Bull Durham

Comprehensive Storyform

The following analysis reveals a comprehensive look at the Storyform for Bull Durham. Unlike most of the analysis found here—which simply lists the unique individual story appreciations—this in-depth study details the actual encoding for each structural item. This also means it has been incorporated into the Dramatica Story Expert application itself as an easily referenced contextual example.

Story Dynamics

8 of the 12 essential questions

Main Character Resolve

When Crash makes Annie aware that she has been focusing more on her own needs than on Nuke’s pitching (as she claims), she breaks her hard-and-fast rule of “one player per season,” and admits that she wants Crash. At the very end of the film, Crash tells her that he doesn’t want to think about baseball or quantum physics or anything. “I just want to be,” he says. And Annie, who has been the consummate Do-er throughout the film, says, “I can do that too.”

Main Character Growth

Annie needs to stop being quite so in control of her life (and everyone else’s). Only by giving up on her self-imposed rules and preconceptions does she find true fulfillment.

Main Character Approach

Not one to sit back and wait for life to happen, Annie constantly takes control of her environment. Note the way she ties her charges to the bed and reads them poetry. In fact, whenever she sees something wrong in her external environment, she fixes it, whether sending a note with the correct procedure to individual team members, correcting Millie’s misconceptions “You were not lured. Women are too strong and powerful for that,” or physically seducing Nuke, when she thinks he’s ignoring her.

Main Character Mental Sex

Annie deals with everything in a holistic way. She doesn’t see problems and solutions per se, but rather processes and balances. Much of her coaching refers to imbalances between the two halves of the brain, and imbalances in the mind-body connection.

Story Driver

Annie decides who her lover/student will be this year. Crash decides to stay (or decides not to quit). The unseen team management is seen only in terms of their decisions (to hire Nuke and Crash, to fire Bobby, the player with the sixteen game losing streak).

Story Limit

There’s no set time limit indicated, and in fact none occurs. It’s only after Annie and Crash focus Nuke’s pitching, that he moves on to the majors. If it hadn’t, he’d probably stay in Durham as long as anybody else.

Story Outcome

Annie and Crash succeed in getting Nuke into the majors.

Story Judgment

Annie comes to realize that perhaps there is more to life than baseball. She realizes that she is in love with Crash, and is willing to set aside her expectations, preconceptions, and need to control. The “authors proof” is she even allows herself to be tied to the bed, while Crash paints her toenails, and seems happier and more fulfilled than at any other time in the story.

Overall Story Throughline

"Play Ball!"

Overall Story Throughline

Baseball. While not inherently problematic, the problem in the story lies in the fact that everyone is absolutely obsessed with baseball (or more specifically, with not losing any games), to the detriment of personal growth. Everyone but Jimmy—who manages to change Millie—which in turn becomes an indicator that happiness is possible outside of baseball.

Overall Story Concern

Most everyone’s concerned with playing the game. Getting those scores up, improving the pitching, getting over dry spells, getting laid, etc.

Overall Story Issue

Nuke’s got a hell of an arm (skill) but no experience. Crash has plenty of experience but never had the talent to make it big. Annie makes it her job to give Nuke experience while honing his skills.

Overall Story Counterpoint

Overall Story Thematic Conflict
Experience vs.Skill

Overall Story Problem

Everyone has specific expectations about the season and their particular roles. They all expect basically to go on doing things the way they’ve always done, but the combination of elements makes that impossible.

Overall Story Solution

Nuke’s pitching improves every time a determination is made as to the cause of the specific problem. He’s encouraged to use his parietal eye, to stop thinking so much, to balance his chakras, etc.

Overall Story Symptom

It seems clear to everyone that Nuke’s problem is his limited accuracy. Ask the Bull’s mascot.

Overall Story Response

Crash’s solution to Nuke’s lack of accuracy is to show him, in front of everyone whenever possible, just how inaccurate he is. When Nuke challenges Crash to a fight outside the bar, Crash tells Nuke to hit him in the chest with a ball, knowing full well that Nuke is thinking so much that he’ll miss by a mile. Nuke lets loose and does exactly that, breaking a window in the process. Crash uses non-accuracy to confuse an opposing batter as well, warning him not to dig in too much, after Nuke deliberately beans the mascot.

Overall Story Catalyst

The wiser Nuke gets, that is, the more he takes Annie and Crash’s lessons to heart, and starts applying what he learns, the better he (and consequently the team) play the game, and the more they start winning.

Overall Story Inhibitor

Everyone must stop thinking so much. When Nuke thinks too much he starts pitching at the mascot. When Crash thinks too much it get in the way of his hitting (in one scene, he has to step out of the batter’s box till he can clear his head). At one point, the whole team is so lost in thought, that the game itself literally stops dead, while they all work out, among other things, what to get Jimmy and Millie for a wedding present.

Overall Story Benchmark

Winning and losing games is the barometer that shows progress in the objective story. At the start of the story, the team hasn’t won a game in a long time. Gradually they start to improve their scores and win more and more games.

Additional Overall Story Information →
Overall Story Throughline Synopsis

The objective story throughline revolves around “Nuke” LaLouche, the rookie pitcher with the million dollar arm and the five cent head. The owners of the Durham Bulls have big expectations for him, and want him prepped for the majors as soon as possible. They’ve hired the reluctant veteran catcher Crash Davis to coach him, and for the first time in years, the Durham Bulls start winning games.

Main Character Throughline

Annie — Teacher

Main Character Throughline

Annie is a woman in what is ostensibly a man’s game. But because of this she sees her self as singularly qualified to teach the more holistic ways of playing what she knows is truly a non-linear game.

Main Character Concern

Annie knows deep in her heart that Baseball isn’t a left-brained, goal oriented game. She never looks at the future, but rather how things are progressing and improving. This is strongly tied into her holistic, female way of thinking.

Main Character Issue

Annie has created a wonderful persona and situation for herself, which provides (as far as she knows) everything she needs. But the moment Crash enters the picture, that whole world is threatened. He’s the only one in the story who questions her core beliefs, and she is definitely threatened by him.

Main Character Counterpoint

Main Character Thematic Conflict
Threat vs.Security

Main Character Problem

Annie has specific expectations about the season, and people in general, based on past experience and personal beliefs. She doesn’t expect to fall in love with Crash, because it wasn’t what she planned.

Main Character Solution

At the climax of the story, Annie runs into Crash’s apartment accusing him of deliberately undermining her work with Nuke, but comes away realizing that what’s really been going on all this time is that she wants Crash.

Main Character Symptom

Annie is almost obsessed with theories on baseball, quantum physics, sex, poetry, life, etc. She believes that these theories are basic truths, and that the problems she perceives around her are a result of ignorance of these truths on the part of other people.

Main Character Response

Annie uses intuition to determine what the specific problem is in any given situation (Nuke’s pitching, Crash’s batting), then applies what she sees as the appropriate measures to fix the problem, relying primarily on right-brain, holistic solutions.

Main Character Unique Ability

The basic underlying fact beneath Annie’s drive to improve Nuke’s pitching is that she is in love with Crash. Even though her focus is on Nuke’s pitching, her desires allow her judgment to be swayed. Once she is made aware of this fact, she does what is best for Nuke (and ultimately for herself).

Main Character Critical Flaw

When Annie tries to seduce Nuke in the middle of his winning streak, she is thinking only of his relative worth to her, and not to the value of the winning streak, as Crash points out to her.

Main Character Benchmark

At the start of the story, Annie doesn’t seem to believe in the future. Her routine is to take on a lover for the season, and then move on. No lifelong commitment—“All I want is a date. I’m not going to fall in love with you, or nothin’.” By the end of the story, Annie says she won’t be taking on anymore students after this season, and is even willing to try and commit to Crash.

Additional Main Character Information →
Main Character Description

For most of the year, Annie Savoy is an English teacher. But during baseball season, she’s a major league lover and baseball connoisseur. Each season she chooses one player from the Durham Bulls and teaches him the finer points of Baseball, Sex, Buddhism, Metaphysics, and Life. Played by Susan Sarandon in the film.

Main Character Throughline Synopsis

Baseball is Annie Savoy’s religion and she’s on a mission. Each season she chooses one player as a “student” to teach the ways of Baseball, Life, and Love. But this year, she finds herself doing the learning.

Influence Character Throughline

Crash — Catcher

Influence Character Throughline

Crash has been through it all and has absolutely settled into a fixed attitude about life and baseball. He doesn’t change or bend for anyone. From the start he refuses to play Annie’s game.

Influence Character Concern

When he first hears why he was hired, his immediate response is to quit baseball. When Annie says she is going to choose her lover for the season, Crash gets up and starts to leave. He spends most of his time holding his instincts in check. Where Nuke is concerned, Crash spends most of his energy taming Nuke and forcing Nuke to reign in his instincts.

Influence Character Issue

Crash knows he’s not long for this game, but won’t even think about what he’ll do if he were to quit. Whenever he steps up to bat, he’s heard being very concerned about his performance. He does his job, but there is an underlying anxiety (Annie calls it fear) in everything he does.

Influence Character Counterpoint

Influence Character Thematic Conflict
Worry vs.Confidence

Influence Character Problem

Being a very linear, problem/solution oriented person, Crash is constantly looking for results. His work with Nuke is all about results. He tends to see the game as being about results. If you don’t win the game, what’s the point?

Influence Character Solution

When he’s actually playing the game, Crash is almost at peace. The whole process seems to comfort him. In fact he’d probably be just fine if the powers that be would just let him play.

Influence Character Symptom

Crash constantly questions the appropriateness of Annie’s methods and motivations (though never in front of Nuke). Although his near obsession with accuracy is vented on everyone (note the scene where he takes Nuke’s guitar because he didn’t have the correct song lyrics), it only has impact on Annie, ultimately forcing her to re-assess her thinking.

Influence Character Response

Crash says he told Nuke that you’ve got to respect the winning streak, and that Annie should know that. It’s at that moment that Annie realizes that her own methods were inappropriate, not Crash’s.

Influence Character Unique Ability

Crash recognizes the value of Annie’s teaching, insofar as it works. Being results oriented, he really doesn’t care about what methods are being used, as long as the results are there. When Annie accuses him of deliberately keeping Nuke out of her bed, Crash tells her the value of belief, something that she ought to know.

Influence Character Critical Flaw

Crash thinks that Annie’s methods and beliefs are hogwash, and Annie knows it. As a result she’s dismissive of anything he might have to say about her techniques.

Influence Character Benchmark

As long as Crash thinks he’s in control he’s able to quell his physical desires. At the beginning of the story, when he realizes that Annie will choose who her lover will be, he takes control by reigning in his desires. At the end of the story, after he’s released from the team, he realizes he’s not in control, and thus it’s okay for him to go to Annie for comfort.

More Influence Character Information →
Influence Character Description

For most of the year, Annie Savoy is an English teacher. But during baseball season, she’s a major league lover and baseball connoisseur. Each season she chooses one player from the Durham Bulls and teaches him the finer points of Baseball, Sex, Buddhism, Metaphysics, and Life. Played by Susan Sarandon in the film.

Influence Character Throughline Synopsis

Baseball is Annie Savoy’s religion and she’s on a mission. Each season she chooses one player as a “student” to teach the ways of Baseball, Life, and Love. But this year, she finds herself doing the learning.

Relationship Story Throughline

"The Teacher and the Coach"

Relationship Story Throughline

The personal, passionate story involves Annie and Crash, and how they manipulate Nuke to get to each other. Crash accuses Annie of trying to manipulate Nuke for reasons he can’t even fathom, and when Crash convinces Nuke to abstain from sex, Annie accuses him of trying to manipulate her private life.

Relationship Story Concern

The area in which Annie and Crash come into conflict, concerns the roles that they are assuming: Annie as the wise teacher and Crash as the confident, seasoned pro. Neither Annie nor Crash will simply allow the other to be who they want to (or pretend to) be. They constantly call each other on their assumed roles. Annie sees through Crash’s guise, saying that despite the confidence he seems to exude, he’s really scared. Meanwhile, Crash constantly derides Annie’s methods, and seems to have little respect for her self-righteous persona.

Relationship Story Issue

Annie and Crash both want each other, though neither will admit it. Annie has set up a set of circumstances for herself which precludes acting on her desire for Crash. Crash, in the meantime, refuses to cave in to her terms. The other side of the thematic argument is seen in the fact that they argue over who is better able to help Nuke with his pitching.

Relationship Story Counterpoint

Relationship Story Thematic Conflict
Desire vs.Ability

Relationship Story Problem

Crash and Annie have long-held beliefs and perspectives which lead them to behave the way they do. Yet each is directly impacted by the effects of the other’s history. While Crash may indeed be scared of not being in control (as Annie points out late in the story) Annie only perceives the effect: He snubs her several times. By the same token, while Annie may have her reasons for her self-imposed rules, the effect on Crash is that she has chosen Nuke as her lover and not Crash.

Relationship Story Solution

The conflict between Annie and Crash is only resolved when the underlying cause of their situation is removed from the picture. Nuke is the cause of their differences, and it’s the reason Crash is there in the first place, and according to Crash, he’s the reason Crash nixes a romance with Annie (“I’m not interested in a woman who’s interested in that boy”). When Nuke moves on to the Majors, the cause of their discord is gone, opening the door for Annie and Crash to see each other for who they really are and finally get together.

Relationship Story Symptom

Crash and Annie are focused on whose methods are more appropriate to the task for improving Nuke’s game. Annie thinks that Crash’s methods are too linear. She points out that baseball really isn’t a linear game. Crash derides Annie’s more holistic methods as weird, and highly inappropriate.

Relationship Story Response

Since neither Annie nor Crash will allow a romance to develop between them, they only address each other in terms of inaccuracies. Crash points out to her inaccuracy in applying logic to “affairs of the heart.” Annie sends Crash a note about his pulling his hips out too soon while batting. Annie storms into his apartment to complain about his giving Nuke misinformation, but Crash turns it around, accusing her of inappropriateness (in her methods and her dress).

Relationship Story Catalyst

Both Annie and Crash have very set beliefs regarding the best way to improve Nuke’s pitching. The more strongly each holds onto what he or she knows, the more conflicted their relationship becomes, in fact they seek each other out to tell each other how much they disagree with each other.

Relationship Story Inhibitor

When Annie finally “gets” that she’s in love with Crash, far from falling into each other’s arms, they stop communicating at all. In fact they don’t get together again until Nuke moves out.

Relationship Story Benchmark

Growth for Annie and Crash is seen by the way they shift from being basically competitors to becoming lovers. As the story progresses, they become more and more antagonistic toward each other, until they finally realize that they really need each other.

Additional Relationship Story Information →
Relationship Story Throughline Synopsis

Thrown together for a common cause, Annie and Crash come into conflict over the right method of teaching Nuke about baseball. To make matters worse, they’re both in love with each other, though neither will admit it.

Additional Story Points

Key Structural Appreciations

Overall Story Goal

Specifically, the goal is to get Nuke to pitch well enough to leave the minors.

Overall Story Consequence

Crash constantly reminds Nuke that if he doesn’t make it, he’ll be a minor league player forever.

Overall Story Cost

Nuke must learn to curb his instincts, his tendency to fly off the handle, if he’s going to make it into the show. Crash pays the price for letting his instincts get out of control when he swears at the umpire and is thrown out of the game; when he throws the pool ball at Nuke and breaks the mirror.

Overall Story Dividend

Crash gets closer to setting his record. The team makes progress in their win/loss record.

Overall Story Requirements

The only way Nuke will get to The Show is by winning games.

Overall Story Prerequisites

Nuke must become a better pitcher, and a different person from the one that joined the club. He needs to leave behind the uncontrolled kid that he was and become a professional ballplayer.

Overall Story Preconditions

Crash insists that Nuke abstain from sex while he’s on a winning streak. Annie insists that he be tied up and listen to Walt Whitman. Whether or not these things actually help him become a better pitcher or not is debatable (and debated by Crash and Annie), nonetheless, they are clearly messing with his basic drives.

Overall Story Forewarnings

When Skip, the manager, calls Bobby (the player with the 0 for 16 losing streak) into his office and tells him he’s been fired, we know that his future as a ballplayer is over.

Plot Progression

Dynamic Act Appreciations

Overall Story

Overall Story Signpost 1

Nuke pretty much embodies the Objective Story throughline. When we find Nuke at the start of the story, he’s having sex in the locker room. He’s established as someone who just DOES, blindly. Without any focus or thought. Pitching, starting fights, having sex. It doesn’t matter, he just does it.

Overall Story Signpost 2

After a bit of coaching, Nuke starts to win a few games. This is a big change for the team.

Overall Story Signpost 3

Nuke actually becomes enthusiastic about learning. On the bus, he even tells Crash he wants to learn more.

Overall Story Signpost 4

Nuke gets it. He has taken all the lessons to heart. He moves on to “The Show” (and even demonstrates that he knows how to do an interview).

Main Character

Main Character Signpost 1

It’s the start of a new season, and Annie is preparing to choose her new “student.” While others may only notice how wild Nuke’s pitching is, Annie is impressed with his speed and potential.

Main Character Signpost 2

Annie works to improve Nuke’s progress. and is concerned with the way his progress is affecting her own love life.

Main Character Signpost 3

We see Annie helping Millie with her future wedding plans, talking to Nuke about his future when he gets the news that he’s moving up.

Main Character Signpost 4

Annie puts her tutelage in the past, though she’s not entirely sure what’s in her future.

Influence Character

Influence Character Signpost 1

Crash recalls where he and Ass’t. coach Larry first met. He thinks he’s been hired because of his reputation, but that illusion is quickly shattered.

Influence Character Signpost 2

Working from experience, Crash endeavors to quash Nuke’s instincts and impulsiveness (at the bar and on the field).

Influence Character Signpost 3

Crash’s work with Nuke focuses on his winning streak, and its connection with celibacy. When Nuke leaves and Crash is released from the team, he is driven to Annie’s house.

Influence Character Signpost 4

Crash leaves Annie and takes time to think (and finish out the season), ultimately coming back to Annie out of conscious choice.

Relationship Story

Relationship Story Signpost 1

Annie sets down the rules. She explains just how her season works, and how she intends to do what she does. Crash doesn’t like the rules and walks out on her, saying he doesn’t believe in quantum physics when it comes to matters of the heart. He then tells her, quite descriptively, what he does believe in.

Relationship Story Signpost 2

When Crash asks Annie “Your place or mine?” at the batting cages, Annie says she is committed to Nuke for the season. But Crash accuses her of being afraid of real commitment.

Relationship Story Signpost 3

Nuke is really becoming a better ballplayer, and it’s the source of Annie and Crash’s argument. Here is where Annie realizes that she must change and become something different.

Relationship Story Signpost 4

Now that Nuke is out of the picture, and having realized that their old ways of operating weren’t working, Annie and Crash both need to come up with a brand new approach to life. They both need to take time ” to just be.”

Plot Progression Visualizations

Dynamic Act Schematics


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