It's the last time he'll walk out to the solitary circle in a certain uniform. It's the last time he'll have to soothe his aching right shoulder. It's the last time. Billy Chapel won't have to worry whether he'll win or lose the game.
Intrigued? That is just the tip of the plot of "For Love of the Game," a new baseball movie starring Kevin Costner.
The film begins in New York City, where Chapel (Costner) is pitching another of the countless games he has played over 20 seasons with the Detroit Tigers.
On the morning of the game, Mr. Wheeler (Brian Cox) informs Billy that he has sold the team to people who want Billy traded to the San Francisco Giants. Billy's only other choice is to quit.
After this shocking news, Billy's girlfriend, Jane (Kelly Preston), tells him she's leaving him to go to London. As Billy's friend Gus, the team's catcher, says, "This ain't your day, Billy."
So Billy goes out to pitch what very well may be his final game ever, at Yankee Stadium with a sold-out crowd and legendary baseball broadcaster Vin Scully doing the play-by-play.
As the game goes on, it is possible that Billy may pitch a perfect game (when no batters get on base). During the game, Billy reflects on the past five years, how his career went downhill because of an injury, and how he met Jane.
And off to Flashback Land! Billy helps Jane fix her rent-a-car. Billy saves her teen-age daughter (Jena Malone). Billy loses Jane and then gets her back. And so on.
Meanwhile, at the airport, Jane's flight has been delayed and the only thing on the airport television is the game Billy's pitching. What a coincidence!
The film wears on and on through many flashbacks (so many that by the end of the game, Billy is flashing back on the first few innings). This film will not make audiences mad, so it is very obvious what the outcome will be.
The movie is somewhat entertaining, not just to baseball fans, but to everybody. But by the end, enough is enough!
Scully could have had fewer lines in the movie and the audience will have to endure his "I think Chapel's pitching against time . . . " speech at the denouement.
If you think you can keep your eyes open through all 140 minutes, then by all means, go see this movie.
Interestingly enough, Costner has caused some ruckus over the making of the movie, complaining how Preston's scenes were cut from the film (a pretty smart move, if you ask me, because half of her scenes had her crying), and how Universal Pictures (the film's distributor) bowed down to the Motion Picture Association of America, giving the film a PG-13 rating (Costner wanted an R) for language and some sexual situations. The film was too long anyway, so I'm glad.
Josh Spiegel is a sophomore at North Tonawanda High School.