' ' Cinema Romantico: Pitch Meeting: The Greatest Game Never Seen

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Pitch Meeting: The Greatest Game Never Seen

Last week I was listening to an interview with sportscasting legend Al Michaels on The Ringer’s Pressbox podcast, ground zero anymore for all my inane movie ideas. Michaels talked at length about his start in the broadcasting business calling games for the old Hawaii Islanders, a one-time Triple-A Pacific Coast League team. He talked not only about essentially living right on the beach but how, to cut costs that traveling with the team would have brought, he would quote-unquote recreate road games by reading the live ticker and then calling the game as if it were happening right in front of him. You know what’s coming next. STOP THE TAPE.

This story got me to thinking. It got me to thinking about an aspiring baseball announcer, Lucy Davenport (Abbi Jacobson), relegated to calling games for some independent baseball team, the Hawaii Sea Turtles. Thinking no one will ever hear her in such a far-flung place, she is surprised when the owner of the St. Louis Cardinals, William Betterton (Carl Lumbly), vacationing on Oahu, happens to turn on a Sea Turtles game and hears Lucy’s call of a game-winning home run. Impressed, he seeks her out and advises his team’s current play-by-play announcer is contemplating retirement at season’s end. If he goes through with it, and if Lucy continues doing A+ work, then Betterton would consider her for the job. “I’ll be listening,” Betterton says. 

Alas, the Sea Turtles’ wily owner (Bruce McGill) pulls a fast one on a road trip, effectively canceling the season and destroying the team by selling all his players to opposing squads, like spare parts, all while they are still in the air, pocketing the cash high-tailing it for the Caribbean. Disheartened, Lucy tells her best friend, Kiana Lee (Sanoe Lake), with whom she plays in a co-ed softball league, who councils Lucy to not simply give up. “But what I do?” Lucy asks as they shag fly balls in the outfield. “The team doesn’t exist! They canceled the season!” “Not if you recreate it,” says Kiana.

So, with the help of her producer, Jake Garbanzo (Kevin Corrigan), refashioning himself as a 1930s radio special effects man, Lucy keeps calling the Sea Turtles’ non-existent season by concocting a sea story in which a tidal wave has placed the team’s field underwater and forced them to play the remainder of the season the road. She recreates games all the way to the championship at which point, taking things too far, she recreates their field as being reopened just in time for the Big Game. Big mistake! Betterton phones, saying he plans to attend the championship, forcing Lucy to employ Kiana and the rest of her co-ed softball league in a desperate bid to recreate a Sea Turtles game...for real!!!

Will the ruse work? If it does, will Lucy really decide to forsake paradise for the humidity of the Midwest? And will the sexist windbag of Honolulu sports talk radio, Devin Blabelford (Michael Shannon), who has made it his life’s work to expel every woman from the announcer’s booth, succeed in exposing Lucy’s gambit, or will he come to realize she’s the best at what she does after all? 

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