Up for Grabs

Rookie helmer Michael Wranovics makes a credible play for major league recognition with "Up for Grabs," a sly curve ball of a documentary best described as a sports-themed "Rashomon" with an O. Henry twist. Theatrical innings are possible prior to grand-slamming in cable TV playgrounds.

Rookie helmer Michael Wranovics makes a credible play for major league recognition with “Up for Grabs,” a sly curve ball of a documentary best described as a sports-themed “Rashomon” with an O. Henry twist. Amusing pic details notorious legal battle over the baseball Giants slugger Barry Bonds slammed into the stands at San Francisco’s Pacific Bell Park while scoring his record-breaking 73rd home run during 2001 season. Theatrical innings are possible prior to grand-slamming in cable TV playgrounds.

Relying on news footage and eyewitness accounts, Wranovics takes an entertainingly seriocomic approach to rival claims by two fans: Alex Popov, a Berkeley restaurateur who insists he caught Bonds’ ball, then lost it when crushed by crowd; and Patrick Hayashi, who emerged from the melee with ball in his glove. At first, pic appears skewed toward Popov. Gradually, however, Wranovics introduces ambiguities suggesting the restaurateur might actually be a scam artist. (More than one witness claims Popov never had the real Bonds ball.) Escalating dispute over ball rumored to be worth more than $1 million sparks drama that continues even after judge issues common sense decision.

Up for Grabs

Production: A Crooked Hook Prods. production. Produced, directed, written by Michael Wranovics.

Crew: Camera (color, video), Josh Keppel, Zack Richard; editor, Dave Ciaccio. Reviewed on videocassette, Houston, March 19, 2004. (In South by Southwest Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 90 MIN.

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