Following tonight’s all or nothing series finale between the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays, fans are going to have to go two days without baseball. The ALCS isn’t scheduled to begin until Friday and the NLCS won’t follow until a day later.
Don’t get your stirrups in too much of a twist.
What better time is there to run out to a video store, do your part to revive a dying industry and rent a movie that will make three hours of Derek Jeter’s raised hand, calling for time from the batter’s box, seem breathtaking?
Without further ado, I give you the worst baseball movies of all time.
Fever Pitch (2005)
How to make a grown man vomit in less than ten words: Romantic comedy. Drew Barrymore. Jimmy Fallon. Boston Red Sox.
Real Life Takeaway: Thank god the Red Sox are aging more rapidly than the painting in Dick Clark’s attic and we won’t have to suffer through the schmaltzy celebration of another Boston World Series in some time.
The Slugger’s Wife (1985)
Not even Randy Quaid playing a character named Moose Granger can save this disasterpiece from writer Neil Simon and director Hal Ashby. There isn’t a single element of this story that hits a right note as pipe cleaner armed Michael O’Keefe, who looks more comfortable swatting flies than home runs, pursues the home run record while under the spell of Rebecca De Mornay.
When she breaks things off, his game goes with her. Original. Then, she comes back and he beats Roger Maris’ record. Even more original. And then, just in case you had any semblance of care remaining for the dull, cardboard characters, the movie pisses all over it by ending the flick with a sudden ambivalence surrounding the couple’s future together.
Oh yeah, and De Mornay’s character is some kind of country music singer.
Real Life Takeaway: Maybe all Jeff Franceour needs is a good woman. Who sings country.
The Babe (1992)
John Goodman’s on-going search for really, really fat roles reached its zenith in the early nineties when he played Babe Ruth in a biopic that took more liberties with the truth than Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens combined. Despite the poetic licence, the movie was still exhaustingly boring.
Where King Ralph might have suffered the indignity of having viewers fall asleep, The Babe would be better off if moviegoers were to never wake up.
Real Life Takeaway: Anthony Andersen could land the lead in the Ryan Howard biopic.
The Comrades Of Summer (1992)
Can you imagine the disappointment you’d go through after writing a screenplay that finally gets greenlit about the manager of the Seattle Mariners getting fired and ending up as the manager of the Soviet Union’s national baseball team, only for the collapse of Communism to render your film almost wholly irrelevant?
I imagine it would be somewhat similar to Joe Mantegna’s when he first heard his agent tell him that he’ll be portraying a character named Sparky Smith who manages a fictional national baseball team in a TV movie.
Real Life Takeaway: Victor Cole would never have made it to the Majors if it wasn’t for Sparky Smith’s influence.
The KGB or Mantegna’s current talent agency must have this trailer under lock and key because it’s nowhere to be found.
Major League: Back To The Minors (1998)
Of all the crimes against moviegoers that Major League: Back To The Minors perpetrates, the most glaring is the absolute decimation of a once funny franchise for the sake of audience recognition and more dollars. This film has just about as much to do with the first Major League movie as Shakespeare In Love.
Its unfunny, convoluted plot is only made worse by the random sightings of actors from the first Major League, who appear onscreen as connectors to the brand and afterthoughts to the actual storyline.
Congratulations Hollywood, you really made a massacre of this one.
Real Life Takeaway: Matt Walbeck should’ve challenged the Pirates to a baseball game with his Double A team in order to save his job.
Bad News Bears Go To Japan (1978)
A cultural divide hasn’t been handled this insensitively since D.W. Griffith’s Birth Of A Nation. The only thing this movie was missing was a clumsy Japanese waiter repeatedly saying, “Me so sorry.”
As the title suggests, the Bad News Bears go to Japan and get into every bit of mischief that you could possibly think up while boozehounding with Tony Curtis and Regis Philbin in the mid-seventies and coming up with ways to cash in on an already downward hurtling franchise.
Curtis and Philbin both star (and I use the term loosely) in a movie that is realistic, only in that it’s every bit as memorable as an average Little League baseball game in which you have no rooting interest in any of the kids.
Real Life Takeaway: There is nothing to be gained through exhibition games with Japanese teams.
Rookie Of The Year (1993)
The premise is ridiculous enough: a boy breaks his arm, doctors over tighten his tendons and so now he can throw blisteringly fast pitches. The Chicago Cubs discover him. He befriends Gary Busey and pitches the Cubs to a National League East title.
Putting aside the lack of sense any of that makes, this movie did give the term “stacked” credibility as a means of describing a girl.
Real Life Takeaway: Stephen Strasburg should come back better than ever, but he’ll need a grizzle vet to teach him about the merits of Salisbury steak.
The Fan (1996)
Robert De Niro plays the modern day equivalent of a San Francisco Giants blogger.
Wesley Snipes plays the modern day equivalent of Wesley Snipes as a baseball player.
One day, De Niro, who is jobless but can somehow afford baseball tickets, hotel rooms and access to other elite locales, kidnaps Snipes’ son and tells the slugger that if he doesn’t hit a home run he’ll kill his kid.
Snipes tries to hit a dinger, but when the ball doesn’t go over the fence, he has to stretch a single into an inside the park home run. He makes it all the way around and manages to avoid the tag at the plate, but is called out by the umpire who is actually . . . wait for it . . . De Niro in the most inexplicable moment in cinematic history since Un Chien Andalou.
In case the moment wasn’t rich enough with clichés, the game was being played during a thunderstorm.
Real Life Takeaway: With video replay, that call at the plate would never have been in question and Snipes’ son would’ve been a-o-k.
Matt LeBlanc plays Jack “Deuce” Cooper, a talented baseball pitcher whose nickname is slang for excrement. He befriends another talented primate who also happens to be slightly smarter than dog deuce, and they proceed to push the limits of a PG rating through cursing, obscene gestures and befriending a little girl whose familiarity with her sexuality never stops being disturbing.
They also play together on a baseball team at some point.
Real Life Takeaway: Just imagine what A.J. Burnett could do with a teammate who understood him.
Battlefield Baseball (2003)
There are a number of different strategies you can employ if you’re managing a baseball team. We’ve all heard of station-to-station and small ball, but in Japanese high school baseball, the most difficult strategy to overcome is “fighting baseball.”
At least this is the premise that justifies an unholy combination of all the clichés from sports, horror and action movies, all packed into 87 minutes of your life that you will never, ever be able to get back.
While most of the films listed here are as forgettable as a peanut butter sandwich, Battlefied Baseball burrows its awfulness into your brain and comes out at while you sleep as the impetus for nightmares involving poisonous bats, getting hit so hard your muscle falls off and tons and tons of machine gun carnage.
Real Life Takeaway: Leave analyzing high school baseball players to Keith Law.