Results tagged ‘ Oscars ’

Oscars Night Brings Back Memories for Brewers Coach Jason Lane

Today marks the 88th Annual Academy Awards, and, in addition to asking some of the Brewers players to make their pick for Best Picture, there’s a unique connection to the Oscars in the Clubhouse this spring.

New Brewers coach Jason Lane actually had a bit part in the 2014 movie “Boyhood,” which was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Ethan Hawke and Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette (which she won) last year.

Brewers Coach Jason Lane brings unique experience to the team this year.

Brewers Coach Jason Lane brings unique experience to the team this year.

It was a part that Lane played flawlessly, without even knowing he was doing it.

For those of you who haven’t seen the film, “Boyhood” is a drama that was shot over a 12-year span (2002-2013), depicting the childhood and adolescence of Mason Evans, Jr. (played by Ellar Coltrane) from ages six to 18 as he grows up in Texas.

In one scene in the movie, actor Ethan Hawke takes his son to an Astros-Brewers game in 2006, one in which Lane, then an outfielder for Houston, happens to hit a home run.

However, baseball buffs searching for the box score for that game will be hard pressed to find a game where Roger Clemens started for the Astros and Lane hit a homer off of Brewers pitcher Matt Wise.

That’s because Hollywood actually melded two games together:

The film crew first shot a scene at a game in Houston on August 18, 2005, in which Roger Clemens got the start for the Astros against the Brewers. Lane hit a home run in that game off of Brewers pitcher Tomo Ohka, though that home run went to right field (and the Brewers won that game, 5-2).

A home run against the Brewers by then Astros OF Jason Lane appeared in the Oscars-nominated film "Boyhood."

A home run against the Brewers by then Astros OF Jason Lane appeared in the Oscars-nominated film “Boyhood.”

The home run that Lane hits in the movie goes to left field. That’s from a game that the actors attended the next season, also against the Brewers, on April 17, 2006. It was during that game where Lane hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning that helped the Astros to an 8-7 victory over the Crew. And that’s the home run that’s captured in the film.

“It was funny because I had heard there were two different games and I randomly hit a home run in the two games. I had no idea the movie was even being filmed at the time. I didn’t know anything about it until right before it hit the theaters.”

Lane tells me that the first time he heard about his cameo was in 2014, the year the movie premiered. After hearing from a friend that he was in the movie, he eventually went to see it in his hometown.

“I think the movie itself was what it was set out to be: a challenging life. I think they depicted that well. There were some uncomfortable parts and there were some great parts. Certainly the baseball part of it was fun because it brought back some memories,” Lane said.

“I remember (the home runs) exactly. I can’t speak for all baseball players, but it’s amazing how I can remember the situation and the counts and the pitch, all of it, really well, so when I was watching it, it put me right back into that game and that particular situation where I was going through personal battles in the game, struggles and how that propelled me personally and it was a big home run in that particular game for us, so it’s great that any time that movie comes on, I get to re-experience that.”

Lane’s struggles that he alludes to are what eventually earned him the unique distinction of becoming just one of two players in the Expansion Era (since 1961) to start his first game as a pitcher after logging more than 1,000 career at-bats (1,208) prior to the start.

Yes, that’s right. If you don’t know his story, Lane reinvented himself as a pitcher late in his career, at the age of 35.

“There’s no way I can give a short synopsis of that deal, but I had pitched in college, I did both in college. There was a chance I was going to get drafted as a pitcher in college, so certainly I had experience doing that, but I always felt like hitting was my #1 passion as I made it to the Big Leagues, I always felt like at the end of my career, whenever that was, that I would try pitch because I enjoyed the game and I was left-handed,” Lane said when I asked him to describe his motivation to switch to pitching.

“I hoped that I would accomplish a lot more as a hitter; I didn’t think I was at that point when it happened, but I had thrown a couple innings in AAA because we needed help, the bullpen was short. (Then Diamondbacks GM) Kevin Towers made the suggestion that I give that a shot, that it looked pretty good. At the time, I felt like I was learning a ton about hitting and a lot of people think that it was because I didn’t think I could hit anymore and it really wasn’t. It was more about the opportunity. I badly wanted to get back to the big leagues and it didn’t seem like I was getting opportunities as a hitter and for someone to show opportunity on that side, I thought ‘Let’s go for it.'”

And go for it he did. Lane says it was a struggle initially, but after spending time with 6 different organizations between 2008 and 2012, it eventually all came together and he made it back.

Lane said he threw an inning in the minor leagues in 1999, after he signed with the Astros,  but then didn’t throw another inning until 10 years later in AAA for the Toronto Blue Jays. Then, after throwing a handful of innings again in AAA in 2011, Lane found himself with an invite to Major League camp as a pitcher the next spring.

“I thought, ‘Wow, what a great opportunity to go to Major League camp, not having really pitched and I hadn’t been to Major League Spring Training as an outfielder in two years, so it was kind of an easy decision for me.’”

Lane didn’t make back to the Big Leagues that year, but two years later, after signing with the Padres,  he was back in the show where went 0-1 with a 0.87 ERA in 3 games, including 1 start (10.1ip, 7h, 1r, 1er, 0bb, 6k).

 Jason Lane reinvented himself by becoming a pitcher and made it back to the Bigs in 2014 with the Padres. Photo: Getty Images

Jason Lane reinvented himself by becoming a pitcher and made it back to the Bigs in 2014 with the Padres.
Photo: Getty Images

Lane says that his career has taught him the insecurities of players on either side of the baseball.

“I knew the grind of a hitter and the challenges [they face] and then once I stepped on the mound I knew how hard it was as a pitcher at times when you were struggling or how hard it was to make pitches, so it gave me a unique perspective,” Lane says.

Lane credits his switch to pitching and the new perspective to the success he had with hitting at the end of his career.

Lane says that going into this offseason, he was still planning on playing until this unique coaching opportunity with the Brewers presented itself. He feels that his background gives him credibility with the players.

“Hopefully, I can really share these things and it makes sense to them and hopefully it can give them an advantage on both sides. I feel like I can speak to pitchers and hitters,” he says. 

The baseball community is quite close and with someone like Lane who has had such a long career in the game, there are bound to be connections within any team. In camp this spring, there are players like Blaine Boyer, Rymer Liriano and Will Middlebrooks that he knows because they’ve played with the Padres recently. He also played against Ryan Braun (Braun’s rookie year was Lane’s last as a hitter), had lots of at-bats vs. Chris Capuano, and last year, he even pitched against the Crew in Spring Training, where Jonathan Lucroy hit a HR off of him.

In addition, Lane and new Brewers bench coach Pat Murphy go way back…  to 1998, when Lane, as a member of the NCAA champion University of Southern California Trojans belted a grand slam in the title game against Arizona State, who were managed by Murphy. Lane also pitched 2.2 innings and earned the win in the 21-14 victory

Sixteen years, later, Lane and Murphy would finally get to meet as Lane spent part of 2014 and all of 2015 at Triple-A El Paso for the Padres, where Murphy was managing the team.

“I thought ‘Oh boy this is going to be interesting,’ because I never spoke a word to this guy, but that was obviously a big game in both of our careers, so instantly we had this bond and great banter back and forth about that game. He became just a huge influence in my life and really showed me a lot of things about who I was as a player and empowered me to help younger guys early on so he, I know, had something to do with telling [Brewers Manager] Craig [Counsell] about my experiences and thought that I would be a good fit.

Although Lane didn’t know Counsell on a personal level until coming to the Brewers this offseason, he says he felt like he knew him, from the conversations he would have with Murphy.

“Murph and I would talk a lot about baseball and his name would come up a ton, so I felt like I knew him even though I had never really officially introduced myself to him. We may have spoken in passing while playing against each other but I certainly felt like I knew him a bit through Murph and having the chance to talk to him and get to know him this offseason, it’s been great,” Lane said.

Two more questions before I let Lane go.

First:

Pitcher Jason vs. Hitter Jason. Who’s gonna win that battle?

Lane, with a laugh: I think the game’s set up for the pitcher to win. If they’re hitting .300 off me, which is a bad day as a pitcher, I’m still getting them 7/10 times. But I think that the Hitter Jason vs. the pitcher. I think I would’ve been a tough matchup as a hitter for the pitcher. Those are the guys that I felt like I handled well, so I think the hitter would’ve…. It would’ve been a good battle either way, but I would’ve put the money on the hitter side.

Finally:

Okay, back to the Oscars, have you seen any of the films nominated for Best Picture?

Lane: I’ve seen one of them—The Revenant. I really enjoyed the bear scene in that one. There’s a scene in there about a bear attack that seems as real as it could be. For me, that scene alone was worth seeing the movie. I thought it was one of those movies where there’s a lot of just agony and survival in a tough climate, so the whole movie you’re just tensed up and like “how much more can somebody take?” but I think that’s good. Movies that can get that kind of response out of you is what they’re trying to do, so it was good movie.

Seems like many of the Brewers players also agree. Check out some of their picks in this album below:

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So there you have it, a Brewers Oscars connection and a great addition to our coaching staff.

As far as the Academy Awards go, we’ll have to tune in tonight at 5:30 pm CT to see how the players picks fared.

-Cait

@Cmoyer

Brewers Oscars Picks

Today, in honor of the 86th Annual Academy Awards, I asked some of the players to make their picks for Best Pic. Check them out below:

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Looks like “Captain Phillips” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” were the leaders in the Clubhouse! What do you think?

I also caught up with President of Baseball Operations-General Manager Doug Melvin, who is a big movie buff. While many of the players told me they had only seen one or two movies up for an award, Doug had made it a point to see all nine nominees.

Here are Doug’s picks for the top three categories:

Best Picture: “The Wolf of Wall Street” was Doug’s favorite. He also enjoyed “12 Years a Slave” and “Nebraska.” “‘Her’ was very good, too,” Doug said. “Joaquin Phoenix was outstanding. The story was good, a little sappy.”

Best Actor in a Leading Role: “To me, it’s a toss up between Matthew McConaughey in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ and Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,'” Doug said. “I could see McConaughey winning. I also thought Chiwetel Ejiofor in ’12 Years a Slave’ was very good, as was Bruce Dern in ‘Nebraska.'”

Best Actress in a Leading Role: “I’m going to go with Amy Adams in ‘American Hustle,'” he said.

One other item of note, outfielder Logan Schafer told me that he hadn’t seen any of the nominees, but “I have read the book, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,'” he said. “I’m more of a reader.”

So there you have it, Brewers Oscars picks. We’ll have to tune in tonight at 6pm CT to see how they did!

-Cait

JohnandCait@Brewers.com

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