Tag Archive | "Reviews"

Movie Review: Kokoyakyu: High School Baseball

Each year in Japan, 4,000 high schools compete for the national championship known as the “Koshien”.  They compete in regional tournaments for a chance to be one of 49 teams to make the “Koshien”. Kokoyakyu is a look at what 2 teams go through on their quest for the championship.

This movie, from PBS’s POV, follows 2 teams on their quest.  One team is a public high school in the Osaka area with the other being a private school that won the Koshien the previous year.  It’s a great look into the differences of the two types of schools and how baseball effects the rest of their daily lives. You get to see how hard it is for the public schools to compete on the same level as the private schools in terms of practice time, fields, and school work.

Not only do you get a look into how hard they practice and how dedicated they are, but you get to see other sides of the story.  Cheering is a big part of Asian athletics, and the cheer squads for the teams are no exception. They take their job very seriously and practice very hard. It’s nice to see more than just how things affect the baseball team, but seeing how the parents, the students, and the coaches are affected as well. There are some moving scenes where non-players are very emotional.

One thing I really liked about the movie was seeing how ritualistic, and on a certain level spiritualistic, the baseball culture is in Japan. When the season is over you see just how much the games mean to the players and coaches alike. There are some touching moments that I am not sure you would ever see in America. I guess that is one of the big attractions to the Asian cultures for me. They are extremely committed to excellence and their love of the games is so pure.  It’s great.

The movie also gives a look into just how difficult this tournament is and how important it is. I can’t think of a more difficult baseball tournament.  Perhaps this is why it is so well known, and it has only strengthened my desire to see some of the tournament.

I can’t stress how much I recommend this film.  I watched it on Hulu and I am sure it is still available there. The only complaint that I can think of is that is was too short.  It was only an hour long, but I understand it was made for TV, but I would have loved to see much more.

It’s a must see.  Go check out Hulu.com today.  Find it and watch it.  You will not be disappointed.

Kokoyakyu: High School Baseball

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Movie Review: Fantasyland

Fantasyland takes a look inside the world of fantasy baseball. It is based on the book Fantasyland: A Sportswriter’s Obsessive Bid to Win the World’s Most Ruthless Fantasy Baseball by Sam Walker.  The book has gotten good reviews, and I would like to read it. However, the movie is absurd.

The fantasy baseball league in question is called Tout Wars which pits some of the foremost experts of fantasy baseball. Sam Walker, writer for the Wall Street Journal, played in 2008 as he wrote his book.  This time they wanted to try and even more ridiculous scenario with an amateur coming in for a year.  Normally I think this would be a great idea but great ideas are destined to fail at times. This was one of them.

The problem did not lie with having an amateur enter the league.  The problem lied with who that amateur was. Apparently there were auditions with people sending in tapes of themselves, and how the winner was picked I’ll never know. They must have played cow patty bingo or something. The winner was Jed Latkin, a financial analyst from New York.  He put the “fanatic” in fantasy.

You could tell throughout the movie the regular players were annoyed with him to say the least. Almost immediately after the draft he was wanting to do trades, and often.  He would go to spring training to talk to the players he picked which is just absurd. He felt he could get a feel for how they would play by talking to them, when all he did was make himself look like a lunatic for telling players he drafted they were on a winning ‘fantasy’ team. He even handed out shirts with his team name on them to the players as jerseys for a fantasy team.

He would make a few trips during the season to various stadiums to speak with coaches and players in hopes of getting some insights.  Perhaps the best part of the movie was when he asked Trey Hillman if he could change his lineup so one of his players could get more at bats.  Hillman was having none of that.

After receiving an email from another team in the league about possible trades, he persisted to not only send that person hundreds of emails with trade possibilities, but he drove to his house over 7 hours away when the emails went unanswered. Can you say crazy?

I think a lot of it was staged for the movie, or he was told to go overboard with it to make it more interesting.  But it didn’t work. It just made the movie worse. I struggled to get through it because of him, and I love fantasy baseball. He was trying to make a trade when his wife was in labor with their first children, twins.

I think the book is a good premise, and it is on my reading list now.  However, this movie needs to be given a pass. It’s not worth the time you will put into it. So go pick up the book which I see has gotten very good reviews, and stay away from this (staged?) movie.

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Blog Review: BaseballReflections.com

One of the blogs I read on a daily basis is BaseballReflections.com.  Peter Schiller, and his wife Mishael who also contributes, brings a unique perspective to the world of baseball.

What initially drew me to BaseballReflections.com is the coverage of baseball everywhere. They do a great job of covering your normal MLB happenings through Fantasy reviews, Hot Stove issues, along with all the happenings in each division, but they also do some international baseball as well. One of my favorite recent posts was on baseball in Japan.

They also cover a wide range of topics.  There are a lot of helpful reviews of books, movies/documentaries, and even stadiums. I wasn’t aware of the documentary on University of Texas head coach Augie Garrido until I saw a post on BaseballReflections.com.  They did a great job reviewing the documentary as well.

Like interviews? I do, and they have some good ones at BaseballReflections.com.  Whether it is an interview with Steve Garvey (my brother’s favorite player as a kid) or some great interviews from people around baseball. One of my favorites was the interview with a female umpire from professional, international, amateur, and Div I games. Peter and his crew always do a great job bringing you not only big names from baseball (Tommy John anyone?) but people who bring a different perspective and passion to the game.

This is all in addition to the great coverage they provide year round of what is happening in MLB. So get on over and check out BaseballReflections.com and check out some of the great stories, interviews, and insights.  Peter provides some great writing, but so do his other contributers. His wife Mishael writes under the name Pete’s Rose providing a great woman’s perspective.  Bill Jordan also contributes some great articles.  Bill is also a contributer to BleacherReport.com.

Peter is also  affiliated with a great cause, a children’s book with a great message called, “A Glove of Their Own”. For every purchase of this great book using the promotional code WBO, a $3.00 donation will be made when purchased through the Franklin Mason Press website for World Baseball Outreach at checkout. You can purchase a copy by following the link at their website www.agloveoftheirown.com. So go on over and contribute to a great cuase.

You can find BaseballReflections.com on Twitter @BbalReflections on Facebook and be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed so you never miss another post.  You won’t be sorry you did.


I plan to bring you some reviews of some of my favorite blogs over the next few months. These are all blogs that I read on a regular basis and suggest you do as well. You can find all of these sites linked on my blog directory as well.  I will continue to update my directory as I review sites.

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There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem - once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. ~Al Gallagher, 1971


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