Long Riders, Brotherly Love

 DATELINE: Brothers Carradine, et al.


If you want a seminal rehash of all the big-time bank and train robbers of the West, you could not find a more succinct and intriguing film than The Long Riders.

Written partly by the Keach brothers, Stacey and James, it has as its basic catch-all hook the fact that sets of brothers play sets of brothers:  Jesse and Frank, the Younger Boys, the Millers, and those pesky Fords.

It would seem the director Walter Hill wanted to showcase brotherly relations by finding siblings to play off each other. The family ties also go against each other, as if we are watching some movie history of famous family actors in heat.

The film came out in 1980 and has all the hallmarks of the Peckinpah violence of the era. These outlaws take a dose of slow-motion death throes from The Wild Bunch, etc.

If you want bravura acting, here it is. Without a doubt, the rivalry between brothers is almost as tasty as that between sets of brothers. As you might expect, the gang life of the young criminals and gunslingers is not idyllic, except in dime novels.

The script is episodic: seemingly finding moments, like family gatherings, dances, bordello bonding, and funerals, as the means to lead up to the disaster at Northfield, Minnesota, when they went off reservation and out of their metier.

It’s hard not to cite David Carradine and Keith as scene stealers, though the Keaches write themselves some good lines too. The Quaid boys, Randy and Dennis, seem extremely young, but it was forty years ago.

Macho preening and male bonding have not changed much since 1880 or 1980, and this film is a document to show that fact.




David Ortiz Emulates the Robber Barons


With the Red Sox season of 2013 in the history books, and players already moving on to new teams, the big hero of the World Series has decided to re-start his version of the life of Robin Hood.

David Ortiz plans to hold up the Sox for another year’s contract. He still has a full year left on his bitter negotiation from a year ago, but now has decided the Red Sox billionaires who own the team can afford to pay poor Papi a bit more.

Beadle Cherington has met his Oliver Twist.

Yes, Ortiz sees himself as the man most deserving of more money. And, why not? He just watched Jacoby Ellsbury run off with the Steinbrenner family silverware.

Of course, by the time a new contract with the Red Sox finishes out, Papi will still be younger than Robinson Cano, Albert Pujols, and Alex Rodriguez, when their legal robberies are done.

If you want to hold up King John Henry VIII, you may as well do it when your popularity is peaking. Papi can do no wrong in Boston, apparently. Whether he drops an F-bomb on your kids, or breaks up his own happy home, the public can’t get enough of the naturalized American citizen.

Somewhere in those civics lessons to get his American citizen papers, Papi read up on the great rogues of America: we don’t mean Billy the Kid or Jesse James. We speak of the Robber Barons.

For a man with a weak Achilles heel, he is taking risks to gain a fortune. Who could blame him? His career could end in spring training this March when his brittle bones start to crack and to dissolve. Sort of like Mike Napoli’s hips.


 To relive the happy days of 2013, you should read RED SOX 2013: NAKED CAME THE LINEUP.  It’s available in softcover and ebook formats from Amazon.com.




Jacoby Ellsbury: No Longer the Jesse James of Base Stealing


Like a gunfighter in the Old West who has lost his nerve, Jacoby Ellsbury is in deep trouble.

After losing a season while sliding into second base and dislocating his shoulder, Ellsbury has returned wiser and more unlikely to slide anywhere—except maybe into oblivion.

Already living with the rap that he is gutless and listening to the evil demon Scott Boras on his shoulder, the Red Sox centerfielder is in his most pressurized contract year. If he doesn’t make it now, he will be taking the A train to Palookaville.

In spring training of 2013, Ellsbury has not yet stolen a base.

This is disconcerting situation for the Jesse James of base robbing. He may be done in by some sniveling little coward before the season ends if he is all done with his life of base path crime.

Speaking of Ben Cherington, Sox general manager and man with more nerves in his teeth than in his gut, the Sox big man faces the conundrum of Jackie Bradley, Jr., another Boras client.

If they play him now, they will lose a year on the other end.  The Sox know well that Boras will sweep Bradley out of Boston faster than you can say, “Jacoby who?”

For a team that does not like to deal with Scott Boras, the Red Sox seem stuck between a rock and a green monster.

The hired gun emeritus of agents has a cadre of young guns on his client list, and they admire the cash withdrawals the Moriarty of baseball can mastermind.

Alas, the Red Sox have no Lone Ranger on their ownership of fat cats. There is not even a Scarlet Pimpernel to rescue the fans before they are held up for ticket prices out of their means.

Jacoby Ellsbury may be a reformed base stealer from now on. His days of the heist will soon be past the statute of limitations.