March 19, 2009

YMCA Baseball Team: This Diamond's for Sports Fans

One of these days, I'm going to get around to reading Pindar. Maybe if I'd read the Olympian odes of literature's first sports fanatic, a don't-think, feel-good movie like YMCA Baseball Team wouldn't seem so mystifying. It's not that I don't get it: Korea's first baseball team (circa 1906) unifies the nation by defeating their Japanese opponent-oppressors; it's not that I don't enjoy it: Is it ever bad to see a film with Song Kang-ho in the lead? It's just that I don't buy it. I never experience an epiphany when an athletic underdog overcomes the odds, in a fabricated context. Sports have neither the drama of theater nor the grace of dance. In short, they're not art...especially baseball which has to be the slowest organized sport out there after golf. The best you can say about a baseball movie is at least it doesn't draw out every inning. Only the final one. And if you're second-guessing who's going to win in the rematch between Korea and Japan here, you've probably never seen a sports movie before. Should that be the case, Kim Hyeon-seon's popcorn confection is a giggle-inducing introduction to the genre. Call it a hit and I'll agree. Call it a home run, and I'll accuse you of fudging stats.

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