Richard Linklater's 1991 cult classic, Slacker, documents a collection of interesting (albeit fictional) characters in his hometown of Austin. With Inning by Inning: A Portrait of a Coach, Linklater tackles another colorful (and very real) Austinite: Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido. It's an unlikely marriage of director and form—a sports documentary-hagiography made by the guy who brought the world Dazed and Confused. But it works.
This is an article from the June 29, 2009 issue
In Inning, Linklater—who directed the 2005 remake of Bad News Bears and worked several baseball scenes into Dazed—often focuses on the adversity that comes with the game. Garrido (who is college baseball's alltime leader in wins) spends much of the first 30 minutes talking about how hard the sport is, and most of the accompanying footage is of Longhorns striking out, dropping pop-ups or getting thrown out on the base paths. It's a smart move; how people deal with losing is usually far more compelling than how they handle winning.
And how does Garrido react when the chips are down? Gruffly, and with more than a little swearing. (To be fair, he curses up a blue streak when things are going well, too. Inning features two audio tracks: one censored, the other bleep-free.) Linklater had remarkable access—he filmed practices and meetings and miked Garrido during games—and as Inning progresses (at 106 minutes it's longer than both Slacker and Dazed), a deeper picture of Garrido emerges: that of a thoughtful, funny mentor who dispenses plenty of tough love. Whether he's dissecting an at bat with a hitter or tearing an ump a new one, Garrido is always watchable and always on the move. No one can accuse the old guy of being a slacker.