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Movie Review: "Troy" (and Cub game report for 6/22)

From May 31 through June 20, a twenty-one day period. I attended ballgames on all but five days (June 3, an off day, the three-game series in Anaheim, and the first game in Houston on June 14).

Starting Friday I'll be at nine games in ten days, including the three games at the Cell.

So, a break was needed. Coincidentally, With my brother-in-law and his wife in town, and I had a free Director's Guild screening of the movie "Troy" last night, so I wound up missing all but the last couple of outs of last night's come-from-behind 5-4 Cub win over the Cardinals, which put them at a season-high 10 games over .500 (one game better than they were after 70 games in 2003) and within one game of first place.

Having seen some of the highlights of this game, I will say that sometimes it's better to be lucky than good, as Sammy Sosa scored the winning run only because Mike Matheny couldn't handle a relay throw -- otherwise Sammy would have been out easily. Otherwise, Aramis Ramirez (who doubled in the tying and winning runs) and Derrek Lee (now 12 for his last 17, with a homer) continued their hot hitting, and it's a good thing that the Cubs can win the series by simply splitting the remaining two games. Of course, you don't want to think that way -- after winning game one, you want to go for the sweep, and the Cubs are now 7-5 against the Cardinals so far this year.

About the movie, it was a CGI masterpiece. I kept looking for odd shadows or lighting in some of the mass battle scenes, where you couldn't possibly have had 50,000 extras. They looked pretty good, but you knew they were computer-generated.

Brad Pitt was eye candy for the women, I'm sure, but I wonder if I would have cast his wounded-little-boy look in the role of one of ancient Greece's biggest heroes. He buffed up for the part, but there were other men in the film who seemed even more buff. Orlando Bloom (from the "Lord of the Rings" series) did a nice turn as the bewildered Paris, whose seduction of Helen of Troy (German actress Diane Kruger) starts the whole Sparta vs. Troy war in the first place.

And I couldn't help thinking of Monty Python's Trojan Rabbit when the Trojan Horse was wheeled up to the gates of the city, with the predictable results. There's a ton of fire in this film, and some really gory battle scenes -- it's NOT suitable for kids.

The best performance in the film is Peter O'Toole as Priam, the king of Troy. He's got a terrific scene with Pitt, and I will go no further, only to say the entire film is validated by this scene.

So this got me thinking, how would you cast this film with the 2004 Cubs?

How about...
Achilles: Mark Prior
Agamemnon: Sammy Sosa
Paris: Mark Grudzielanek
Hector: Todd Walker
Priam: Dusty Baker
Odysseus: Moises Alou
Ajax: Corey Patterson
Boagrius: Kyle Farnsworth
Messenger Boy: Wendell Kim

OK, that's enough...

Today is the 20th anniversary of what became known in baseball lore as the "Sandberg Game", where the Cubs came from a 7-1 deficit to tie the game twice on homers by Ryne Sandberg, and won in extra innings -- coincidentally, also against the Cardinals, but at Wrigley Field.

Let us hope for similar excitement -- and a similar result -- today.

Finally, I got an e-mail from my late cousin Fred's longtime companion Becky, in which she wrote:

I was asked to recontact you to let you know, Fred was buried in his Cubs shirt. If they ever need help... they've got it now!!!

You bet, Becky. I note that Fred passed away on June 15 -- the Cubs have gone 7-1 since then.

AYRating (for "Troy"): ** 1/2
AYRating (for last night's game): ****