The true believer

Kathy dons her baseball cap, pushing her ponytail through the hole in the back. It’s a Cub’s hat and she’s proud to wear it. She was a Cub’s fan even when the Cubs made losing an art. Now people don’t laugh the way they used to. Boy, did they laugh.

She goes through the front door, ready for her evening walk through the neighborhood. “Go, Cubs,” her neighbor yells.

“Right,” she says to herself. “I remember your catcalls and boos and thumbs-down and your slamming my team. I remember it all from the days when the Cubs were in the Wilderness. Now they’ve entered the Promised Land.” But she doesn’t say anything out loud. She just smiles, knowing she has had the last laugh, knowing her faith overcame everything.

Uncle Badie’s Spotlight Creative Artist: The Legendary Johnny Unitas

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. In honor of the upcoming Superbowl, this week’s Spotlight Creative Artist is the Baltimore Colts quarterback, Johnny Unitas:

One of the NFL’s Greatest. 



Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Dedicated to baseball’s opening day

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “The Natural” (1984):

The post was written for another blog that no longer exists. I enjoyed writing it so much I thought I would post here for y’all to take a looksee. For “The Natural” is one mighty fine movie.

Sometimes all it takes to turn a team around is one man. Team starts the baseball season off with all kinds of potential. Mid-season and it’s down for the count. Then a scout finds this fellow in the minors and sends him up to the Bigs. Suddenly a team that was on the skids is back in the big league.

That fellow is Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) and he has come to save Pop (Wilford Brimley) and his Knights from disaster. He’s got this bat named Wonderboy for a sidekick that is going to help him knock the balls out of the park. Hobbs sits on the bench a bunch of times ’cause Pop don’t think he can play. He’s too old, you see, for ball in the big time. When he does get his chance, Hobbs does what he does. He hits a home run. One of his teammates discovers this lightning bolt, burned into the bat along with its name. The players start wearing the bolt on their sleeves. Now the team is off and winning.

But you never know. When the luck is with you, the luck is with you. For some time, it’s with Hobbs. He can do nothing wrong. Then he meets a girl. She’s with this gambler, see. Next you know Hobbs can’t hit the broad side of a barn. His luck has been sucked out and left him dry. The man who could do nothing wrong is the player who can do nothing right. He’s showing his age. For Pop and the team, that is a bad thing. Their rabbit’s foot is gone. Seems Hobbs walked under a ladder or a black cat crossed his path. Lady Luck ain’t no lady no more.

It’s a gambler that is responsible for the downfall. Remember it was a gambler that jinxed the Cubs in the way-back-when. It was gambling that cost Shoeless Joe and Pete Rose so much. So why should we expect any less from the story of Roy Hobbs? Not that Roy would have thought to gamble on the game. Nope. It would never have come into his mind. It wasn’t money Roy was after. He was after something that is just as addicting as gambling. He was after glory, the glory that had been stolen from him some sixteen years earlier.

But there is more to Roy Hobbs than glory. There is what is true and what is baseball. A love of the game that reaches down into Hobbs’ soul and takes him all the way back to those times he played with his father.

From the moment he pitches against the Whammer (Joe Don Baker) in a carnie side show, we realize this Roy Hobbs kid was meant for something special. That something special is postponed to the end of the movie. We feel cheated just as Roy Hobbs feels cheated. Then, in the final moments of “The Natural”, Director Barry Levinson delivers a home run. Roy Hobbs puts his life in jeopardy just to step up to the batter’s plate. Now that is some baseball.


Movie of the Week:”A Knight’s Tale”

A Knight’s Tale, directed by Brian Helgeland.

This is the story about a working class boy making good. It’s also a movie about sports. Not the way we usually think about them. It goes to the essence of why sport became so important. It’s about preparing young men for war. Whether it was the ancient Greeks at Olympus, the Romans chariot racing around the arena, it is always preparation for war. It is about life and death. And it was definitely that way in the Middle Ages. Jousting was their version of football.

If a movie about the sport of jousting can have a smile on its face, that movie is “A Knight’s Tale”. William Thatcher’s meal ticket dies on the road to a tournament. His master, Sir What’s His Name, is over-the-hill and he dies under a tree on a nice spring day. His squire Thatcher (played by Heath Ledger) and his two buddies have a problem. They are hungry, and they have no cash. Squire William isn’t rightly qualified to do a knight’s job. He is a commoner. Only a noble is allowed to get on a horse, pick up a large tree trunk and charge towards another man on another horse and with another large tree trunk. But William has been squiring for a while, doing what a squire does. Learning the knight business.

So off to the joust William goes and does it to the sound of Queen and “We Will Rock You”. Like they say in the movies, he scores one for the gipper. He knocks a man off his horse. You think it’s easy. You try it on the back of a horse, wearing fifty pounds of steel armor and with a wooden lance, nine to fourteen feet long. Just balancing yourself requires skill. Now that William has a taste of success, he wants more.He convinces his companions that more is possible. All it will take is a knight’s version of spring training.

There is only one problem. William is not a noble. As William and his fellows head toward the next tournament, they come across a naked man. Says his name is Geoffrey Chaucer. He has had a run of bad luck. He has a gambling problem. But he is William’s answer to a prayer. He is a literate man and a good forger. Good enough to create papers to give William the noble family he needs to be able to play with the big boys. Chaucer transforms William Thatcher into Sir Ulrick. Since there was no internet in those days, nobody can check on the authenticity of those papers.

So far so good. Team Ulrick are off to the medieval version of a city and there they are “taking care of business.” Geof Chaucer, now Sir Ulrick’s herald, proves he can announce his master’s arrival to the joust with flair. But, during the joust, William shows a side of himself that another knight sees as weakness. He shows mercy. For a knight to be a knight, it is not enough to be good at a joust. A knight is a knight when he is chivalrous and chivalry means a knight should be merciful.

Like the good sports movie it is, “A Knight’s Tale” has only begun the struggle of Sir Ulrich’s rise to knighthood. He does it with a soundtrack that really kicks butt. Before our hero can prove his worth on the jousting field, he must prove his worth on the dance floor. Sir Ulrich boogies to David Bowie’s “Golden Years”, giving his fellow party-goers a lesson in dancing. It’s all enough to make the lady he loves fall in love with him. Looks like the working-class fellow is a winner in love and in war. He even impresses a royal.

Then, just as things are looking good for Ulrich, they slip away. When you are on top of the world, sometimes life takes you down a peg or two. Team Ulrich arrives in London for the World Jousting Championship to the music of “The Boys Are Back in Town”. All the hard work they have put in is about to pay off. Unfortunately Sir Nasty, Count Adhemar, has other plans. He has not been won over by Ulrich’s winsome ways. For him, all is fair in love and jousting.

“A Knight’s Tale” has its ups and downs, its winnings and losses. Otherwise it wouldn’t be the sports movie it is. Like the really good ones, it shows us that which is the best in all of us. Sometimes all we can do is crawl back on our horse, take up our tree trunk and charge into battle to the song, “We are the Champions of the World”.

Do you have a favorite sports movie?

Superbowl Blues

Since the month began with the Superbowl, I can think of no better way to end the month than with another pickin’ and grinner ’bout Superbowl Sunday.

We don’t watch the Superbowl for the plays.
We don’t watch it for the ads for cars.
We only want to see another day
When Janet Jackson’s thirty-twos were a star.

It was a tragic turn of events
When Justin Timberlake left his prints
On Janet Jackson’s thirty-twos.
It made all the evening news.

We may not remember the game
But nothing ever will be the same
When Justin’s hands made history.
That day Janet lost her mystery.

We don’t watch the Superbowl for the plays.
We don’t watch it for the ads for cars.
We only want to see another day
When Janet Jackson’s thirty-twos were a star.

It was another bust this year
Katy Perry wouldn’t drop her gear
Lenny Kravitz’s hands were tied
On his guitar they did reside.

So we have to wait till next year
To rah rah rah and to cheer
Till then we’ll roll back the dvr
To the day Janet’s thirty-twos were a star.

We don’t watch the Superbowl for the plays.
We don’t watch it for the ads for cars.
We only want to see another day
When Janet Jackson’s thirty-twos were a star.