The Rotation: Summer movies vs. Major League Baseball

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The Rotation #2: Summer Movies vs. Baseball

by Steven GoldmanThe Rotation is a new weekly feature here at SB Nation MLB in which we put a question to our vast network of baseball scribes and bring you the answers. The summer movie season starts this Friday with the release of "Iron Man 3." Other so-called blockbusters coming out soon include "Star Trek Into Darkness" (May 17), "The Hangover Part III" (May 24), "This is the End" (June 12), "Man of Steel" (June 14), "World War Z" (June 21), "Monsters University" (June 21), "White House Down" (June 28), "The Lone Ranger" (July 3), "Pacific Rim" (July 12), "The Wolverine" (July 26), "300: Rise of an Empire" (August 2), and "Elysium" (August 9), among, many, many more. Are you looking forward to any movies this summer?

If given a choice between going to the movies and the worst possible baseball game -- Marlins vs. Astros, say -- which would you chose? We await your answers in the comments.

Movie over a game?

Simon Pegg 1, Baseball 0

My wife and love going to the movies. There was a time, not that long ago, when it wasn’t uncommon for us to go see three films in a weekend and when we’d see nearly every film we were mildly interested in seeing within a week or so of its opening. Then we had a baby. Now we’re lucky if we get to the movies more than once a month, though when do get babysitting, we almost always try to catch two films. Still, we have to prioritize.

That’s most difficult to do around the holidays, when most of the best picture nominees are out (or back out) and the industry focuses on the prestige pictures we prefer rather than blockbusters. Though we do try to prioritize seeing films that will lose something in translation to DVD when we go out, we’re not tempted by the majority of the summer spectacle films.

To wit, the film I’m most excited to see this summer is "The World’s End" (Aug. 23), the third collaboration between actor/writer Simon Pegg and writer/director Edgar Wright, who previously teamed up for the deadpan genre parodies "Shaun of the Dead" (2004) and "Hot Fuzz" (2007). To a lesser degree, I’m looking forward to "Monsters University" (June 21), in part because I might be able to take my four-year-old, who loves movies but has only been to the movies three times, but also because, I mean, c’mon, it’s Pixar doing an ‘80s college film send-up, and "Kick-Ass 2" (Aug. 16), because the original was a surprising delight, and Chloë Moritz, well, kicks ass as Hit-Girl.

As for the movies vs. the worst possible baseball game, I love baseball, obviously, but I’ll take a good movie over bad baseball any day. I sat through this entire game despite having no rooting interest in either team, and I’ve been writing about baseball for a decade. I’ve done my time. Let’s go to the movies.-- Cliff Corcoran, SBNation.com Designated Columnist

Time Won’t Let Me

Movies. I used to watch them. I used to enjoy the trip to the theater every weekend. Then Tigers baseball entered my life; or I should say, Tigers baseball was actually televised with more regularity. I know many fans are able to balance everything: they go to the movies, they see concerts, they watch baseball -- they make it all seem so effortless. I, unfortunately, do not have that ability. I see a movie I like.

I insist that this will get me back to the theater. And then I never go. I watch baseball, trying to fit the movie into my schedule some time later when it's on cable. This is my cross to bear, but I will bear it with strength. -- Kurt Mensching, Bless You Boys

The Chicago Way

Movies have never been high on my priority list -- I still haven't gotten around to seeing "Star Wars," and instead of spending the warm summer days in an air-conditioned theatre, I usually take my dog to the park to watch the Chicago Metropolitan Baseball League. The CMBL is a competitive men's league that plays in a variety of parks around the city, and most of the players are still at their prime playing age. While it's not MLB-caliber pitching, some guys do have pretty good command and a bit of heat.

The fields are a bit rough and balls take absurd bounces, so there's always a spectacularly fun defensive play or two. It's mostly families cheering for their loved ones, but there are always a few wanderers that are sucked in by the commotion. It's excellent entertainment for the low admission cost (free) -- and as long as the cops don't see you, it's BYOB. -- Cee Angi, SBNation.com Designated Columnist

Old Rockin’ Chair’s Got Me

I'm not much of a movie-goer to be honest. I usually don't have time and if I do have some spare moments, I'd rather spend them at a baseball game. Of the upcoming summer blockbusters, the only one that I will make a deliberate effort to see is "Star Trek Into Darkness." This is because I was a Star Trek geek before I became a baseball geek. I'm not wild about the direction that J.J. Abrams seems to be taking the franchise -- I fear it will become indistinguishable from other action/adventure movies -- but I'm also an old-fogey and very aware that my tastes are obsolete. -- John Sickels, Minor League Ball

This post approved by Cahiers du Cinéma

(Full Disclosure: My day job is with Disney Studios.) I just saw "Iron Man 3," which was my big "must see" of the summer so that's out of the way. Everybody go see that (and "The Lone Ranger" and "Monsters University" and maybe "Planes" if you don't mind Dane Cook). Other than stuff for work, I don't go out to see many of the blockbuster summer flicks in the theater. I keep it to one or two and this summer it will either be "The Lone Ranger" or "The Man of Steel."

In terms of baseball, I've always equated being a Padres fan to being a fan of independent foreign films while fans of the Dodgers/Yankees/Red Sox/Giants are people who only watch the summer movies. Fans of those big-budget teams love watching the summer blockbusters with all the flash and special effects and huge box offices and super stars and sexy women/dudes, but often will miss out on more substantive, emotional fair. In my mind, as an independent foreign film snob, I've convinced myself that my taste in the Padres demonstrates a culture lacking in the big media markets.

Basically, I enjoy watching things that don't make sense, have limited amounts of slapstick happiness followed by extended amounts of inexplicable sadness that leave me crying in a corner -- and I am the better baseball fan for it (I hope). -- Dex Bustarde, Gas Lamp Ball

Trade Proposal: Bryce Harper for Superman and a PTBNL

As a big fan of comic books, I’m always up for a good comic-book movie, and no comic movie, at least this year, is more interesting to me than "Man of Steel," the reboot of the Superman franchise under Christopher Nolan and director Zack Snyder. Just as there’s a new Superman on screen, last year’s NL Rookie of the Year, Bryce Harper, is the most "super" player in baseball right now. Bryce is hitting like he’s more Kryptonian than human.

Speaking statistically, he leads the National League with an wRC+ of 215, a metric that says he’s about 115 percent better than league average at this dish so far, as well as adjusted OPS+ (214), and TAv (.385). Basically, you can pick whatever advanced hitting metric you like and Bryce Harper rides atop the NL leaderboard.

His pure power and speed are undeniable, much like the strength of the world’s most prominent superhero. It’s a new era for DC Comics’ flagship superhero, and it’s a new era for D.C.’s baseball team. Both endeavors are possessed of high expectations: Nolan shepherded Batman back to filmic relevance, and is expected to do the same for Superman with "Man of Steel."

Meanwhile, the Nationals came into 2013 as an early favorite for the NL pennant. But would I rather watch a great movie than a baseball game? Sometimes both have larger-than-life performances and superhuman feats. Talent like Harper’s is super enough for any medium. -- Bryan Grosnick, Beyond the Box Score

"Baseball… It’s a way to give the wife and kids a fun day." -- Humphrey Bogart

I am definitely more likely to go to a Astros/Marlins game (or some other unattractive matchup) than go to a movie. I live in Houston and will probably go see the Astros play some nondescript team even though I'm not an Astros fan.

Since having children, I don't go out to the movies very often, and I'm really pretty fuzzy on what all movies are coming out this summer anyway, but my daughter, who just turned five, loves going to the baseball game. She's still fuzzy on what is involved in the game and the rules -- the last time we went, she asked who the "black team" was, and it took me a minute to figure out she was talking about the umpires.

But she loves to cheer when the crowd is cheering, and loves to get a sno cone and a hot dog and some popcorn, and loves to tell everyone afterwards that she went to the baseball game with her daddy. Going to a movie just isn't the same. -- Adam J. Morris, Lone Star Ball

Remember, It’s an Astros Fan Saying This

At this point, anything might be preferable than watching the Astros in any context. If they were playing the Marlins? Let’s just say I’d be glad I’m in the 60 percent of Houston not getting the Astros’ new regional sports network.

The movie that I’ve been looking forward to the most is "Star Trek Into Darkness." I’ll lean into the stereotype, because I’m a total nerd, both in baseball terms and in life terms. I’ve been hooked since I was a little kid watching TOS episodes with my dad. This new J.J. Abrams version is promising, even though the continuity side of me reeeeally needed that whole "parallel universe" explanation. Benedict Cumberbatch as the villain is also very cool, since he does such a great job of being sort of alien in Sherlock.

Remakes and updates are classic summer movie fodder, because even when they aren’t great (like the "A-Team" remake), there’s still a little nostalgia to radiate good feelings from spending a couple hours watching them. If "STID" were a prospect, that’s the floor I’m expecting with the ceiling hopefully being as high as the first J.J. Abrams movie. -- David Coleman, The Crawfish Boxes

Beware the Curmudgeon

I was a movie buff long before I was a baseball fan, but the summer movie experience is one that I mostly have chosen to avoid in recent years. Over the last 20 years or so, people seem to have become incapable of distinguishing between a movie theater and their living room, and the constant chatter drives me insane -- people actually think you and your [wife/date/kids/friends] spent $20 bucks for a ticket and a bucket o’ popcorn to listen to them talk. If that were really the point then movies would be free and "Listening to the idiot two tables over at Starbucks pontificate about the immigration problem and the hilarious email about Polish people he just got" would rake in $200 million at the box office.

More than that, though, the summer movie pictures in particular tend to sacrifice story for spectacle, and a good chunk of the time you’re not watching anything but expert work by computer programmers. I’m a "Star Trek" fan of (depressing to admit) 35 years’ standing, and on a visceral level I enjoyed J.J. Abrams' take on the series, but there was nothing like human emotion or quality storytelling at work there, just lots and lots of artificial lens flare. At their best, as in (say) "The Avengers," the summer-movie is a roller-coaster that grabs you and doesn’t give you much of a chance to think about what’s going on, but most of them aren’t so tightly constructed, leaving you with a fleeting feeling of exhilaration that quickly gives way to regret.

In consideration of the foregoing, I’ll largely devote the summer to baseball and catch up with the best of the summer releases during the long, cold winters."
-- Steven Goldman, Pinstriped Bible and SBNation.com/mlb managing editor

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