`Fever Pitch' is way outside of real life

April 18, 2005|By KEVIN COWHERD

STRICTLY OUT of curiosity, I went to see Fever Pitch, the new romantic comedy starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore.

Maybe you know the story line: He loves baseball, she couldn't care less about it.

That's why I went to see it.

To me, that's more than just a movie plot.

Are you kidding? That's my marriage.

In the movie -- which is totally lame, by the way, save your money -- Fallon plays Ben, a geeky math teacher and die-hard Red Sox fan who wants to spend all his time at Fenway Park.

Barrymore plays Lindsey, a hardworking businesswoman with a sweet personality who views a ballgame as a great place to set up a laptop and bang out a few proposals.

They meet, date, fall in love.

Curious at first about his passion for baseball, then resentful of it, she eventually becomes a fan.

And by the end of the movie, it looks like these two crazy kids are going to marry, have some little Red Sox fans of their own and live happily ever after reciting Johnny Damon's lifetime stats to each other.

Sure. Right.

Now let me tell you what really happens when two opposites like that attract.

The non-Hollywood version goes like this: He loves baseball, she couldn't care less about it.

They meet, date. On their fourth date, they go to a ballgame.

She's bored as hell, but a good sport.

So she feigns interest by asking a series of questions ("Why was that a double play?" "Is the pitcher allowed to hit the batter with the ball?") that causes him to repeatedly wave his hand in the air and shout: "Beer man! Two more over here!"

They hit it off anyway.

The next time they take in a ballgame, she brings a book with her. No more feigned interest. No more questions.

Their beer tab is half of what it was at the previous game.

But they're both fine with this arrangement.

The unspoken message is this: You have your interests. I have my interests. Let's see where life takes us.

Eventually, they get married and move to Maryland and have three kids, and the baseball thing simmers on a back burner of the relationship.

He becomes a big Orioles fan.

She still doesn't get baseball. But she gets the pull the game has on him.

When they're out with friends and the conversation turns to something important, like Cal Ripken and The Streak, or the pros and cons of the designated hitter, she rolls her eyes and shakes her head -- although always with a smile.

On car trips, with the radio tuned to the Orioles, she'll say: "Do we have to listen to the stupid ballgame?"

But she never reaches to turn it off.

And if he goes to turn if off, she says: "No, leave it. You want to hear it."

On her first visit in '92 to Camden Yards, the new baseball cathedral where the O's will play, she doesn't bring a book along.

For the first time in years, he allows himself to hope again.

Maybe now she'll get into baseball, he thinks.

Maybe now she'll appreciate the beauty of the game, it's complexity, it's tradition.

"Look at this place!" he says over and over that day. "It's baseball's Garden of Eden!"

Yes, she agrees, it's beautiful. A lovely place. Charming.

In the middle of the game, she leans over to him.

"I have a question," she says.

Ah, he thinks. This is it. Her interest has finally been kindled. The great new ballpark has worked its magic.

"What do you want to know?" he says. "Why that guy bunted? How the pitcher holds the runner on first? The infield fly rule?"

"No," she says. "Where's the ladies room?"

Now, after 26 years of marriage, after 26 years of living with a die-hard baseball fan, she can cite the names of exactly four Orioles past and present: Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Cal Ripken, Sammy Sosa.

And Sosa only because he's been in the news recently.

The rest of the players?

To her, they've never existed.

Frank Robinson?

"Never heard of him," she says.

Brooks Robinson?

"He's a car dealer, right? Does the TV commercials?"

Eddie Murray?

"The actor? Beverly Hills Cop? Trading Places?"

So this is how it works in real life, Hollywood.

This is how it really works when a die-hard baseball fan falls in love with someone who couldn't care less about the game.

And you know what?

It's not a bad life at all.

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