Wednesday night’s thrilling, historic, OMG World Series Game 7 not only brought to an end the Cubs’ 108-year losing streak, it, of course, also brought to an end the baseball season. And so once again, baseball fans are forced to endure the cold, dark days of winter, counting down to April 2, Opening Day for the 2017 Major League Baseball season.
To help fill at least a few of those 149 days, we at GeekDad compiled a list of our favorite baseball movies. One of the very few good things about the off-season is that you can watch these now without having to miss an actual game.
A ragtag team of unlikely athletes come together and undermine the owner’s quest to move the team out of Cleveland. Of course, this team plays against all odds and wins it all to save the team and preserve the racial caricature. It recalls the old days of the empty seats at the Municipal Stadium, touches upon the fandom and loyalty of this town. It’s as much a part of Indians history as our old teams are–hence the joy of seeing Charlie “Wild Thing” Sheen in the stands. And they actually won. Did I mention that? (Nivi Engineer)
Bull Durham is the best baseball movie ever. The End. Need more proof? First, we have all the classic quotes, even if you put aside the “I believe in” speech.
Annie Savoy: I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshiped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I learned that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn’t work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there’s no guilt in baseball, and it’s never boring.”
Add that to other quotes such as “you’ve gotta learn your cliches,” the classic conversation on the mound about what to get Jimmy for his wedding, the sheer love of the game from all the characters, and one of the sexiest romances ever between Annie and Crash, plus a terrific soundtrack, and it’s a perfect movie, period.
It’s fun, dammit. Or as Crash would say: “Relax, all right? Don’t try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls–it’s more democratic.”
It’s also feminist. See this exchange:
Millie: [Annie is fitting Millie in her wedding dress] Annie… do you think I deserve to wear white?
Annie Savoy: Honey, we all deserve to wear white. (Corrina Lawson)
Field of Dreams
Baseball is a game that teaches us about life, the saying goes. (Another says that baseball is a game about failure. I don’t want to think about the connection between those two sayings together too closely.) But I think the baseball movie that addresses our lives and the sometimes complicated relationships we have with others is Field of Dreams. The classic sports-fantasy film does more to simultaneously bring a smile to your face and a tear to your eye than any other movie that doesn’t have a dying pet or sick kid. Field of Dreams teaches you not to quit, encourages you to get up and “have a catch” with your dad, and understand that, sometimes, sacrifices must be made. Those are pretty good life lessons. (Dave Banks)
For Love of the Game
When we were discussing this list on the GeekDad Slack channel, Dave Banks pointed out that baseball movies very often aren’t about baseball. That’s definitely true about For Love of the Game. Here, Kevin Costner plays Billy Chapel, an aging pitcher for the Detroit Lions on the mound for what he knows will be the last time. The movie is structured around the game, as Chapel flashes back on his life and all of the decisions, good and bad, that led him to where he is that night, pitching the game of his life. While Field of Dreams is the better-known Costner baseball film, this is the one I’ll happily choose to watch over and over. (Rob Huddleston)
One of the many things I love about baseball is that it is perhaps the nerdiest of all sports. The wealth of statistics and data available for the game is absolutely astounding. In researching my other recent baseball post, I was able to look up detailed box scores for games played over a century ago and see stats and trivia on players long since in their graves. Moneyball follows the true story of Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, and shows how he used those stats and figures to transform the game and take a team with one of the lowest payrolls in the game and turn it into a championship franchise. Brad Pitt does a fine job as Beane, but it’s Johan Hill’s Oscar-nominated turn as Peter Brand–a fictionalized conglomeration of several real stats nerds who worked with Beane–that’s a true pleasure to watch. (Rob Huddleston)
Once you’ve worked your way through the movies listed above, you should also check out A League of Their Own, Million Dollar Arm, The Rookie, Sandlot, The Natural, Eight Men Out, and 61*.