The Cardinals have a day off, there's no new Brett Favre news, and it's still too hot to get seriously excited about football just yet. So here's the first in a series of posts about sports movies: My starting lineup of my nine favorite baseball movies.
9. "The Final Season"—Most people have never heard about this movie, but it's about a championship Iowa high school baseball team who plays their last season before their school in consolidated into a larger district. It's cheesy and predictable, but it also starts Sean Astin, a.k.a. Rudy Ruettiger, so you know it's going to be inspirational. It is!
8. "The Rookie"—There's just something really believable about Dennis Quaid playing this role. Bonus points for the fact that it's a true story, which makes it even cooler. And yeah, the little kid is Jake from "Two-and-a-Half Men."
7. "The Bad News Bears"—What a classic cast: Walter Matthau as the drunken grouch, Tatum O'Neal as the awesome girl pitcher, Jackie Earle Haley as Kelly Leak, and of course, the immortal Tanner Boyle, played by Chris Barnes, the most memorably foul-mouthed kid you've ever known. All the sequels and the remake were just pale imitations of this classic.
6. "A League of Their Own"—This one is best watched on DVD so you can skip the beginning and get right to the scenes with Tom Hanks and Geena Davis. They have a genuine chemistry as the washed-up drunken coach and the star catcher that most real baseball teams wish they had. Plus, if you don't get a little choked up at the end, you have a grinchy heart.
5. "The Sandlot"—My favorite scene is the one where the rich kids challenge the Sandlot team to a game on their fancy field, and the Sandlot kids just beat their brains in. That just warms my socialist heart all the way down to the red part.
4. "The Natural"—I don't care about the rest of the movie; I just want to watch the last scene when Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) comes to bat with the game on the line, breaks his "Wonderboy" bat, then hits one into the lights. The music and the drama of that final scene always brings tears to my eyes.
3. "Major League"—The most quotable of all baseball movies..."JUUUUST a bit outside." "Hats for bats." "You may run like Mays, but you hit like s***." "Nice catch Mays. Don't ever freakin' do it again." "Too high! Too high!" "Swing, and Heywood hits one toward South America; Tomlinson's gonna need a visa to catch this one." "Heywood's a convicted felon, isn't he, Monty?" "Up your butt, Jobu!" Bob Uecker should have been nominated for an Oscar for this one.
2. "Bull Durham." I'm gonna let Crash Davis speak for me on this one: "Well, I believe in the soul, the small of a woman's back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days."
1. "Field of Dreams" I've actually been to the real-life field in Iowa, thanks to my good friend Wags. It's an amazing experience to see it for real. As far as the movie goes, I completely agree with ESPN's Bill Simmons: "There are two kinds of people: those who love 'Field of Dreams,' and those who have no heart."