By Brian Cullen
America has well-documented love affairs with a number of nouns, like baseball, cinema. rigging internet votes, things that happened in the 1980s, Jennifer Lawrence and playful alcoholism. But if we’re going to be more specific, let’s focus on just the two: baseball and cinema. Yes, both have the tendency to remind us of yesteryear. And perhaps most notably, Michael Jordan isn’t good at either of them. But, as with all things American, when we find two things we realllllly like, the obvious answer is: put them together and see what happens (see: fluffernutters or Jell-O wrestling). And that, my friends, is why baseball movies are some of the finest movies out there.
We’re big fans of good ol’ baseball films. The following are our very favorites. HOWEVER — and this is important — remember that if you don’t see one of your favorites on this list, that these are merely our opinion. This reflects our personal feelings about these movies, as well as the fact that we’ve never seen The Natural, Bull Durham, Major League or the Bad News Bears. So get your empty cans ready for chuckin’. Here we go!
Albeit a recent entry, Moneyball is able to pull off two very neat tricks: it turns a book that’s more data and statistics than fiction into an interesting narrative, and it makes Jonah Hill infinitely more likeable. The story, for those who don’t know, revolves around a romanticized version of Billy Beane, a former once-promising ballplayer with a mediocre career, who, as manager of the Oakland A’s, makes an incredibly impressive run with a laughably small team budget. Even though you know how the season will play out (the movie is based on true events), it still manages to hit you right in the feels. The only downside to this movie? The song played at the end will stick to your brain like some kind of Metroid.
4. A League of Their Own
There are at least a few of you out there scoffing and saying “why, ladies playing baseball? That will never do!” presumably while you try to get your Gene Krupa records to work again. For those of you having this reaction, just remember a couple things: 1) stop it, and 2) when’s the last time you saw a movie so good that it made both Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna not only bearable, but — dare we say — enjoyable? It’s a thoroughly fun movie featuring an eminently likable Geena Davis as well as Tom Hanks in one of his funniest performances (his dugout rant is still a favorite moment of ours).
3. For Love of the Game
The premise sounds like a crappy country song, but dagnabbit, how can we resist? It’s Kevin Costner in a baseball movie trying to pitch a perfect game. If you’ve never seen it, you can probably already figure out the ending. But it’s still a guilty pleasure to watch. And while we’re not huge fans of the romantic storyline underneath, you gotta figure there has to be some B-story to go along with the baseball scenes. All in all, it’s a fun baseball movie with just the right amount of cheese.
2. Field of Dreams
You knew this was coming. Field of Dreams shouldn’t be as thoroughly enjoyable as it is. Again, it stars Kevin Costner playing against a wonky premise — an Iowa farmer dreams of magic ghost baseball players, so he eviscerates his only means of income. But it works. Find someone who doesn’t get shivers during James Earl Jones’s speech about baseball. Find someone who isn’t heartbroken about Moonlight Graham’s sacrifice. Find someone who doesn’t choke up when Kevin Costner asks his dad to have a catch. And if you find that person? They’re either scarily cynical or a Twilight fan.
1. The Sandlot
This might be a dark-horse candidate, but bear with us: if the basic argument is that baseball is important not only to American history but to the very fabric of American culture, how could The Sandlot not be number one? Not everyone can make it to the pros. Not everyone can be a Benny “the Jet” Rodriguez. But everyone can be a Squints (except for his dating Wendy Peffercorn). Everyone can be a Scotty Smalls. If the rest of these movies remind us of a thing that we watched, The Sandlot reminds many of us of a thing that we lived. Not only has it aged well, but it’s still damn funny too.
So there you have it. Those are our five favorite baseball movies. I’ll keep the comments section warm for those of you ready to take us to task over leaving off Major League.