Sports movies are made to capture what makes sports great: teamwork, dedication, perseverance and pride. With such intangibles to work with, there is no shortage of excellent sports movies. Granted, there are some bad ones, as anyone who has seen “Rocky V” or any of the “Major League” sequels can attest to.
Come to think of it, sequels are usually a bad idea in general. Hwever, I can’t wait for “Major League 4: Back to Little League.” I think Gary Coleman is replacing Wesley Snipes/Omar Epps. Charlie Sheen will be replaced by Richie Sambora. Such is life.
The good news? Corbin Bernsen is taking a break from daytime soaps to tackle the role of Roger Dorn.
After some contemplation, I wondered how hard it would be to come up with a “greatest sports movies of all-time list.” I chatted with a friend, and concluded that it is an impossible task, there are too many deserving contenders, so I decided to break it down by major sports, baseball is up first, enjoy.
1. “The Natural”
Sorry to all the “Bull Durham” fans, but this is my favorite baseball movie. Robert Redford is awesome as Roy Hobbs. The movie begins with Hobbs as a young boy with a lightning bolt for an arm.
Hobbs is derailed from baseball and resurfaces as an aging outfielder for the fictitious New York Knights, this time as a slugger with a bat he made as a kid. Everything about this movie is amazing; they capture the essence of baseball in the ’40s: the lighting, the stadiums, everything. Who can forget Hobbs blasting a home run into the lights and the ensuing sparks and theme song?
The baseball play is pretty good and Redford has excellent support from the likes of Glen Close and Robert Duvall.
2. “Bull Durham”
Maybe one of the funniest movies of all time. Certainly, a case could be made for this as No. 1, but I will take nostalgia over comedy. Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins are excellent as Crash Davis and Nuke LaLouche, respectively.
Davis is a veteran catcher, who has the dubious distinction of closing in the all-time minor league home run record. LaLouche is a brash pitcher who has big league talent, but a little league head.
The movie follows the minor league Durham Bulls and the struggles between Davis and LaLouche. Susan Sarandon plays the love interest of both, ending up with Costner on screen and Robbins in real life.
3. “Field of Dreams”
This was tough; I love “Major League,” but if it’s a choice between nostalgia and comedy, you know which way I’m swingin’.
Costner makes a repeat performance on the list as a displaced, baseball-loving, former hippie-turned-Iowa corn farmer Ray Kinsella. Ray is minding his own business in his field of maze when a voice whispers, “If you build it, he will come.”
Ray does what any former hippie would, chop down the better part of his crop to build a baseball field. Ray also kidnaps Terrance Mann, (actually J.D. Salinger in the book) played by James Earl Jones, for kicks. “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, the 1919 “Black Sox” and a slew of other baseball greats emerge from the corn to a play a pick-up game. The movie captures the wonder, passion and heritage of baseball.
4. “Major League”
This movie is hilarious, even if you know nothing about baseball. If you have not seen it, Netflix it, rent it, borrow it from a friend, whatever. The most astonishing thing is how so many C-actors (Sheen, Bernsen and Tom Beringer of “Sniper” fame) could make such a funny movie.
The movie chronicles a rag-tag bunch of “has-beens and never-will-be’s” who form the core of the Cleveland Indians. Picked by their owner, a former stripper, for their lack of ability, the scabs shock the baseball world and take the season down to the wire.
It appears art does imitate life, as Sheen plays womanizing felon Ricky Vaughn, while the New York Yankees serve as the villains of the film, what more could you ask for? The baseball is fast-paced and looks realistic. Plus, any movie that features Bob Uecker and Wesley Snipes together can’t be that bad.