Did a string of failures help Henry Rowengartner’s boys win the big game in Rookie of the Year? –

Rookie of the Year is one of the best kids’ baseball movies of all time. The pictorial chronicle -year-old Henry Rowengartner’s meteoric rise from underperforming little league to dominant The Chicago Cubs pitcher inspired countless youngsters to intentionally break their arms in hopes the tendons would heal “a little too tight” Acting talent, including a young Thomas Ian Nicholas, a Salisbury steak-loving Gary Busey, a gregarious John Candy and a delightfully eccentric Daniel Stern. Watching Wrigley Field transform itself from a helpless den of despair into a vibrant and victorious house of victory correctly envisioned a world that would actually emerge a few decades later.

Baseball traditionalists can still appreciate the way director Stern and producer Robert Harper handled the action on the field – you really buy it when Rowengartner mows down Bobby Bonilla, Pedro Guerrero and Barry Bonds during a montage – the interpersonal relationships in the dressing room and the conflict in team management.

Sure, liberties are being taken because it’s for kids, and Hollywood needs to make the American pastime dramatic and compelling for the mass market. Like the glossed over issue of a teenager being allowed to play Major League Baseball, and the seemingly rigged way Rowengartner ended up playing for his beloved hometown team.

But one thing that’s always bothered me – and a question that’s brought back on a recent viewing – is how the Cubs snatched victory from the jaw of defeat – presumably for the NL East Crown – against the big cinematic endgame villainous New York Mets.

After taking the field for the top of the ninth inning after wrapping things up, Rowengartner slips on a baseball and falls onto his miracle arm, somehow reversing the blessed curse and robbing himself of all his talent. It’s heartbreaking.

The 12-year-old, staggering, purposely walks with the Mets first batter before calling his entire infield to the mound and come up with a creative strategy full of tricks that they immediately embrace.

This is where it gets controversial. Rowengartner calls for the hidden ball trick, sending his first baseman, played by future Scrubs caretaker Neil Flynn, in the pocket with the ball in tow. The suddenly human pitcher continues to grab the rosin bag and steps onto the mound. It’s unclear, but it looks like he could go in the rubber as well.

This, under rule 8.05(i), would be an obstruction and the runner would gain second base.

“(i) The pitcher stands on or astride the pitcher’s plate without having the ball, or fakes a pitch when he is off the plate;”

Rowengartner also breaks rule 8.02(e) by holding the rosin bag in his glove as bait.

“(e) The referee alone shall determine whether any part of this rule has been broken. All judges must carry an official rosin bag. The head umpire is responsible for placing the rosin bag on the ground behind the pitcher’s plate. If at any time the ball touches the rosin bag, it is in play. In the event of rain or a wet field, the umpire may instruct the pitcher to carry the rosin pouch in his waist pocket. A pitcher may use the rosin pouch to apply rosin to his bare hand or hands. Neither the pitcher nor any other player may dust the ball with the rosin bag; neither the pitcher nor any other player shall apply rosin from the bag to his glove or dust any part of his uniform with the rosin bag.”

All four umpires somehow miss both injuries and the Mets baserunner is flagged for the first out. As if that wasn’t enough, Rowengartner flaunts another rule for getting the second out after a second intentional walk.

Instead of taking the mound to face the dreaded slugger Hedo, the cunning right-hander repeatedly taunts the new baserunner by dropping the baseball, kicking, and throwing air into it to get him to take off second. The mentally weak runner eventually bites and is sorted out by a sprinting Rowengartner as the Wrigley crowd rises to a feverish peak.

Brilliant testament to the folly of hyper-masculinity?Yes.

Illegal? Depends on the referee’s disc retion, in accordance with Rule 8.02(c).

“(c) Deliberately delaying play by throwing the ball to players other than the catcher when the batter is in position, unless attempting to withdraw a runner.”

Technically, Rowengartner is a different player than the catcher, although it’s understandable for a referee to give a little leeway given the situation.

You know the rest of the story, Rowengartner fools Hedo with a slow pitch, then survives a tape-measure foulball down the line before a motherly inspiration unleashes a dramatic, soaring final punch. Definitely a feel-good moment, especially when it’s announced that the Cubs will win the World Series.

But none of that benefits the Mets, who should have played the game under protest after that series of inexplicable and egregious missed calls from the umpire crew.

Still a good movie.



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