Up for Grabs
Today’s movie is one I came across when I was looking at sports movies back during my Olympic Film Festival. I didn’t use it then because; 1) It’s a documentary. 2) It’s not even really about sports or athletes. It’s Up For Grabs a 2004 documentary about the bizarre dispute between two fans over who was the rightful owner of Barry Bonds’ record-setting 73rd home run ball from 2001. As the film makes clear from the get-go it is not setting out to cover Bonds’ record itself, or any of the controversies surrounding, but instead chronicling the fight over the ball.
It’s an interesting story, but you’ll have to take the word of various interview subjects on that, you won’t feel it yourself. The two principals in the story, Alex Popov (who appeared to initially catch the home run ball,) and Patrick Hayashi, (who wound up with it). Are both interesting characters, particularly the eccentric and charismatic Popov. While we are told that Hayashi is also an interesting “character,” having seen the film I couldn’t really confirm that. Honestly, we don’t see much from him. This sort of reflects my biggest criticism of this movie. We see indications that this was a dramatic story. We see evidence that people beyond those directly involved were interested in the story as it developed, but the filmmaker doesn’t really bring the viewer into those feelings. At no point did I begin to feel emotionally invested, or even all that interested in these two grown men suing each other over a baseball.
This, I feel is the test of a good documentarian. I’ve watched documentaries that filled me with an emotional connection to a font, and yet here is a story that apparently was deemed sufficiently interesting to warrant front page coverage on a major newspaper, and nightly local news coverage repeatedly over the span of almost two years, and I wasn’t given a particular reason to care. I could go on, but honestly this movie isn’t worth any more of my time, or yours. This film had a story that was worth telling, unfortunately, it didn’t tell it very well. It’s not worth seeing.