Saturday, June 18, 2011

DNR's Top Ten Favorite Baseball Movies

Today, I came across the trailer for the movie “Moneyball”, based on the book by Michael Lewis. And it looks awesome. Go here and check it out for yourself. I can’t wait until it comes out this fall.

But it got me thinking about all the baseball movies I’ve seen over the years. And since I’m always looking for something to babble about here, I thought I’d go through a top ten of my favorite baseball movies that I’ve watched.

Preface #1: I can only comment on movies that I’ve seen. So, and don’t kill me here, here’s a list of baseball flicks I haven’t seen yet. The Sandlot, The Bad News Bears (2005 version), The Fan, Fever Pitch, Mr. 3000, Pride of the Yankees, 61*, Eight Men Out, Bang the Drum Slowly, and Ken Burns’ 85 hour documentary on baseball. Sorry, I suck. Also there’s a movie with a monkey and Joey from “Friends”, I think there’s an “Air Bud” baseball movie, and there have to be others I’m forgetting. Deal.

Preface #2: Here’s a list of baseball movies that I’ve seen, but they didn’t make the cut. Angels in the Outfield, Bad News Bears in Breaking Training, Cobb, The Babe, Little Big League, Major League 3, and The Scout.

Preface #3: And there’s two I’ve seen, but they were when I was a kid and I really don’t remember them well. They are The Natural and Tiger Town. I didn’t feel comfortable ranking something that I really don’t remember.

Cool? Cool. We begin…


10. Rookie of the Year (1993)

Synopsis: When an accident miraculously gives a boy an incredibly powerful pitching arm, he becomes a major league pitcher for the Chicago Cubs.

Why It Makes the Top Ten: When I was a child, I always fantasized that I could somehow, even as a kid, magically be talented enough to play for the Tigers. I used to daydream about being on the team with Trammell, Whitaker, and the other guys and leading the league in homers despite being 12 years old or whatever. Yeah, kids are stupid. I was no different.

This isn’t a very good movie, but it’s cute in its own way. Plus it has Gary Busey before he went completely nuts and the kid from American Pie. No, not the pie fucker. The one that banged Tara Reid.

Memorable quote:

Larry: Hey, kid! How’d you like to play for the Chicago Cubs?
Henry: Great! But I gotta ask my mom first.

9. The Rookie (2002)

Synopsis: A Texas baseball coach makes the major leagues after agreeing to try out if his high school team made the playoffs. Based on the true story of Jim Morris.

Why It Makes the Top Ten: It’s based on a true story and I guess lots of people find it inspirational. I’ve only seen it once, and I liked it, but at over two hours, I thought it was too long. But overall, it’s a decent movie and has Dennis Quaid in the leading role. You can’t go wrong there. Also, the real Jim Morris makes a cameo as a minor league umpire in the film.

Memorable quote:

Lorri: So how does it feel to be the oldest rookie in the last 30 years?
Jim: I don’t know…I’m tired.

8. Mr. Baseball (1992)

Synopsis: A fading baseball player is traded to a Japanese team and has trouble fitting into the society.

Why It Makes the Top Ten: Because I said so! Shut up! I liked this movie. Tom Sellick and his glorious mustache make this silly film enjoyable. And he ends up with the Tigers at the end! It’s also the first of three appearances on this list of Dennis Haysbert from “24” and the Allstate commercials.

Memorable quote:

Jack: We’re not athletes, we’re baseball players!

7. Major League 2 (1994)

Synopsis: The Indians are now a World Series contender. But last year's hunger is now replaced with complacency, and bad decisions by the new owner threaten to tear the team apart.

Why It Makes the Top Ten: It’s not nearly as funny as the original (stay tuned for that), but it’s still fun and has its moments. Most of the original cast is there and new fun characters include Rube Baker (the idiot rookie) and Jack Parkman (the high-priced free agent). Most people pan this one, but it still makes me laugh when I see it. Also, Bob Eucker is again awesome as Harry Doyle, the Tribe’s announcer in the movie.

Memorable quote:

Rube: Women. You can’t live with ‘em, and they can’t pee standing up.

6. A League of Their Own (1992)

Synopsis: Two sisters join the first female professional baseball league and struggle to help it succeed amidst their own growing rivalry.

Why it Makes the Top Ten: This is the first really good movie on the list. It has an all-star cast including Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, Lori Petty, Jon Lovitz, and Garry Marshall. It’s directed by Penny Marshall, too. It’s based on a true story and is not only funny, but it’s got a lot of heart to it, illustrated by the scenes dealing with World War II. There’s something for everyone in this one. Also, Lori Petty’s character seems to be who Brandon Inge based his hitting style after…constantly swinging at pitches out of the zone.

Memorable quote:

Jimmy: Are you crying? Are you crying? ARE YOU CRYING? There's no crying! THERE'S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!
Doris: Why don't you give her a break, Jimmy...
Jimmy: Oh, you zip it, Doris! Rogers Hornsby was my manager, and he called me a talking pile of pigshit. And that was when my parents drove all the way down from Michigan to see me play the game. And did I cry?
Evelyn: No, no, no.
Jimmy: Yeah! NO. And do you know why?
Evelyn: No...
Jimmy: Because there's no crying in baseball. THERE'S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL! No crying!

5. For Love of the Game (1999)

Synopsis: A washed up pitcher flashes through his career while pitching a perfect game for the Detroit Tigers.

Why it Makes the Top Ten: Because Kevin Costner’s character of Billy Chapel is a Tiger. I’m sorry. This movie is awesome if you watch it on DVD and skip all the non-baseball scenes. It’s not great and if Billy was an Oriole or a Pirate, I probably wouldn’t like it as much. But this is MY list and I’ll put it where I want it, you jerks! Plus it has one of my favorite movie quotes of all time that I use from time to time. Speaking of which…

Memorable quote:

Jane: You ever gotten your heart broken?
Billy: Yeah. When we lost the pennant in ’87.

God damn right...

4. Bad News Bears (1976)

Synopsis: An aging, down-on-his-luck ex-minor leaguer coaches a team of misfits in an ultra-competitive California little league.

Why It Makes the Top Ten: This was the first baseball movie I ever saw as a kid and I loved it. I actually saw it again a couple years ago and couldn’t stop laughing still. Walter Matthau is great as Buttermaker, the drunken coach of a team of foul-mouthed kids. As I said, I haven’t seen the remake starring Billy Bob Thorton. I guess I’m just afraid it’ll piss me off since I loved the original so much.

Memorable quote:

Tanner: Jews, spics, niggers, and now a girl?
Amanda: Grab a bat, punk!

3. Field of Dreams (1989)

Synopsis: An Iowa corn farmer, hearing voices, interprets them as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields; he does, and the Chicago Black Sox come.

Why It Makes the Top Ten: What baseball fan DOESN’T love this movie? It’s based on the book “Shoeless Joe” by W.P. Kinsella and stars Kevin Costner (who appears three times in this top ten), James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, and Burt Lancaster in his last major film appearance. It was also nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. Every baseball fan should see this at least once and it remains the one movie of all time in which men are permitted to cry at the end of it without being mocked.

Memorable quote:

The Voice: If you build it, he will come.

2. Bull Durham (1988)

Synopsis: A fan who has an affair with one minor-league baseball player each season meets an up-and-coming pitcher and the experienced catcher assigned to him.

Why It Makes the Top Ten: This is probably the perfect baseball movie. It has everything you could possibly want in such a film. If you haven’t seen it, go out and buy/rent it now. What’s wrong with you, you weirdo? This remains Costner’s greatest moment as an actor and if there’s one movie on the list that will make you love the game more than you already do, this is it.

Memorable quote:

Crash: Relax, all right? Don't try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.
Nuke: (to himself) What's this guy know about pitching? If he's so good how come he's been in the minors for the last ten years? If he's so good how come Annie wants me instead of him?
Crash: Oh, hey, and another thing, Meat. You don't know shit, all right? If you wanna make it to the bigs, you'll listen to me. Annie only wants you so she can boss you around, got it? So relax! Let's have some fun out here! This game's fun, OK? Fun goddamnit. And don't hold the ball so hard, OK? It's an egg. Hold it like an egg.

1. Major League (1989)

Synopsis: The new owner of the Cleveland Indians puts together a purposely horrible team so they'll lose and she can move the team. But when the plot is uncovered, they start winning just to spite her.

Why It’s Number One: Simple. This is the funniest movie I’ve ever seen. The cast of Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Dennis Haysbert, James Gammon, Corbin Bernsen, Wesley Snipes, Bob Uecker, and others are perfect. This movie has more memorable quotes than any I’ve ever seen. In fact, I think I quote it every day, especially when watching baseball. I’ve seen it dozens of times, know it by heart, and still watch it a couple times a year. It always makes me smile, always makes me laugh, and I still get chills at the end of it. Is Bull Durham a better movie? Of course it is. But Major League is the most entertaining movie I’ve ever seen and that’s why it’s my number one. I love it.

Memorable quotes:

Lou: You may run like Hayes, but you hit like shit.
-----
Harry Doyle: So, here is Rick Vaughn, the one they call the "Wild Thing". So, he sets and deals.
(Vaughn throws a wild pitch)
Harry Doyle: Just a bit outside, he tried for the corner and missed.
(Vaughn throws another wild pitch)
Harry Doyle: Ball 4.
(Vaughn throws another wild pitch)
Harry Doyle: Ball 8.
(Vaughn throws another wild pitch)
Harry Doyle: Low, and he walks the bases loaded on 12 straight pitches. How can these guys lay off pitches that close?
-----
Pedro Cerrano: I'm pissed off now, Jobu. Look, I go to you. I stick up for you. You don't help me now. I say "Fuck you," Jobu, I do it myself.
-----
Roger Dorn: Lou! Can I have a word with you, here?
Lou Brown: Sure.
Roger Dorn: See, I've got it right here in my contract. It says, "I don't have to do any calisthenics that I don't feel are necessary." So what do you think about that?
Lou Brown: (drops the contract on the ground and urinates on it, then walks off)

Good stuff.  Thanks to imdb.com for the exact quotes I was looking for and a synopsis for each movie that made actual sense.

11 comments:

Wgs said...

I'll tell you that you have missed some good ones, but will just say you must watch The Natural sometime.  Oh, it based on greek myths, and it's a bit dreamy and sappy sometimes, but when it gets things right - it really gets things right.  Good vs Evil, hubris, that only a pure heart can capture the biggest prize.  That, and the beautiful cinematography.  Really.  Never has a baseball movie looked so beautiful.  Just try to ignore Robert Redfords stoic, midwest, apathetic "acting".

Pawsdeep said...

I know it seems tedious, but the Ken burns documentary really is a must see; it is absolutely fantastic. Also, if you have Netflix, there is a documentary about Hank Greenberg(aptly titled the life and times of Hank Greenberg) and as a Tigers fan, it's definitely worth watching.

Oh, and as far as the sandlot goes; worth it to watch for sure. I feel like I'm 12 all over again every time I watch it...

Jay Hathaway said...

Yeah, I agree with Pawsdeep that you should definitely see The Sandlot.  Good list.  A couple of my favorite quotes:

Major League:

Harry Doyle: "And for the Indians, that's one run on, let's see...one hit? That's all
we had, one goddamn hit? [Monty: You can't say "goddamn" on the air!]
Don't worry; nobody's listening anyway."

and: "The post-game show is brought to you by... [searches through his papers] Christ, I can't find it. To hell with it!"

Bull Durham:

Teddy Cullinane:
[broadcasting on the radio] I've never seen Crash so angry. And frankly, sports fans, he used a word that's a no-no with umpires.



Millie:
[Annie snaps off the radio] Crash must've called the guy a cocksucker.



Annie:
Mmmmm. How romantic.

h2opolopunk said...

You've got to see The Natural again, dude.

Neffiperez said...

Don't Think, It'll only hurt the team.

Jay Hathaway said...

"Bartender!  Jobu needs a refill!" I heard that one more than once during a decade of bartending.  Also, I think you cited another favorite in a recent column: "Who's THIS fucking guy?"

Russell White said...

Rookie of the Year also has the Janitor from Scurbs.

Russell White said...

Scrubs even.

Kyle said...

So does Major League. He's a construction worker that says: "Who are THESE fuckin' guys?!"

Chuck Chessor said...

Cerrano goes back....he's gonna need a rocket up his A$$ to catch that one. 

Kev-O said...

Great list but I can't believe you've never seen The Sandlot.  Was great as a kid and still great today