We’re going to do divisions in single posts going forward.
#1 The Sandlot vs. #8 Rookie of the Year:
The Sandlot (by cliff):
Scotty Smalls moves to a residential neighborhood in metro LA in 1962 at around 13 or so years of age. He meets a group of neighborhood boys who get together to play baseball on a vacant lot. Because they have 8 players, they want another, but Scotty can’t play. After being humiliated, he is tutored on the side by “Bennny the Jet” Rodriguez, the team’s leader and best player. Eventually he rejoins the team and they become friends.
A big theme is the contest with “the Beast”, a neighbor’s huge dog, over baseballs hit over the neighbors’ fence. To make up for losing a ball and to avoid having to face “the Beast,” Scotty uses a baseball his Step Dad had. Well, that was signed by Babe Ruth. And, it too goes over the fence to “the Beast.” So, Scotty has to go to the owner of “the Beast” who his friends have said is the meanest man ever. It turns out the owner was a former baseball player who lost his vision from a ball. Because of the damage to Scotty’s Step-Dad’s ball, the owner gives him a ball he has signed by all of the ’27 Yankees.
Great childhood movie. Great baseball movie. Particularly the ending.
Henry Rowengartner. From a fledgling outfielder for the Little League Pirates to ace pitcher of the Chicago Cubs! Henry gave children all sorts of hope that you could break your arm and come back throwing gas (sort of like modern day TJ surgery, huh?). A movie featuring a pre-crazy Gary Busey (or has he always been crazy?), cameos by mid-90’s sluggers Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, and Pedro Guerrero, and shot on location at the real Wrigley Field, this was one of your better baseball movies of the early-90’s, a plentiful era for baseball movies.
Daniel Stern plays the role of the pitching coach Brickma the way you’d expect Daniel Stern to play any role: goofy and incompetent. But you really have to give Brickma credit for settling the age old debate or whether pitchers should use ice or heat after their time on the mound:
“Field of Dreams” is well known to one and all. So, I will skip the narrative and get to the things that make it special to me (and maybe to a few others). This movie uses baseball as a metaphoric glue that binds people together despite psychic wounds and disagreements. It challenges you to believe there is something bigger than you and that such belief is good. It uses beautiful cinematography to capture the glory of the Midwestern Farm Belt, which is an American metaphor for “home.” Check this cast: Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Gaby Hoffman (as a little girl), Ray Liotta, Timothy Busfield, and Burt Lancaster and James Earl Jones.
As a “baseball movie” it brings in the 1919 Chicago White Sox, the Mel Ott led New York Giants, the aspirations of a minor leaguer to get just one Major League at bat, and a great soliloquy by James Earl Jones (playing a character based on J. D. Salinger) on baseball as part of the American experience. A cautionary to anyone watching is to pay close attention. All of the concepts or characters that enter seem to come back into the web of a series of interesting plot twists. Plus, you get to listen to the Allman Brothers play “Jessica” as road trip music. How do you beat all of that?
If Henry Rowengartner gave 90’s kids hope that they could be major league pitchers, then Billy Heywood gave them hope that they could run a real, live major league baseball franchise. Billy’s grandfather, the owner of the Minnesota Twins, passes away, leaving Billy the team, in one of history’s poorest ownership decisions up there with selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees, Jeffrey Loria’s reign over the Expos and Marlins, and George Steinbrenner firing and hiring Billy Martin 5 times.
Billy eventually fires the manager and becomes the manager of the team a la Ted Turner. When he got a little too chippy with an umpire, he simply told his mother, “A Bill Heywood must be allowed to speak his mind to an umpire.” My favorite quote of the movie.
The movie is loaded with cameos: Lou Piniella, Mickey Tettleton, Ivan Rodriguez, Sandy Alomar Jr., Carlos Baerga, Alex Fernandez, Wally Joyner, Dave Magadan, Lenny Webster, Paul O’Neill, Dean Palmer, Tim Raines, Rafael Palmeiro, Randy Johnson, and Ken Griffey Jr. When was the last time we’ve seen even one major league ballplayer in a baseball movie? “Fever Pitch”? Technically, it seems it would be when Derek Jeter gets shot in 2010’s The Other Guys, but I don’t think that counts, personally.
#3 Bad News Bears (Original Version) vs. #6 Angels in the Outfield:
#3 Bad News Bears (from IMDB):
First of a trilogy of films takes an unflinching look at the underbelly of little league baseball in Southern California. Former minor leaguer Morris Buttermaker is a lazy, beer swilling swimming pool cleaner who takes money to coach the Bears, a bunch of disheveled misfits who have virtually no baseball talent. Realizing his dilemma, Coach Buttermaker brings aboard girl pitching ace Amanda Whurlizer, the daughter of a former girlfriend, and Kelly Leak, a motorcycle punk who happens to be the best player around. Brimming with confidence, the Bears look to sweep into the championship game and avenge an earlier loss to their nemesis, the Yankees.
This one actually tugs at your heartstrings a little bit. When will an orphan be united with his father. “When the Angels win the pennant,” according to his father. What a jerk. Nonetheless, this is another good kids movie with some fun baseball scenes. Christopher Lloyd plays “Al the Boss Angel” who helps the California Angels go from a laughing stock to a contender as Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character petitions the divine authorities to help the Angels so his family can get back together. Silly premise, sure, but did you remember that a young Matthew McConaughey plays an outfielder, Danny Glover is the passionate manager, and Neal McDonough, a very underrated actor, is a ballplayer too.
After Professor, Vernon K Simpson discovers a wood repellent, while trying to create a repellent of rodents, like mice. While he and Deborah are in the laboratory room, a baseball is hit into his laboratory room and breaks his chemicals’ glass bottles his original idea changes, when he discovers that the chemicals that remixed create a wood repellent. The discovery leads Vernon K Simpson, and in fear of being seen my the Greenleaf family, he changes his name, to King Kelly in fear. He then starts a baseball career, and leads the team of Saint Lious to a World Series Championship. After getting the last out of game 7 his hand is permanently injured by a barehanded catch, ending his baseball career. With his baseball career expired, he meets up the Greenleaf family, again.