For the Love of Family Guy

By Ryan Leake
November 17, 2011

A few weeks ago Coach Campo was searching for ways to diversify and upgrade the RDbaseball website.  If it was going to be a true representation of Santa Clara Baseball, and an honest attempt to acquire interest from outlets other than girlfriends, family, and athletic department staff it needed to be personalized.  “Coach Leake’s BS is great,” he went on to say.  “But fans want to know the players; not some attention-hog of a coach.”

True, Coach Leake’s BS is great (awesome, the best, stupendous, enthralling, riveting, dynamic…any other superlative you can think of).  Yes, fans want to know the players (maybe the coaches, even those of the “attention-starved” variety, too).  Boom, consider it done!  Thanks to Campo’s vision, a system was put in place to familiarize fans with Santa Clara baseball players.  In the coming days you’ll begin to notice an accumulation of extensive profiles on the RDbaseball blog.  Questions range from the reason for choosing Santa Clara to ideal first date to favorite Monopoly piece; a wide array of questions allowing fans a glimpse into the minds of our Broncos.  I’ve spent the past hour or so perusing the first few entries (complete with photos of each team member) and couldn’t help but notice a few early trends.

The first is a clear, and unfortunate, affinity for country music.  This vexes me.  I’m terribly vexed.  What is country music nowadays anyway?  Not only does the music lack any sense of complexity or variety, its performers are increasingly confused as to what it means to be country.  We had a staff get-together last Wednesday to watch the CMAs and I couldn’t tell if Carrie Underwood was hosting the event as a down-home country girl from Oklahoma, or trying really hard to become a barely animate Malibu-Barbie doll with desires to marry (then divorce) Ken and drive her pink convertible to Orange County and become totally fake.  Honestly though, I’m not a country guy but shouldn’t there be banjoes and fiddles and harmonicas and boots and cowboy hats and flannel and spittoons on stage?  Instead, Blake Shelton accepts an award wearing a leather vest, Kenny Chesney continues to ignore the invention of shirt-sleeves (but he’s soo country in flip-flops and board shorts), the members of Rascal Flatts frost each other’s tips, the Judd sisters continue to look like Star Wars characters, and audiences are still wondering why Reba McEntire is so confused.  Put plainly, country music is an abomination and I’m asking not to be associated with the players and coaches who express a preference for it.

The second trend is Marissa Miller.  I 100% endorse her inclusion.

The third is steak.  I like steak.

The fourth is general love for Family Guy (ok I admit, only me and Greg Harisis put it as our favorite show but I needed to embellish for the blog’s sake).  One of the most ingenious entities to hit television, Family Guy is a satirical foray into the nuance of humanity.  There are no limits or boundaries, no shame or indignity; if it can be reached, Family Guy’s acid-loving writers will hallucinate their way there.  In Family Guy everything and everyone are fair game; to the point where I don’t even feel comfortable joking about its jokes.  Family Guy is so effective at influencing mainstream media and pop culture that it’s been the subject of lawsuits, FCC censures, and petitions for cancellation.  But in the wake of the storm it creates, Family Guy chugs along like a tug boat towing a freighter.

Following two seasons of sporadically released new episodes, matched up against shows like Survivor, Friends, and Frasier, the animated parody was, in fact, cancelled.  But a healthy cult following (thank your local comic-con geek) and fiscally successful DVD releases saved the show.  After three years of mounting unrest for the show’s return, Fox woke Family Guy from the dead and the show has picked up steam ever since.  The demand for Family Guy has become so high reruns are syndicated on no less than five channels.  If you’re on the couch between the hours of 7pm & 5am, chances are you can find an episode of your liking.  The Family Guy mystique is immense to the point where celebrities fight over guest appearances and use self-deprecation therapeutic (most recently Ryan Reynolds played an animated version of himself in a quasi-homosexual, excessively vain role where he gets in tickle fights with Peter).

Campo, Ose (Coach Oseguera), and I were lucky enough to share some household Family Guy time a couple weeks ago.  Ben was probably cross-legged in his ugly chair, eating a salad from Panera.  Ose was most likely texting and thinking about his next mean thing to say.  I was unquestionably eating spicy flaxseed chips from Trader Joe’s; enjoying life’s little pleasures.  There was a particularly amusing scene involving a cut-away (an eminent feature of the show) where Peter gets “as excited as when a movie says the title of the movie in the movie.”  The scene cuts-away to Peter sitting in a theater, overcome with delight when Clear and Present Danger, As Good as it Gets, and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace are quoted within their respective dialogues (the inclusion of Superman IV is in jest only…in case you couldn’t figure that out).  Peter’s delight became irony when, coincidentally, it tied directly into trend number five on the player profile pages.

The fifth trend is For Love of the Game; simultaneously occupying number five on our countdown of the program’s favorite baseball movies.  Peter Griffin would’ve been proud.  Toward the end of the movie, the Tigers’ owner (Brian Cox) looks at a ball delivered to him by a clubhouse attendant.  The ball is from aging star, and main character, Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner) who is facing the ultimate crossroads in life: continue playing Major League Baseball or live in eternal bliss with his beloved Jane (Kelly Preston).  Not necessarily a difficult crossroads but a crossroads-in-fantasyland nonetheless.  Chapel has written on the ball, “tell them I quit…For Love of the Game”; a characteristic snippet of melodrama that defines the film, and piques Peter Griffin’s cinematic interest.

The fact that For Love of the Game feels like a jumble of sensational clichés is irrelevant.  The movie is corny, everyone knows it, and that’s exactly how baseball enthusiasts like it.  Our program is no different when it comes to entertainment (maybe that explains the country music).  We like how Billy’s longtime friend and catcher, Gus Sinski (John C. Reilly), is broke-down, completely lacking for talent, and would never set foot on a Big League field; yet he’s the only guy Billy wants catching.

We like Billy’s gratuitous declaration that he’s “gonna throw hard today” during his pre-game bullpen, even though his arm is supposedly going to fall off at any moment (what a gamer!).

We like how improbably innocent and naïve Jane is about dating a Big Leaguer.  She looks so cute in her abysmal Tigers jacket while watching Billy pitch and overhearing the player’s wives talk about her role as “this week’s blonde”.

We like the undulant “emotion” of Jane and Billy’s relationship and how it not-so-subtly parallels the progression of Billy’s potential perfect game.

We like that Billy is pitching against the Yankees (would you watch if it were the Tigers & Royals?), who just so happen to have his best friend and worst enemy respectively trying to spoil his final night on the mound.

We like thinking about how much we hate New Yorkers when Jane is accompanied by your stereotypically offensive, loud-mouthed, and nauseating Yankee fan (would anyone really act that way around a woman that looked like Kelly Preston?).

We like how Billy has to fight back from a career, and relationship, threatening injury (really?! A cut on the hand!?).

We like hearing “clear the mechanism” as the surroundings of Yankee Stadium impossibly blur, then sputter, as Chapel battles through the mental anguish of women and the game.

We like how Chapel is unaware of his bid for perfection until a drawn out gander at the scoreboard reveals nothing but zeros and Gus reminds his friend that the Tigers “don’t stink right now” because of Chapel’s brilliance.

We like the absolute absurdity of the game’s final sequence: a speedy left-handed hitter, a chopper off the pitcher’s glove, a shortstop on the right side of second base, a ball bouncing about 57 times, and a play at first where the film editor got bored and forgot to make it close.

We like Billy and Jane’s passionate embrace at the airport because it’s how any Joe-screenwriter would’ve written it.

We like the hypnotizing romance of it all, from opening credits to final kiss, because “it’s hard not to be romantic about this game…” (Brad Pitt in Moneyball).

We even like how the title of the movie appears in the movie because Santa Clara Baseball will do just as the movie implies…thrive…For Love of the Game.

Here’s a quick look into the #4 movie on Santa Clara’s top 5 baseball movies of all time list:

  1. A Randy Newman song plays over the opening credits
  2. One of the movie’s stars used to live with one-and-a-half men and actually played college baseball (his half brother is Emilio Estevez…who doesn’t remember EE’s star turn in The Breakfast Club?)
  3. Another cast member quit baseball and became POTUS on 24
  4. After landing a role in The Thomas Crown Affair, the leading actress disappeared because people realized she sucked

Until next time…

— Coach Leake