Andy: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, bastard children of all races, summer is upon us. Sure, if you are reading this anywhere south of I-94 it’s probably been summer for a month now, but here in Chicago the warm seasons have been as scared to come out as Tom Cruise (give it up guy). And when the mercury rises you can bet my favorite aspect of American society is right around the corner: summer movies. Summer is pretty much the only time production companies bust out the type of films that allow them to re-fill their Scrooge McDuck-like pools of money. With that being said, it got the three of us over here at the Swing wondering, what’s the best baseball movie ever made?
For me, kind readers, the list begins and ends with The Natural. You’ve got child prodigies, murdering temptresses, bats forged by Thor himself, Babe Ruth choppin’ broccoli, a sexy Robert Redford — even Tom Cruise would agree to this — and one of the greatest movie montages of all time.
Can you hear that music, does it not make you want to live your entire life in a meaningful slow-motion filled with exploding lightbulbs? Of course it does. I’m amped right now just thinking about it. And it always seems like everyone has one beef with this movie: it’s cheesy. OF COURSE IT’S CHEESY, THAT’S WHAT MAKES IT AWESOME! Cheese is what made every 80s movie great — “Sweep the leg!”, “That’s right Ice … man, I am dangerous.”, “If he dies, he dies.” — and it’s what makes America great. Cheese is America’s beret, America’s lederhosen, America’s cone shaped hat that they wear in that Asian country with the rice paddies and such. Damnit, cheese is America, so go ahead and taste it.
Josh: Easy on the cheese talk, Andy. You’re getting Danny all hot and bothered. Although nice listing of money 80’s lines. I like the Karate Kid one with some love for Mr. T (Prediction? PAIN!!!!).
I’m going to give some love to an often underrated and forgotten baseball flick. Hell, I forgot about it until a chance sighting on a website. It’s a little movie called Major League. It has everything that makes a baseball movie great and realistic: non-stop profanity, objectification of women, making a jackass out of team prima donnas and an unlikely win streak. And what do you know? It all happens in this four and a half minute span of film here. You’d think I planned these occurrences but they are purely happenstance. I’m not that good.
Also, who doesn’t love a good worst to first story? It makes for good television. It makes me feel like the real life Indians are due one eventually since LeBron is out of Cleveland in t-minus 361 days. And there’s classic character archetypes. Such as the aging veteran looking for one more shot (played by Mizzou alum Tom Berenger, so that automatically makes it a winner), the out of this world strong foreigner who hits everything but the curve (played by future “24” president Dennis Haysbert aka the REAL first black president of the US), the jive talkin’ black fella (Wesley Snipes pre-Blade) and the flame throwing ex-con (still Charlie Sheen’s best film work. No one is telling me anything different).
Great story. Great ending. High comedy. Do your best, Danny.
Danny: First off, I must salute you on a great choice there, Mr. Mosley. You technically are supporting Mil-town with that selection, as the Indians version of Municipal Stadium was actually filmed at the great Milwaukee County Stadium (fuckin’ beauty, ain’t she?) and Roger Dorn’s house is located about a block away from my dad’s house on Lake Drive in good ol’ Whitefish Bay. But despite those outstanding qualities, Major League isn’t the tops.
The best baseball movie of all-time is Bull Durham. Kevin Costner as Crash Davis. Susan Sarandon as ballpark trick Annie Savoy. A young Tim Robbins as Nuke LaLoosh. It’s a movie with two of the best baseball-related soliloquies. We got Annie’s profession to the Church of Baseball in the opening scene (if I ever sour on Catholicism, that’s right where I’m headed) and Crash’s own kickass belief system. For those of you who don’t recall, here’s the text:
“Well, I believe in the soul, the cock, the pussy, 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.”
Crash gives out life lessons like Tootsie Rolls on Halloween, but he sprinkles in a little (okay, a lot) more vulgarity and hilarity than we see on October 31. We got catchers telling hitters what’s coming, bulls getting hit with dingers for free steaks, dudes wearing garters to keep a hot streak alive, speeches in the shower about lollygaggers, and most importantly, dreams of the big leagues. That’s just the beginning, but I guess I can’t end the argument too quickly. Please tell me how that isn’t el numero uno.
Andy: Blah, blah, blah Danny, I can write long, boring soliloquies too, and guess what? That doesn’t make me the best baseball movie ever made. Watch:
I believe in boorting as loud as possible. I believe that “treated” should be yelled after every big hit in football. I believe that North Carolina should in fact not raise up, take their shirts off, spit any reggae nor spin anything like helicopter. I believe Tubgirl is nothing worse than a classy wallpaper. I believe it is my god-given right hate on a diversary of markass marks, trickass marks, punk bitches, skip skaps, skanks, and scallywags … hoes, heffers, he ha’s, and hulyhoops — because Silky Johnston would want me to.
I believe that the only other acceptable option for best baseball movie is Rookie of the Year, because it was filmed mere blocks away from my home, the Cubs are in it and Gary Busey is insane. I believe people from Milwaukee are boot-wearin’ asses, the St. Louis Arch is the dumbest monument in America and that if you didn’t know, then your ass better call somebody.
Josh: Andy loves rants like Danny loves Mexican piss water (i.e. Miller Light) so I’m not at all surprised by the ten pounds of monkey crap in a five pound bag that was his last rant. And Danny, if I had known the connection between Major League and your hometown, I may have seriously reconsidered my choice. But the fact is, Major League is fucking harsh. I could go with The Sandlot for my next choice but that would be too easy. A cop out. An easy out. I’m going off book here and am going to throw out Little Big League.
Why? Well for starters, it takes an often overlooked team (the Minnesota Twins) and puts them in the familiar worst to first mode, which I talked about above. Aside from that, what kid didn’t dream of doing what Billy Haywood did. I know I would have loved to own the Cardinals. When Danny was a little ‘Sconnie, I’m sure he would have liked to control the Crew. And when Andy was growing up in E-town looking like the lost Hanson brother (his words not mine), he wanted to run the Baby Bears.
The movie is pure comedy with the dude who played “Pointdexter” playing the team leader and center fielder. And let’s just get this out the way: the movie had cameo’s by two of the best players of the 90’s: George Kenneth Griffey Jr. (K Griff to the uninformed who happens to be one of my all-time favorite players and the Player of the Decade in 1990’s) and Randy Johnson, who may be benefiting from Roger Clemens’ douche like nature lately and taking the helm as the second best pitcher of the 90’s next to Greg Maddux.
And the movie ends with the Twins losing when Griffey robs a dinger at the wall. Very out of the ordinary but effective in showing that sometimes the happy ending is just out of reach.
What do you flunkies got?
Danny: Andy, your nonsensical rant has significantly damaged every single person here. We are all now dumber for having heard that. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul. Rookie of the Year is only good for funky butt lovin’, and this is family website, so we don’t support that bunk. As for you Josh, I drink piss water because it’s sterile and I like the taste. But Bud Light is canned cat urine, and there’s no way to defend drinking that crap (except for supporting Frank Murano; that’s A-B’s only redeeming quality).
For the most part, you guys are throwing out some legitimate contenders here, but if I’m not allowed to pick Bull Durham, the only other option is Field of Dreams. Before you start calling shenanigans on a Kevin Costner addiction here, I’ll have you know that I demanded a refund in writing after seeing For Love of the Game (not really, but I didn’t enjoy the movie).
M. Night Shamalyan needs to get his game up when it comes to miracles in movies about crops, because the Chicago Black Sox coming out of a cornfield to play baseball in the middle of Iowa blows away whatever the hell happened in that movie of his. This isn’t a place for discussing the virtues of Shoeless Joe Jackson, but dude belongs in baseball’s good graces. He hasn’t been there since 1919 – except in this movie. You got James Earl Jones dropping knowledge. You got Moonlight Graham realizing his dream of playing ball with some of the game’s greats before giving up that dream to save a little girl. You got Ray (Costner) realizing what’s most important, and eventually playing catch with his pops. And that’s about as American as it gets – USA! USA!
As my cohorts know, I’m usually for immature and hysterical movies, but every once in a while, I like a movie that sends a message beyond dick jokes. Field of Dreams is one of those movies that everyone can get behind for different reasons, and that’s why it is the only possible alternative to Bull Durham for best baseball movie.