You guys know me. I love baseball. I often say “it ain’t a sport, it’s a religion” and have been known to turn my pursuit of quality baseball films into an all out quest of epic proportions.
For what is now going on twenty-five years I have quietly craved a DVD quality copy of a beautiful little gem of a movie called Long Gone.
It’s my Holy Grail.
And just like those who made the pursuit of that fabled object their life’s work I have been left with nothing but bitterness and disappointment. Someone at the blog Bronx Banter seems to agree:
Considering the fact that there are so few good baseball movies, it’s inexcusable that Long Gone, a made-for-HBO baseball movie from the mid eighties (1987 to be exact, the year before Bull Durham was released) is not available on DVD.
It isn’t a great movie, at least not in a historical context of film, but it is a very, very, good one. It offers numerous satisfactions, most notably the performances by William Petersen (Stud Cantrell), Virginia Madsen (Dixie Lee Boxx) and Durmot Mulroney (Jamie Donn Weeks), who have rarely, if ever, been as good.
As with Bull Durham, this comedy has the feeling of taking place in a world larger than that of baseball, and thus provides useful perspective into why the game is so central in people’s lives each spring.
At the heart of the Tampico Stogies baseball team is Cecil “Stud” Cantrell, a long-time minor-league pitcher, manager, and slugger who almost made the big leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals.
He competed with Stan Musial. Cantrell says that he “hit the ball harder but Stan the Man had a prettier swing”. But It was at the dawn of World War II and after the attack on Pearl Harbor Cantrell served his country, suffering war injuries which prevented him from going farther than minor league ball.
Another similarity is the farm-team milieu, a life of abridged hopes and stardom outside “the Show” — the thematic implication being that most of us have some kind of “Show” we can only admire from a distance. (Underscoring the point is a nice performance by Madsen as a small-town beauty queen.)
Here is some more well-deserved praise from Bronx Banter:
But hope does come in Long Gone, and because of its sharp dialogue and enjoyable acting this film deserves to be included in anyone’s collection of baseball features.
In an absolutely wonderful bit of casting, William Gibson and Teller (of Penn & Teller fame) play the father and son ownership team of a low-minor league team in the 1950s. Seriously, these two alone make the movie worth watching.
The script is based on the short, but wonderful baseball novel by the veteran journalist and Hank Williams biographer, Paul Hemphill. While the screenplay isn’t as sharp as the book, it is far better than most of the crap one finds on TV or in film today.
Subplots involving a black player posing as a Latino, and a young player knocking up a local girl, as well as the standard big-game finish, might actually be the movies weak points, but the movie retains the inherent charms of the book all the same.
The locker-room scenes here are vulgar and more rogueish than the ones in Bull Durham (though they aren’t as lewd as the ones in Slap Shot).
Unfortunately, HBO has not aired the movie in years and, again, it is not available on DVD. The only way to see it is on an old VHS tape or if you are one of the three people known to have purchased it on Laser Disc.
Perhaps one day, HBO will decide to re-run it. I don’t know why they wouldn’t. It’s an incredible baseball film. Not the great baseball movie that we know can (and will) be made one day, but still, a very appealing one.
“What’s wrong?”"Me,” Stud told him. “That’s what’s wrong. Me.”
“I don’t understand.”
Stud rolled his eyes. He leaned back and lit a cigar and looked at Jamie. “Fuckin’ thirty-nine years old, sitting in a goddamn diner ins some piss-ant town like this, reading about myself in the Birmingham News on a Sunday morning before going out to play the fuckin’ Fort Walton Beach Jets. Class-D. Goddamn bottom of the line.”
“Well, hell, Stud, we got a chance at the pennant.”
“And a goddamn kid who in two months’ time has learned to say ‘goddamn’ and “Jesus’ and ‘hell’ and ‘by God’ sitting in front of me.”
“What’s that mean?” Jamie said.
“It means everything, kid.” Stud was in a melancholy mood, which Jamie and the others had noticed more and more in recent days. “You know why me and you get along so good?” He didn’t wait for a response. “It’s because you’ve got what I want and I’ve got what you want. I got experience and you got innocence. Boy, I tell you.” Stud swept a kerchief over his face. “All those years. Jeseus. When I’m eighteen, living on a farm in North Carolina, the Yankee scouts come up there and promise me the world. I go off to spring training and I damned near make it before the war starts. Then I get this bad leg wehn I get shot up in the Pacific. Then my old lady leaves me for some goddamn four-F. Then I can’t run no more. And so I start doing the only thing I can do, which is to play baseball, all over the fuckin’ world. You name a town, I been there. You name a broad, I fucked her.” Somebody played a Rosemary Clooney song on the jukebox. “I’ve picked grapes, sold used cars, coached basketball, been a father, and screwed a sheep. I’ve lived in Ardmore, Eastman, Hopkinsville, Amarillo, Pocatello, Hazard, and Thibodaux. I’ve hit an umpire at Big Stone Gap, caught the clap in Galveston, and been run out of Waterloo for knocking up the club owner’s daughter. I got a great future behind me.”
“But goddamn, Stud.”
“Kid. You got a lot of time to get ‘experience.’ Take your time.”
I found a clip from the movie on YouTube (here) if you want a glimpse at one of the scenes.
Lastly, this was a made for HBO movie, back when that didn’t carry as much weight as it does now. In those days, “made for pay TV” was much like our “straight to DVD” is now. In other words, it’s not good enough or it doesn’t have enough star power to be in theatrical release.
I have long asked myself if it was really made for HBO or if it was picked up by them as a movie too good to be shelved? IMDB says it was an HBO production, so one can assume it truly was made for TV until proven otherwise.
BUT they also say Petersen turned down the Tom Berenger role in Platoon to be in Long Gone, which will always leave me wondering if he would have done that for a film that he knew was only going to play on Pay TV?
Whatever the case, it would have been a success in theaters, I firmly believe that.
Sadly, the film never got the chance to prove me right on that, but here’s to hoping that HBO comes to it’s senses in the not-too-distant future and releases this sparkling lil’ gem on DVD soon.
Long Gone the film may have passed most of you by, but for those of us who were fortunate enough to catch it she will never be forgotten.
Source: Bronx Banter
Sometimes life just gives you little gifts. Jose Canseco is one of those presents life presented us with a long, long time ago and over the last 20 years or so the man has proven to be a gift that keeps on giving.
Adding to his list of less-than-normal activities, Jose Canseco reportedly didn’t feel like participating in a Celebrity Boxing match this past weekend.
However, rather than completely bailing on the event, he stole an idea from the annals of bad television. He opted for the ol’ “twin switcharoo”, went all “Parent Trap” on our asses and sent his twin brother in his place.
I’m pretty sure this is one of those stories that couldn’t be made up. Won’t guarantee it. But am pretty damn sure.
The mouth-breather failed to show up for the fight against Billy Padden in front of almost 500 paying customers Saturday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Florida and instead sent his twin brother Ozzie Canseco, according to “Celebrity Boxing” promoter Damon Feldman.
Feldman says he already paid the bad boy of baseball and “Celebrity Apprentice” cast-mate $5,000 for the fight and that Ozzie Canseco pretended to be Jose and demanded the remainder of his purse, $5,000 in cash, refusing the contractually agreed to payment via check. “Jose” aka Ozzie refused to fight without the money.
Feldman says Ozzie, who enjoyed a brief MLB career himself, was only outed after a photographer noticed that he was missing a tattoo on his arm that Jose has.
So the Brother’s Dim didn’t think anyone would notice the missing body ink on the guy stepping into the ring for this event? I can A. see a whole lot of thought went into this one and B. immediately wondered if Jose had tried to send poor Ozzie in to get his ass beat on his behalf in his MMA debut versus the 7’2″ Hong Man Choi last year.
I know that Ozzie, who has long been overshadowed by his brothers baseball career and zany antics, probably hasn’t been doin’ much more than crashing on Jose’s couch whilst pulling his best Kato Kaelin ever since he washed out of baseball in the 80′s but c’mon…this has to be a new low, even for a Canseco.
Once the attempted Scooby Doo-like switch was discovered Canseco refused to return the money and wouldn’t return phone calls seeking comment.
However, he did post a bunch of stuff “related” to the event on Twitter:
Be very careful with Damon feldman who runs celebrity boxing he will not pay you if you fight for him
Damon feldman will not fulfil his part of the bargain
let’s see who is smart enough to figure out what happened at the boxing match
is anyone out there smart enough to figure it out or are you all a bunch of hateful morons
the truth is always hidden from the public to create villains and heroes which 1 are you truly
seek the truth before reacting
just remember the media is write 20 percent of 50 percent of the time
how can you haters being so ignorant it’s amazing
I am still waiting for an intelligent scenario
First of all, to misspell “right” as “write” in a criticism of the media is either a brilliant example of misdirection or the dumbest thing of all time. Based on this douchebag’s career arc I think we all know it’s the latter.
Beyond that, his daring people to “figure out what happened at the boxing match” and later writing “I am still waiting for an intelligent scenario” makes me think Canseco is just hoping someone suggests a scenario so good that he can actually use it as an excuse.
This whole thing reads like a super depressing, down on your luck version of all the kids movies where identical twins switch places with each other at school one day and the teachers never notice a thing as hilarity ensues.
In this version one twin is being paid $10,000 to get beat up in front of 500 people and the other twin is willing to get beat up in his place for what is presumably less than the full $10,000. The whole thing falls apart over tattoos, which is maybe the most fitting aspect of the entire story.
Talk about your cracked out after-school special!
The brothers Canseco have done this type of switch before for autograph sessions and things of that nature, but one has to wonder if this is the first time these jackasses have pulled these kind of shenanigans (including Major League Baseball games perhaps?).
“I’ve worked with him before,” Feldman said. “Except now I’ve got to look back at the pictures at the time and look if I ever really met Jose Canseco.”
All things aside in this great big mess I have to say that, honestly, if you’re paying to watch Jose Canseco box…you pretty much deserve to get stuck with Ozzie. Seriously, why would you want to go watch the tainted former MVP perform in the ring?
Perhaps the saddest part of this whole freak show that is Jose’s life is the fact that this is the guy that cleaned up baseball.
Bud Selig and his merry band of nitwits tried their best to discredit him. Former players like Curt Schilling took to their blogs and lambasted him. Players like Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire his behind their representatives.
But in the end, Canseco was right. And they were all so very, very wrong.
There is something incredibly pathetic in that fact.
Players once thought to be first ballot Hall of Famers are struggling to garner more than a pittance of support from sports writers and fans alike as the sport carries on the best it can.
Attendance remains high, despite an ongoing quasi-recession, television revenue is streaming in and it appears that many of the measures taken by commissioner Bud Selig and his merry band of nitwits salvaged what little dignity this great sport had left in the wake of all that ugliness.
But alas, as always, looks can be deceiving.
I, for one, was more than a little bit surprised when MLB decided to include a ban on stimulants in its new drug program a few years back.
Now the use of uppers is neither new nor surprising in the baseball world, going back as far as the days of Willie Mays players have been using some form or another to endure the grueling demands of the 162-game season.
While steroids, and their artificial augmentation of baseball’s favorite play, the longball, have received most of the mainstream media coverage, anyone who really knows two shits about baseball recognizes that “greenies” have always been a much more pervasive part of the game.
Countless stories of large Ronald Reagan-esque like jars filled with amphetamines (as opposed to Ronnie’s trademark jellybeans) and pots of coffee labeled “extra-caffeinated” could be found without much effort at all.
A baseball season is a long & grueling one, after all. 162 games, packed into about 180 days, taking players, coaches and fans through a hot and humid summer can wear down even the best of men. So for decades players have turned to “artificial means” to carry them through the dog days of summer.
I told more than one friend that it would be interesting to see who “faded down the stretch” and chuckled at the sudden emergence of energy drinks as sponsors for the big league clubs.
But I never could have imagined the thing that would catch my eye exactly one year later…and every year since.
When the league banned these drugs, an amazing thing happened. The number of players claiming and obtaining “therapeutic use” exemptions for stimulants nearly quadrupled from 28 to 103.
“Therapeutic use” means you can justifiably use the drug because you need it for a medical condition. If you didn’t have the condition, you’d just be a normal pro baseball player, and the attention-focusing benefits of Ritalin would be a form of “enhancement,” i.e., cheating.
Before the ban only 28 players had “therapeutic use exemptions” allowing them to take drugs such as Ritalin or Adderall. Twenty-eight. Then somehow magically that number jumps to over 100 as soon as the ban kicks in?
Color me suspicious but do they really think we are that dumb?
I mean how the hell can ADHD multiply fourfold in a sport in a single year? How can it become three times as prevalent in that sport as in the adult population? Is it contagious? Can Derek Jeter give it to Dustin Pedroia if he coughs on him as he slides into second base? Of course not.
ADHD is a psychological diagnosis. Like post-traumatic stress disorder or bipolar disorder it’s open to interpretation in any given patient. Three doctors may say you don’t have it. A fourth may say you do.
It’s that subjectivity that should have led to the league having a more discerning eye. After all they had literally just caught the foxes trying to rob the hen house when they found over 100 major leagues had tested positive in their last round of anonymous testing.
MLB should have also taken notice of what pretty much EVERYONE else had when these numbers were first published, namely that among adults, the rate of diagnosis is between 1 percent and 3.5 percent. But among pro baseball players, the disease seems epidemic. That means 8 percent of major-league players have ADHD—twice the rate among children and three to eight times the rate among adults.
But, of course, they didn’t.
They argue that once the number spiked up to 103 it “plateaued” and has remained at or about that same level since. This is true, the numbers show there were 105 therapeutic use exemptions in 2010, up from 106 TUEs in 2008/2009 and 103 in 2007, but it still doesn’t address why there was such a sharp rise in the first place.
But then again, do we really expect more from Bud the Dud?
The World Anti-Doping Agency sure as hell doesn’t:
“My reaction is the same as last year and the year before that,” said Dr. Gary Wadler, chairman of the committee that determines the banned substances list for the World Anti-Doping Agency. “It seems to me almost incomprehensible that ADHD is so pervasive in baseball to a degree that it requires medicine.”
A frequent critic of baseball’s drug-testing program, Wadler said “these numbers really cry out for transparency in the due process in baseball — a good look-see at the process, not just the numbers.”
This ostrich-like ability of Selig’s, where he is able to shove his head in the sand for unnaturally long periods of time has long infuriated me frankly.
I only wish I could have been a fly-on-the-wall in the offices of Major League Baseball when the recent divorce proceedings of Kansas City Royals catcher Jason Kendall and his estranged wife Chantel have remained frequent fodder for internet gossip sites like TMZ and RadarOnline and even recently made the jump to websites not concerned with the latest atrocious parenting of Jon and Kate Gosselin.
While professional athletes ditching gold digging trophy wives is no novel concept, this one had steamy particulars involving the love triangle of a pro athlete, a smokin’ hot babe and the son of a rock-n-roll legend (Chantel is currently dating Sean Stewart, son of Rod Stewart).
The focus of the tittle-tattle involved Chantel accusing her husband of abusing the drug Adderall, which subsequently led to him both physically and emotionally abusing her.
Aside from accusations that he pissed and shit on a pile of Chantel’s clothes after finding out she had been cheating on him, she claimed that he received a spurious prescription to take what is now labeled a performance enhancing drug otherwise banned by Major League Baseball.
While Kendall refused to answer the judge’s question about his use of greenies under the argument that (I. shit. you. not) Mark McGwire didn’t have to answer the questions he was asked in court about PEDs, he was very forthcoming about his prescription drug habits and more than willing to toss former teammates Brian Giles and Bobby Crosby under the bus, implicating them as fellow Adderall appreciators in court depositions.
One has to think that Bud was running around Manhattan looking for a schoolyard sandbox the shove his head in the moment he caught wind of these proceedings.
I am sure Selig is a good man. It appears he has a passion for baseball, and genuinely wants to do the right thing to help the sport. But there is a problem—he is gutless.
For years he ignored steroids in baseball while the problem grew out of control. Despite many fans knowing certain players were on steroids, even going back to the 1980s (for an example, a 1988 Fenway Park crowd chanted “Ster-oids” at Jose Canseco), Selig in February of 2005 said, with a straight face:
“I never heard about it. I ran a team and nobody was closer to their players and I never heard any comment from them. It wasn’t until 1998 or ’99 that I heard the discussion…I don’t know if there were allegations in the early 90s. I never heard them.”
I read those comments and think either this man is absolutely lying, or he is completely incompetent and oblivious. Maybe it is a little of both, but either way, this man should not be allowed to run major league baseball.
Further, even if taken at face value, if Selig knew about steroids in 1998 or ’99, why did it take him until 2005 to take any action, and only after Congress forced him into it.
Sadly, I fully expect this same sort of blissful ignorance to plague Selig’s handling of this next round of PEDs in baseball.
Just as stories about players juicing were swept under the rug because of increasing television ratings and attendance due to historical records falling every year, this dirty little secret will go on flying under the radar.
Instead of looking out for the interest and integrity of the game, Selig will gladly keep trading it away, piece by piece, for an increase revenue stream.
- Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
- The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
- And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
- But there is no joy in baseball — the sports integrity is quickly running out.