The Set of 400: #313 – My Favorite Comeback in Sports History

Today! Because they’re here, every April, they’re here. 1:05 or 7:05, there is a game. And if it gets rained out, guess what? They make it up to you. Does anyone else in your life do that?

Fever Pitch (2005)

Directed by the Farrelly brothers

Starring Jimmy Fallon, Drew Barrymore, Willie Garson, Ione Skye, JoBeth Williams (x3), Lenny Clarke, James Sikking, Siobhan Fallon (x2), Andrew Wilson, Jack Kehler, Maureen Keiller, KaDee Strickland, Evan Helmuth, Johnny Sneed, Johnny Damon, Jason Varitek, Trot Nixon

And sometimes the movies on this list aren’t going to be about the movie at all. Okay, that’s not entirely fair. Fever Pitch is a perfectly fine movie. But there was a certain serendipity in the production of the film that makes it a classic in my estimation. You see, it was filmed during the 2004 baseball season, so they had no idea the Boston Red Sox were going to finally win the World Series that year. The movie – probably rightfully so – was supposed to end with them losing, as they had done for the previous 86 years. In 2003, the Red Sox were devastated in the ALCS by the Yankees, losing in Game 7 in extra innings, so why would anyone assume they’d finally get to the mountaintop in ’04?

So the backdrop to this movie became the glorious season that the Sox finally did it, and being a crazy Red Sox fan myself, I’ve been madly in love with Fever Pitch ever since. It’s propped up as a romantic comedy – Drew Barrymore’s career oriented Lindsey meets Fallon’s lunatic baseball fan Ben, who over the course of the film decides whether he should choose her or the Sox, sort of. But in reality, this movie is a love letter to baseball, and the true romance is between Ben and that lovable group of idiots who came back from a three-games-to-none deficit in the ALCS to beat the Yankees, and went on to sweep the Cardinals as an afterthought in the Fall Classic. Really, the fact that they win in the end kinda works against the whole thesis of the film – that he’s dedicated to this team despite there being no payoff, year after year after year. But who cares? Had this movie been made during the 2003 season, I probably would’ve still seen it, but I don’t think I’d enjoy it much. As it is – masterpiece!

Finally!

And the movie itself is pretty good – it does a solid job capturing rabid sports fandom, and the ups and downs associated with investing your time and energy in a team. It keeps it funny, only teetering into parody here and there, and Barrymore and Fallon make for a pretty decent rom-com couple. But did I mention they filmed this during the ’04 season and playoffs? Sure, the plot wraps up before the season does – they had to be prepared for whatever eventuality, and couldn’t build results into the actual storyline – but then you do get a fun few minutes at the end covering the comeback, and the Series. I remember watching the final game on TV with my dad, and after the last out, weirdly, there were Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore dancing on the field off to the side of the players, and I didn’t know what the hell was going on. Is Jimmy Fallon a Red Sox fan? Why is this happening? The following year it made sense, but it’s still a bizarrely integral memory in the whole event for me. Dave Roberts’ stolen base, David Ortiz’s miraculous walk off hit in the 14th inning, Curt Schilling’s bloody sock, Drew Barrymore on the field after the Series win. That’s it, that’s the list.

It was weird then, and it’s still kinda weird now

Despite getting nominated for a ton of Teen Choice Awards, Fever Pitch has nothing in the trophy case, even with the World Series trophy residing at 4 Yawkey Way in Boston. But while I could give this movie a ton of Sox-centric awards – Best Stash of Buckner Game Tapes, Best Tony Conigliaro SI Cameo, Best Fenway Frank – really, I’m just glad this movie exists. I don’t even have a good way to evaluate it, for all I know it could be a terrible film (Rotten Tomatoes has it at 65%, so regular people must like this movie too, right?). But thank God for the Farrelly brothers. And God bless Terry Francona.

SNL veteran Siobhan Fallon joins the ranks of the Two-Timers today, following her role as Edgar’s wife in #376’s Men in Black, but it’s the 12th Three-Timer, and second woman in a row, who gets the Spotlight today – #358 Switch‘s murderer and #338 Poltergeist‘s harried mother JoBeth Williams!

Again, Poltergeist is a crazy scary movie

Coming tomorrow! Margaritas at the midnight buffet!

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