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A giant storyteller is gone; the book Shoeless Joe was better than the movie Field of Dreams


I imagine all sane thinking people amongst us would put Field Of Dreams on any list of top sports movies (top 10?) and even higher on baseball movies (Top 5?), right?

That fact hit home – and the discussions of just how good the flick was began in some circles – on Friday, when the world lost the gifted and great W.P.  Kinsella.

(Him being called a “dedicated story teller, performer, curmudgeon and irascible and difficult man” made me appreciate him even more)

But here’s the thing:

As good as Field Of Dreams was – and it was excellent – I don’t think the movie was nearly as good as the book from which it was adapted, which is somewhat surprising because the generalization is that movies usually are found to be more interesting that the written word.

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Shoeless Joe was simply outstanding, and as good as the James Earl Jones character was in the film, without being a spoiler in case some of you are doing the right thing and trying to find it today, it didn’t match the book.

Now, I’m not generally a fan of fiction writing, to tell you the truth; can’t remember the last novel or book of that genre I read and because I recall the feeling I had when I couldn’t put down Shoeless Joe, or how good The Iowa Baseball Confederation was, it makes me think Kinsella was one of the true giants of our time.

I guess it’s also the subject that lends itself to such great storytelling, fact or fiction.

We can probably agree that baseball is the one sport that has somehow lent itself to more great writing than any other, right?

Maybe it’s the fact it’s been around forever, maybe it’s that there are characters who lend themselves to narratives better than those in other sports, whatever it is, the tales is spawns are excellent.

And no one made them up as well as Kinsella, who might not get his full due as one of the great Canadian authors of all time.

Ever hear this tune?

The great LooseLeaf swears it’s one of the best ever recorded and he’s a man of great intelligence.

So …

This is so good and important I need to throw it out there again after doing in on the tweeter machine yesterday so I’m sorry if you’re seeing it a second time.

But Mike Wise, who I am honoured to call a friend, opens up about child sexual abuse like few I’ve ever read.

Please read it.

And, yes, it’s I’ll Have Another podcast day and I’m not sure how many Listener Mail questions we have since I can never find them but if you do the Number Sigh IHAPodcast thing, Laura or Paul will grab ‘em.

Do it fast, though, we tape late morning.

Nope, didn’t not watch a single down of NFL football yesterday and don’t feel my life is in the least bit incomplete because of it.

Did I miss anything?

So, how about those Blue Jays, now just an enduring and continuing wreck of a franchise that’s putting on a September Swoon which has turned into a gruesome descent into less than mediocrity?

I know they are somehow still clinging to a post-season spot at the moment – getting swept in Seattle will take care of that and who among you has any optimism that they can win a game against a red-hot team? – but what we are seeing is incredible, isn’t it?

I will give Griff and Brendan all kinds of props for how they haven’t handled covering the team this month because, take it from me, it’s not easy writing basically the same story once or twice a day.

You’ve got nothing, really, to ask; they’ve got nothing, really, to say and it becomes more difficult every to figure out how to make another story about another loss informative and entertaining.

Everyone can see what’s going on – hitters can’t hit, it’s putting more pressure on pitchers who can’t seem to hold it together long enough each day – and finding new ways to say the same thing is a true challenge.

What I’ve found interesting is that no one connected with team has really gone off yet, it is to their credit, I suppose, that the veterans have somehow held it together without an explosion. Ditty for Gibby, who hasn’t lashed out or lost it entirely after another day of baseball futility.

And it has been total futility, hasn’t it been?

Yesterday was shocking and if there was a day for some outburst, I’m stunned it didn’t come, especially in that seventh inning when they played like they had never been in a game before.

Bautista botching what should have been a simple fly out-double Pujols off first place play was ridiculous, Saunders lollygagging the ball back into the infield as a hitter took an extra base for no reason other that defensive laziness were precisely the kind of brain cramps and give-up plays that are more indicative of a last-place team going through the motions than a playoff team trying to maintain its grasp on a post-season slot.

How, I know it’s not over and they are still a wild card team and the pennant races are still fun (How many watched the Yankees-Red Sox last night just to see how the Yankees would blow another lead? Who cheered openly against David Price on Saturday afternoon?) but, really.

What fans want – and deserve at this time of year from teams in contention – are at least hard-fought games, tough at-bats, drama, effort, intensity.

What the Blue Jays are giving seems so far less than that, it’s taking tons away from what should be the best time of the year and you wonder if even a veteran team like Toronto can find that inner will to turn things around.

Maybe they can, I hope they can because that’s the only way the last two weeks or so are going to live up to the hype they deserve.
Fans remain mostly heavily invested in this post-season chase, I wonder if they feel the players are, too?

Do you?

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