Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Inspectah On Deck: Opportunity Seized

Here's one that turned out to be pretty easy: Opportunity Knocks was on TV the other day. Chan and I were huge fans. Back in the 90s, you could throw Carvey into any wacky situation, let him make a few faces, and we'd be hooked. We even saw Master of Disguise. In the theater!

Anyway, there's a scene where "Jonathan" and Milt go to Wrigley Field. There are two shots of game action. As per my personality, I attempted to figure out the game they used.

You can always spot a fake game, but this was obviously real footage from Wrigley. The movie came out in March of 1990, so it's likely that it was shot in '89. The visitors wore red hats/sleeves/stirrups, narrowing it down to the Reds, Phils, or Cards. The belt area is key, though. The Phils wore actual belts, and the Cards would have that blue stripe. The team in question has just a red/white stripe, so we've got the Reds. The first batter they show is a lefty with a single-digit number that looks like a 7. Lenny Harris fits this bill nicely--and the on deck hitter, a righty, looks like Barry Larkin, complete with what looks like an 11 on his back. In the second shot, we see what really looks like Chris Sabo foul a ball off. He turns around and it's pretty clearly a 17. The Cubs third baseman is in on the grass, and the pitcher is a lefty. It's a sunny day, crowd fairly full, but with a lot of in-crowd bustling, as if it's the first inning. (Which makes sense--you're not gonna show up late to the game you're supposed to be filming, and, since you're there to film, why not start right when the game starts?)

So I headed to retrosheet. Checked the Reds game log for '89. Clicked on their first Wrigley game, Friday afternoon, May 26th. And right away I knew I had my game. The lineup started Sabo/Harris/Larkin. (Meaning the second shot they show happened before the first.) I said to myself, "I bet the pitcher's a lefty." It was Paul Kilgus, sure enough, a lefty. Then I noticed that in the Sabo shot, Kilgus is going from the set position, and the third base coach's body language suggests a man is on first, unlike in the Harris at bat. So again I did some talking to myself, saying, "I bet Sabo reached first in his first at bat." Checked it, and he singled to center. That's when you know you've nailed it--when you think you know what happened already, and then you confirm it.

I checked the next two games in the series, and Harris didn't start those games, making Friday really look like our winner. (And the Reds weren't using the Sabo/Harris/Larkin lineup during any other Wrigley series.)

Weather check: Farmer's Almanac weather history shows no precip that day, got up to 71 degrees, 12 mph wind. That explains the sunshine, some sleeves and some bare arms.

So here's your game. The Reds would win it with 2 in the 12th.

And if you look closely, you'll see that the pitch that Harris "hits" that the Cubs make a great play on that Jonathan and Milt are so impressed by is actually a pitch that he didn't even swing at. And also, let it be known that I always liked Carvey's co-conspirator in that movie because he looked like Mike Greenwell.

[Side note: Yes I'm aware someone recently did this with the Wrigley game shown in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. So if you're new to this blog you should know that I do this stuff all the time, it's not inspired by that. I can't believe that other one had someone who worked on the movie chime in, though. How come that never happens for me? Maybe I need to do more well-known projects, and not, like, "that one Punky Brewster episode" or "the radio call in In the Bedroom" or "some random photograph."]


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Location: Rhode Island, United States