What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions

Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies: Episode 7 – “The Blues Brothers”

  • Today’s Movie: The Blues Brothers
  • Year of Release: 1980
  • Stars: Dan Akroyd, John Belushi
  • Director: John Landis

This movie is not on my list of essential films.

The Story:

The Blues Brothers is another movie which happens to be one of my all-time favorites, and yet I can’t put it on my list of essential films because it has a seminal flaw.  While there is a genre of film known as musical comedy, the directors of those movies fundamentally understood they were making musical with a few guffaws in them For example, the 1962 classic “The Music Man” is a perfect example of a musical comedy which is a musical first, and a comedy second. That’s why it makes my essential films list.  “The Blues Brothers” is a tremendous comedy into which songs are not-so-seamlessly forced for the sole purpose of making sure you know the main characters are musicians. With the exceptions of the final performance scene and the rendition of “Jailhouse Rock” woven through the closing credits, the songs don’t add anything to the plot; they’re largely the reason why a 90-minute comedy weighs in at a bloated 2 hours, 13 minutes.

The Hidden Sports Analogy:

OK, Twins fans, when was the last time you woke up on Memorial Day and could say your team was in first place.  That’s why this Memorial Day is the perfect time to relive the memories of 1987.  The 1987 Minnesota Twins in my world are like the movie “The Blues Brothers.”  That team is one of my all-time favorites; the Twins play a major role in the fact that 1987 was the greatest year in my personal sports history. Despite all that; despite the fact they won the World Series…much like the movie, those Twins were deeply flawed.

The most notable place to notice the cracks in the gem was in the pitching staff.  The 1987 Minnesota Twins easily had the worst pitching staff for a World Series winning team to that date.  Not only did they post numbers under the league average in every single statistical category, they were significantly worse than the league average. across the board.

I know I routinely criticize “stat quoters,” especially on the nonsense that is team statistics, but for those of us who understand “real” statistics, you don’t need a doctorate in mathematics to understand that in a game in which pitching rules, when you have a team which performs in statistically-significant numbers below both the median and the average in every single category, that probably means you have two or three guys who perform above those lines by close to one standard deviation, but the rest likely land really low in the percentiles.  That would statistically (and perfectly) describe the 1987 Twins.

Again, I’m on record as saying there’s only two kinds of people who quote statistics when making an argument in sports; the kind who didn’t see the games and the kind who doesn’t know what their looking at.  The Twins starting rotation consisted of the following:

  1. Bert Blyleven – A Hall-of-Famer who was third all-time in career strikeouts when he retired
  2. Frank Viola – A member of the Hall-of-Pretty-Fucking-Good, 3-time All-Star, 1988 Cy Young winner, and the only guy on this roster with an ERA under 3.00
  3. A collection of ham sandwiches

“Sweet Music” Viola led the staff with 17 wins.  Blyleven notched 15.  After them, the list of wins leaders goes like this:

  1. Juan Berenguer – 8 (relief pitcher who started 6 games)
  2. Les Straker – 8 (started 31 games; 8-10, 4.37 ERA)
  3. Keith Atherton – 7 (relief pitcher who started 0 games)
  4. George Frazier – 5 (relief pitcher who started 0 games)
  5. Mike Smithson – 4 (started 20 games; 4-7, 5.94 ERA)
  6. Joe Niekro – 4 (started 18 games; 4-9, 6.26 ERA)
  7. Dan Schatzeder -3 (relief pitcher who started 1 game)
  8. Roy Smith – 1 (started 1 game; 1-0, 4.96 ERA)
  9. Jeff Bittinger -1 (started 1 game; 1-0 5.40 ERA)
  10. Steve Carlton – 1 (the remains of a Hall-of-Famer who started 7 games; 1-5, 6.70 ERA)
  11. Allan Anderson – 1 (started 2 games; 1-0, 10.95 ERA)
  12. Mark Portugal – 1 (started 7 games; 1-3, 7.77 ERA)
  13. Randy Niemann – 1 (relief pitcher who started 0 games)

If that doesn’t convince you of the “flawed” nature of this gem of a team, just look at this roster of “chocolate diamonds” that comprised the bulk of the bullpen.*

  1. Jeff Reardon** – 8-8, 31 saves, 80.1 innings pitched, 4.48 ERA
  2. Juan Berenguer – 8-1, 4 saves, 112.0 innings pitched, 3.94 ERA (which made “Señor Smoke” the only Twin hurler besides Viola with an ERA under 4.00)
  3. Keith Atherton – 7-5, 2 saves, 79.1 innings pitched, 4.54 ERA
  4. George Frazier – 5-5, 2 saves, 81.1 innings pitched, 4.98 ERA
  5. Dan Schatzeder – 3-1, 0 saves, 43.2 innings pitched, 6.39 ERA

*“Chocolate diamonds” are just a chain jeweler’s way of selling you at wallet-splitting prices polluted diamonds that would normally become industrial drill bits.

**Insert your own “robbing a jewelry store” joke here

By now you should understand the comparison.  If not, stop reading here and go find something more your speed; something with those little cardboard pop-ups perhaps. If you haven’t regressed to “Green Eggs and Ham,” then you should appreciate the fact much like Jake Elwood in the church, I’ve had an epiphany and have seen how you can represent characters in the “Blues Brothers” with figures from the Minnesota Twins’ magical 1987 season.

If you picture the scene in the church where Jake “sees the light” as Kirby Puckett putting the Twins on his back during “The Weekend In Milwaukee;” the weekend after which they never relinquished the lead in the American League West…if you picture the run through August all the way to Game 7 in October as the epic car chase…well, then the rest of what I’ve pictured really falls into place.

1) The Blues Brothers

There really can’t be another choice for Jake and Elwood themselves but Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek respectively…after all, they were the stars of the show.  I still can’t see Hrbek with an old cop car…he strikes me more as the old pick-up truck sort of guy.

2) Curtis

Nobody ever remembers the name of the Cab Calloway character…like how the Hall of Fame forgot about Blyleven for so long.  But when it comes to the ’87 Twins, Bert was the crafty veteran presence with prior World Series experience.  Not to mention, I bet he could knock down a snazzy rendition of “Minnie the Moocher.” Besides, you know Bert’s 3 wins through the play-off were crucial for the Twins’ winning campaign.

Another thing you know is by the end of the movie, everybody was chasing the Blues Brothers.  After “The Weekend In Milwaukee,” the rest of baseball was chasing the Twins.

3) Troopers Daniel and Mount

1987 wasn’t only a special year in Minnesota; it was the genesis of the “Bash Brothers” era (Gee…wonder where they got THAT idea?) in Oakland; soon-to-be American League Rookie of the Year Mark McGwire joined Jose Canseco to make the A’s rivals of the Twins for AL West supremacy for years to come.  But in the inaugural campaign for the “Bash Brothers,” they were the ones doing the chasing.

4) The Mystery Woman

In case you hadn’t noticed, Carrie Fisher’s character is never named in the movie; on the IMDB page for this movie she is listed simply as “Mystery Woman.”  But in our version, there’s no secrets; she’s George Brett and the Kansas City Royals.

5) Tuck McElroy and the Good Ol’ Boys

This might be the clearest call other than Kirby and Herbie as the boys themselves, because there’s no better representation for Tuck McElroy…the lead singer and the driver of the Winnebago…than Detroit’s Darrell Evans.  Evans’ performance in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, where in the sixth inning he stupidly got picked off third base, costing the Tigers what would have been a game-tying run, then followed that in the eighth inning by booting a ground ball at third base which ultimately led to the Twins adding an insurance run.  If that’s not driving the Winnebago into a lake, I don’t know what is.

6) The Illinois Nazis

I know St. Louis isn’t in Illinois, but it’s close enough.  Besides, I fucking hate Illinois Nazis, and I fucking hate the St. Louis Cardinals.  Hrbek’s grand slam in Game 6 of the World Series was the moment the Illinois Nazis St. Louis Cardinals drove off the freeway and plummeted to their doom….and all was right with the world again.


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About J-Dub

What your view of sports would be if you had too many concussions

5 comments on “Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies: Episode 7 – “The Blues Brothers”

  1. Considering “Blues Brothers” set the record for most automobiles wrecked in a single film, I thought you were going to compare the Twins recent woes to a wreck you can’t turn your eyes away from.


    Your fellow rubbernecker.


  2. Pingback: Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies – Volume 82: “Dog Day Afternoon” | Dubsism

  3. Pingback: Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies – Volume 123: “Strange Brew” | Dubsism

  4. Pingback: Genre Grandeur – Strange Brew (1983) – Dubsism | MovieRob

  5. Pingback: Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies – Volume 135: “The Big Bus” | Dubsism

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