Alternate title – The Baseball Muse
Screenplay by Alan Nafzger (189 pages)
THE BASEBALL MUSE – MINEKO
This is the story of a baseball muse. Mineko is an avid baseball fan. She is actually a baseball professional. She attends every professional baseball game that she can in Japan. She has a secret room in her home with 12 television sets and a satellite feed from every American professional baseball game. She also keeps tabs on semi-professional leagues… even in ones in America.
Mineko makes a great living and she is moderately wealthy. He works rehabilitating broken down dysfunctional American baseball players. There are many of them and it is full time work. Typically the team that owns the player pays her for her service of restoring the player to working order. She speaks fluent English.
Mineko developed the “baseball muse” profession from the geisha tradition. She came from a poor rural family and was a geisha from early training. She wanted to become a baseball analyst on television or to work in management of a team, but her family persuaded her that dream was impossible.
Mineko left he parent’s home at the age of five to begin studying traditional Japanese dance at a geisha house in Kyoto. She was legally adopted by the okiya’s owner. She had been chosen as the house’s atotori, or heir. By age 21, she had earned a reputation as Japan’s best dancer and maiko.
Mineko always worked herself to her physical and mental limits. As a young woman she entertained numerous Western celebrities and dignitaries and her fame as a geisha grew. This notoriety made her the subject of jealousy and gossip, and she sometimes faced physical harassment when performing and in public.
In one scene, she must defend herself with a sharp piece of bamboo from a basket she was carrying when a group of men assaulted her on the street.
Mineko became frustrated with the tradition-bound world of the geiko. She later explains that she saw inadequacies in the education system. Mineko unexpectedly retired at the height of her geisha career, age 22.
Mineko has transitioned to a career as a baseball muse.
Mineko lives in a simple isolated and very rural farming and fishing community. The people live there much like they did 100 years ago. They are very different from the Japanese in Tokyo or any major city. When in the village, Mineko appears to be a simple rural Japanese woman. The village doesn’t have any young people, they are all elderly. It is explained that all the young people have left to move to the large cities.
However in reality, Mineko is a very sophisticated jet set businesswoman. She flies to baseball games in Venezuela, the United States and even to Cuba. She has retainer contracts with various professional teams. She is paid very well.
THE ORDINARY TREATMENT FOR ERRANT BASEBALL PLAYERS
When Mineko receives a new client, she conceals all knowledge of baseball. She locks the “baseball” media room and conceals the satellite dish. She brings the client to the village and surrounds him with simple Japanese pleasures. She is the only English speaking resident of the city. The baseball player has no money and no identification. The baseball player is separated from the modern world and immersed into a strange and wonderful culture.
There isn’t a phone, computer, radio, or even a television they have access too. The idea is to separate them from the drugs and women, and modern distractions that have led them away from baseball. Many of the men who are brought to her are heartless and have forgotten how to love. They don’t love any particular woman and they don’t love the game of baseball either.
Geisha still study traditional instruments: the shamisen, shakuhachi, and drums, as well as learning games, traditional songs, calligraphy, Japanese traditional dances (in the nihonbuyo style), tea ceremony, literature, and poetry.
Mineko pretends to know nothing about baseball. Mineko teaches each client the traditional Japanese arts, dance, language, writing and story telling. She even pretends very little knowledge of English.
The design of the program is for the client then to teach her something in return; most of the time this is English and baseball. She knows she is near completion of her task, when the client begins to try to teach her baseball.
Mineko has arranged a path to the neighboring village where the youth play baseball. It is an old dilapidated stadium. Much of the stands have collapsed. It looks like it was perhaps bombed in World War II and never repaired. A few typhoons added to the damage. Basically only the field and the back stop remains usable.
Mineko pretends to know nothing about it; however, there is a plaque at the field commemorating an exhibition game in 1934 in which Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig played. This field is only reached when Mineko has worked her magic and the client is near rehabilitation.
For weeks, the client hears the distant crack of the bat. This path to the baseball field is a special route that she has designed. Each day she takes the client on a walk to a stage progressively nearer to the field. The path is something akin to chapters in a very good self-help book.
Mineko introduces him to shopkeepers, rice farmers, dairymen, artists, printers, etc. The client many times spends the day working with a Japanese family – fishing or harvesting rice, feeding pigs, repairing roofs, etc. There are shrines and memorials along the path. The client might not accept the Eastern religions but certainly he now understands them. Each stage on the path represents a value needed to play professional baseball and for that matter to be a productive member of society.
Invariably over time, each baseball player falls in love with Mineko. She remains somewhat aloof and very old fashion when it comes to sexual morality. Of course at a certain point, the client wants to be intimate with Mineko. However, she always politely refuses.
Typically, the client teaches her the game of baseball. They visit the baseball stadium and watch the children play and progress to attending professional baseball in Japan’s larger cities. By this time, the client has completed the course.
Early in the film, we see Mineko’s system work wonderfully on a baseball player named, Roger. He plays baseball with the village youth. While he was a man with a hard edge, we see him soften over time. He cries when he gets back on an airplane to resume his career. He promises to come back when the season is over; they always say that.
Mineko has taught him to love baseball again. This is her chosen profession.
THE TROUBLED ATHLETE – ELVIS
Elvis Rios has had a charmed life in professional baseball. He has won numerous homerun championships and batting titles. He has won Most Valuable Player awards, and he has 300 career home runs. He has a fist full of World Series rings and he is still in the first half of his career. Off the field he is increasingly less than successful.
A former teammate and steroid-user has published a book about Major League Baseball. The book exposes “other stuff” on Elvis, and calls him a hypocrite. Elvis denies the accusations of steroid use. But the evidence looks convincing that he has used performance-enhancing drugs. There isn’t proof positive. But the scandal has clearly rocked his career and performance.
His personality changes. He has had a wild life of strippers, drug use, late night carousing and has managed to remain married. But things begin slipping out of control. Elvis’ personally and professionally begins to take a nose dive.
Elvis’s infidelities are the beginnings of his problems – hairdressers, waitresses, strippers in every city the team plays in. He gets divorced and begins to date equally troubled Hollywood starlets.
There is a bout with alcohol addiction and some bar fights. There is increased drug use – marihuana, cocaine, and methadone. Elvis is fragile and his entire psyche is in the balance. He begins to hallucinate and could be suicidal. There is a bad scene on an airplane. The team hires a private detective to keep an eye on him, but this “baby sitter” approach fails.
Elvis is drunk and throws up on the cheering crowd during the World Series parade.
The media calls him the “reason” why mandatory drug testing program is necessary for Major League Baseball.
Elvis is detached form his own young children. He can’t talk to them and they are afraid of him. His ex-wife tries to reach him and asks him to straighten out for the sake of the kids. He doesn’t. He can’t.
Elvis is nearly catatonic. He is brought to work (sometimes by the private investigator in handcuffs) and without words, he hits and fields with little or no emotion. The teammates try to befriend him, but without result. He has lost the love of the game. He has even lost the lust for life.
Elvis tests positive for two anabolic steroids – testosterone, and Primobolan. His credit card records are leaked to the media; it is learned that five years ago he paid for HGH from an Internet drug company. Elvis is suspended for 50 games.
Finally, the team’s owner, general manager, team coach and sports agent have a meeting. They all agree to send him to Japan.
THE EXCEPTIONAL TREATMENT – THE TYPHOON AND AFTERMATH
Elvis arrives at the airport, not an arrogant man but a man in shock. He sits and thinks constantly trying to calculate what has gone wrong in his life. There might be a slight hint of self-loathing. Several people have tried to speak to him on the long plane ride. He is unable or unwilling to make friendships or even making acquaintances is painful for him. People try to talk baseball with him, as they assume he loves the sport. His reaction is cold.
Mineko greets him at the airport and welcomes him to Japan. She of course pretends not to speak English very well. He is uncomfortable. He can’t read the signs in the airport. He can’t understand what is being said around him. She puts the baseball player in a very small car for the journey to her home. She places his passport in the spare tire compartment.
Elvis is not happy with his life and being taken to a new country with a radically different language and culture. He looks and walks like a zombie. However, Elvis is willing to complete the course. The owners and managers in his life will not support his return to baseball until he has spent two months in Japan. His sports agent has convinced him Mineko’s village is the best place to clear his mind and body.
Everything progresses normally between Elvis and Mineko. Elvis hears the crack of the bat in the distance. He does look up. He does walk everyday a bit farther along the path; he is progressing. He is learning parts of the language. He is working with and learning from local farmers and fishermen. He is learning the Japanese arts from Mineko. And slowly we see some warming of Elvis’ heart. He starts to talk to Mineko about baseball. Elvis approaches her for sex and is gently turned down. They are clearly becoming emotionally attached.
Suddenly, there is a typhoon on the horizon. It isn’t an ordinary storm. It is a huge dangerous storm. It takes the village by surprise. Mineko is the only sophisticated modern Japanese resident of the village and she has turned off her satellite television. There is a made dash for safety. With brute strength and persistence, Elvis risks his life and saves her life. Unable to evacuate, Mineko and Elvis take shelter in her home. As the home disintegrates in the wind and water, Mineko opens the media room. They embrace, afraid for their lives. In the morning, they awake and are still in the same embrace. The room is the only one left after the storm.
The construction, wiring, and the electronic equipment anchor the room and they survive. There is a very large fishing boat in Mineko’s front yard the next morning.
Elvis wakes up and the walls of the house are gone; he sees the fishing boat. Scattered about, he also sees newspaper clippings, baseball statistics, scouting reports, medical (psychological) records, and correspondence from the various baseball clubs. He sees television sets. The satellite dish, which Mineko wasn’t supposed to have, is laying in the back yard. Only the cabling has kept it from blowing away. Elvis follows the cable, which leads to Mineko baseball room.
Elvis realizes to a certain extent who Mineko is. He reverts back into his near catatonia. All the progress Mineko has made appears to have been lost.
Mineko reveals herself and speaks perfect English. She convinces him to go with her to help the elderly villagers. They rescue several people from collapsed houses and they discover a few bodies. The few cars in the village are destroyed. Elvis puts injured villages on a cart and takes them several miles inland to a hospital and then comes back for more. Over downed power lines, boats, houses and trees in the road, he is a professional athlete and gets the job done. He proves that he does have character.
Mineko’s true personality emerges also; while she is a small woman, she has the heart full of determination. She barks orders in Japanese and in English. She refuses to quit. She is an efficient organizer and eventually Elvis smiles at the situation he has found himself in. Despite rough conditions and stress, Elvis doesn’t mind being there so much.
There is a moment when Elvis doesn’t know if he feels tricked by Mineko or grateful to her. However, after a day of rushing (carrying) people to hospitals, then clearing rubble and making makeshift temporary housing, Mineko and Elvis have a meeting of the minds. They build a fire and warm some food.
Mineko admits that she knows baseball and reveals enough that it is clear that she can teach him a thing or two about the sport.
The next morning, the government emergency workers have arrived. Mineko and Elvis travel the path to the baseball diamond. The shrines and memorials on the path have all been blown over and scattered. Mineko and Elvis repair what they can along the path. Elvis learns all the remaining lessons in one day and in one trip.
When they arrive at the baseball field a few kids are taking debris off the field and stacking it to the side. It is too dangerous to work in the debris of their village so the young people retreat to the baseball field and they work there. Mineko and Elvis join them and clear the field. They remove a small boat from the pitches mound.
It might be a long time before games are played but Elvis has made the journey.
THE ENDING AS ELVIS LEAVES JAPAN
Mineko consoles everyone and she cooks for people remaining in the village. Elvis digs ditches to repairs the water lines. He lifts trees off the roads and helps pull the fishermen’s boats back into the ocean. Elvis and Mineko repair the one baseball room so Mineko will have a place to live. Finally, Elvis and Mineko are intimate.
Elvis finds his passport when cleaning Mineko’s car. When there is nothing remaining to do in the village, water and some electricity is restored, Mineko takes Elvis to the airport.
Elvis cries and promises to return after the season is over.
As the credits roll on one side of the screen, on the other side, we see day-to-day life in the devastated village. Very little progress is made. People do have water and electricity, but the basic structures aren’t repaired. Nothing is rebuilt. The villagers are still living in rudimentary temporary shelters.
THE AFTER CREDITS ENDING ELVIS RETURNS
After the credits, the full screen resumes. Elvis returns to the village with several trucks of lumber and building materials. He brings enough workers to rebuild the homes. And of course, he has returned for Mineko.
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