The pitch: Before it comes out in theaters billed as the new Jon Hamm movie (release date: May 16), this quasi-young-adult book version written by Las Vegas agent Bernstein (portrayed by Hamm) who experienced it all first hand does more than lay the groundwork for those who want to read up on what’s going before swallowing the Hollywood-ized version. How Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel went from India’s cricket fields to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor-league system is somewhat ridiculous — as only a reality-show creator could dream up.
When the two had their tryout in Tucson, Ariz., in front of scouts and the media in 2008, Bernstein recreates the scene:“When Rinku, Dinesh, their pitching coach Tom House, talent scout and trainer Ray Potevint, my business partners Ash Vasudevan and Will Chang, and I walked out of the building in one badass line, it was like the scene from ‘Reservoir Dogs.’ (Well, maybe more like the scene from ‘Swingers’ when they immidate ‘Reservoir Dogs’.)
And then … “There wasn’t a hint anything could go wrong — until someone pulled back the tarp that had been covering the mound. Suddenly, like a train wreck unfurling in slow motion, the entire situation went south. The mound, sandy, crumbling and uneven, was totally messed up. “‘Coach, mound no good,’ Dinesh said. “‘You gotta go,’ House whispered loudly. ‘Just go!’
USC and Dedeaux Field plays a prominent role in this story, as House, the Trojans pitching coach, solicited the help of alum Randy Johnson as well to help see what these two novices might accomplish.
Along the way, Bernstein is sidetracked in trying to get his star client, Barry Bonds, another shot at a big-league team at age 43.
“It was a crucial moment in his career, and he couldn’t be too happy about the timing of my trip (to India),” writes Bernstein.
Maybe even Bonds saw the bigger picture here — and something that could divert attention from himself?
Bernstein figured things out for himself as the journey went on:
“I was reminded of the original impetus behind ‘Million Dollar Arm’,” he writes on page 156, talking about the beginning of the journey with the reality show idea. “Sick of working with spoiled young athletes who weren’t appreciative of the talent with which they’d be gifted and the unfathomable money and opportunities afforded to them because of it, I went out in search of those who would understand the value of ability, effort and relationships. While the jury was still out on Rinku’s and Dinesh’s pro baseball careers, I could not have found two finer young men. On that basis alone, ‘Million Dollar Arm’ was already a success. For the first time in my life, I was proud of someone other than myself, and it felt good.”
More to know: == A CNN.com version of the story from 2008. == Bob Nightengale’s story for USA Today on the two pitchers from 2010
== As part of a promotion for the movie, Disney is sponsoring a $1 million contest where participants who qualify at regional events can have a chance at the top prize at the world premier of the film in Hollywood. One prelim takes place at Downtown Disney in Anaheim on April 25-26. More information: disney.com/pitchingcontest. All contestants get two tickets to an advance screening of the film at an AMC theatre that day.
== The movie’s trailer: