I hope you've enjoyed the relatively temperate weather lately, because summer's just around the corner. All the seasonal indicators are there: pitchers and catchers reported last week, spring games start this Friday, and they've begun the process of thawing Tim McCarver from cryo-stasis.
Baseball -- in case you haven't recovered from the stratospheric highs and abysmal lows of the Texans' 2012 season -- is almost back. For some this means a long, satisfying six months of steady improvement and a possible playoff run. For others (Astros fans, especially) it's a prolonged gauntlet of embarrassment and checking the calendar for NFL preseason.
But there's still time to get psyched for the national pastime, and there are plenty of great baseball movies out there to help you out. Just not any of the ones listed here.
Before you ask (someone always asks), the best baseball movies are as follows:
Bull Durham Eight Men Out The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg The Bad News Bears The Natural Catching Hell (ESPN's 30 for 30) The Rookie The Pride of the Yankees Sugar Bang the Drum Slowly
And now, the worst.
Summer Catch (2001) I have a theory that Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake have an agreement: he never brings up this movie, and she never asks any pointed questions about his relationship with Janet Jackson.
Counter-argument: wet Jessica Biel.
The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978) Sending your characters to another country is typically what happens when TV shows run out of ideas, or when movie screenwriters can't milk their "baseball team composed of juvenile delinquents and misfits" idea any more. Did any reviews describe TBNBGTJ as "worse than Nagasaki?" Because they totally should have.
Ed (1996) Matt LeBlanc's dismal attempt to leverage his Friends success on the big screen would lower the bar so much David Schwimmer couldn't possibly fail to clear it (Schwimmer still almost didn't).
The Babe Ruth Story (1948) The Babe, John Goodman's attempt to bring the Bambino to life, was sappy and boring, but pales in comnparison to this post-war hagiography, rushed into theaters to air before Ruth himself died, it's as unforgivably sappy as it is howlingly inaccurate. William Bendix looks like he'd never swung a bat in anger, and the ending is so shameless (a choir sings "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" as Ruth lays on his deathbed) you'll hate the Yankees even more than you do now. If that's possible.
Rookie of the Year (1993) Oh Daniel Stern, I expected so much more from the debut directorial effort of the guy from Celtic Pride. In all seriousness, of all the possibilities put forward in the film, I bought the idea of a 12-year old with a major league arm much more readily than I did the Cubs winning the World Series.
For Love of the Game (1999) Kevin Costner has starred in one great baseball movie (Bull Durham) one mediocre one (Field of Dreams) and this terrible effort, capping off a singularly disastrous decade for baseball films. Fun fact: Costner is a supporter of Arsenal Football Club, which is actually not fun at all.
The Scout (1994) I don't mind stretching credibility in a baseball movie (Roy Hobbs in The Natural, for instance, or Rachel Griffiths' accent in The Rookie). What I do mind is insulting my intelligence. As a Cardinals fan, I especially liked how Ozzie Smith enters Game 1 of the World Series having hit five home runs in the playoffs (which would be one short of his max total for any entire season), and is batting 9th.
Oh, and Brendan Fraser's character pitches a perfect game on 81 consecutive strikes and hits two home runs.
Little Big League (1994) I have a theory that the 1994 MLB strike was a reactions to all the shitty baseball movies released that decade (what, you thought it was about the salary cap?). And considering how much difficulty baseball owners and the Players Association have agreeing on anything, I find it hard to believe any of them would sign off on a 12-year old owner. Then again, the Twins have been owned by worse for quite a while.
Fever Pitch (2005) "The Curse of the Bambino is ovaaahh!" Nothing captured the insufferable gloating of thousands of chowder-slurping bandwagoneers like this otherwise monotonous romantic comedy. Worst of all, they let Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore onto the field at Busch Stadium after the Red Sox clinched the Series.
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Anyway, it's eight years later and the Sox suck again. All's right with the world.
Trouble with the Curve (2012) From my review: "The character of Gus is staring obsolescence in the face, his old-fashioned style inexorably going the way of the Dodo in the age of high-tech statistical analysis and "type A" talent men like the young gun in the Braves' organization trying to force Gus out. This character is played by Matthew Lillard. And as with every movie the actor appears in, the character's name might as well be "Matthew Lillard." I believe the term "Matthew Lillard" is also used in most reference works to denote any hyper-aggravating person whom you'd like to punch repeatedly in the kidneys."