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Posts Tagged ‘Tim Raines’

“Often bumpy roads lead to beautiful places. And this is a beautiful place.”
Washington Nationals Manager Dave Martinez

If you like comebacks and reversals then the 2018-2019 Washington Nationals are your team. There aren’t too many people in May 2019 who would have predicted that the Washington Nationals at the end of October would be World Series champs. After all, their record at that point was 19-31 and one predictor gave them a .05% of winning the World Series.  Forget the playoffs, just finishing with a winning record seemed a long shot. A common question debated was when Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez would be fired.

But last Wednesday the Nationals came back in game 7, just like they had all year, to win that game—and their first World Series championship in franchise history. And on Saturday they celebrated with a parade in Washington, D.C.

Since this is a blog with a focus on screenwriting and filmmaking, let me look at the Nationals’ accomplishment from that perspective. As I’ve mentioned before, Martinez and I went to the Lake Howell High School with him beginning to attend the year after I graduated. I was in my first year of college and working for the Sanford Herald and covered some of the games Martinez played.

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Here’s an article published on March 15, 1981 where I wrote “Martinez, a pitcher-left fielder, transferred from New York two weeks ago. [Coach Birto] Benjamin has high hopes for his left-handed junior.”

In a recent interview Benjamin thought Martinez could play college ball and even had  the big league potential, but he never envisioned Martinez would have the wild success he’s had as a coach and manager. Martinez turned down a lowball pro offer to play baseball at what is now Valencia College.

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Dave Martinez at Valencia College in 1982

In 1983 Martinez signed with the Chicago Cubs and played briefly with the Iowa Cubs in the Quad Cites. In 1986, he did something that every Little League player dreams of doing—he was playing baseball in the major leagues.

He had a 15-year career as a player, and that alone is a major accomplishment. In the whole history of Lake Howell only two players have made it to the major leagues. The second being Eddie Taubensee—who I also covered working for the Herald.

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Eddie Taubensee a few years before he was a 6’4″ MLB player

The thing that both Martinez and Taubensee have in common is that long before they were playing Major League Baseball, they were honing their skills in Little League. Martinez in Long Island and Taubensee in Altamonte Springs. I imagine both of them were playing competitive baseball for a 10-12 years before they stepped on a major league field.

They had small victories along the way. Their talent, skill, accomplishments, hard work and potential became to shine over the rest. I don’t think screenwriting and filmmaking is any different. Except screenwriters and filmmakers sometimes think they are going to spring up to the Oscar stage from a dream they had yesterday. (Even Diablo Cody, who is the rare screenwriter who did win an Oscar in her first screenplay—Juno—said that she had been writing poetry and short stories everyday since she was 12. That was a 15+year overnight success.)

I enjoyed my year of working as a sports reporter and photographer. I watched a lot of talented players—none better than Tim Raines who in 2017 was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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In 2009 I compared working screenwriters to NFL player in the post How Much Do Screenwriters Make? that has now been viewed more than 100,000 times. It was a comparison I now here a few times a year, but one I’d never heard or read before. Check it out if you’ve never read it before.

Some closing encouraging advice comes from one of my acting teachers back in the day. He actually used a baseball metaphor to encourage young actors, “Just because you can’t be Babe Ruth, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy playing the game.” You can unpack that in any way you want. But without Little League coaches enjoying the game, Martinez probably wouldn’t have honed his baseball skills at a young age. There’s not going to be another Steven Spielberg, but there are going to be filmmakers creating theatrical and streaming entertainment. And there’s going to be others all around the world that take what they learn and become content creators and making a living with their technical and creative skills.

My biggest dream at 19 years old was to be a photographer some day for Sports Illustrated magazine. But by the time I was 20 I began to tire of doing sports photography. I remember clearly thinking after one year that I didn’t want to be taking pictures of people sliding into home when I was 30-years old. (When you’re 20 you tend to think of 30 as ancient.) But looking back it was a great experience. And Dave Martinez’s success gave me a good excuse to revisit that era of my life. (An era where I didn’t have the benefit of auto focus lens or an auto-winder to take the photos below.)

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Scott W. Smith

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I’m holding to my post-Super Bowl promise to stop writing football-related posts on a screenwriting blog. But spring training for Major League Baseball is just around the corner so let me sneak in one baseball post.

Here’s a photo I took of Tim Raines when I was a 19-year-old photojournalist for the Sanford Herald. It was his rookie year during the MLB strike in 1981. Last month the Sanford, Florida native was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He’s the best high school athlete I ever saw play. And he’s on the short list of the greatest athletes to come out of Central Florida.

Highlights to his pro baseball career include being a seven time all star, a three time World Series champ (Yankees, White Sox), NL batting champ in ’86, and #5 on the all-time list of stolen bases (just behind Ty Cobb).

Congrats Tim Raines on finally getting into the Hall of Fame. Hope the wait make the trip to Cooperstown all the sweeter.

P.S. Something clicked for me last October/November that made me turn back toward my jouranalism roots. I’ll unpack that down the road, but there’s no doubt in my mind that there are some great opportunities there for content creators. (That includes some of you who have film and TV backgrounds, but aren’t currently working in film and Tv.)

Check out the New York Times multimedia story Snow Fall, The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek by John Branch to get a taste of where journalism is heading. And you don’t have to look back any further than last year when Spotlight won two Oscars (Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay) to see how journalism and movies can work in tandem.

And since this is a screenplay-centered blog, I’ll mention that Scriptnotes #287 gives a nice shout-out to journalism.  Screenwriter Craig Mazin’s one cool thing was “the resurgence of journalism.” He encouraged people to subscribe to a reputable periodical like the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times. I’ve had a couple of conversations about that this year, so I second that motion.

Scott W. Smith

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