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Welcome to Player Affinity's Sports Movie Madness! We figured that if March is the month of tournaments, PA should be no exception and what better way to start our first annual polling tournament than with the best sports movies of all time? Over the course of the next couple weeks, you will have the chance to vote for your favorite sports movies out of a field of 64. It starts now with our list of best baseball movies.
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 eight baseball films we deemed most worthy of our tournament. There are four matchups based on these seedings and your job is to pick which movie you deem worthy of winning each matchup. Simply enter a comment by Saturday at 11:59 pm with the four movies you are picking to move on (once again, not any four movies, but one of the two movie going up against each other, so no voting for Bull Durham and The Bad News Bears, only one or the other) and your votes count! Each region will have three rounds and then the winner of each sport region will face off against the other sports until we have a winner!
Baseball, America's pastime, has delivered some of the finest sports movies and so the field of eight is impressive, so expect some upsets. There's a good variety of comedy, drama, romance, kids movies and most of all, lots of films with memorable quotes. Here are our eight films according to seed. Take a look at the matchups, read through them and carefully pick your winners!
1 Bull Durham
2 Field of Dreams
3 The Sandlot
4 The Natural
5 Major League
6 A League of Their Own
7 The Rookie
8 The Bad News Bears (1976)
1 Bull Durham vs. 8 The Bad
News Bears (1976)
If you speak the language of baseball even in the slightest, Bull Durham is an instant classic in many ways. Kevin Costner stars as Crash Davis, a “seasoned” minor league catcher who’s brought in by the owner of the Durham Bulls, a sex-crazed southerner played by Susan Sarandon, to mentor her hot pitching prospect (Tim Robbins), who is described as having a “million-dollar arm and a five-cent head.” There are some memorable scenes with great humorous baseball talk and also more than a dash of romance. Most significantly, Bull Durham humorously explores the sport of baseball from the perspective of those who have been let down or had their dreams crushed by the beloved pastime.
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.
4 The Natural vs. 5 Major League
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.
One of the all-time greatest sports comedies, Major League built on a familiar story of incompetent players with unorthodox and un-athletic tendencies who find a stroke of magic while giving us a good laugh. When the Cleveland Indians’ owner dies, the heiress makes plans to move the team to Miami, except she’ll need to have record-low attendance in order to make it happen. She brings together a team doomed to lose that includes a speedster incompetent with a bat in Willie Mayes Hayes (Wesley Snipes) and the errant pitcher Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) who as you might imagine, knows a thing or two about “winning.”
3 The Sandlot vs. 6 A League of Their Own
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.
The Sandlot may have “you’re killing me, Smalls!”, but what baseball quote is more immortal than “there’s no crying in baseball!” A League of Their Own, to this day, remains one of the few let alone few great sports movies centered on women. Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell and many more make up the unforgettable cast as well as the Rockford Peaches, part of the women’s baseball league founded during WWII to maintain public interest in the sport despite Major League Baseball’s most popular athletes going to war and leaving the sport in a hiatus. In addition to the humor, the film has a great retro nostalgia vibe to it and not just because of the period setting.
2 Field of Dreams vs. 7 The Rookie
Kevin Costner sure knows how to star in a great sports movie seeing as he leads the top two seeds in this region. 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 Iowan 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.”
Maybe the most recent great
baseball movie, The Rookie stars
Dennis Quaid as the oldest ever rookie baseball player, Jimmy Morris, who made
a brief appearance for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Morris, a Texas baseball
coach, promises he’ll try out for the majors if his kids deliver on the field.
As it turns out, he had a bit more motivation inside him than he realized. For
a film that doesn’t involve a pivotal “championship game” or any meteoric rise
to excellence, The Rookie serves as a
critical reminder that sports are about accomplishment and working hard to
achieve one’s goals, not simply winning (as Charlie Sheen would have us
Please be sure to vote for the other sports! Voting for round one ends at 11:59 pm on Saturday evening, that's March 19.