Friday, July 27, 2012

After the Credits -- Bull Durham

Note to readers: “After the Credits” is a feature in which we take the best sports movies ever made, and giving our opinion on what happened to our favorite fictional characters after the movie ended. Previously, Josh speculated on The Natural, and Matt gave his opinion on Jerry Maguire. In this edition, both will give their opinions on the legendary minor league baseball movie, Bull Durham.

-- by Josh Suchon and Matt Hurst

When the movie ends, Nuke LaLooosh was called up to the major leagues. Crash Davis was released by the Durham Bulls, went to the Asheville Tourists to get his final dinger to set the all-time minor league home run record, then shacked up with Annie, with the possibility that he would manage in Visalia the next year.

Each of us wrote our opinions separately, not knowing what the other person thought. A few are similar. Most are totally different. This is what we think happened “After the Credits” to the characters from Bull Durham. 

Crash Davis

Josh: Crash didn’t get the managing job with Visalia. He was foolish in thinking he would get the job. Visalia was a Twins affiliate at the time, and they didn’t know anything about him. Crash was coming from the Braves organization (Durham), had no previous managing experience, and the California League is High-A ball. The Braves did offer Crash a job as a roving catcher instructor, but he didn’t accept it. “Well, fuck this fucking game,” Crash declared, once again. At first, he quit and was leaving the game entirely. But while in a gym, he randomly bumped into a former teammate. The player-turned-personal trainer offered him the fountain of youth. Crash took it, took a lot of it, and signed a minor league contract with the Astros (the Asheville affiliate). Miraculously, he made the Opening Day roster due to injuries. Crash kept hitting dingers, even more dingers than ever before, and he always knew how to call a fabulous game. Crash made the all-star game as a reserve, and was the feel-good story. At the end of the season, Crash quit once again. He couldn’t handle the guilt, knowing he cheated to reach the majors. Crash retired, again, this time for good. He took a job coaching baseball at a community college, doing private catching lessons, and wrote a best-selling book about life in the minors. Consider him a cross between Dirk Hayhurst and Paul LoDuca.  

Matt: After landing a manager’s job in Visalia, Crash could only last one year in high A ball. He found himself managing the player’s attitudes and teaching them the inside parts of the game rather than actually managing baseball and teaching them skills. It was more of a babysitting job than a baseball job. He got fed up with the young kids who didn’t respect the game and were only in it for themselves and to become famous. After he challenged one of his catchers to a fight on the bus, the organization got wind of it and let him know he wouldn’t be retained. He bounced around a couple of organizations as a good, old-school baseball mind, but Crash could never get over the fact that he was paving a path for young kids to The Show and he probably wasn’t going to make it. He finally caught on with a job he enjoyed – as an advance scout for the Yankees.

Josh:  Annie wanted the faery-tale ending, where she lived happily ever after with Crash. Deep down, she knew it wasn’t going to happen, and it didn’t. Once Crash didn’t get the managing job in Visalia and returned to playing, Annie knew she’d never see him again. That was partly true. She took a road trip to Houston and watched Crash play in the majors. She never called or tried to contact him. Annie thought it was strange that Crash was so much bigger, but convinced herself that Crash sacrificed their relationship for all that time in the gym. True to her word, Annie was done with boys, but not baseball. She continued teaching English Literature at the local community college, and also wrote about baseball history. Annie started reading Bill James’ famed Baseball Abstract, grew fascinated with the numerology associated with the grand ol’ game, and was one of the original members of the Society of Professional Baseball Research. Her first published work was a series of poems laced with baseball tales. It was well received critically, but a bust with readers. Undeterred, she kept writing and slowly build a rabid following. These days, she’s got a cult following of male and female fans of her work. Her blog is a must-read on all subjects, she frequently contributes to, has over a million Twitter followers, and hosts her own baseball show on XM Radio. Annie never got married or had any children. She’s had a handful of long-term relationship with men – all around her age, mostly from literary circles -- but none of them compare to Crash. She still has dreams that Crash will show up again one day. But it’s just that, just a dream. Consider her a cross between Alyssa Milano and Sally Jenkins.

Matt: Never one to want or need a man around the house all the time, Annie doesn’t mind that Crash is gone more than half the year as a scout. She still teaches part time at the community college (English and composition!) in Durham – where she and Crash live. Once Crash told her that he wanted to hear every one of her crazy theories, she knew he was hooked. And, of course, a baseball man like Crash loves that his wife is a horny freak who doesn’t mind that an entire jug of milk gets spilled in lieu of some sex. The whole point of the movie was that Crash and Annie stayed together … duh!

Nuke LaLoosh

Josh: Ever think about Nuke’s minor league debut? He walked 18, struck out 18, and threw at least three wild pitches (when he hit the radio announcer, sportswriter and mascot). His pitch count was easily over 200, and probably over 300. And, don’t forget, he spent less than three minutes warming up because he was having sex in the clubhouse. Nuke’s arm was nuked that night. I don’t care what his results were the rest of that season. It wasn’t if he would need Tommy John surgery, it was when he needed it. I say his arm blew out in his first major-league appearance. Considering Nuke’s work ethic, he half-assed his way through the rehab, never recovered, and never pitched again in the majors. Luckily, Nuke’s father negotiated a clause in his contract that paid for Nuke’s college tuition. Out of baseball, Nuke goes back to college, intrigued by what Annie taught him. He starts with Quantum Physics and molecular attraction. He reads Walt Whitman and William Blake, and the other poetry that Annie read him in bed. Then he starts studying bio-mechanical analysis and kinesiology. Nuke loves it. He devours the material. Nuke works with Dr. Frank Jobe and Dr. James Andrews, devoting his life to the proper way to raise young pitchers. He becomes a leading proponent of pitch counts in Little League and high school, long toss, shoulder strengthening exercises, and proper mechanics using cutting-edge technology. A decade later, the Braves hire Nuke as their minor league pitching coordinator. His results are fabulous. They offer him the job as major-league pitching coach, but he turns it down because his passion is making sure young pitchers don’t make the mistakes that he made. Consider him a cross between Brien Taylor and Rick Peterson.

Matt: The only glimpse you needed of Nuke was his on-camera interview with RayAnn at the end of the movie to realize that he didn’t absorb anything Crash had taught him. Nuke had a few tremendous pitching moments in the majors – a no-hitter, an 18-strikeout game – but over a seven-year career was largely mediocre. His walk rate was too high and he finished his career with a losing record and a career ERA near 5.00. He reached out to Crash after he was designated for assignment to try and get some more useful tidbits, but after leaving a message for Crash, the phone rang and it was another team with a contract. When Crash tried to call him back, Nuke was too involved in major league life to ever return the call … or heed the advice. They ran into each other once and reunited over some drinks, but Crash knew that Nuke never learned the inside knowledge of the game and always relied on God-given talent, which obviously wasn’t enough. LaLoosh faded from the public’s eye until a recent Sports Illustrated “Where Are They Now?” issue.

Skip (the Bulls manager)

Josh: After the blowout of Nuke’s arm, the Atlanta Braves owner demanded answers on how the bonus baby flamed out so quickly. Once the word spreads about Nuke’s ridiculous pitch counts that season, the entire minor league system was blown out. The Bulls manager was the first one fired. Skip longs for the good-old days, when you spit tobacco juice on an injury, and didn’t care about pitch counts. Skip never works in organized baseball again, but is hired by an independent minor league team in Texas. Consider him a cross between Billy Martin and John McGraw.

Matt: It’s extremely difficult to make it to The Show as a manager when you’re already fairly old and only in A ball. Skip stayed loyal to the organization but never got the chance to manage in the bigs, reaching AA for a few years until the organization cleaned house from top to bottom. He was infuriated with the move, feeling he was a loyal employee, and left baseball altogether. He owns a hardware store in Durham.

Larry (the Bulls pitching coach)

Josh: This one is incredibly easy. He got fired too, for his handling of Nuke. Larry switches gears and becomes an agent. Larry finds the work more fun and more lucrative. Always eager to draw more attention to his agency, he pitches a reality show to HBO that would follow him around. The station loves it, and the show becomes a huge hit. Multiple new seasons are ordered. Larry is more focused on being a TV star than acquiring new talent, however, and his agency starts to slip. Fortunately, Larry was a notorious cheapskate, and saved his money. Now, he’s retired from the agent business, but he’s constantly trying to buy a major league franchise. Consider him a cross between Dave Stewart and Dennis Gilbert.

Matt: A pitching coach usually only goes as far as his manager. The goofball Larry stayed true to Skip and was with him in AA ball, but was also released during the mass exodus. Larry has bounced around a few organizations and is still a pitching coach in the Texas League because he’s so likable, most people hire him.

Jose (the first baseman)

Josh: Jose needed a live rooster to take a hex off his glove that his girlfriend put on there. You know what? He found it. Later that night, in fact. Jose didn’t make another error the rest of the season. He was a switch-hitting first baseman with some power, and soft hands at first base. Jose made the majors, for sure. He was the second-best prospect on that Bulls team, next to Nuke. Jose wasn’t a Hall of Famer, but he made a couple all-star teams, lasted 10 years in the majors, and was considered a poor man’s Eddie Murray. That’s not bad. He’s now a hitting coach in the majors. Consider him a cross between Tony Clark and Chili Davis.

Matt: He never believed in his raw power, instead focusing on chicken bone crosses, cursed gloves and the like. A headcase of a player if there ever was one, Jose spent three seasons in A ball and was released from his contract. Nobody picked up a 26-year-old Class A first baseman and Jose can now be found playing beer league softball twice a week. He works in a blue collar job and still loves the game, which he has passed along to his three sons.

Jimmy (the religious teammate)

Josh: Jimmy was released at the end of the season, retired, and devoted his full attention to serving the Lord. Once he no longer played baseball, his wife Jackson left him. Distraught, he spent weeks and nights in Church seeking answers. Inspired one day, Jimmy launches a program for Christian athletes in Durham. The program is a huge hit and spreads nation-wide. He’s now the team chaplain for the Atlanta Braves, and a well-sought public speaker within the Christian community.

Matt: We are never told what position Jimmy played, so it’s obvious his baseball skills were not overwhelming. He didn’t make it out of spring training the following season and he became a preacher.

Millie (the groupie who had sex with Nuke before 
his debut and married Jimmy)

Josh: Even though she’d slept with half the Carolina League, it was a cry for help. Millie just wanted to be loved by one man. She just wanted to marry a ballplayer. That’s what she did … until Jimmy was released. Then she realized this wasn’t the man for her. She went back to the ballpark looking for players. Since Annie had “retired” from boys, this left Millie as the alpha female. Jackson did her homework the next time around, taking what she learned from Annie, and adding the scouting reports she read in Baseball America. Millie learned how to play “hard to get” and snagged a power-hitting outfielder with all the right tools. They fell in love, got married, and had a few kids. He made the majors, multiple all-star teams, made millions … and cheated on her. She filed for divorce. She got half his money and child support. Millie enjoyed a brief career as a sideline reporter on TV, and now she’s on the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Consider her a cross between Anna Benson and Michelle Mangan.

Matt: She believed in the power of marriage and the power of God and loved Jimmy … until he stopped playing baseball. With no more daily trips to the ballpark, she yearned for the game and was invited out for some drinks by some players after one of the few games she went to the following summer. Annie, who was with her, warned her not to go, but Millie did and then one thing led to another … and Millie was back to being a baseball groupie. She left Jimmy only nine months after they were married. She has now inherited Annie’s role as the woman who conquers one man a season.

Teddy (the radio announcer)

Josh: Anybody with the ability to call a game live, even though he’s not in attendance, has a long future ahead of him. A few years after the movie was made, Durham made the move from the Single-A Carolina League to the Triple-A International League. Teddy is finally allowed to travel with the team for all road games. Teddy continues to describe the game with enthusiasm, clarity, and honest opinion. Teddy announces his retirement a decade later. When the minor league season ends, the Braves surprise him with the first-ever September call-up for a radio announcer. Teddy gets two innings, every night, for the final month of the season. On the final day of the season, he thanks his radio partners and says, “now I can in peace.” The next day, he does die. Consider him a cross between Dave Niehaus and Jim Kelch (a minor league announcer for 25 years, the final 20 at Triple-A Louisville, before the Reds hired him in 2009).

Matt: No one ever caught on that Teddy was never on road trips because nobody could really understand him anyway. He broadcasted Bulls games for a few more years and then passed away during an offseason.


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