The Ghost Goes To the Movies Reloaded

movieIt’s that time of year again.

I’m not talking about Spring Training. I’m talking about movies. Baseball movies.

Just about every year, I prep for the upcoming regular season by binge-watching a bunch of baseball movies. I haven’t done it the last couple of years, though. Not sure why. But I’m planning on doing it this year.

I wrote a version of this a couple of years ago on the old blog, and I’m bringing it back. I’ve added a few and recategorized a few more.

I also figured this would be a good break from all the injury talk surrounding the Padres lately. I could be wrong.

The following is a list of baseball movies that I have seen (with one exception). I’ve ranked them in categories ranging from the worst to the best.

The O-Dawgs: Worst Baseball Movies

If you ever see any of these in my DVD/BluRay collection, you have my permission to tar and feather me.

The Fan

Rejected title:  “How I Would Stalk and Kill Barry Bonds.”  They should have gone with that title. Then again, more people probably would have seen it. And this movie doesn’t deserve the extra tickets sold.

Major League II

If you saw Major League, you’ve seen this one, even if you’ve never seen this one. I remember sitting in the theater thinking, Did they just change a couple of character names in the script from the first movie and just slap a ‘II’ on this?

Recycled jokes rarely ever work. And this movie proved it.

For the Love of the Game

I’m reluctant to even classify this as a baseball movie. It’s pretty much the exact opposite of Bull Durham.

Trouble With The Curve

trouble_with_the_curve

I’ll be honest here, I never saw this one. I heard it was so bad that I avoided seeing it. Which is too bad, because I like Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams.

Major League: Back to the Minors

If you’ve seen Major League, you’ve seen this one. But now half of them are back and in the minor leagues! Huzzah!

Mr 3000

I had such high hopes for this one. I love me some Bernie Mac (RIP). To say I was sorely disappointed is an understatement.

*****

The Venables: Okay Baseball Movies

These are all movies I’m not embarrassed to say that I’ve seen, but I’m not planning on buying the DVD’s anytime soon.

Little Big League

I’ve never been a fan of this one, but I can see how some people like it. And Hollywood released a movie with a similarly ridiculous premise that people seem to love just a year before:

Rookie of the Year

And, speaking of ridiculous premises…

Angels in the Outfield

I half-expected Danny Glover to blurt out a “I’m gettin’ too old for this s**t,” when they all start flapping their arms at the end.

Strategic Air Command

strategic_air_command

Okay, this really isn’t a baseball movie. Jimmy Stewart plays a former World War II pilot who just so happens to be a third baseman for the St Louis Cardinals. He gets roped into the newly created US Air Force to help develop the Strategic Air Command. He spends most of the movie flying B-36s and counting down his return to the baseball field, only to realize that flying is his first love.

Whenever it’s on TCM I get sucked in. And, for some strange reason, I’m constantly getting it confused with the next movie.

The Stratton Story

stratton_story

Well, no wonder! It’s nearly the same cast!

Stewart plays Chicago White Sox pitcher Monty Stratton, who in the 1930s compiled a 37-19 won-loss record in three seasons. After he became the winningest right-hander in the American League, his major league career ended prematurely when a hunting accident in 1938 forced doctors to amputate his right leg. With a wooden leg and his wife Ethel’s (Allyson) help, Stratton made a successful minor league comeback in 1946, continuing to pitch in the minor leagues throughout the rest of the 1940s and into the 1950s.

*****

The Cashners: Good Baseball Movies

This next category are titles I wouldn’t mind having on DVD or BluRay, but haven’t yet bought.

Cobb

Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Wuhl both give excellent performances. Ty Cobb was one hell of a ballplayer, and one hell of a racist idiot.

Bingo Long’s Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings

It’s got James Earl Jones, Richard Pryor, and Lando Calrissian — I mean, Billy Dee Williams! And they’re all playing baseball! What’s not to love?

The Bad News Bears

The original with Walter Matthau. Avoid the Billy Bob Thornton remake at all costs. Also, avoid all the sequels to this one.

The Pride of the Yankees

Yes, it’s the Yankees. Yes, Gary Cooper was so bad at playing baseball that they had to use camera tricks to make him look good. So what? It’s a great story, even if most of it was completely untrue.

42

forty_two_ver2

I was disappointed by this movie. Not enough baseball scenes. Too much Branch Rickey. At least the performance by Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson was pretty good.

Moneyball

moneyball-movie-poster-2011-1010711003

After reading the book, I thought this movie would be horrible. I thought there was no way they could make a movie out of this story. Imagine my surprise.

*****

The Gwynns: All-Star Baseball Movies

These are all ones I actually own and usually make my movie marathon out of. I dare you to find even one that you wouldn’t watch and enjoy.

Brewster’s Millions

brewsters-millions-movie-poster-1985-1020232968

A remake of a surprising number of old films. Richard Pryor plays Monty Brewster, a minor league pitcher who discovers he has a long-lost relative that leaves him $300 million, with one catch. He has to spend $30 million in 30 days without having anything to show for it.

A Soldier’s Story

Before you start yelling,”Hey! That’s not a baseball movie! It’s a war movie,” I give you the following: It’s not a war movie.  It’s a movie based on a play about race relations on a segregated Army base during World War II. And it centers around — you guessed it — an all-black Army baseball team. And also stars a very young Denzel Washington to top it off.

If you haven’t seen it, rent it immediately. You’ll thank me for it.

The Rookie

Not to be confused with Clint Eastwood’s The Rookie. Although that one also starred Charlie Sheen, who seemed to be in just about every baseball movie made in the late 80’s/early 90’s. Including…

Eight Men Out

Watch this right after watching Field of Dreams. The two really compliment each other.

61*

I met Thomas Jane at Comic Con in 2004 while he was promoting The Punisher and complimented him on his performance as Mickey Mantle. He seemed both shocked and honored that someone liked his performance. Then again, maybe he was just shocked that I didn’t bring up how much I thought Deep Blue Sea sucked.

Mr Baseball

Whenever I hear this line, “I led this team in ninth-inning doubles in the month of August,” why do I always picture Geoff Young writing his portion of Baseball Prospectus?

A League of Their Own

‘Nuff said.

The Sandlot

The Natural

I read the book back in high school. Holy crap, did they change this story for the movie. One of the rare times I thought the movie was better. Although, like Gary Cooper in Pride of the Yankees, Robert Redford was a horrible ballplayer in real life

Major League

Bull Durham

Field of Dreams

Don’t like my selections? Think I should add a couple? Just want to give me s**t? Leave it in the comments.

*****

I write something for Padres Public just about every week on Wednesday morning. Follow me on Twitter, as most people can barely stand me in 140-character bursts, let alone after 1200+ words.

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  • Dustin

    Wow, I watched “The Fan” way back when I was maybe 12 or 13 years old, and have never been able to remember the name of it, despite any amount of Googling. Until now. It was somewhat disturbing, that I can remember.

    Great list!

    • Really? You’re not very good at the Googling, apparently.

      • Dustin

        No, I’m a decent Googler, I promise. I honestly couldn’t even remember that those guys were in it. And I sort of forgot the entire plot, remembering only a few scenes and such. One of those things, I guess, where I kind of forgot all about it and then, years down the road, tried to figure out what that strange baseball-ish movie I watched years ago was called. I didn’t have much to go on.

      • Fair enough. I wish I could forget who was in that movie…
        http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0472658/

  • ItsDis

    Rookie of the Year and Little Big League are at least Cashners.

    • When you make your list you can put them in wherever you want. For me, they just made it into the Venables.

  • VM David

    Important facts about the awful “Mr. 3000”
    1: Dick Enberg and Dickisms have cameos. “Infield tight, hitter’s delight” is a line in this movie.
    2: It stole its ending from “Mr. Baseball”!

  • GoldenBoy

    This list is pretty spot on. Good job! On a Padres note, where would you place The Kid From Left Field?

    • I have yet to see it, believe it or not.

  • Geoff Young

    I’m such a sucker for the last three on your list. I’ll never get tired of those. I liked “A League of Their Own” a lot, too, although it’s been a while since I’ve seen it.

    Having read “The Natural” as a kid, I can’t bring myself to watch the movie. I’m sure it’s wonderful, but an ending that undermines the entire point of the story is too much for me to handle.

    • If you read the book first, you’ll likely have the exact opposite opinion as mine. I read the book a few years after seeing the movie.

  • SDPads1

    I’ve always thought 61 and The Rookie were a tad overrated. They are solid movies for sure, just not upper echelon.

    • I probably should have made the last 3 “The Gwynns: Hall of Famers,” because every baseball fan should own those. Then I could have made those leftover from that “The RJs: Cy Young Winners.” Next time.

  • I thought Trouble with the Curve was gonna be good – I mean Clint Eastwood, right!? Not good at all. Laughably crappy. In fact it’s worth seeing just to laugh at the craziness. The ending is hilarious. Everyone should go watch this film.

    I’ll have to put Cobb in the queue.

  • DaveRiceSD

    Random useless thoughts as I read this list…
    1. Trouble With the Curve shouldn’t even qualify as a baseball movie any more than Anchorman qualifies as a movie about journalism.
    2. Little Big League/ROTY – one of these was about a kid who came out of a long-arm cast throwing strikes from center field, I forget which. I watched this movie repeatedly while in a long-arm cast after a BMX racing mishap as a kid, and was severely disappointed when my own cast came off.
    3. Agreed on the original Matthau Bad News Bears being the only watchable one, and that 42 was too much politics, too little play.
    4. Moneyball the movie does not equal Moneyball the book. The book would have sucked as a movie, and vice versa.
    5. Agree on all the Gwynn-standard movies I’ve seen, though I’m actually surprised there’s someone else that appreciates Mr. Baseball as much as I do…

    • Mr Baseball is awesome. It’s full of one-liners.
      “Got any naked pictures of your wife? Wanna see some?”