Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox on becoming Baseball World (ahem) champions
for the first time since 1918. The legend is that in 1920 they sold
Babe Ruth - the best player that ever lived - and that they've been
cursed ever since. As Brits, with our tradition of supporting underdogs,
it was hard not to feel for the Red Sox. They were the American
dream in reverse, they had it all, screwed it up, and made snatching
defeat from the jaws of victory into their speciality. |
Well, that all ended the other day as they beat St Louis by 4 games to nil
in the best-of-seven "World Series" final. Not only did they win, but they became
only the 4th team in 100 World Series to win without ever trailing, and the first
team ever to win 8 games in a row (they'd come back from 3-0 down to win the
semi-final 4-3 against the New York Yankees).
And they did it with guts. Pitcher Curt Schilling won the second game against
St Louis playing with a dislocated tendon in his ankle that had been
stitched onto the bone only that morning. He stood on the pitcher's mound with
blood seeping through his sock.
What's it got to with us? Well, naturally, they're going to make a film
about it. But the thing is, they already have. And it's called "Fever Pitch".
As we reported back in 2003,
in an April 1st story that many of you didn't believe wasn't a wind-up, the Americans
have been making their own version of Fever Pitch, directed by the Farrelly brothers
(Kingpin, There's Something About Mary, etc), starring Drew Barrymore and
Jimmy Fallon, and featuring the Boston Red Sox in
the role taken by Arsenal FC in the original book and film.
And the weird thing, as Nick Nornby
explained, was that they were changing it from a film centred on the team's
against-the-odds win, to one based on an against-the-odds loss. They were taking an
upbeat happy-ending European film, and re-making it as a miserable American one.
Incidentally, some Arsenal fans seemed to think that the whole development was somehow
sacriligious. My take on it is that we Arsenal fans
tend to think of the story as somehow belonging to us but of course it doesn't. Well,
in a sense the story of May 26th 1989 does belong to us. But Fever Pitch is more than that
(but also in a very real sense, it is also considerabty less than that). It's a love story based around a famous sporting
event, and if they want to re-work that to be about something other than Arsenal then
that's their business. Better that they re-make it about a real American event than,
for example, re-work the original story into a fictitious American setting featuring an
NFL team called the Arsenal winning the superbowl in the last minute against the
LA Poolers in the latter's home stadium the AnfieldDome, or something like that. And at the end of the day,
interest in this re-make will inevitably lead some previously ignorant foreign sports fans
to investigate the original, and a whole new group of people will be introduced to the Arsenal and
to the magic of St Michael's Day.
Anyway, I digress.
I'd heard that the film was finished and due out soon, and was wondering how it
would fit in with the this week's turnaround in the fortunes of the Red Sox. Did the film dwell on the Red Sox's
status as perpetual losers? If so, would their World Championsip success undermine
the film, would it turn the new Fever Pitch into an anachronism before it had even
Well, not as it turns out. Because according to
CNN, they're re-making the re-make, and giving it a Hollywood happy ending.
Co-director Peter Farrelly says, "We had gone into the movie anticipating that the
Red Sox would not win the World Championship, and it would be another dismal
ending for them, but love would conquer all. But what happened because of this
turn of events, we now have the double whammy of a happy love story and a
championship team at the same time." (ring any bells?) Apparently, the writers have been
busy ever since game 4 of the Yankees series, when the Red Sox started the comeback from
3-0 down and went on the unprecedented 8-match record unbeaten run (hmm, that rings a bell too, only eight though).
And they even sent a skeleton crew, with some of the actors, to shoot some scenes at the
final game against St Louis.
My favourite quote, though, comes from one of the film's producers, Nancy Juvonen,
"Had we made this ending up, it would have been considered too trite." Try telling that
to Arsenal fans, Nancy! We know that
miracles do happen.