Baseball Movie Slugfest – Quarterfinals – Comedy/Romance & Fantasy/Children

After no upsets in the first round (let’s be honest; are there really 32 good baseball movies?), we’re on to the quarterfinals.

Comedy/Romance

#1 Major League vs. #4 Trouble With the Curve

#1 Major League (from Alex Remington):

A classic R-rated ’80s comedy, Major League is basically baseball’s Slap Shot: a team of misanthropic misfits from Cleveland somehow starts winning, despite how much everyone hates them. Written by the guy who won the Oscar for The Sting, it’s a great ensemble piece, with a truly stellar cast including Tom Berenger, Wesley Snipes, Charlie Sheen, and Rene Russo, and it features an all-time great performance by Bob Uecker as the Cleveland announcer.

It’s not perfectly P.C., right down to the real-life name of the team the movie is about, but it’s one of the best underdog sports movies. (It’s definitely the best underdog baseball movie about a team of adults.)

#4 Trouble With the Curve (by snowshine):

An aging scout with failing vision is joined by his daughter on a scouting trip to North Carolina while evil executives connive behind his back. The Braves end up drafting a
turkey, but then get a great pitching prospect out of nowhere.

The best film ever because: Braves! It’s all Braves all the time, Eastwood is terrific as a crotchety codger scout while Amy Adams provides a surprisingly nice turn as his daughter. One scene was shot in Swannanoa, NC and I am an extra in the stands.

The worst film ever because: The plot is pointless, and more importantly, nobody involved in the making of the film understands baseball or how professional organizations operate or… well, you get the picture. The plot would make more sense if set in the 1930’s (without the draft, obviously). The entire thing is a screed on the superiority of scouts Vs stat nerds.

#2 A League of Their Own vs. #3 Bull Durham

#2 A League of Their Own (from IMDB):

During World War II when all the men are fighting the war, most of the jobs that were left vacant because of their absence were filled in by women. The owners of the baseball teams, not wanting baseball to be dormant indefinitely, decide to form teams with women. So scouts are sent all over the country to find women players. One of the scouts, passes through Oregon and finds a woman named Dottie Hinson, who is incredible. He approaches her and asks her to try out but she’s not interested. However, her sister, Kit who wants to get out of Oregon, offers to go. But he agrees only if she can get her sister to go. When they try out, they’re chosen and are on the same team. Jimmy Dugan, a former player, who’s now a drunk, is the team manager. But he doesn’t feel as if it’s a real job so he drinks and is not exactly doing his job. So Dottie steps up. After a few months when it appears the girls are not garnering any attention, the league is facing closure till Dottie does something that grabs attention. And it isn’t long Dottie is the star of the team and Kit feels like she’s living in her shadow.

#3 Bull Durham (by Rob Copenhaver):

I actually hadn’t seen this until the tournament idea came about. The baseball part is pretty good: aging minor leaguer catcher is brought in to help “million dollar arm, 10 cent head” pitcher; hilarious hijinks ensue. And that part’s done well. “Nuke” Laloosh is a perfect name, and he’s played well by Tim Robbins. Crash Davis is played by Kevin Costner, who is actually playing in his second baseball movie. I thought it was the first, and you may think I’m flip-flopping this movie and Field of Dreams chronologically, but he was in a 1983 baseball movie called “Chasing Dreams“.

The romance part is interesting. The casting choice of Susan Sarandon is an odd choice; her age clearly tells you she’s going to “end up” with Crash Davis. Her initial monologue leads you to believe she “dates” A-ball baseball players (mostly young guys), but you’d think she’d be younger. That’s my only real gripe with the romance part. While forced at times, it’s an interesting component of the minor league life: the women that love to date baseball players for a season.

Fantasy/Children

#1 The Sandlot vs. #4 Damn Yankees

#1 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.

#4 Damn Yankees (by IMDB):

A frustrated fan of the hopeless Washington Senators makes a pact with the Devil to help the baseball team win the league pennant.

#2 Field of Dreams vs. #3 Bad News Bears (Original)

#2 Field of Dreams (by cliff):

“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?

#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.

52 thoughts on “Baseball Movie Slugfest – Quarterfinals – Comedy/Romance & Fantasy/Children”

  1. From last thread, so sayeth the Copenhaver:

    I would think the team will do quite well if Camargo got as many as 65 games in the outfield. That would signify that he could competently handle the OF, but that means Markakis and Ender see as little LHPs as possible, and Markakis probably doesn’t clear 400 PAs. That would be great and in line with what I’m thinking will happen.

    Remember, this team was 10th in runs scored. They’ve added Donaldson. They’ll add a full year of Acuna. Dansby will have to get better or hit the bench, and he’s at least healthy right now. Camargo is right there. Markakis will get less PAs. Ozzie is a year older. Culberson will get less PAs (I doubt he replicates 2018). No Joey Bats or Ryan Flaherty. We lose Suzuki, the only real detriment. Those are quite a few net wins.

    Given what management has said about Neck and “fatigue down the stretch” I think it’s perfectly reasonable to think they’re plan for him is to be the “starter” but to avoid that whole “playing every damned inning of every damned game” thing he was doing there for a while.

  2. Sam @ 1,

    Let’s hope when management thinks something about lineup order or whom to play that they communicate that DIRECTLY to Snit.

    We know Snitker knows Markakis already ran off one GM to protect Snit.

  3. @2 They already did last season. Snitker isn’t operating in a silo. He was never keen to bat Inciarte 9th, but it was something the front office wanted to see.

    If it were me, I would be giving heavy consideration to Markakis leading off with Acuna hitting second in the order. I think opposing pitchers are heavily intimidated by Acuna, and I would place the highest OBP on the team one spot ahead of him while also insuring that they face him either first or second in the game.

  4. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/29/sports/baseball/harper-machado-baseball.html?action=click&module=Editors%20Picks&pgtype=Homepage

    Two reasons you should read this.

    It’s paywall is entirely broachable provided you know the right person. And you do.

    It may well be the only piece you read on the Harper/Machado saga where every single word has been read and OK’d by a well paid proofreader.

    Oh. And a cutting comment from Christian Yelich, live from a visit to the Newsroom.

    Three reasons.

  5. As Donny notes, we have an entire season of data to indicate that Brian Snitker is in fact, on the same page as the front office on more analytics driven managerial decisions. The knee-jerk assumption that he’s not, because he’s an older guy who actually worked in the minors for years, it’s just bias and chauvanism, devoid of any relation to actual, factual, reality.

    Will Ender Inciarte bat leadoff to start the season? Maybe. Probably? Possibly. Will that indicate that Brian Snitker is an Old Relic Of Baseball’s Idiotic Past and Incapable of Pure Analytical Reasoning? No. It will indicate that the front office doesn’t care that much about who bats “lead off” to monkey about in the day to day decisioning on the subject.

  6. @10: Hey, that’s great! Does that mean the Braves will win the World Series in 2026? Asking for a fan.

  7. Good news! I checked the math, and yes – the Braves will definitely, guaranteed, win the World Series at some point in the next fifty years. Unfortunately, they’ve already hit their quota of championships per city, so they’ll have to move to a new town first. But our robot holofans will be thrilled.

  8. Those among us who are younger and survive the climate wars will by then have our brains digitized and stored online forever, ready for a Rebuild of any length at all.

  9. If you want a real Georgia-based champion, you can always root for the Atlanta… uh… the Atlanta… the soccer team, whatever it’s called.

  10. It’s only been depressing so far as the entire free agency structure seems to be breaking in front of what is almost certainly going to be another players’ strike, and the fact that signing a top 10 offensive performer in all of baseball is “depressing.”

  11. A good one from a Hardball Times article on Hall of Fame membership.

    Hank Aaron’s best season was 8.9 WAR. His 15th best season was 6.4 WAR. Is that not a hallmark for consistent excellence?

  12. I know its the offseason but I remain hopeful that we’re almost finished voting on movies.

  13. @15
    You aren’t excited how much Liberty’s bottom line has grown?

    If we had signed Harper and traded for an ace, we may have won the World Series, but John Malone’s grandchildren’s grandchildren wont have to work. Isn’t that more important?

  14. The land that John Malone owns outside Liberty in his own name (or controlled private entities) is enough to last 5 generations if they aren’t idiots. He is generally believed to be the largest owner of land in the U. S. by acreage. 1 / 4 or so of Maine, some big chunks in Texas and New Mexico. Can’t remember more details.

  15. @18 Maybe you can write us a post on how all pitching prospects are worthless or something. Show your work.

  16. @19 If we’re being honest, the whole profit/revenue thing probably has nothing to do with John Malone, in the case of the Braves. It’s probably tied to shareholders who are more interested in the bottom line than they are about a sports team competing.

    Finally, thanks to MLB revenue sharing, it’s probably great for everyone when the YankSoxdgers win all the things most of the time.

  17. I would bet the Marlins are really trying to get Jonathan India, and if the Reds do, that would be colossally stupid and I’m sure we’re out.

  18. My gosh, just be done already.

    My favorite of Murphy’s four suggestions in the article linked previously was a soccer style “transfer window” for free agents. Kill this drawn out, who will make the first move?! bullshit. You have two windows to sign free agents. An early window, two weeks first of December where sports talk idiots are making believe anyone actually cares who is playing in the Liberty Bowl, and two weeks starting after Super Bowl Sunday.

  19. I’m sure a contract extension is a must for India to be included. That’s probably not happening.

  20. @26

    I agree, I think it’s a good idea. Nothing says that it would make teams get off their butts and actually improve themselves, but at least it would be only two weeks of this mess, two separate times.

    As far as another idea in that article, I also am becoming more a fan of not tying draft order to record, pretty much in all sports. If you must ensure that teams who don’t make the playoffs have a better chance, fine, hold a lottery where every team that doesn’t make the playoffs has an equal chance at each of the top however many picks, then list the playoff teams in order of finish…but really, I’d be in favor of making it completely random and giving the league champion just as much of a shot at the No. 1 pick as the laughably bad worst team in the league. Tanking is a complete farce and should be eradicated with an absolute vengeance. If that means your terrible team doesn’t get a free ride, tough…maybe make an effort to make them less terrible.

  21. @14

    An owner that cares whether or not his team wins a championship and will spend money in pursuit of that goal…what a novel idea.

  22. Rob @ 24,

    Do you think India is that much better than Riley? If Reds send Barnhart AND a good prospect, then maybe we are in overpay mode. Otherwise, India plus a 45 plus a 40 sounds about like what we have been saying was o.k. for the Braves (outside of “positional scarcity” making some moves less preferred).

    Reds DEFINITELY have an oversupply at 3B. Suarez’ extension is at least 6 years and they have Senzel (who may be moved to somewhere other than 3B), so even if they had a pitcher the Marlins wanted, Reds ought to move India.

  23. @28 Not tying draft picks to records would be a horrible, horrible mistake.

    Look at the Orioles last year. They went into the season with every intention of competing, and aside from the SP, had a good team, on paper. They went on to have one of the worst seasons ever, however. So should they be punished for having bad luck? I don’t think that’s fair. Plus, rebuilds have always been part of the game. It’s part of the beauty of it, so long as they aren’t just a guise for being cheap.

    I know everyone wants to “fix” the system, but it’ll never be done. To do it, the guys writing the checks would basically have to negotiate something not in their own best interest, which would be to set a salary floor. That’d force your clubs like Miami and Minnesota to spend, which would in turn put more money in the player’s pockets.

  24. I’m of the belief that Miami’s plan is to just keep squeezing these teams.

    I almost wish they’d all walk away, and Miami loses Realmuto for nothing in FA. I detest Jeter’s arrogance, and that organization.

    Rest assured though, if the Yankees wanted Realmuto, the deal would’ve already been done for some scrub in A ball; with Miami paying half of Realmuto’s salary. Lol.

  25. An owner that cares whether or not his team wins a championship and will spend money in pursuit of that goal…what a novel idea.

    To be fair, Uncle Arthur just netted a cool $13m on his first sell of a major player to another league. So yes, he wants championships and will invest in the teams to win them. But he’s also shrewdly playing the soccer transfer markets and doubling his investment over three years (not counting the sold out stadium.)

  26. Trouble with the Curve is getting short-changed! It rep’ed our beloved Braves!

    I didn’t take it as being that heavy on the scouts vs. stat nerd debate, either. Eastwood’s character is just supposed to be that great of a scout, I think. Even if it is/was though, that old era of baseball makes for better story telling in a movie. Math is not an exciting movie plot.

    Vote for Trouble with the Curve!

  27. @30 I think India has more upside than Riley, absolutely. Riley is obviously a little farther along, but not by much. I would still think India might be a productive 3B before Riley. And that’s not just a Gator fan talking.

    The Reds certainly have a glut of 3B and would wisely trade India, but I don’t know if it should be for Realmuto’s last two years of arb.

    And yes, I think every time should pull out and tell Jeter and Hill to go screw themselves.

  28. @28, 31 Is draft position really that significant in MLB? A huge part of rebuilding in baseball is selling off major league players for prospects. I don’t think the way the draft is conducted has any bearing on teams tanking rather I think the terrible records come with the sell off of major league talent.

    I feel like the only way to restore balance is to set a reasonably high payroll floor and smack teams who fall below it. Disqualifying underspending teams from revenue sharing might do the job.

  29. The Padres appear to be going through [all the motions] of trying to compete. They’ve met with Machado, are in on the Realmuto discussions, and are now meeting with Harper. Have the Braves even met with Harper or Machado??

  30. India does not have more upside than Riley — no way — and there’s not a second “a” in chauvinism.

  31. @38

    I don’t know where you’re getting that.

    https://www.mlb.com/news/mlb-draft-profile-floridas-jonathan-india/c-278125946

    Their draft profile had him grading out above average on speed and defense along with above average on his hit tool.

    Every scouting report on Riley has him at 60 on power but below average on defense and foot speed (the big reason why we’re not itching to pencil him into the outfield). Fangraphs is giving him the biggest bump on power, but is still giving him very poor grades on fielding and defense. Does having more power offset those things, contact tools being equal?

    If I’m the Marlins, I would probably take Riley over India if both are indeed on the table because he’s closer and the difference in upside Stu and I are nitpicking is minimal.

    Side note: It would be hard to trade either of them for Realmuto’s last two arb years, TBH.

  32. 39—Riley has more power and has worked on his defense to the point where he now may actually be above average at third.

    If you’d said India’s floor is higher, I wouldn’t have argued — he’s the much safer prospect — but Riley’s ceiling (UPSIDE) is higher.

  33. The top draft pick (in any sport) should go to the best team to miss the playoffs, and work down to the bottom. When you get to the bottom, the playoff teams can fall in line like they do now.

    If you are charging admission to a competition, there should be no semblance of appearance that there’s any incentive for a team not to compete every night.

    Of course, that’s what we get for thinking that the professional leagues are running a competition, and not just an entertainment endeavor.

  34. Buster’s Bold Prediction:

  35. @34

    Trouble with the Curve is one that I think is being underrated. I expected it to do better.

  36. @ 34, @ 50,

    But, it is competing against Major League. “Major League” is an absolutely non pc laughfest from beginning to end.

    This very blog used several of its “tag lines.” Most notably, “Is not good to mess with little Jobu” as the basis to make Rafael Soriano “Jobu.”

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