LOS ANGELES — James Caan always has felt comfortable in sports-themed projects, such as "Brian's Song" or "Rollerball," partly because he played college football, rode on the rodeo circuit and studied martial arts long before he started his acting career.
That makes his latest project, the new ABC comedy "Back In the Game," which uses youth baseball as a backdrop, feel like such a good fit.
"In many ways, my whole life has revolved around sports. I think organized sports, for example, is probably where we live, the most important for a young person to be involved with, boy or girl. Learn the sense of winning, losing, dedication, loyalty, all those things," Caan says. "So I love sports for that."
His new series is about a single mom (Maggie Lawson) who agrees to coach her son's hapless Little League team. She turns to her father (Caan) — whose nickname is The Cannon — for some guidance, as they both try to navigate through the new world of sports based on political correctness.
You can count on Caan's character to say what he thinks.
"I think that everyone's so uptight about everything today," Caan says. "I heard the other day somebody was complaining about saying the word brown paper bag. I mean, we're going a little nuts.
"And I think the idea that we're laughing at people who are, in fact, bigoted, and making fun of it is showing how ridiculous it really is."
The character is a good fit for Caan, who doesn't pull any punches.
As to why he came back to television, Caan simply says "bad movies."
Caan bring decades of acting experience to the role, but he also spent six years coaching youth baseball.
He became a little over competitive, recounting how he hit ground balls for two hours every day to his son, Scott (who now stars on "Hawaii 5-O"). He would visit players' homes and tell them he expected them to show up for every game no matter how sick they were.
Caan's record during his time coaching was one city championship, three times getting thrown out of games and two umpires chased over a fence with a baseball bat.
New: "Back In the Game," 8:30 p.m., KFSN (Channel 30.1)
Returning: "The Middle," 8 p.m. KFSN; "Revolution," 8 p.m. KSEE; "Modern Family," 9 p.m. KFSN; "Criminal Minds," 9 p.m. KGPE; "Law & Order: SVU," 9 p.m. KSEE; "Nashville," 10 p.m. KFSN; "CSI," 10 p.m. KGPE.
New: "The Crazy Ones," 9 p.m. KGPE; "The Michael J. Fox Show," 9:30 p.m. KSEE.
Returning: "The Big Bang Theory," 8 p.m. KGPE; "Parks and Recreation," 8 p.m. KSEE; "Grey's Anatomy," 9 p.m. KFSN; "Glee," 9 p.m. KMPH (Channel 26.1); "Two and a Half Men," 9:30 p.m. KGPE; "Elementary," 10 p.m. KGPE; "Parenthood," 10 p.m. KSEE.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, email@example.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.