Editor’s Note: In the spirit of seeking sunshine during a gray winter, and to help usher in the upcoming baseball season, we will be featuring baseball movies every Monday between now and Opening Day. Today’s choice of silver screen Baseball goodness is our first doubleheader.
Today Baseball Movie Monday focuses on two movies, Talent for the Game and Trouble with the Curve, which shed light on some of the unsung heroes of baseball, the scouts.
Although the movies came out around 20 years apart they each do a superb job of showing the life of a professional baseball scout.
Throughout the history of baseball individuals have scoured the back roads of America looking for that hidden gem of a player that can be the missing piece of the puzzle for a team looking to have long term success.
Countless hours are spent by these scouts out on those back roads watching baseball games at Ballparks across the country trying to find players for their organization to draft.
In recent years teams have focused on international players with baseball academies in the Dominican Republic and other nations but the fact remains the bulk of Major League Baseball players are still from America and someone needs to discover them.
Of course with the addition of the internet and other factors the need for scouts to physically travel the back roads has diminished in some way over the last couple of decades as You Tube and other sources provide a way to track players nearly from the first time that they pick up a ball or a bat. Several teams have even made drastic cuts in the size of their scouting departments while ramping up efforts on the analytical side of the game.
Both movies focus on the scouts dealing with pressure from their management to change with the times while struggling to hold on to the tried and true evaluation techniques that decades in the game have given them.
Personally I prefer to think of baseball with the scouts as part of the game and not some area to be replaced by computers and spreadsheet.
A few years back I attended a Baltimore Orioles Spring Training game at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, FL and was seated in the “scout section.” Throughout the entire game I was entertained by stories from these rough around the edges baseball lifers and was given a firsthand look into a piece of the life of a scout.
Many of the stories from that game amongst the scouts cannot be repeated in a family column, but they showed insight into a brotherhood where there was a kinship among the nomadic brothers in arms despite the competitive nature that goes along with the job.
For those without access to scouts of their own, Talent for the Game and Trouble with the Curve transport the viewer into a scout’s life as they balance their love for the game with the elements of time that are encroaching to make their fate seem like that of the dinosaurs.
Edward James Olmos and Clint Eastwood each give strong performances as the scouts. Both movies also feature strong supporting casts and story lines that have one pulling for the scouts to defeat the odds and find a way to continue doing what they are doing.
It is very possible that a day will come when the sabermetric movement eliminates the use of all baseball scouts. If that day does come at least there will be movies like Talent for the Game and Trouble with the Curve to show future generations the way talent used to be found.
Hopefully next year I can once again find a Spring Training seat with the scouts to hear more tales of a nomadic live on the road. Until then, I have these two movies and my memories to act as my guide to the life of a baseball scout in search of the next big thing.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some movies about scouts to watch.
Copyright 2015 R. Anderson