Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m sick and tired of seeing my beautiful webpage soiled with all this green, pretentious writing. It’s time I turn this petry dish of insightful fungus into a beautiful, blue lagoon of awesomeness. This is the way God intended webpages to look when he made Al Gore invent the internets.
As every red-blooded American male knows (meaning that TC was of course totally unaware), today was opening day for Major League Baseball. Yes, I am aware that the Phillies technically opened the season last night therefore making yesterday opening day, but seeing as how I hate them and all, I refuse to acknowledge it. So far as opening days go, this one was exceptional as far as the LCD was concerned. Seeing Philly get their asses handed to them by Derek Lowe was awesome, as was watching C.C. Sabathia implode in spectacular fashion for the Yankees. Normally I only care about the Yankees the six times of the year when they play the Mets. After the Yankees signed C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, however, all I heard was how the Mets would be lucky to come in 4th place if they played in the mighty American League East instead of the basically minor leagues of the National League East division. It was just wonderful to see them get raped by one of the worst teams in all of baseball on opening day with their new ace pitcher stinking it up on the hill.
And the Mets? What about the Mets? They were beautiful. Ok, so maybe they left a ton of men on base. Maybe they were playing the lowly Cincinatti Reds. But Daniel Murphy, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite players on the team, came through when it counted twice and Johann Santana was absolutely filthy on the mound, quickly regaining his late season form from last year after a somewhat shaky 1st inning. The best part? The bullpen was perfect. After two seasons of watching the end of Mets games from the comfort of a warm tub, razor blades in hand, it was almost orgasmic to watch J.J. Putz and K-Rod come in and slam the door shut with ease.
But what am I blabbing on about? This ain’t a sports blog, it’s a film blog. In order to commemorate what was just about the perfect first day of baseball, I’m going to talk about some of my favorite baseball movies of all-time. These aren’t in any particular order and I’m definitely leaving off some classics (Field of Dreams, The Natural, Bad News Bears, and Eight Men Out, to name a few). It’s not that I don’t also love those films, it’s just that I haven’t seen some of them in a long time and I wouldn’t want to deny you of my best efforts. If I leave something off you want to see my opinion of, drop me a comment and assuming the Mets don’t implode at seasons end, I’ll be sure to review it during the playoffs.
So without further adieu, I present to you my take on some of my favorite baseball movies.
I’m normally pretty rabidly against women playing men’s sports and anything that encourages them to. There’s a reason women have their own separate leagues: because they can’t compete with men athletically. I don’t care what you PCers say, it’s absolutely true. I don’t care if major league hitters can’t hit smoking hot Jennie Finch when she’s pitching underhand from 45 feet away and distracting them with her unbelievable hotness. Women just don’t belong on the baseball diamond.
In the case of A League of Their Own, however, I can make an exception. It’s the story of the first women’s professional baseball league, formed during World War II. While the men were off doing cooler things like killing Germans and blowing up Japan, the women did their duty by taking the men’s places on the baseball diamond. This movie had just about everything I look for in a film: hot chicks running around in skirts, sports and some minor child abuse to top it all off. A League of Their Own was made when Madonna was still hot, as opposed to the Skeletor facsimile she has become. Geena Davis was enchanting with her boyish frame and elvish features. And Tom Hanks was awesome as a former major leager turned alcoholic coach.
If I can stomach and even appreciate a movie about a bunch of skirts playing a man’s game, you know it’s awesome.
Bull Durham is loosely based on the life of Steve Dalkowski, perhaps the most famous baseball player to never make it to the majors. He was probably the hardest throwing pitcher to ever play the game according to witness accounts, but he had absolutely no control. I won’t go into his stat lines, but rest assured they are the stuff of legends.
Nuke LaLoosh, played by Tim Robbins, is Steve Dalkowski’s fictitious film doppelganger. Kevin Costner plays Crash Davis, an aged player chasing the all-time minor league HR record brought in to the team to mentor LaLoosh. Susan Sarandon completes the love triangle as Annie Savoy, Nuke’s sadistic cocktease of a muse and romantic interest for the both of them. Bull Durham is really a story about male-bonding as Crash’s coaching along with a case of Sarandon-induced blue balls help Nuke reach a place Steve Dalkowski never could: the major leagues.
It’s a fun film. Costner is great as the disgruntled, worn down mentor and Sarandon is equally impressive as a minor league baseball team groupie. This is the film where Sarandon and Robbins met, thus beginning their, well, not marriage but whatever they call the time they spend together when they’re not making movies or getting arrested for political protesting.
Yes, I really am going to tell you that I’m a huge fan of Fever Pitch. I don’t care if it has Jimmy Fallon in it or if it’s a pretty crappy romantic comedy from the Farrelly Brothers. This movie belongs on any list of great baseball films because of the historical season it chronicles. Only the most small-minded of Yankees fans (is there really any other kind? ZING!) can’t appreciate the miraculous comeback the Red Sox orchestrated in 2004.
That’s right, encapsulated within the walls of this otherwise sub-par romantic comedy is quite possibly the greatest sports story ever told. Trailing the Yankees 3 games to none in the American League Championship Series, a deficit that had never been overcome in the history of Major League Baseball, the Boston Redsox rallied to win the series 4 games to 3 and advance to the World Series, which they also won by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals. This effectively ended the mythic “Curse of the Bambino”(if you don’t know what this is, just give up on life), an 86-year-old hex that had prevented the Red Sox from winning a World Series Championship.
The series against the Yankees was quite possibly the most dramatic series in the history of sports. I’m sure one day volumes upon volumes will be written about all of the great moments, the extra-innings games, the gutsy performances on both sides. Films aren’t going to be far behind. But for now, we’ll have to make due with Fever Pitch and Drew Barrymore looking insanely gorgeous with her fire-engine red hair.
Major League is just like the Bad News Bears all grown up. A group of misfits and has beens is thrown together by a ruthless bitch of an owner in a bid to get the Majors to allow her to move the team to Miami. The team, of course, discovers her evil plan and sets about winning their division to spite her. You know, not for personal pride or anything.
This movie is just good, dirty fun (I’m not a big believer in the phrase “good, clean fun”. In my experience, the two hardly ever mix). The star-studded cast includes Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, Tom Berenger, Rene Russo, Chelcie Ross, Wesley Snipes and Dennis Haysbert and all deliver memorable performances as quirky characters. Major League isn’t poetry. It isn’t great filmmaking. But it’s a shitload of good times committed to film.
This movie makes my list from a purely nostalgic standpoint. After his broken arm heals oddly, 12-year-old Henry Rowengartner (Thomas Ian Nicholas!) discovers that he can throw a fastball upwards of 103 miles per hour. He is signed by the Chicago Cubs and becomes a star pitcher in the major leagues.
Pretty much, this movie is a piece of crap, but a 13-year-old LCD loved it and 29-year-old LCD carries on with the inexplicable love affair. I spent days, weeks and months trying to convince my brothers to break my arm so I also could also skyrocket straight to stardom as a major league pitcher after I saw this movie. Of course they wouldn’t oblige. I could hardly believe it. Years of unsolicited abuse and now, when I was finally literally asking for it, they wouldn’t so much as give me a charlie horse. It was maddening.
I suppose it’s probably a good thing anyway. Chances are I would never have thrown a pitch in the bigs and I most assuredly would never have starred in American Pie either. But still, the world will never know what could have been. And that is the biggest crime of all.
The Sandlot also makes this list mainly on the strength of its nostalgic value. However, whereas Rookie of the Year is a festering pile of crap outside of my own personal memories, The Sandlot enjoys the benefit of actually being a pretty good movie.
Scott Smalls is the new kid in town. Friendless and a total spaz(worse than TC, if you can believe that), he falls in with a group of baseball obsessed neighborhood kids who teach him everything they know about the game. When he offers to play with his father’s Babe Ruth signed baseball and consequently loses it, they help him to retrieve it from the lair of the Beast, a legendary neighborhood dog with a supposed taste for human flesh.
This is a film about growing up, developing friendships and the naivete of youth. It’s superb in its ability to bring you back to that level of innocence and remember what it’s like to be a pre-pubescent kid whose biggest problem is not knowing who the Great Bambino is. Well, I’d imagine The Sandlot would be if in fact you were ever possessed of that level of innocence. I was fortunate enough to have never been burdened with such inconvenient human trappings.
That just about sums up my short list of must-see baseball films. It is by no means complete nor are any of them are great examples of the art of film, but all of them are more awesome than anything TC would parade out in front of you. God, I hate him.