'The Trouble With the Curve' Trailer: A Baseball Analysis
The upcoming film, featuring Clint Eastwood as a grizzled scout, is a fictional tale, but has some seriously truthful elements.
The Trouble with the Curve seems to be, at its core, a father-daughter tale of redemption and reconciliation, unfurling amid a generational struggle. And while that kind of universal tale could be told in any setting, its placement in the world of baseball creates the opportunity for an even more nuanced story.
Clint Eastwood plays an aging scout in the Atlanta Braves organization named Gus. In this generation of Moneyball -- the shorthand for the statistical analysis revolution shepherded in by the Oakland A's Billy Beane (and on screen by Brad Pitt) -- Gus prefers to get it done the old school way: evaluating players with his eyes and instinct. The methodology served him well over the years, having signed future stars such as Dusty Baker, Dale Murphy and Tom Glavine; unfortunately, drama unfolds as his eyes begin to fail him.
There was no such scout who signed all of those future All-Stars for the Braves, but Eastwood's Gus could very well be a composite character, based in part on famed scout Bill Wight.
Wight, a former Major League pitcher, joined the Braves as a scout in 1967, after five years working for Houston. That year, he discovered and signed Baker in the 26th round of the draft. He also was overseeing the Braves' regional scouting when the team signed Murphy.
The scout that directly signed Murphy, Al LaMacchia, could also be part of the composite. LaMacchia, who worked for six teams after a brief big league pitching career, scouted well into his 80s. His philosophy is echoed by Eastwood when he says in the trailer, "A computer can't tell you if a guy has instincts."
LaMacchia didn't rely on even traditional scouting tools such as radar guns or stopwatches. As he told Bill Plaschke of the LA Times in 2006, "I trust my eyes. Been good enough so far." He added, "The younger fellas look at me like I'm strange. But it's all in my heart and my head." Those instincts, and a dogged determination, helped him see something special in a then-obscure AA outfielder named Andre Ethier, for whom he urged the Dodgers to trade. Ethier is now an All-Star that just signed a contract that could be worth over $100 million.
Finally, there are the two scouts that signed a soft-tossing, hockey-playing lefty from Massachusetts named Tom Glavine in 1984. Paul Snyder and Tony DeMacio weren't scared off by the kid's lack of velocity.
"You couldn't get radar-gun freaky on Glavine because that wasn't going to happen," Snyder told MLB.com in 2010. "But there was just something inside of him that you knew was there."
Sounds a whole lot like Gus.