God knows there’s been a lot of spectacular baseball movies through the years, like Field of Dreams, The Natural, Bull Durham and Gorman Thomas vs. Megalon, just to name a few. But where are the baseball TV shows?
Beyond the short-lived Dean Cain vehicle Clubhouse, which was cancelled after a brief run in 2004 [as if the phrase "Dean Cain vehicle" couldn't have told you that was coming], I can’t dig much up. There was a TV series based on the Bad News Bears at one time. I also recall the Stephen Bochco-created Bay City Blues, which featured Dennis Franz as a minor league baseball coach and a young Sharon Stone.
Of course, there was The Baseball Bunch, a Saturday morning staple from the ’80s that featured Johnny Bench, apparently relegated to community service after his tenure with the Reds, teaching kids the fundamentals of The Game. In a bit of crack-inspired casting, the show also featured the San Diego Chicken as “comic relief” and Tommy Lasorda as “The Dugout Wizard,” who would appear at the end of each show to reiterate an important lesson, like “keep your eye on the ball” and “don’t fall for any of that hair metal bullshit.” Rumor had it that ESPN either planned or actually created an updated version with Harold Reynolds and the Phillie Phanatic. Speaking of “crack-inspired.”
So here’s the remedy as I see it. Shake Kevin Millar out of his deal with the Orioles. Get him on the NESN payroll. Give him a camera, and have him travel with the 2006 Sox team from Spring Training to the last day of play in October. At the very least, you’d have an entertaining reality show, and footage that would very likely be seized by the FBI before the season ends. Either that, or gimme a baseball version of Footballers Wives that focuses on the Red Sox players’ significant others. Though it just wouldn’t be the same without Mrs. Damon…
And though I’ve already bid my farewell to Millar, I’ll say it again. Godspeed, El Bencho.