Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Million Dollar Arm by J.B. Bernstein--The True Story of the First Two Indian Men to Sign American Major League Baseball Contracts! NOW ON BLU-RAY & DVD!

This review is dedicated to all my friends in India. See the full DEDICATION, below.

J.B. Bernstein is available on Amazon.com; 
this edition is available as a Kindle book
 (or an e-book download). [1]
Book Review by
Sharon Powers.

     Oh, man. It was nice to be able to get outside for our (7th grade) phys ed class now that the clouds and rain were gone. A girl with red hair and freckles was at bat...she swung...it was a strike. She was really tall for her age and seemed to fill up the batting box.  Because of her long arms, she had a good reach with the bat. The pitcher wound up and threw the ball a second time...strike two. She was usually a good hitter and when she connected with the ball we all knew it would go all the way to the outfield. The catcher threw the ball back to the pitcher. 

This little story I told you was a true
story from my grade school days at
Willow Springs Elementary School. I
was a very active girl in sports, and
I'm probably lucky all my injuries were
relatively minor. No broken bones,
only a few stitches and bruises, most-
ly because I learned my lesson about
safety from the above mishap. In the
book, safety was something J.B.Bern-
stein stressed to the people with which
he worked--for very good reason. [2]
     I was up next and felt anxious because our team still didn't have anyone on base. One more chance...I knew she could do it. Anxious, I peered forward to see the batter. The pitcher wound up...threw the ball...she swung...wham! the bat connected with my head. What? What just happened? I lay on the ground seeing stars. That little accident only cost me five stitches on my forehead. 

     For a kid out there on the baseball field, I wouldn't trade places with anyone, but I did learn not to be so interested in what was going on that I forgot how close I was to the batter swinging the Louisville Slugger. She apologized profusely, but I told her, "No worries...after all...it was my fault, not yours." I was a "hit" for a while with the other kids--they all wanted to see my stitches. And, happy me, like any kid, I got to show off my war injury. Needless to say, the whole class got a lecture from our phys ed instructor on safety the next time we met. 
As a kid, I loved baseball! [3]
     I don't know how different I would be if I had grown up without the game of baseball. After all, it's one of our national pastimes--it literally fills our culture. Who would I have become without this exciting and beautiful sport? Since I grew up loving and playing the game, I'll never know. But the book, Million Dollar Arm explores what does happen to two young men who grew up without baseball, but are handed a chance to discover who they are, and who they can become, as a sport, once unknown to them, magically transforms their lives.

THE BOOK, THE MOVIE, THE GAME:
     The movie, Million Dollar Arm, is based upon the book, Million Dollar Arm, by J.B. Bernstein. The book, itself, is based on true-to-life events experienced by sports agent, J.B. Bernstein and the remarkable young men he sought to recruit as new, raw, baseball talent. Before we delve into the book and how the movie came to be, let's take a quick look at this utterly charming, captivating trailer for the movie [4]...then we'll talk:    



     Jon Hamm will star as J.B. Bernstein, Bill Paxton as Tom House, Suraj Sharma as Rinku, Madhur Mittal as Dinesh, Lake Bell as Brenda Paauwe, and Aasif Mandvi as Ash Vasudevan. Director credits go to Craig Gillespie, and writing credits go to Thomas McCarthy (screenplay) and J.B. Bernstein (book). IMDb information states the genres will be listed as Biography, Drama, and Sport and the MPAA rating will be PG (for mild language and some suggestive content). IMDb, also indicates that the movie will be available in both English and Hindi languages. [5]

     You may remember Suraj Sharma; well, you will if you saw the movie, The Life of Pi. Suraj is the young actor who played "Pi" in that exciting movie. Suraj, as I said, just above, is cast as Rinku in the upcoming movie, Million Dollar Arm. Madhur Mittal will star as Dinesh--Madhur starred in Slumdog Millionnaire, the 2012 movie, Treasure Island (also starring Donald Sutherland and Elijah Wood), and a 2001 movie entitled, One 2 Ka 4 (starring some of Bollywood's leading actors).

     I have to tell you folks, after watching this trailer my face is filled up with smiles. I feel lighter just listening to the uplifting music; FYI, the music in the trailer, "Living in the Hall of Fame," was performed by "The Script." I've been chuckling and enjoying every second of the short trailer. I can hardly wait to see the movie!

J.B. tells us he has thirty (30) time-
pieces in his watch collection. This
one is Patek Philippe, but he doesn't
discriminate against Audemars Pi-
guet, Rolex, Vacheron Constatin,
or  Breitling (see p. 7).     [6]
THE BOOK: While the movie indicates that J.B.'s business was on the rocks as his motivation for searching for new talent, the book provides the real reason. J.B.'s business was actually doing well. J.B. tells us that he is a business savvy sports agent, and that he rewarded himself with expensive watches, cars and a luxurious home. He also loved women. And although he loved being with women, he did not look to have a long-term relationship or family any time in the near future. He tells us he is not proud of the life-style he led, at that point, and feels a bit chagrined by it all.

Here is a cricket player winding up
to throw the cricket ball. [7] 
     In spite of his less than squeaky-clean lifestyle, J.B. never hesitates to do the right thing.  When he is asked to pay a cash signing bonus of one million dollars under the table--he picks up his contract, unsigned, and walks out. Looking for new talent, J.B. considers that he needs to look for it in an untapped market. A short time later he is considering cricket players and how fast they can throw.


The name of the reality-based TV
show was called, "The Million
Dollar Arm."
 [8]
    Quickly, J.B. and company put together an idea to host a reality TV show in India--where cricket is a national obsession. The show would be called, "The Million Dollar Arm," and would give finalists a chance to win a million dollars and sign a baseball contract with an American major league team. Soon J.B. is on a plane to India with a radar gun to aid him in his quest to find potential pitchers in big cities and on small farms.

This is an image of a radar gun--
J.B.'s mishaps with the radar
gun are hilarious! [9]
     J.B.'s culture shock is not to be missed, but he does come away with two potential players--we know that from the movie trailer, so that's not really a spoiler. How J.B. manages in India and what can be described as getting the tiger by the tail, is nothing more than a rip-roaring wonderful read-fest with your Kindle or e-book reader. The stories will have you chuckling and snickering at all the vignettes that J.B. and the two young men (Rinku and Dinesh) go through.

MY FAVORITE QUOTE:
     The following quote is, of course, by J.B. Bernstein:
"...witnessing Rinku and Dinesh leave the comfort of home...to take a wild leap of faith across the globe...was nothing short of heroic.... Whether Rinku makes it to the major league and what- ever Dinesh does back in India, they are better for knowing that their lives are what they make of it. And I am better for having been along with them for the journey....For me, Million Dollar Arm was an awakening...I began to examine what I had made of myself. Taking inventory, my accomplishments didn't match my resources. I was a hard worker, but even in all my efforts on behalf of my clients, I had kept myself closed off from others. Like Rinku's father said, our job on this earth is to be a link to those who come before us and those who will be here long after we are gone. It wasn't until I helped two guys from India to dream that I had any inkling of what that meant....My prayers during the [Diwali] festival, honoring the inner light that transcends physical being, revolved around the health and well-being of the ones I loved already and the one on the way. For myself, all I hoped was to be a good, strong link for them, as well as anyone else needing a little help to dream. (pp. 218-220) [Diwali image, #10]

J.B. Bernstein learned about how
to be a link from himself to others.
What a wonderful thing to learn! [11]
   I really love that J.B. gives credit to Rinku's father for helping him to learn about "being a link" between  himself and others. The other thing I really love about this quote is that it takes courage to put yourself out there and let others see you. At the beginning of the book Bernstein talks about how he was not proud of his lifestyle. He put himself out there to show us all that we, too, can learn and grow beyond what we are, that we, too, can become a link for other people. All we need is the courage to make a leap of faith--as did Rinku and Dinesh.

I found this wonderful little quote
for you by Oliver Wendell Holmes,
legendary Supreme Court Jurist
from 1902-1932. [12]
     One last thing about the quote: J.B. gave Rinku and Dinesh direction, showed them how to learn baseball (English, and about the culture). The two young men had to be willing to listen in order to avail themselves of the knowledge J.B. possessed and that he was willing to give. The same can be said of J.B. He had to be willing to listen when Rinku's father spoke with J.B. about being a link to others. That willingness to listen is a very beautiful thing--you give respect to the speaker and gain wisdom for yourself, in the listening. Marvelous!

A FEW ADDITIONAL NOTES ON WHAT I THINK ABOUT THE BOOK:
This Indian dish is saag paneer. It is
one of the dishes Rinku and Dinesh
served at an appreciation dinner
in gratitude for all the help they
received in learning to play the
game of baseball. (p.154).[13]
     I have been reluctant to divulge too much of the story of Rinku and Dinesh because, really, that is what the book is all about. Going to India to find baseball pitching talent and recruiting the two young men to play baseball in America is the spice that goes into J.B.'s dish, so to speak. I just can't give it all away, so I've primarily spoken about J.B. Bernstein, here. I wanted to give you a taste of the book so you could ascertain just how wonderful this lively story is--without giving you the whole dish! This is a new book, and I certainly don't want to spoil your enjoyment of reading this delightful story.

This photograph is one found in the
book, Million Dollar Arm. The
photographs section is located at
the end of the book. J.B., in the
middle, says, "My two sons..." [14]
     Second. You will LOVE Rinku and Dinesh's part of the story. And...just as J.B. had culture shock when he went to India to recruit, Rinku and Dinesh also have culture shock in coming to the U.S. Their story about how they learned to play baseball, how to pitch, how to cook, and a myriad amount of other delightful vignettes for your enjoyment are sure to be as savory to you as they were to me. As I indicated, above, as I read the book, I laughed, chuckled, and snickered my way through the entire book. It is utterly delightful.

Rinku, on the left, and Dinesh, on the right. [15]
     Reading and reviewing this book puts to mind another book review I did that addressed culture shock of natives of India coming to America; the review of that book, Brotherhood, Dharma, Destiny, and the American Dream, by Deepak Chopra and Sanjiv Chopra, can be found on this website (a shortcut by clicking on this link).
      Also, I heard an interesting factoid about Rinku. According to India Today, before every game, Rinku recites Hanuman Chalisa and then listens to "I'm Not Afraid," by rapper, Eminem. [16] I found the song on Soundcloud and have it for you to listen to, here. Listen to the lyrics to see why Rinku listens to this song to psych himself up. Just click the play button (and don't have your volume up too high.)[17] I have to admit that after listening to this song a few times, it has really grown on me. I never knew I would ever like a rap song. Oh, well, live and learn. Grow. Become...more.


MY RECOMMENDATIONS AND RATING FOR THIS BOOK:
     Of the movie, Million Dollar Arm, IMDb tells us that the MPAA rating is PG (Parental Guidance Suggested) because of mild language and suggestive content. Similarly, I would rate the book PG due to some of the adult themes and "suggestive content." I didn't see much bad language in the book, but some suggestive scenes that may not be appropriate for young or impressionable readers. As always, I advise that mothers and fathers know best what they want their children to read, and advise parents to read the book first if there is any question of its suitability for their children. 


I loved this book. 4.5 stars out of 5! [18]


     My rating for this book is simple. It is was a very entertaining book, well written, and rife with darling stories about Rinku and Dinesh. I rate this book 4.5 stars out of 5. I also look forward to going to see the movie next month, as its release date is May 16, 2014 in U.S. markets.
_________________________________________________________
   
FINAL WORDS AND DEDICATION:
Incredible India. Nothing is more incredible about India
than her people. Namaste. [19]
     I have many international followers and readers of this blog. Thank you, to all of you. Today, however, I dedicate this blog post to all of you in India who have taken time to read my blog and taken the time to send me comments about the books I have presented in these blog posts. 

     I dedicate this post to you today because of the two wonderful Indian men, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, who have won over the hearts and minds of the American people. And...I wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support. I am grateful that you enjoy reading about the books I have given you in these book reviews. I am an American (living in California), and will always love my country, but I want you to know that I appreciate the many beautiful things India contributes to the world...not the least of which is you. Again, thank you for reading and enjoying this blog and sharing with me, my love of books. God bless you. Namaste.
________________________________________________________


     Early this afternoon (04-17-14), Mr. Bernstein sent me this notification about my blog post of his book, Million Dollar Arm and the upcoming movie by the same name--please see a copy of that notification, just to the left. 

     My deepest appreciation to J.B. Bernstein for his notification to me. It is so wonderful when someone recognizes your work--something I tried to do in my blog post for Mr. Bernstein, Million Dollar Arm, and Rinku and Dinesh (everyone involved in the project). I also appreciate Mr. Bernstein's kind words to me for my work. Thank you. 

    I send my best wishes to all of you involved in the project and continued hope for success (in the very best sense of the word)! Since I am second generation Irish (and couldn't be more Irish, even if I lived in Ireland), I send you an Irish blessing: May you enjoy the four greatest blessings: Honest work to occupy you. A hearty appetite to sustain you. A good woman to love you. And a wink from the God above.

Sincerely...my very best to you J.B., Rinku, Dinesh, Manoj, Deepesh, Coach House, and everyone involved in this wonderful project! God bless you all. Namaste.
_____________________________________________________

     Thank you for joining me this week as we explored another new book. Join me again next week as we look at, yet, another book from the world of reading enjoyment. Please tell others about this blog and share my posts to help spread the word about books and the wonder of reading!


Until next time...

White Rose. [20]
...many happy pages of reading!

Namaste!



REFERENCES
_________________________________________________________
(1) "Million Dollar Arm." amazon.com. Retrieved 04-12-14.
(2)  "Louisville Slugger Liable in Wrongful Death." mississippilawyer-blog.com. Retrieved 04-14-14.
(3) "Baseball Activities for Kids." lifestyle.howstuffworks.com. Retrieved 04-14-14.
(4)  "Million Dollar Arm." youtube.com. [Movie Trailer: Million Dollar Arm]Retrieved 04-13-14.
(5) "Million Dollar Arm." imdb.com. [Casting] Retrieved 04-14-14.
(6) "Patek Philippe Nautilus." noblecustom.com. Retrieved 04-16-14.
(7) "Take Me Out to the Cricket Game." seattlepi.com. Retrieved 04-16-14.
(9) "2 Guys Talking: Dillon Gee." 2guystalkingmetsbaseball.com. Retrieved 04-16-14.
(10) "Shubh Diwali Wallpaper Best Collection." latesthdwallpaper.com. Retrieved 04-16-14.
(11) "Share the (Link) Love, But Do it Better." anniesisk.com. Retrieved 04-16-14.
(12) "Coaching Quote of the Day December 28 2013." coaching confidence.co.uk. Retrieved 04-16-14.
(13) "Saag Paneer." blackdogfoodblog.com. Retrieved 04-16-14.
(14) "Video: PittsburghPirates Take Silver Screen in Upcoming 'Million Dollar Arm' Movie."cityofchampionssports.com.Retrieved 04-16-14.
(17) "I'm Not Afraid." [Eminem] soundcloud.com. Retrieved 04-13-14.
(18) "Man of Steel (2013)." [4.5 Stars.] meonthemovie.blogspot.com. Retrieved 04-16-14.
(19)  "Culture of India." dreamstime.com. Retrieved 04-16-14.
(20) "Top 28 White Roses Pictures For Free Download." funstock.com. Retrieved 04-16-14.