When Baseball Teams and Hollywood Blockbusters Collide
by Philip Michaels
The San Francisco Chronicle ran a story today at WALL-E, the motion picture you will most likely be going to see in the next few weeks if you have any children in your house. The thrust of the article was an all-news-is-local angle along the lines of "Hey, provincial Bay Area residents -- you may recognize some local landmarks in animated form in the movie. Or possibly not."
That's of little interest if you happen to live outside the local area codes, but there was an intriguing anecdote from WALL-E director Andrew Stanton involving our local nine and the inspiration for the look-and-feel of the title character.
The idea actually came while the director was at an Oakland A's playoff game, almost five years ago, when the home team was competing against the Boston Red Sox.
"I missed the whole inning, because my editor from 'Nemo' passed me his binoculars," says Stanton, during a recent interview at Pixar's headquarters in Emeryville. "I spent the entire inning staring at the binoculars, making them move around. I said, 'That's it. That's exactly the face I need.'"
Ah, yes -- the 2003 divisional series between the A's and the Red Sox. Oakland won Game One in 12 innings on Ramon Hernandez's walk-off bunt, as every A's fan doubtlessly recalls. And the A's went up 2-0 in a relatively effortless Game Two.
I have no memory of how the rest of the series played out. I'm sure it was not the least bit traumatizing just as I am sure the Red Sox fans conducted themselves with their usual restraint and dignity.
So there you go -- our little ballclub has played some role, no matter how incidental, in influencing the look of a major motion picture. I'm sure that's something all A's fans can look forward to as we flock to the local multiplex to take in WALL-E.
Though I'm not sure how I feel about the surprise ending where WALL-E neglects to touch home plate and is immediately tagged out by Jason Varitek.