We got a little bit of everything in tonight’s Franchise: fisticuffs, a behind-the-scenes training sequence and and a glimpse inside a player’s head. Plus, we temporarily escaped some of the themes the series has relied on heavily to date. I wasn’t too upset that we didn’t get any footage of players frolicking in their mansions with their adorable kids, or stretching in the training room, or delivering extensive talking head promos. We did, however, get an awful lot of slow-motion footage of Andres Torres doing things like running and walking and looking at the camera in meaningful dim light (and one inexplicable slow-motion shot of a seagull flying away). I would have preferred more footage of him performing Rocky-style training in jorts, but I was happy to get what we got.
The team is struggling in this week’s installment, and I for one roll my eyes sarcastically and say “Really, Giants fans? Is that hard for you? Is it difficult to watch your World Series-winning team stink a little bit? That must be so tough.” Seriously, I know it’s not fun when your team underperforms, but as a Chicagoan to me that’s not plot: that’s setting. So here's me and my tiny violin.
Even if I’m not that sad to see the team struggle, I did feel bad for Torres, who was working through a slump throughout most of the episode. He seems like a seriously nice guy (although I wish it wasn’t considered so bizarre that a baseball player would take the time to say hi to his parking attendant and ushers.) I liked watching Torres get a swinging lesson from Carlos Beltran, and how grateful Torres was afterwards. I hope his season turns around, although there is something very fascinating, psychologically, about watching a player slump. Your fans can turn on you, even when they want you to perform well. Or, you could become Chuck Knoblauch (he’s not really relevant here but I just happened to find his yips extremely fascinating and wanted an excuse to link to this story.)
Another inside-baseball-type scene we got tonight was watching Ryan Vogelsong’s wife watch her husband pitch against the Diamondbacks. I’d love to see more of that. What exactly do those ladies talk about during the game? And did Mrs. Brandon Belt bring her own snacks?
What I really wanted to know more about was the tension between the Giants and the Phillies before their brawl. I didn’t see the issues between the teams earlier in the game and wouldn’t have minded hearing the players themselves explain why they didn’t think it was cool when Jimmy Rollins stole a base. I finally caught on when Shane Victorino got drilled by Ramon Ramirez. I have two baseball goals in life: one is to witness a grand slam (that my team hits) and another is to witness a brawl. I would have loved to hear from the players what goes down when a fight starts. Who actually gets hurt? Who gets kinda excited when they break out? Who’s actually angry vs. who’s just thinking “Oh, I guess this is when we fight.” And when do they all start hugging? (A: When Frank Drebin tells Jane that he loves her.)
Next week, Tim Lincecum may actually speak to the camera, and we hear about Brian Wilson’s dad, so be sure to bring your rally towels to cry into.
—So did MLB f up royally when it came to the brawl’s suspensions? Discuss.
—Are Beltran and Cabrera going to start performing like superstars or what?
—Andres Torres is a good dancer. Somehow I think Ryan Vogelsong is not.
—My worry for baseball players is that they don't spend enough time playfully goofing around.