Major League a story for the ages


It was the best of times if was the worst time times. Ok, let’s face it Major League  may not be a literary classic but it it does have a plot and follow a classic s story line. Our hero. Jake Taylor is down in the dumps and manages to pull himself up along with a team of misfits up for the bottom (of the standings) and defeat the bad guy (the White Sox) and gets the girl. Along the way Jake and the team overcome obstacles and end up stronger because of it.

To help you better grasp the complex plot line I have developed a series of graphical representations of the story.

Vonnegut’s approach to storytelling

Vonnegut’s approach to storytelling was the graph the the good fortune and ill fortune on the Y access and the beginning to end of the story on the X access the high’s and lows can be seen. Note, you may need to click on the image to view the key plot events.

Major League


Pixar’s 22 Rules To Create Appealing Stories

Let’s shift gears a little here, away from Vonnegut to Pixar. Pixar compiled a list of 22 Rules Pixar Uses To Create Appealing Stories. It’s evident that the character’s in major league followed many of these rules. Some of the rules are impossible to verify without speaking to the writers.Rule number 8, “Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.”  was one of the rules that requires as least some knowledge of the writer’s intent. The interesting thing about this is that Major League was written with a different ending than what appeared in the theater. Apparently, the “bad guy”, the owner, was actually supposed to secretly be a “good guy”, who was being mean to the team to motivate them to unite against her. It sounds like the writers finished a story that was not perfect then went back and fixed it.

Story Spine

A story spine is a technique used to give stories their shape. I will provide an example of the Major League story spine.

Once upon a time, there was a washed up old ball player named Jake Taylor.

Every day, he drank too much and played baseball on a no name team in Mexico.

But one day, the Cleveland Indians called him up and asked him to come to spring training.

Jake Taylor

Because of that, he flew up to Cleveland and attended spring training and ran into his ex-girlfriend.

Because of that, he made the team and played baseball with a rag tag bunch of ball players and perused his ex-girlfriend.

Because of that, he managed to find ground with the ball players and unite the team together.

Until finally, the team wins the pennant and he gets the girl.

team winning

And ever since then, he lived happily ever after with his girlfriend, or at least we are left to think that.


3 thoughts on “Major League a story for the ages

  1. I liked your use of graphics for the Vonnegut story shape, which like many such stories are pretty simple. Might there be smaller inflections on the curve? And is the shape the same for Jake as the team? Is it Jake’s newly discovered belief n himself that inspires the team?

    And Jake gets the girl too, what a surprise!

    That’s interesting to read that the screenwriters changed the character of the owner from the original novel. There’s nothing to say a movie has to be exactly true to the book, the movie has its own plot needs to attend to. Do you think it was a decision to make the plot more clean? Or something that would be harder to factor into a movie (a book’s author can have is be inside a character’s head).

    I might like to have you conjecture why such a shape would work so well. Does it start to be predictable? Did this activity do anything to help you see more into the plot or other stories?

    • I heard it was because the audience didn’t receive it well during prerelease screenings. Shocking at it may seem the writer’s went for mass appeal as opposed to their authentic story :).

      I agree that for the most part stories tend to follow a pattern much like this story. Its funny, I attended a class recently which featured a session on creating presentations. The class talked about creating a compelling story and used the format situation, complication, tipping point, resolution or something along those lines. I started thinking along those lines and realized that many stories follow the same general pattern.

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