Sports | August 13, 2021 1:44 pm

MLB Needs More Ideas Like the Literally Corny Field of Dreams Game

Baseball needs gimmicks, even the kind that only appeal to a select group of people

Players walk though the corn rows at the Field of Dreams game in Iowa.
The Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees walk though the corn rows.
Ron Vesely/Getty Images

Before any discussion of the MLB at Field of Dreams game can be had, let’s just get the fact that 1989’s Field of Dreams is, along with The Shawshank Redemption, one of the most overrated films on record.

Self-indulgent, sappy and corny both figuratively and literally thanks to the omnipresent cornfields of Iowa, Kevin Costner’s signature baseball movie (and he’s got plenty) is almost unwatchable. Once you see how bad it is, you can’t unsee it — or avoid cringing at large portions of the dialogue.

“Oh my God … It’s my father… My God! I’d only seen him years later when he was worn down by life. Look at him. He’s got his whole life in front of him and I’m not even a glint in his eye. What do I say to him?”

Blech.

That being said, the spectacle that MLB put together in Dyersville, Iowa, on Thursday night, which featured all-American apple pie hot dogs courtesy of Guy Fieri, was, at least by pro baseball’s low standards, pretty cool.

Costner being the focus of the pregame coverage and blathering somewhat incoherently in the broadcast booth aside, Fox did a good job with the broadcast and the spectacle of the Yankees and White Sox playing within an Iowa cornfield was a sight to behold. It didn’t hurt that Tim Anderson ended the game in the bottom of the ninth inning in cinematic fashion with a two-run bomb to win the game for Chicago.

The game, which advertisers flocked to like sharks going for blood, was entertaining for its backdrop alone, and should open the door for baseball to start considering hosting one-off games in other settings: A beach? An inner-city asphalt diamond? Or how about a nod to a baseball movie that is still cheesy but at least not nauseatingly so, a sandlot?

We already know MLB will be returning to Iowa, as league commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed the Field of Dreams game will be held again in August of 2022, though he declined to name the teams that will be involved.

“I think the reception that this event has received has been so positive that we will be back,” Manfred said. “I think it’s pretty clear we’re going to be back next year and we’ll have to talk about it after that. But it’s just been so successful that it’s hard not to take the opportunity to do it again.” 

That MLB has to resort to gimmicks to get people to tune in en masse is a problem of its own creation, and they should count themselves lucky that hosting a game based on a dated movie that is generally beloved by old white dudes was able to bring in an audience other than just old white dudes. Hopefully, MLB doesn’t just double down on its success and keep running back the Field of Dreams Game each August, because, like the charm of the film, the novelty will wear off. Build it somewhere else — and then somewhere else again and somewhere after that — and they will come.