As with most everything in baseball these days, the Field Of Dreams Game generated a truly annoying debate before it even began with people who are old enough to have seen Zeppelin live. Much like baseball itself, Field of Dreams was a movie most of us loved as a kid and then we get older and see all the holes in it and think it’s trying awfully hard to speak to something it no longer means.
It’s fine if you love the movie. It’s fine if you don’t. What isn’t debatable is that it’s kind of weird that MLB would design an event based on a movie that doesn’t apply to anyone under 40. I mean it’s not weird, because that’s what MLB specializes in. Which made it perfect symbolism to have Kevin Costner wandering around the field for three minutes like he ran out for batteries and forgot where the CVS was and now his children have to go pick him up on the park bench.
But if you view it through the same prism as the NHL Winter Classic, especially the one last year in Lake Tahoe (that didn’t really work but leave that out for now), which is an event that just looks great on television, then it’s a winner. The sunset was majestic. Tim Anderson’s walk-off landing in the cornfield will be something replayed over and over. The game can be both of these things.
If the idea was to return baseball to something of its roots...yeah, I don’t know. That would seem awfully arrogant for an organization like MLB which ripped affiliated baseball out of 40 towns this past year (and I don’t get as upset about this as others as those towns are free to start their own independent leagues if they need it so badly, but I understand the challenges). And baseball’s roots aren’t really playing in the middle of nowhere. If they wanted that, they’d play in a city or suburban park. And that’s what the Little League World Series is for.
But I’m going to echo Rany Jazayeril here, and say that MLB shouldn’t be afraid of putting games in different and interesting settings every year with every team. Every MLB team can afford to give up 2-3 percent of their home schedule to do something weird. Sure, it might look a little heavy-handed to return baseball to smaller towns after MLB’s minor league excision, but as Rany says, Major League Games in places they’ve never been before or haven’t been in a long time would still be a story. Have one in Brooklyn. Or Alaska as Rany suggests. Mexico, which they’ve done. Have the Red Sox and Yankees play right in the middle in Connecticut. Or the Red Sox play a game on Cape Cod.
Baseball has the most fungible schedule, given that there’s so much of it. So it has the least risk of losing a couple games for every team to take a chance. And hey, if the point was restricting minor league cities to only places with acceptable facilities, then most everywhere should be able to host a couple MLB games.
Now let’s see a couple MLB teams with hitters trying to hit the fuckin’ bull for a free steak.
As long as we’re doing things where leagues play a game that gets back to the core of the sport, then maybe it’s time for the NBA to stage a game at Rucker Park. While aging sportswriters would probably opt for some gym in Indiana to relate to a movie for altacockers, the playground is the soul of basketball. Rucker is the most famous playground. Sure, weather could be an issue, but late October should still be fine in Harlem.
I’m aware Rucker hosts a tournament every summer that attracts NBA players as it is, and is a big deal. And it should probably be a bigger deal. But let’s get the Knicks hosting the Nets on or near-Opening Night there. That truly would be basketball coming home.
Unless the Lakers want to host a game where Wesley Snipes told Woody Harrelson that the wind can shift a ball six to eight inches to the left or right. But Rucker seems more feasible.