Eastwood plays Gus Lobel, a baseball talent scout for the Atlanta Braves. Gus's eyesight is failing, more of his job is being done by computers he doesn't understand, and he's badly estranged with his daughter, Mickey (Adams). He's given an assignment to determine whether it's time to put him to pasture, evaluating an up-and-coming prospect named Bo Gentry. In the course of the scouting trip, he's forced to admit to his failings, and tries to connect once more with his daughter. Also in the picture is Johnny "The Flame" Flanagan (Timberlake), a former player Gus had scouted who is now himself a scout for the Boston Red Sox... and who takes quite a shine to Mickey.
This film exhibits the following tropes:
- Berserk Button: Do not get "insistent" with Mickey in front of Gus. Ever.
- Career Versus Man: Mickey's boyfriend has popped the question to her, and she's putting it off to focus on getting the partnership... which gets him fed up enough to break up.
- Chekhov's Skill: Early in the film, Rigo tosses a bag of peanuts to Bo. His throw is smooth, fast, and on-target.
- Chivalrous Pervert: Johnny helps Gus defend Mickey against the harasser... and then steals a kiss, to her chagrin. And then, when she tells him not to peek as she undresses to follow him into the river, his reply is to verbally stare at the car... which she's undressing right next to.Johnny: Really hot paint job.
- Clint Squint: Gus... of course. Amy Adams seem to be trying it out a few times, herself—making it run in the family.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Johnny has his moments. Like when he gives Mickey a big smooch right after claiming she's his sister... explaining to her he's never had a sister as pretty as her.
- Cutting the Electronic Leash: Near the end of the film, Mickey tosses her ringing cellphone in a dumpster.
- Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Gus reveals that the reason he farmed Mickey off to an uncle she barely knew for a year was because he lost track of her at a game and found her being felt up by a strange guy in a shack.
- Deadpan Snarker: Gus, Mickey, and Johnny all have their wit.
- Defrosting the Ice Queen: Johnny makes it his mission to get Mickey to open up to him and so forth.
- Groin Attack: Mickey's response to Johnny's excuse for the kiss steal is to... knock him with her pool cue.
- Jerkass: Phillip is quite verbally eager to get rid of Gus and rub in any weaknesses he might see. Bo also qualifies, being clearly way too drunk on his fame.
- Manic Pixie Dream Guy: Johnny is a rare male example, with his bordering-on-crazy "free spirit" attitude, and encouraging Mickey to open up, both to him and to Gus.
- One of the Boys: Mickey grew up around baseball players. She can be quite feminine without thought, but she's also learned how to drink from the bottle, chomp on hot dogs, and shoot pool with the guys... along with putting up with their drinking, swearing, and farting.
- Real Men Wear Pink: When Johnny calls Dr. Phil "quality television", Gus chimes in, "Yeah."
- Shipper on Deck: Gus seems quite pleased at the idea of Mickey and Johnny going out, and even encourages them to do so at one point.
- Technician vs. Performer: Philip, the man gunning for Gus's job, does all of his work by computer statistics. Gus goes out and watches, and listens, to the players being scouted. Despite there being a clean winner in the approach, it is pointed out that Phillip has a more repeatable process and that he gets more work done.
- Title Drop: Near the end of the film, Gus states outright that Bo Gentry has "trouble with the curve".
- Tomboyish Name:Johnny: So, what's "Mickey" short for? Michelle?
Mickey: Mickey is short for Mickey. As in my father's favorite player, Mickey Mantle.
Johnny: Aha. [beat] Lucky it wasn't Yogi Berra.
- "Well Done, Daughter!" Girl: Mickey's life has largely been predicated on showing herself worthy so that her father will bring her back into his life.
- Workaholic: Mickey has worked every Saturday for the last seven years, and she doesn't stop on the roadtrip.
- Worthy Opponent: Gus is scouting for the Braves. Johnny is scouting for the Red Sox. They're both analyzing Bo Gentry to see if he's worthy of making the draft pick. And they're friendly as heck with each other.
- You Have to Believe Me!: Mickey pleads with Johnny to this effect, concerning whether or not their telling him about Bo's trouble was a con to secure Bo for the Braves. Justified in that, frankly, she doesn't have any other way to convince him.