Internet Trainspotting at its Finest

ferris.jpgBy this point, nearly every artifact from the 1980s has had its bones picked completely clean by ironic vultures. Bill Simmons single-handedly ruined The Karate Kid for everyone by referencing it constantly. All conceivable angles of Back to the Future have been examined under a cultural electron microscope. The rehashings of G.I. Joe and Transformers speak for themselves, loudly and poorly. (Not that the originals were high art.)

Maybe I’m nuts (a distinct possibility), but I feel like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has largely escaped this treatment. Of course, it remains a beloved film (and righfully so), often quoted and referenced. But comparatively speaking, it did not reach nauseating levels of ubiquity and reference-itude. It even survived a weird televisual adaptation produced four years too late.

That is why I was delighted to see someone tackle a Ferris angle I had never seen addressed before: Exactly what game did Mr. Bueller and his buddies attend at Wrigley Field? Larry Granillo of Wezen-Ball (previously best known for his sabermetric study of Charlie Brown’s baseball career) did some serious detective work over the weekend at Baseball Prospectus to answer this very question.

Granillo carefully studied the video evidence–both the live footage seen in the film and the game as broadcast on TV as Mr. Rooney is in the pizza joint. Considering this, he surmised that it occurred on June 5, 1985 as the Cubs played the Braves.

As the post caught proverbial wildfire across the interwebs, there was some speculation that the date Granillo couldn’t have happened, since principal shooting for Ferris didn’t begin until September 1985. Granillo disagreed, saying that the footage shown on TV in the film was clearly from a midsummer game against the Braves. He further determined that the scenes actually featuring Ferris in the stands could have taken place late in the season when the Cubs played either the Braves or another team with similar powder blue away uniforms.

It turns out he was right, as confirmed by an assistant director who worked on the film, who said he was “pretty sure” the game in question happened on September 24, against the Expos (who had powder blue unis at the time). Mystery solved!

Perhaps it’s because I have my own dumb obsessions, or because something resembling baseball is a mere eight days away, but I found this Ferris endeavor completely charming. Of course it represents the dedication of considerable brainpower and deductive powers toward something that means absolutely nothing. But then again, once you invest that much perspiration in the effort, it means everything.

Such an effort speaks to my soul. I can not tell you how many times I’ve poured hours upon hours of mental gymnastics into completely futile gestures, just to prove I could solve them. Running this site alone, I’ve thrown away weeks trying to solve the most trivial technical minutiae, just so I could say “Yeah, I did it!” to nobody but myself.

In conclusion, I’m saluting Mr. Granillo’s effort because of my own deep personal failings.