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Welcome back to Player Affinity’s Sports Movie Madness! Last week, we held the opening round of voting to determine the best baseball movie ever. You voted, and we’ve got your results, as well as matchups for Round 2 as we near which baseball film will represent the sport against the best of the other sports.
But first, let’s recap for those of you new to the tournament. In the Sports Movie Madness tournament, there are seven sports and one mega-category of miscellaneous sports, so eight regions total. This is the Baseball Region. Below are the four baseball films remaining after the first round of voting. There are two matchups based on our original seedings, and your job is to pick which movie you deem worthy of winning each of the two matchups. Simply enter a comment by Sunday at 5:00 pm with the two movies you think should win each matchup (once again, not any two movies, but one of the two movies going up against each other, so no voting for The Sandlot and Field of Dreams, only one or the other) and your votes count! After a winner is determined in each region, those films will face off against one another until we have a winner!
8 The Bad News Bears (1976) def. 1 Bull Durham
2 Field of Dreams def.
7 The Rookie
3 The Sandlot def.
6 A League of Their Own
4 The Natural def.
5 Major League
Last week, the number one seed went down as Kevin Costner got votes for Field of Dreams, but not enough for Bull Durham. The lovable rascals and their misfit coach in the original The Bad News Bears took the upset five votes to four and will face Robert Redford’s big sports film, The Natural, which won six votes to three as did the other winners, The Sandlot and Field of Dreams. So believe it or not, no landslide victories, which means anyone can win.
8 The Bad News Bears (1976) vs. 4 The Natural
Say what you will about the remake, but the original The Bad News Bears is the godfather of ragtag youth sports movies. Full of foul-mouthed humor and line-crossing jokes that show adults and kids not exactly demonstrating the values instilled in today’s youth sports, “Bears” wins lots of laughs. Walter Matthau stars as drunkard coach Morris Buttermaker and child star Jackie Earle Haley plays the sharp-tongued bad boy of the group. If nothing else, “Bears” was unafraid to show the ugly truth in addition to the heart-warming elements of youth sports movies.
A terrific sports redemption story, The Natural stars Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs, a 35-year-old baseball player in the 1930s who as a young prospect was shot by a crazed woman, an incident that nearly ended his career. Hobbs comes seemingly out of the woodwork and emerges as a star. Against all odds and clichés as it were, Hobbs saves his career and his team, the New York Knights. The Natural is a terrific sports movie that laid the groundwork for one of the other films on this list, The Rookie. Like the based-on-a-true-story that film was, The Natural comes from a novel by Bernard Malamut that was based loosely on the story of Phillies first baseman Eddie Waitkus who helped lead the Phillies to a pennant in 1950, one year after nearly getting shot to death by a fan.
3 The Sandlot vs. 2 Field of Dreams
The Sandlot captured the imaginations of kids in the ‘90s while playing to the nostalgia of all their parents, a combination that makes the film hard to beat. In Los Angeles, 1962, Scotty Smalls moves into a new neighborhood with his mom and stepfather. He’s soon taken in by Rodriguez and the neighborhood pick-up baseball crew and welcomed in despite not knowing much about the game. The fence that the boys play up against contains “The Beast,” a huge dog that eats up all their baseballs. Smalls donates his stepfather’s ball to the cause and they lose that too, only it was signed by the great Babe Ruth, so they have to get it back or Smalls will indeed be killed. Full of child-like prankster jokes and with a dilemma that would make any baseball fan cringe, The Sandlot is a larger-than-life story about an era when neighborhood sports were simply life.
Kevin Costner sure knows how to star in a great sports movie. Field of Dreams, if nothing else, tugs at the heartstrings. A non-traditional baseball film in that little sports action occurs and its unrealistic, it still gets you weepy. It also continues to prove great baseball films deliver great quotes: “if you build it, he will come.” Costner plays Ray, an Iowa farmer who interprets these strange voices whispering those words to mean he should build a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield and when he does, the infamous Chicago “Black Sox” show up. Ray then tries to make sense of it all and the results are touching, reminding us the meaning of “America’s pastime.”
Please be sure to vote for the other sports! Voting for round one ends at 5 pm on Sunday evening, that’s March 27.