If I were going to make a list of all the things I dig in this world of ours, somewhere near the top would undoubtedly be movies, baseball and Steven Soderbergh. Which is the reason why I was so bummed when Soderbergh’s “Moneyball” film suddenly fell apart a few months ago.
But it’s also why I’m so excited to tell you some big news: Soderbergh is planning to make a different baseball movie instead.
“Yeah, I have another idea for a baseball movie that actually doesn’t have any baseball in it,” the “Informant!” filmmaker revealed to us recently and more than a bit cryptically. “I am going to see MLB when I’m in New York to talk to them about it.”
Soderbergh understandably dodged our follow-up questions like a runner on third caught in a botched suicide squeeze, but he did offer a few key tidbits of information: The film will focus on a real-life baseball player (asked if the player’s name would be recognizable to fans, he said “yes”), it follows a story that goes far beyond the diamond and is sensitive enough that he feels the need to get Major League Baseball’s blessing.
“It’s a true story,” explained the Oscar-winning filmmaker. “I don’t want to jinx it, because it would involve life rights. I want to talk to [MLB] and say ‘If I did a movie on this subject, would you be cool with this? What kind of cooperation can I expect?’”
As a baseball nut, I have a few different theories: One is that Soderbergh wants to make a film about a controversial figure like Jose Canseco (who has famously spoken out on steroids and essentially blackballed himself from the sport) or Pete Rose (banned from the game for life). Or maybe he’s interested in someone whose off-field adventures have just been just as notable as those between the lines (Steve “Psycho” Lyons, Milton Bradley, David Wells), and could possibly be played as more of an offbeat comedy like “Informant!” Or perhaps Soderbergh wants to dig back into history and tell the tale of somebody like the dwarf (Eddie Gaedel), the one-handed pitcher (Jim Abbott) or the top-secret spy (Moe Berg) who played in the big leagues and could certainly make for some compelling plotlines.
For now, all we know is this: Both Soderbergh and his fans are hoping that this project ends better than the “Moneyball” debacle. “I don’t know,” he replied when asked if he had any hard feelings about that film, which Brad Pitt is still trying to get made. “I guess I won’t know until I’m confronted with a situation; then I’ll find out how I feel. In general, I don’t hang on to that stuff.”
“It just doesn’t serve a purpose to spend energy on something I can’t change,” he continued. “The moment I realized there was nothing else for me to do to keep this as a project of mine, I switched off. At a certain point it’s like getting mad at weather. The problem became I had people working for me who were suddenly out of work, and are still out of work, and I couldn’t push up any of my other projects because of actor’s schedules. That was frustrating.”
Would you like to see Soderbergh put his people back to work on another baseball film? What real-life player do you think he wants to focus on?