Editorials — February 25, 2012 at 3:00 am

ROMANTIC ABOUT BASEBALL

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If you follow me on Twitter (I’m sorry), then you know that besides film, I am devoted to baseball and the Boston Red Sox.  January and February are generally the darkest months of my year, with no baseball and terrible movies.  But, as we move into March, Oscar season ends, Spring Training begins and I emerge from my cave to interact with other… um, people.  Since pitchers and catchers have reported this week, I thought I would share with everyone some of my favorite films about baseball.  Additionally, these are MY favorite movies, not necessarily the best movies, so there will be no inclusion of seminal classics like Pride of the Yankees or Major League or anything with Kevin Costner.  And even though I am a proud member of Red Sox Nation, you will not see Fever Pitch on this list either.  Its not even a movie about baseball as it is about a baseball fan.  There was a much better film about baseball fans called…

The Fan (1996) is Robert DeNiro as said fan and Wesley Snipes is the ball player.  Did I start with this film because I know that Dylan is a Giants fan?  Possibly.  Have I personally gone to some of the extremes that Gil Renard goes to in the film?  I deny everything.  However, I do know something about die hard fans turning on a big ticket free agent outfielder who can’t hit his weight thru the break and yes, maybe I blew him up on Twitter as well.  But the movie came out at a time when sports fans LITERALLY were going crazy.  It’s difficult to watch it now and not believe the story could happen.  So next time your team nose dives in September, just think that some old Italian could have kidnapped your number 3 hitter’s kid.  FUN FACT – The novel the film is based on revolved around the Red Sox.

But baseball has always been about kids and that brings me to two of my favorite baseball movies growing up, The Sandlot and Little Big League.  If there is ever a movie to make you feel nostalgic for being a kid in a time when your parents were kids, it’s The Sandlot (or maybe Dazed and Confused).  There’s at least one kid on that team that you can relate too and you knew all those other kids growing up.  And for someone who moved around a lot and had to make new friends, the movie meant as much to me as Little Big League.  But, it had my favorite player of all time, Ken Griffey Jr., great baseball action and clubhouse antics and teaches one of the most important life lessons you can learn from baseball.  Nobody wins them all.  FUN FACT 2- In The Sandlot, Denis Leary is a Yankees fan.  In real life, he is a DIE HARD Red Sox fan.  It is noted as his best performance.

Learning about the game has also drawn me to three other films that I really like, and love re-watching.  To go for back into the history of baseball, Eight Men Out is a must watch.  The story of the eight blacklisted White Sox players who threw the 1919 World Series is especially good viewing for anyone who wonders why ball players make so much money.  To understand the spoils they enjoy today, it’s important to reflect on how they were exploited in the past.  Baseball grew as America grew and it’s even reflected, somewhat obnoxiously, in the movie A League Of Their Own.  The story of women’s professional baseball was clearly a passion project for those involved but it’s a baseball story that needed to be told.  Gender bias aside, it’s a great movie and probably Tom Hanks best comedic performance ever.  FUN FACT 3- In college, I did a routine from the film where I played Jimmy Stewart as Jimmy Dugan and Cary Grant as Walter Harvey.  It killed.

Finally, a movie that I vigorously defend is Hardball.  I don’t care if people think Keanu Reevs can’t act, his speech at the ends puts me in tears every time I watch it.  Yes, it’s cute kids being cute and that’s something I absolutely loathe in movies, but I’m a sucker for it in this one.  Though it is light on the baseball, again it teaches one of the most important life lessons learned from the game.  Showing up is one of the bravest things you can do when everyone is rooting for you to fail, kind of like Keanu Reeve’s performance in the movie.  FUN FACT 4 – Because of this movie, ‘Big Poppa’ has been used as David Ortiz’s walkup music at Fenway Park.

FUN FACT 5 – I loved MoneyBall.  Any movie ending with the Red Sox winning the World Series is a favorite.

10 Comments

  • Good picks (even if you do cheer for the wrong team). Little Big League was one of my absolute favorites as a small person.

    • Little Big League is a movie that I enjoyed as a kid and can enjoy on another level as an adult. Lines like, “It’s the American League, they got the DH! How hard can it be?”

      Go Sox.

  • Love your baseball movie choices. Eight men Out has been one of my favorites for years. I think even non-baseball fans can enjoy it.

    • Eight Men Out might be one of the few films non-baseball fans can enjoy, like MoneyBall. But it’s a great balance of on the field action and pretty historically accurate. Except when Abe Attell leaves the country, practicing Spanish. He actually fled to Canada. IMDB has not submitted my trivia update.

  • As an Englishman football (that’s soccer to many of you ) is my first sporting love but second comes baseball. Incidentally I am also a Giants fan purely because after years of watching on TV they were the first team I went to see.

    The great thing about baseball is that is one of just two sports that is truly cinematic, the other being boxing. Personally I am a fan of all three Kevin Costner baseball movies, Bull Durham being my favourite. As for the other movies mentioned, I have never seen Fever Pitch but love the original football based movie, it really cuts through to what it is to be a sports fan. Milfcast listeners will know that I had never seen The Sandlot, I now have and loved it.

    These are my favourite baseball movies.

    • Great top five you got there. Fun Fact – In The Natural, Robert Redford not only wore #9 in tribute to Ted Williams, but also modeled his swing after the Red Sox Hall of Famer. :)

  • Eight Men Out is my all-time favorite baseball movie, followed by Soul of the Game and 61*. I’m very much into the history of the game more than I am the other stuff. Not that I don’t enjoy the kids baseball movies like The Sandlot.

    Bull Durham gets major points from me for how realistically it depicts minor league baseball. Having worked in MiLB for 5 years, I can tell you that it’s pretty spot-on.*

    *except for Tim Robbins, who clearly was NOT a baseball player

    • I actually love *61 because the villains of the piece are Yankees fans. Really good film and great performances.

  • Yeah, I don’t get how you can discount the Costner films so easily. I’ve yet to see For Love of the Game (it’s on the DVR – that’s a start!), but FoD and Bull Durham are fan favorites for a reason, each getting to the heart of what baseball is all about and/or why it is (was) the national pastime.

    “In The Sandlot, Denis Leary is a Yankees fan. In real life, he is a DIE HARD Red Sox fan. It is noted as his best performance.” – HA!!

    Fun fact: I’ve still not seen The Fan or Hardball, either. I was under the impression that neither was all that good…

    Little Big League I’ve only seen in spurts. Same deal with Rookie of the Year. I was just a bit too old for both of them, I think. Same goes for Mighty Ducks.

    • I’m not discounting the Costner movies. They just get som much love and attention anyways, I didn’t feel the need to re-hash them here.

      The Fan isn’t a great movie, but it’s a great Tony Scott movie, if you’ve seen a lot of his films. Smoke and Venetian blinds and it’s feels like the people making it, we’re probably on a lot of cocaine.

      Give Little Big League a chance, I think you would really enjoy it. It’s got enough adult themes going on with it as well.

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