OKLAHOMA CITY — Of all the terrific people who’ve done a lot of great work in their lives, championed the underdog, fought uphill battles for the right reasons, ushered progress, Erin Brockovich is one of them.
For those reasons, and likely because self-important people believed her story could still draw viewers and money 21 years after Julia Roberts played her in the movies, at 7 tonight, ABC is scheduled to air “The Real Rebel: The Erin Brockovich Story,” and follow it with back-to-back airings of “Rebel” in which the terrific Katey Segal plays Annie Bello, a character modeled after Brockovich, which may be a terrific show, despite its already having been canceled after one season.
Meanwhile, at 2 p.m., on ESPN, the Women’s College World Series will be decided, a national championship on the line, winner take all, as Oklahoma and Florida State meet for a third time at Hall of Fame Stadium early enough that, even should they play 10, 11 or 12 innings, they’re unlikely to get in the way of Game 3 between the Nets and Bucks, a series that hasn’t been remotely as competitive and entertaining as the Sooners and Seminoles thus far.
Here’s hoping Erin Brockovich herself wakes up this morning realizing her story, documentary or dramatized, is in the way of real progress, because that’s what it would be if ABC were to move “Rebel” in all of its incarnations to ESPN this afternoon and move Oklahoma and Florida State to ABC this evening. Or, if Brockovich won’t speak up, perhaps Julia Roberts or Katey Segal might instead.
Perhaps they were watching the Sooners explode for four runs in the sixth inning Wednesday, as OU marched to a 6-2 victory over Florida State, in a span in which six straight batters reached base, Jocelyn Alo went deep and, finally, OU again looked like itself.
Or perhaps any one of them caught Mackenzie Donihoo, one night after earning the No. 1 play on SportsCenter with a diving catch she turned into a double play, make another one running full speed toward the left-field wall, that wasn’t quite as spectacular, but ought to put her in the top 10 on back-to-back nights.
Who knows, but could Brockovich, Roberts or Segal possibly know, too, that Donihoo is 10 of 22 over her six World Series games, hitting three home runs, a double and knocking in 10, all after not getting a plate appearance in last Thursday’s loss to James Madison?
Or might any of them understand we’ve been watching one of the great comeback pitching performances of all time from Giselle Juarez, now 4-0 over the last week, throwing 24 1/3 innings in which she’s allowed only three runs and 14 hits, striking out 31 and walking just six.
One hopes they’ve taken note. One hopes, at the last possible moment, somebody with pull can't understand how the network saw fit to broadcast a random super regional contest live from Norman two Saturdays ago, yet continues to refuse to put the games that will actually determine the national champion on network TV’s larger platform and that makes no sense at all.
Or that the NCAA itself, which ESPN — part of the Disney family of which ABC is a part, too — has already proclaimed ultimately decides when games are played, as opposed to it, would just go ahead and play the game at 7 p.m. and see what ESPN thinks about that.
Though it would be nice to see the governing body of collegiate sports in this country go to the wall for the women as it need not ever have to for the men, who will never suffer the Final Four getting moved to the afternoon, or the men’s College World Series playing beyond 3 a.m. in the east.
Is all of this fanciful and kind of silly, unserious? Like, none of it could ever happen at the last possible moment. Schedules don’t change like that, do they?
Who can speak for Brockovich, Roberts and Segal? They’re wild cards.
Though, admittedly, they’re unlikely ever to read these words and, should they, quite unlikely to raise their voice in the name of pushing Brockovich’s story off the air.
But the idea that, once it became clear the championship series might run through today, the choice to limit its audience and begin the most important game in the entire sport, until a gold medial’s on the line, at least, in the middle of the afternoon while the world’s still at work is no less silly and unserious.
We may be witnessing the best World Series to date. As a matter of games played, it’s gone the distance for the very first time. Two teams that lost their opener are playing for the crown.
Headliners, like Alo, are delivering, but so are Donihoo and Juarez and it’s fabulous.
All of them, on both sides, deserve to play on a bigger stage than the one they’ll be starring on today.