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Prime 9: Baseball's Worst Movies

by: Brian F. Logush

With the arrival of the 2010 MLB season, we as baseball fans turn our attention to the alluring sights and sounds of the ballpark: pristine baseball cathedrals, ear-splitting cheers from every corner of the stadium, $9.50 Bud Lights... April, how I missed you.

There are however, certain aspects of the game that are not meant to be enjoyed. And I'm not talking about the arrogance coming out of The Bronx, the strut from Beantown, and that unavoidable odor wafting through Wrigelyville. I'm talking about Hollywood, and how they can make such amazing baseball films like The Natural and Eight Men Out, yet make flat-out awful movies. So I present to you the Pittsburgh Pirates of baseball films, my own Prime 9.

On the Bench: The Fan (1996), Summer Catch (2001)
- I leave these two movies off because the end of The Fan made up for the rest of what was really a mediocre movie. And Summer Catch? Well, anyone who knows me knows I'm a big Jessica Biel fan, so... anything with her can't be on a worst-of-all-time list. Can't happen.

9.) Mr. Baseball (1992)
- OK, Tom Selleck had one of the 80's greatest TV characters with Magnum PI, but not even he could save this movie from being craptastic. Selleck plays Jack Elliot, a washed-up Yankee who is traded in favor of Frank Thomas (in a sort-of cameo). Elliot immediately disobeys his new manager, thinking his own ways are superior because, hell, he's an American. And his only ally on the team, Max Dubois (Dennis Haysbert, making his first appearance on this list), starts avoiding him to, as Elliot's arrogance drives them apart. Elliot eventually learns to accept the Japanese way of baseball, and even bunts to drive in a run in a key game, instead of swinging away for a home-run record. He returns to America as a Detroit Tiger coach. Yawn.
- BEST MOMENT: Elliot punches out his own interpreter during a brawl

8.) The Babe (1992)
- John Goodman has been a part of some truly bad films (The Flintstones, anyone?) So you know when he says he was disappointed by his acting prowess in this film, it really means something. Goodman is Babe Ruth, and it follows the path of his baseball career, from reformatory school to Yankee hero. So Goodman plays an overweight guy who loves to drink, smoke and party. What a stretch. And the film includes his 1932 World Series called shot, which may not have even happened? If you make a biopic about the greatest hitter the game had ever seen, and be taken seriously, you can't just make crap up. History isn't supposed to be invented until Tarantino releases Inglorious Basterds.
- BEST MOMENT: Lou Gehrig being known as "Iron Man", not "Iron Horse"

7.) Hardball (2001)
- Keanu Reeves stars as compulsive gambler Conor O'Neil, who owes a sizeable debt to the Chicago mob. The only way to repay that debt? You guessed it...coach an inner-city baseball team. Really? So Neo, I mean Keanu, tries to draw out these kid's inner talent, all the while learning about himself from a pretty elementary school teacher (go figure). If you think you've seen this movie before, you have. It's called "Dangerous Minds: the Baseball Version". A white person goes into the projects and helps a bunch of troubled minorities and helps improve his own life. Wow. What a novel idea.
- BEST MOMENT: O'Neil standing on the bench waving his arms in the air, singing Notorious BIG's "Big Poppa"

6.) Bad News Bears (2005)
- I will give the producers credit for this: Billy Bob Thornton was probably the best choice to play Morris Buttermaker. It's like they told him: "Remember what you did in Bad Santa? Do that, but a little more toned down and with fewer f-bombs." But in all seriousness, this movie didn't need to be remade. Walter Matthau's version was a classic, and to see this remade is a really a tragedy in film. I mean, classic films like Psycho have to be left alone, right?
- BEST MOMENT: Buttermaker takes the team to Hooters after their first win, where they watch the "EZ Dance"

5.) Rookie of the Year (1993)
- So a kid breaks his arm, but because of tightened tendons in his arm, can move his arm really fast, giving unreal speed with a baseball. Thomas Ian Nicholas of American Pie fame is Henry Rozeng...Rowenbu...Henry R., the kid who becomes the reliever for the Chicago Cubs. He learns about pitching from aging starting pitcher Chet Steadman (the always reliable Gary Busey), and the team begins to win with Henry closing out games. But in the final game to determine the winner of the division, Henry slips on a ball and lands on his arm, returning it to normal. Uh-oh. But by using school-yard tricks no respectable major-leaguer would fall for, Henry then unleashes a devastatingly underhand beer-league softball pitch that manages to change directions no less than than four times, (in mid-air mind you) striking out the best hitter in the league. Henry goes back to playing Little League, where we see his ring: World Series Champions. Lemme get this straight: Having lost their ace pitcher (Steadman blew out his arm on his last pitch) and their closer, the team still manages to win the Pennant, and THEN the Series? I'm sorry, but I'm calling BS on this. No way. And the fact that it's the Cubs makes this scenario even more unrealistic.
BEST MOMENT: Daniel Stern as the wacky pitching coach: "Hot Ice! I heat up...the ice cubes! It's the best of both worlds!!"

4.) Angels in the Outfield (1993)
- This follows my rule of unnecessary remakes. The 1951 version was really, really good. This version was really, really bad. Basically a kid prays for the Angels to win so he and his father can live together and be a family again. But this movie is high on the list not because of the script, but the actors. Danny Glover, you're better than this. But this movie improves dramatically if he says "I'm too old for this [expletive]" after the kid tells him he sees angels. Tony Danza is in it. Quick, what was the last good Tony Danza film? Exactly. Then there are the before-they-were-famous actors as Angel players. Future Academy Award winner Adrein Brody plays Danny Hemmerling. Neil McDonough of Band of Brothers fame is goofball Whitt Bass. And...what the hell?...is that Matthew McConaughey as center-fielder Ben Williams? Impressive. All that talent, minus Danza and Wooderson, and the film still sucks.
BEST MOMENT: Bass messing around in the dugout and accidentally punching himself in the jaw

3.) Mr. 3000 (2004)
- I have never seen this movie. You know when you see a movie trailer and three thoughts pop into your head? 1.) Can't wait for that one! 2.) I'll wait til it comes out and rent it/download it illegally/buy a pirated copy for four bucks. 3.) I will pay money not to see it. With Mr. 3000, it was the third option for me. The late great Bernie Mac plays Stan Ross,a Milwaukee Brewer who retires immediately after recording hit #3000, despite his team being in the middle of a playoff race. I got that from wikipedia. I have not seen the movie, probably will never, and have no reason to see it. So I asked some friends of mine to describe it for me (in five words or less):

Matt S: Huge waste of my money
John B: Woefully disappointing and shameful
Ryan M: They played for third...THIRD!

Pretty much sums it up.
BEST MOMENT: I'm just guessing it was the closing credits

2.) Major League 2 (1994)
- I had a hard time deciding which Major League sequel to put on this list because I didn't want to use both. I give the nod to the first sequel, because there were so few good qualities. The third one was garbage as well, but at least it had St. Louis' own Scott Bakula. ML II suffered by being given a PG rating, had Omar Epps step-in as Willie Mays Hayes, and Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert, told you he'd be back) became a mellowed-out Buddhist. Now, I'm not saying Siddhartha Guatama can't hit a cutter, but that's a debate for another day. The Indians suck again, but they rally when Jake Taylor takes over as manager when Lou suffers a mild heart attack. They rekindle some of last season's magic, only this time they beat the White Sox to make it to the World Series.
BEST MOMENT (TIE): Any Bob Uecker scene ("Welcome back to major league baseball...sort of") and Taka Tanaka searching his dictionary to tell Cerrano he had no "marbles."

1.) Ed (1996)
- Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the worst baseball movie ever made. I don't know where to begin. Let's start with Matt LeBlanc. The man starred on FRIENDS. But with this, his failed spin-off and nothing else, the guy can't carry anything by himself. But he has some gut-busting dialogue. ex. 'Two fingers is a curve ball, right?' 'That's a peace sign, I think.' A riot. Oh yeah, there's also a chimp who plays baseball. I don't know what it is about monkeys that people think they make good movie partners, but my God do they try. First Clint Eastwood hung with one in a big rig in Every Which Way but Loose, then George Costanza tried to run a hotel with a meddlesome orangutan in Dunston Checks In, right? Thankfully, the primate pal cliche hasn't been used in Hollywood since. Probably because of this rubbish film. No wonder director Bill Couturie hasn't directed a single film since this disasterpiece. No one wants him, and I can't blame them.
BEST MOMENT: No question. Has to be the closing credits.

3 comments:

  1. Great list, these movies all have some common themes in that they are remakes, sequels, and or have actors like Keanu Reeves. Sorry though I know you said you haven't seen Mr. 3000, I would suggest it as it shouldn't be on the list. I found the movie to be fun, it is not ground breaking film making or anything but to me it is a good leisurely watch on a January Saturday to replace the game I love. In particular there is a great part where Bernie Mac starts humming and it takes his younger teammates a while to figure out what it is but it is the sound of the ice cream truck coming from when he was young, and then they all start humming their own ice cream songs. It is parts like this that really bring value to the movie, also the part where everything he owns when he is retired is named Mr. 3000 is pretty cute.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My childhood would not have been the same without Rookie of the Year and Angels in the Outfield. I watched those movies along with Little Big League more than any other movies growing up, except for Mighty Ducks, D2, and of course the greatest sports movie of all time, The Sandlot.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You left out The Scout?!

    ReplyDelete


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