Up For Grabs
When Barry Bonds sent his record-setting 73rd home run into the San Francisco crowd, spectators nearby went into a feeding frenzy, knowing that Mark McGwire's record-setting ball three years earlier had been sold for $2.7m. After order was restored, the guy in possession was not the guy who seemed first to catch it. This being America, the inevitable happened: let's get lawyers! Wranovics' documentary follows the whole sorry tale, from ballpark to courtroom, interviewing the participants, witnesses, media and just about everyone save Barry Bonds, who talks only in press conferences.
But that's how it should be, as this isn't about baseball so much as greed, stupidity and attorneys. In particular, Popov (right), the spectator who claimed the ball was taken from him, comes across initially as the wronged party, yet as we see more of him, we (and, indeed, the film-maker) realise what an unpleasant and slimy creature he is, vain and egotistical. This character arc - rare in a documentary - makes the finale so delightfully ironic, you couldn't have written it. Wranovics blends archive footage and interviews smoothly; as a baseball fan, I knew the story already, so this didn't tell me much new, and there are obvious gaps (such as an interview with Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, who bought the ball), but as a study in the endlessly fascinating subject of human idiocy, this is excellent.