Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
Variety has a wonderful new issue out celebrating 50 years of the Dodgers being in L.A. Our good pal Jon Weisman has his talented finger prints all over this one. I contributed two pieces to the issue--one, my picks for the ten best baseball movies of them all, another, a sidebar on ten memorable baseball scenes in non-baseball movies. Let me know which baseball flicks you think were robbed. Also, give me some more examples of good baseball scenes in non-baseball movies. There are many more of them than decent baseball films. I didn't even mention the Mantle-Maris scene in that old Doris Day movie, or the grenade-thrower from "Under Fire" who loved Dennis "El Presidente" Martinez. Or the softball game in "Gung Ho." Or...
I think I'd replace League of Their Own, which I hated, with one of those three.
We have softball games and marching bands. They work at a place where you have to wear camouflage or you might get shot!
Also, yeah the Sandlot absolutely has to be in the top 10 baseball movies of all time. Since it's the only one I haven't seen, I'd have to bump Long Gone .
On a more blasphemous note, I'd put Field of Dreams on the bottom of the top 10. Just never did anything for me. Give me Bull Durham any day. In fact:
1. Bull Durham
2. The Sandlot
3. A League of Their Own
4. Eight Men Out
5. The Natural
6. Bad News Bears
7. Major League
8. Bang the Drum Slowly
9. Pride of the Yankees
10. Field of Dreams
I'm not a big movie buff, and I can probably can't the movies that have completely satisfied me on both hands. The Rookie and A League of Their Own are both on the short list. (11 So, by the way, is A Few Good Men, though it's best "baseball scene" was "He does think better with his bat.")
I found The Natural, with its endless slo-mos and blatant lightness-darkness imagery, excrutiatingly painful to watch.
KAFFEE: I need my bat. I think better with my bat. Where's my bat?
JO: I put it in the closet.
KAFFEE: You put it in the closet.
JO: I was tripping over it.
KAFFEE: Don't ever put a bat in a closet.
KAFFEE: Stay here, I'm going to the office for a while.
SAM: Boy, he does think better with that bat.
I love that moview. BTW, sometimes when I'm having trouble thinking...I'll go get my bat (it doesn't usually help and then I just get more frustrated...and now I have a bat in my hands). I always wondered if Joe Torre started holding Jeter's bat after he saw A Few Good Men... ;-)
I love the movie, but I remember Alex saying he didn't care for it.
Basically, the story is about a bunch of girls who form a baseball team with the intention of beating the boys in a tournament. Their ace is a young girl with a major league fastball which was taught to her by her late father. He pitched in the pros, a rising star that was caught in a game fixing scandal, and banned from the league.
Has all the sports cliches you would expect.
Worst baseball movie: Fever Pitch. For so many reasons.
Keanu Reeves and William Hurt are two stoner killers for hire stalling for time as they don't really want to go through with the hit:
Marlon: [Marlon holds bat up to Joey, ready to hit him]
Harlan James: Well, look at that.
Marlon: A Reggie Jackson signed bat.
Marlon: Whoa, man. Awesome.
Marlon, Harlan James: Reggie, Reggie, REGGIE, REGGIE!
Harlan James: How many homers has he hit, like, lifetime.
Marlon: Whoa man, he's the best.
Harlan James: Wow, man.
Marlon: I don't know
Marlon: A bunch.
Downstairs, the confused family thinks they are chanting for "Reggae" music.
Extra points for its Reggie-ness.
BTW, the reason that Charlie Sheen looked so much like a pitcher was because he pitched in high school. According to articles he was hitting upper 80's on his fastball.
One of Spike's best.
Features very poignant, running use of Yanks broadcasts, Scooterman et. al. to set mood and time.
Brings me back.
Poor bastard, has to haul ass off the mound and head for the hills.
That's a great fucking movie.
The vastly underrated Bad News Bears in Breaking Training deserves to be on the list. It's the Beneath the Planet of the Apes of baseball movies. Where else could you see a technicolor collision of On the Road, Jimmy Baio, and Enos Cabell?
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest would surely also make a list of best basketball scenes in non-basketball movies.
Another tremendous baseball scene in a non-baseball movie comes in Kurosawa's "Stray Dog." The cops are chasing a murderer and they attempt to corner him in the stands at a Yomiuri Giants game. It's a long 20- or 30-minute sequence, tension-filled. Kurosawa filmed the whole thing during an actual Giants game, and sent his actors amongst the real crowd to be filmed, Medium Cool-style. (Though of course this was before Medium Cool.)
Still, what amused me was a comment about why Arod and baseball players ranked so low: "Baseball is largely hand-eye coordination and some power" said Mr. Coyle. "It doesn't accomplish much endurance".
I wonder if Mr. Coyle has every played 162 baseball games in 175 or so days. That sounds like a pretty nice endurance accomplishment to me.
Floyd: I'd love a hot dog.
Curnow: Astrodome. Good hot dogs there.
Floyd: Astrodome? You can't grow a good hot dog indoors. Yankee Stadium. September. The hot dogs have been boiling since opening day in April. Now that's a hot dog.
Curnow: The yellow mustard or the darker kind?
Floyd: The darker kind.
Curnow: Very important.
Steve Martin teaches the kids about the "bumper" during the national anthem.
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