Live Blogging the Field of Dreams Game

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Tonight the White Sox and Yankees will play a regular season game in Dyersville, Iowa. They’re calling it The MLB Field of Dreams Game, in honor of the 1989 movie titled Field of Dreams. The league is calling this a 30 year anniversary of that film, but their math is clearly way, way off.

I have never been a huge fan of the film, though I like it more than some.

As Craig Calcaterra has noted, the magic realism of Field of Dreams actually doesn’t lend itself to a great movie. While the 1989 film has some great moments, and a fine performance by a few (notably James Earl Jones and Amy Madigan), all in all I prefer Bull Durham.

I’m going to attempt to live blog this game. That’s if I can make it through the schmaltzy love fest that the introductions are already doing for the broadcast by Fox Sports. A whole lot of syrup is going to be poured onto this game, which is literally taking place on the grounds next to the actual movie set, which was once a beautiful setting. Now, with a second diamond, and lights, and an 8,000-seat park built next to it with a service road and even a corn maze with the MLB logo, the simple setting of that movie is ruined. But hey, progress right?

MLB on Fox Pre-Game Show

6:00 PM
MLB sent a construction crew to build a major league caliber ballpark next to a field that many fans consider a sacred ground for the national pastime. They’ve also done everything they can to package this as baseball nostalgia event made-for-TV and sponsors who can tug at our heartstrings with visions of fathers and sons and kids and hot dogs and baseball in a prairie setting.

It’s really nonsensical if you think about it. There’s nothing quaint and romantic or endearing about this game. It’s a mid-season exhibition game that counts in the standings created to give MLB and Fox revenue streams. Tickets started at $385, and many were being hawked for more than $1,000 the last few days.

6:43 PM
How does MLB and Fox Sports prove they’re both tone deaf when it comes to the state of the game of baseball? They have Alex Rodriguez prominently featured in their pre-game show.

There’s ARod asking probing questions of Kevin Costner, star of the Field of Dreams movie. In his “I’m super serious” manner. How does Costner not grab ARod by the collar and say “You are everything that is wrong with modern baseball!”

There’s ARod talking about how he grew up not having his dad in his life and how the movie was so important to him (I don’t believe that last part even a little bit).

There’s ARod standing in the cornfield beyond the outfield, repeating lines from the movie in a cringe-worthy segment featuring David Ortiz and Frank Thomas.

“It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again,” said James Earl Jones in FOD. Isn’t that a quote that makes you think of ARod?

Alex Rodriguez and baseball romanticism do not belong in the same cornfield, same county, or same state. I’ll give Big Papi a pass, but he’s suspect too. Big Hurt: I love ya, but you’re judged by the company you keep.

6:55 PM
Ortiz has an actual briefcase filled with money in front of him as he announces the “Papi’s Cash” prize contest that fans can enter online at XXX. I feel like we’ll all have to take a long, hot shower to wash off the filth after this broadcast.

That’s not a ghost: it’s a nightmare.

Pre-Game Ceremony

7:03 PM
Chicago coach Miguel Cairo is managing the Sox tonight, in place of Tony La Russa, who is away to attend a family funeral. Had one of my friends text me that maybe Tony couldn’t be at the game because there’s a warrant out for his arrest in Iowa. Ouch.

7:12 PM
Fox Sports is doing everything they can to try to get us to cry. There’s slow (and I mean slooooooooow) camera panning shots of the cornfield. There’s the iconic music from the movie strumming over the loudspeakers. There’s Kevin Costner, too, slowly walking across the outfield grass with a baseball in hand. How much you want to bet he’ll utter the phrase “Is this Iowa?” at some point?

7:15 PM
Costner, who still looks good enough to have an affair with Cal Ripken’s wife, is at a microphone on the infield grass, telling us how special baseball is, and always will be.

Bingo! Costner ended his introductory remarks by asking the crowd, “Is this Iowa?” followed with an “I can’t hear you…” repeat.

7:17 PM
A former winner of the American Idol singing competition is singing the Star Spangled Banner. It’s the National Anthem brought to you by American Idol! Thanks Fox.

1st Inning

7:20 PM
Has Darth Vader lost his voice? They just had James Earl Jones do a voiceover as the broadcast came back from commercial, and it didn’t exactly sound like his famous voice.

7:21 PM
Joe Buck just used the term “gully-washer” to explain a heavy rainstorm. Gee, golly. Buck does his best to be the Dan Rather of sports broadcasting, bringing out the arcane references.

7:29 PM
Home plate umpire Pat Hoberg is from Iowa, and according to the sideline reporting, he was on the original movie set field before the game playing catch with his father. This is the first time Hoberg has ever been to the Field of Dreams location.

7:43 PM
Chicago slugger Jose Abreu, a superstar from Cuba, hit the first homer in this game, just clearing the left field fence and into the first rows of corn. I’m shocked Buck didn’t call it a “popcorn blast.”

Buck called Abreu’s blast the first home run ever hit in Iowa during an MLB game. While that is technically true, it’s really not. There was a league called the National Association that played in the 1870s who had a team in Keokuk for part of one season. The NA was acknowledged as a major league for nearly a century by anyone who studied or knew baseball. And MLB itself called the NA an MLB circuit. Until 1969, when bowing to pressure from a committee that pushed the myth that baseball was 100 years old, MLB erased the National Association from MLB status. That’s sort of like calling Pluto a planet, then not, then calling it a planet, then not, and so on. Major League Baseball was played in Iowa, in 1871, and no amount of record keeping shenanigans can take that away.

2nd Inning

7:51 PM
Hoberg is punching out batters by calling that high heater. I think someone wants to get the hell out of Iowa and back to a major league city.

7:56 PM
Buck just said “I have to admit, I’m biased…I love Tony La Russa.” Well, that makes sense.

3rd Inning

8:04 PM
The first mention by Buck of the COVID-19 issues the Yankees have faced this season, due to the absurd anti-vaccine feelings of several of their players.

8:11 PM
Celebrity restauranteur and TV host Guy Fieri came up with a hot dog wrapped in an apple pie crust for this game. I have to admit, that sounds interesting. So far no mention that in the movie a little girl nearly choked to death on a hot dog.

8:07 PM
Instead of outfitting the teams in authentic-style uniforms from 1919, MLB chose Black Sox Scandal Era-inspired uniforms created by Nike. I’m not joking.

8:12 PM
A lot of fans rip John Smoltz, and he has some flaws. Yes, he disdains analytics and he can be urbane, but the man knows pitching. He knows as much about pitching as any man alive. He’s also from Michigan, so he has to be a good guy.

8:14 PM
He just ripped a single to right, but Brett Gardner is having a miserable season. The 14-year veteran has more than 300 plate appearances this year, and that is enough to explain some of the reason the Yanks are not closer to first place.

8:17 PM
Aaron Judge just hit a rocket into the corn in right for a three-run popcorn blast. It’s his 143rd career homer. He will turn 30 next April. So far, Judge has only had one season where he’s played as many as 120 games, though he might have his second this year. What is the over/under on Judge getting to 500 homers? How about 400 homers? 300? I’m here saying that “The Big Ouch” (why hasn’t anyone called him that?) has about a 10 percent chance at 500, and 20 percent at 400. I would even take decent odds that he may not get to 300. He’s like a mirror you order on the internet: fragile.

8:26 PM
Adam Engel just came around to score the second run for the Sox. Engel, Adam Eaton, Adam Dunn, Adam Russell, Adam LaRoche…does every Adam who has played in the majors the last few years have to play for the White Sox?

8:27 PM
Yankee pitcher Gerrit Cole, who just returned to his team after illness because he didn’t get vaccinated, called COVID-19 a “really bad flu.” Further proving how out of touch he is, Cole mentions that the Yankees are missing their technology during this game. He means the batters and pitchers can’t consult tablets to see replays of game play.

4th Inning

8:43 PM
Costner defends the evening when he tells Buck during a visit to the broadcast booth: “This isn’t a gimmick game, this is a tradition.” Maybe, but if Fox Sports and MLB can’t squeeze every dollar they can out of it, they will swat it away like a firefly in Des Moines.

James Earl Jones and Kevin Costner in a scene shot at Fenway Park for Field of Dreams (1989)

8:50 PM
Another home run, this one by Seby Zavala for the White Sox. So we’ve had homers from A to Z (Aaron Judge to Zavala). This one is a home run derby at this point.

5th Inning

8:57 PM
Smoltz compares playing in this game to when he played in the Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown for the Braves. “You look at the schedule and think ‘Ah, no that won’t be comfortable,’ but then you get there and see how special it is.”

8:59 PM
Fox is getting their money’s worth on that drone. We get a drone shot of the cornfield, the ballpark, the road leading to the ballpark, and the house from the movie set. Drone, drone, drone, and more drone. Sort of like Joe Buck.

6th Inning

9:12 PM
I haven’t been a Yankee Hater since I was about 15 years old. It’s tough to hate a team when you work in baseball, meet players and coaches etc. And I have a lot of friends who love the Yankees. I also learned to respect the commitment to winning that the Yankee front office displays. But…this current Yankee team is getting easy to dislike. First, there’s Gerrit Cole, the most disingenuous player we’ve seen in MLB probably since Curt Schilling and his towel. Cole is the guy who removed his Houston cap and replaced it with a personal brand lid moments after the final out of the 2019 World Series to show his free agent status. Add in the slow pitch softball-style offensive philosophy, and the emotionless leadership of Aaron Boone, and the Yanks are about as interesting as the Star Wars sequels. Yeah, they may be dressed like Jedi’s, but these guys are no Jedi’s.

9:23 PM
I know he’s had more than his share of injuries, but you could time Giancarlo Stanton down to first base with a sun dial. He just got tossed out by two full stops on a dribbler that my mother could have beaten out.

9:26 PM
I forgot another excellent reason to dislike the Yankees: Roughned Odor. Talk about a guy who personifies the all-or-nothing, grip-it-and-rip-it offensive of modern baseball. He just fanned on three pitches to extinguish a Yankee rally. The helmet tugged way down over his forehead, the elbow guard, shin guard, and David Byrne-baggy uniform, it’s a schtick that became insufferable many years and many strikeouts ago.

7th Inning

9:40 PM
Seventh inning coverage is presented by Mattress Firm. Apparently the My Pillow guy is busy with other things.

9:43 PM
Tyler Wade of the Yankees bunted for a base hit with his team behind by three runs. Good think Tony La Russa isn’t in Iowa, because that may have broken one of his unwritten rules.

9:44 PM
Wade just stole second. Which (1) may be the first time the Yankees have used speed to try to get back into a game since 1991, and (2) probably violates one of La Russa’s unwritten rules.

9:55 PM
There are players for whom New York lights are too bright. To me, that seems like Joey Gallo. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong, and it’s early, but Gallo looks tight. He just bounced out with the bases loaded to end a Yankee threat. The Sox lead, 7-4 and are into their stellar bullpen.

8th Inning

10:07 PM
The best thing that happened in the eighth inning was when Buck told Smoltz that he had once been in a hot air balloon, and for a moment we all imagined him slipping out of the basket and plummeting to earth. Not that I want mortal damage to occur, but maybe a few bounces off the ground that would leave Joe unable to perform his MLB and NFL tasks for a few years.

9th Inning

10:33 PM
Aaron Judge and Giancarlo (Don’t Call Me Mike) Stanton each smacked two-run homers in the top of the ninth to make a 7-4 White Sox lead into a 8-7 Yankee advantage. Both Popcorn Blasts came off Liam Hendricks, which is Australian for “closer.” That’s the seventh blown save for The Man From Down Under. Somewhere, Tony La Russa just assaulted a police officer.

10:44 PM
Well, Tim Anderson just did it. He slammed a two-run homer over the right field wall, and yes into the cornfield, for a walkoff win. The Sox beat the Yankees, 9-8 in a blown save by Zack Britton, who probably wishes Buck Showalter was still the Yankee manager, and that Ol’ Buck had left him wilting in the pen.

Tim Anderson is the Corn King

Anderson did a jumping, grooving, dancing trip around the bases in what used to be a cornfield, as the fans went crazy. It was the type of celebration that La Russa would have chastised him for. But it was exciting, even if the spectacle of this event was rather dull and lathered with sappy nostalgia and commerce.

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