Major League Baseball’s “Field of Dreams” game — you know, the one played in that Iowa corn field in which my beloved White Sox beat the Yankees thanks to a spectacular Tim Anderson walk off homer — was a rousing success, the most-watched regular-season game since a 2005 matchup between the Yankees and the Red Sox. So rousing that it has already launched two spinoffs: another game next year between the Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds, and an NBC Peacock series adaptation of the 1989 movie that inspired the game.
I’m not sure how you turn “Field of Dreams,” the outlandish, sappy story of a farmer who plows his crops to build a magical baseball diamond at the urging of a mysterious voice, into a TV series. I do trust that “Good Place” creator Michael Schur, whom NBC hired as producer, will figure it out. And I bet “Broad City” star Abbi Jacobson figured out how to turn “A League of Their Own” into a forthcoming Amazon Prime series; she even hired “Good Place” alum D’Arcy Carden (Janet) to star in it.
But the baseball movie most ripe for a TV spinoff in the age of streaming services with no boundaries is …
Kevin Costner’s “Field of Dreams” was my favorite baseball movie when I was a kid, a mystical ode to the game that owed as much to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” as it did to the 1919 Chicago White Sox. Kevin Costner’s “Bull Durham” is my favorite baseball movie now, a decidedly adult yarn about being young and dumb, being old and frustrated, and, well, … Susan Sarandon.
Costner plays Crash Davis, the veteran catcher brought to Durham, North Carolina, to help steer the minor league career of a wild pitcher who throws fireballs. That pitcher is Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh, played by Tim Robbins. And Sarandon is Annie Savoy, an, uh, enthusiastic fan who loves baseball and the men who play it — specifically, these two men.
“Bull Durham” captures the real-life magic of baseball. The camaraderie in the locker room, the heartbreak of never being good enough, the special relationship a minor league team can have with the small town around it.
Writer/director Ron Shelton said in a 2008 Southern Ledger article that he has long considered a sequel to his 1988 comedy classic. But wouldn’t a six- or eight-episode series be better? Costner can be the Bulls’ manager, Robbins can be a rival manager, Sarandon could have married one but left him for the other in the decades since we last met them … and all three can help nurture the next generation of ballplayers, both on and off the field.
Seems like a Natural (ahem) to me. If they shoot it, we will watch.
• Sean Stangland is an assistant news editor who believes there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing AstroTurf and the designated hitter.