Last week, the Dodgers won the World Series and brought the 2020 MLB season to a close. For me, it was a disappointing season because the Rangers ended up with the worst record in the American League and came nowhere close to the playoffs. I should be used to that by now but it still hurts every season.
If only we could have had a pitcher like Billy Chapel, who Kevin Costner plays in For Love of the Game. Billy Chapel is a forty year-old veteran who has been playing baseball his entire life and who has spent his entire major league career as a member of the Tigers. Before the start of the team’s final game against the Yankees (the Yankees have already clinched the playoff berth while the Tigers are at the bottom of their division, kind of like my Rangers), Billy is told that the Tigers have been sold and that Billy is going to be traded to the Giants. Will Billy go to San Francisco or will he retire and go to London with the woman he loves, Jane Aubrey (Kelly Preston)?
That’s the decision that Billy is going to have to make. But first, Billy’s going to throw a perfect game against the New York Yankees.
While Billy is pitching the game, he’s also thinking about Jane and having flashbacks to how they first met and fell for each other. Billy loves Jane but he also loves playing baseball and it keeps the two of them apart. Jane doesn’t want to be a baseball groupie and she needs a man who she knows is going to be there for her and her daughter, instead of spending most of the year traveling around the country. Billy, meanwhile, doesn’t want to give up the game that’s defined his life. As Billy throws his perfect game, he has to decide whether or not to keep playing until he can no longer get the ball across the plate or whether to start a new chapter with Jane. Meanwhile, Jane is stuck in an airport, watching Billy play the game of his life.
For Love Of The Game is a good love story but it’s a great baseball movie. I loved the scenes of Billy standing out on the mound, carefully evaluating each batter while blocking out all of the noise around him. (The only villains in this movie are the New Yorkers who won’t stop yelling at Billy during the game.) I enjoyed the interplay between Billy and the catcher (John C. Reilly) and I especially appreciated the way that the movie showed that it takes more than a good pitcher to have a perfect game. It takes teamwork and focus. It’s not just Billy’s perfect game. It’s the entire team’s perfect game.
For Love of the Game may be a romantic drama but it’s also a celebration of everything that makes baseball great. It’s America’s pastime and this movie shows why. Watching Billy Chapel get his perfect game made me look forward to seeing what will happen next year. Who knows? Maybe the Rangers will even shock everyone and make the postseason. If Billy Chapel can throw a perfect game while playing the Yankees in New York City, then anything can happen!