take a look at him? Do the Cubs not have one single other pitcher left on the roster? Or even just a position player who pitched in college? Jesus. Sports radio talk show switchboards would melt under the weight of furious callers - the events of "Rookie of the Year" make Grady Little's choices in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS look like Earl Weaver at his best. Even if they do go on to win the world series Martinella would probably lose his job and frankly, he would deserve to.
It's possible I may be slightly too old for this movie now.