I watched Major League today as I try to at least once a year. If you follow me on twitter you notice I recite a lot of lines from the movie. As I was watching it though, I was thinking about the characters and imagining how they were related to Royals players. One of my first posts on here talked about baseball movies, but I wanted to mention the this a little more in-depth and how it related to the Royals. Both the Royals and in the movie the Indians had a 30 year dry spell. While in 1988 the wild card game wasn't around, the Indians did have a one game playoff against the Yankees in the movie to determine who advances, just like the Royals essentially did on Tuesday. The outcome of both games came down to a walk off hit helped by a combination of speed and infield hits. Home runs in both games caused the crowd to panic, and a comeback rally brought the crowd back to life.
Let's look at the team from top to bottom. We will start with the owner in the movie Rachel Phelps. In real life, the Royals owner is David Glass. While he does not come off as vindictive as Phelps, he is a penny pincher that at most times makes the fans question why he even wants the team. He has no plans to relocate the team, but his questionable decisions on how to spend money for players sometimes makes us wonder if furniture movers really are who he hired.
Next is the GM, Charlie Donovan. The Royals GM is Dayton Moore, and doesn't share a lot of qualities with Donavan besides his possible close relationship with the manager and his desire to win. In the movie, Donovan has his hands tied and isn't really able to make any decisions. Today's GM's are able to do more, but Moore does have his hands tied at time in figuring out who to get the team to work with what limited resources he has.
|I'm close to completing the set, I need the Charlie Sheen card. Might buy the pack from Topps.|
The manager is Lou Brown. Much like in the movie, nobody is quite sure outside of ownership the real reason the Royals made Ned Yost a manager. My thought is they have such high regards, they don't want to lose him, or they want to make him an easy scapegoat, which is the main reason Lou Brown was hired in the movie more or less. In the movie, the fans don't really give any indication as to whether they like Brown, which is not the case in real life. Both however seem to have bonded with their players, and seems to keep their team together, though Yost sometimes makes many more questionable decisions than Brown does. Though much like Yost pulling a Shields and putting in a rookie on 1 days rest, Brown also made a terrible judgement call by bringing in Rick Vaughn who never got the guy out he was facing until this night.
The next person is a bit complex. Pepper Leach in the movie is the third base coach, a guy we don't know a lot about. In my opinion he is the real guy that keeps the players on the level and I always thought they could have got more of a story out of him. He also seemed like a guy that would probably be in line for a coaching job once the right people knew his credentials. The Royals third base coach is Mike Jirschele. Much like Pepper, nobody really knows a lot about him (at least not outside KC and Omaha). Mike played baseball for 13 years and coached another 15 years in the minor leagues before becoming the third base coach for the Royals before the start of the season. All the home grown talent on the Royals team was at coached by Jirschele in the minors, so I sense he is the guy that also keeps the players on the level. Like in the movie people should know more about his story, and he would likely make a great manager in the majors if the right people knew his credentials.
*Edit- I just realized I may have mixed up Pepper Leach and Duke Temple. It looks like Duke was the 3rd base coach and Pepper was 1st base coach. Most of that stays the same. The Royals 1st base coach is Rusty Kuntz, and like Duke and Pepper, doesn't get a lot of screentime, mainly only a pop up appearance or when you see the back of his jersey.
|Love the Miller Lite product placement. For the most part, Monty drank Sprite.|
The announcers in the movie are Harry Doyle and Monty. Now the Royals have a Monty on their announce team, its former Royal Jeff Montgomery. However he is regulated to pre and post show time and not much of a factor. Nobody could really fill the part of Bob Uecker's Doyle character, but the Royals come close by having Rex Hudler. Though Hud is the color commentator for the Royals, much like Doyle, you never know what to expect from either. They bring an equal amount of joy and to some extent anguish (Doyle was a bit of a dick in Major League 2) to the broadcast booth. Monty (the movie character) is tougher to pinpoint because he says like two lines in the movie. Some could say he is like Ryan Lefevbre is when he works with Hudler and can't get a line in. Some could say he is also like Ryan when he works in the radio role with Denny Matthews (which isn't as often), as someone who is being primed to take the main spot once the elder (Doyle and Denny) both retire. Ryan is a good choice, but so is Steve Stewart, someone who only gets to talk in later innings announcing the other scores. You can go with either.
Before I get to the players, let me say the fans in the movie and in real life are fairly the same as well. Most of the fans are blue-collar folks that just want to have a beer and see their team return to greatness just as they were when they were children. Even the fringe/crazy fans are semi-related. In the movie you have guys in mohawks who don't seem like baseball fans but support their town and team. It could be because they were heartbroken so many time before that they are just now coming back. In real life you have fans who only learned the game and the players and rooted for the team to win so they could get a puppy... or something likewise. Unlike Cleveland, in the 30 years since being a winning team, Kansas City has had more success in other sports (mainly football, but also soccer), so some of the fringe fans could be sports fans coming to a team they've never seen win.
Okay let's get to the players. Now you may notice as I write these, they aren't comparable by position, but by their circumstance. Some may play the same position, but aside from the pitchers, it seems more coincidental.
|Don't forget to pay taxes on those purchases Snipes!|
We will start with Rick Vaughn. In the movie he is an unknown gem that just needs to calm down and learn control and becomes a phenom. He is also an ex-car thief, but that part isn't relatable. There are two contenders for this part in real life, first we will look at Yordano Ventura. Ventura came to the team last year, but this was his first full year. It was also the year that people besides die hard Royals fans got to know him. Like Vaughn, he shows sign of control issues, but once he is settled down, he is a shut down pitcher. Like in the movie, in Tuesday's game, he was brought in to finish the job for a veteran starter in a move that should be second guessed. While in the movie, Vaughn prevailed, Ventura didn't have the same luck. The other candidate for this role is Brandon Finnegan. While not as similar, they do have a couple connections. Finnegan is a rookie that came out of nowhere and stole the hearts of the fans. He also came in at a time that his team needed him, and he successfully got them out of a jam. I am still going with Ventura for the role because Finnegan prior to Tuesday's game never pitched in the majors before.
|I love the scene where he tells Cerrano "He's not fooled" while reading Hustler.|
The other end ot the spectrum is the veteran pitcher. In the movie it is Eddie Harris, in real life, again there are more than one option. The obvious choice would be James Shields. He is the Royals ace and the guy that is relied upon most among starting pitching. I would argue that he isn't that old, and he is much more dependable than Harris. A better choice would be Jeremy Guthrie. When he pitches, you know it wil be an iteresting game, one that you don't know if you love or hate the guy (which is how most people would feel about Harris). He is a veteran that is running out of options, and his career depends on one more lifeline that only he has control of. Is he washed-up, or is he heading for a resurgence? Time will tell. Another option is Jason Vargas. Vargas is more dependable than Guthrie, but when he misses, he misses big. He should never be an ace on a team (again much like Harris), but more times than not, you can rely on him to pitch a good game and eat up innings. In the end, I will go with Guthrie on this one.
|My mom still doesn't believe he is the same guy from The Unit.|
We will go with Pedro Cerrano next. In the movie he is an outfielder, but in real life, he has more relatable characteristics to catcher Salvador Perez. His accent makes it tough to understand him sometimes, but when he talks, its quick and to the point. Pedro and Salvy also share similar batting styles. They either go big or go home. Pedro has power much like Salvy, but its easy to make them miss. Both could be the savior, or the goat. While I don't think Perez believes in Voodoo, I wouldn't be surprised to find out he listens to a doll of some sort for pointers on how to hit. It's also not out of the realm of possibility to believe he has "hats for bats".
Roger Dorn isn't high priced talent. He's only high priced. On a small market team, there is usually one guy who is considered overpaid. Since Billy Butler rarely plays the field, we will rule him out. For this, we will compare Dorn to Omar Infante. Infante came in as an improvement at second base, but it came at a cost. While he hasn't been terrible, he isn't worth what he is making (at least not for a small market team). He is an older player much like Dorn, that hasn't been injured a lot and prefers to stay that way. However also like Dorn, he understands in order to make max money, he has to make some sacrifices and help his team win.
There are only two main guys from the movie left, and still plenty of guys. They can be rolled into multiple guys though.
|Joel Goldberg is an announcer that shows up everywhere, much like Jobu.|
Let's start with Willie Mays Hays first. In terms of his fielding, he is most like Alex Gordon. He can almost run down anything, and has won the fans over. Willie seems like a guy that could stick with the team as long as they will have him, and that has been the case with Gordon. In terms of hitting, he is a bit like Mike Moustakas (at first Hays couldn't hit at all), shades of Christian Colon (he is able to get infield singles like its nothing), Nori Aoki (again, as the year progressed he got better), and Alcides Escobar (never misses a game). In terms of baserunning, he has speed just like Jarrod Dyson and Lorenzo Cain. This leans a bit more to Dyson because he has the speed but sometimes makes mistakes running and getting picked off.
Finally we have Jake Taylor. The man who holds the team together and is the mouthpiece for the players. This could be a few guys, let's start with Eric Hosmer. He can hit, rally the team and seems to be the field general. However he is still young and Doesn't seem to be as vocal as other potential candidates. Josh Willingham and Jayson Nix are candidates. Both are older guys clinging to once last shot at greatness, but neither seem too vocal and are never on the field enough to be field generals. That leaves two candidates, both of which are also not on the field much, but are more vocal and get more at bats. First is Raul Ibanez. He is past his prime and (hopefully) knows it, but is willing to play anywhere to get one last shot. He's only available because he had a previous stint with the team (like Taylor) and nobody else really wants him. The other option is Billy Butler. Like Taylor, Billy plays everyday, just not in the field. If the movie utilized the DH, I would assume Jake or Pedro would have filled that role anyways. Billy also like Jake knows his way around the city, and more times than not has to put the team on his back. Alway's one to speak his mind, neither are too concerned about being Mr. Nice Guy when dealt with issues that arise (Billy has been vocal in the past for playing time and potential free agency: Jake has some strong words for Dorn). While Butler is younger than Jake, in the end, both seem like the same person.
Sorry for this being a really long read, but as I stated in an earlier post, once I start writing, it just flows. Let me know what you think if you read all this, did I leave anyone out or make a wrong assumption on someone in the movie?
Thanks for reading and have a great night.