erik lundegaard

Baseball posts

Saturday April 27, 2013

Ranking Baseball Movies with Uncle Vinny

Uncle Vinny is mostly a dilettante, but also a software tester, a chess enthusiast, an erstwhile Starcraft noob, a sometime tap dancer, a man who will talk your ear off about early Christian history and taxi deregulation, but not much of a fan of baseball movies. As per below. But he's still game. That's a great compliment in this life: someone who's game. Plus, girls, he knows how to fold a fitted sheet.

Vinny's Baseball Movie Rankings

1. Moneyball (2011)
2. Bull Durham (1988)
3. Field of Dreams (1989)
4. The Natural (1984)
5. Damn Yankees! (1958)
6. A League of Their Own (1992)
7. The Bad News Bears (1976)

Vinny's Comment

This is like asking Pope Francis to rank the nightclubs in San Francisco. I have little data and not much interest. But I will say that Moneyball was by far the most interesting baseball movie I ever did see, followed at a respectful distance by #2-#4, with the last two roiling around fighting it out in the gutter.

Your turn

Rank the Baseball Movies.

Moneyball with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill

Posted at 11:26 AM on Apr 27, 2013 in category Baseball
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Friday April 26, 2013

Ranking Baseball Movies with Jerry Grillo

Jerry Grillo is an editor at Georgia Trend magazine, a freelance writer, a husband and father and son and baseball fan and all-around mensch. His blog is “Notes from the Grillo Pad.” He is the creator and chronicler of “Joe on the Go,” an ongoing community-engagement project created by his wife, Jane, about their son. Here's Jerry's post on meeting Hank Aaron. He's been trying to get me to see “Long Gone,” his No. 1 pick, for a while now, but I can't do VHS anymore. I'll need to wait until the DVD. Or streaming. Netflix?

Jerry's Baseball Movie Rankings

1. Long Gone (1987)
2. Bull Durham (1988)
3. Ken Burns’ Baseball (1994)
4. The Natural (1984)
5. 61* (2001)
6. Eight Men Out (1988)
7. Moneyball (2011)
8. 42 (2013)
9. The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1998)
10. Field of Dreams (1989)
11. The Rookie (2002)
12. A League of Their Own (1992)
13. Major League (1989)
14. The Bad News Bears (1976)
15. For Love of the Game (1999)
16. Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)
17. The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
18. Sugar (2008)
19. Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story (2010)
20. The Perfect Game (2009)
21. Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings (1976)
22. Fear Strikes Out (1957)
23. Cobb (1994)
24. Damn Yankees! (1958)
25. The Final Season (2007)
26. Pastime (1990)
27. The Scout (1994)
28. Talent for the Game (1991)
29. Angels in the Outfield (1994)
30. Mr. 3000 (2004)
31. Fever Pitch (2005)
32. It Happens Every Spring (1949)
33. Bad News Bears (2005)
34. Little Big League (1994)
35. The Sandlot (1993)
36. Rookie of the Year (1993)
37. Calvin Marshall (2010)
38. The Pride of St. Louis (1952)
39. The Jackie Robinson Story (1950)
40. The Stratton Story (1948)
41. Mr. Baseball (1992)
42. The Babe (1992)
43. The Babe Ruth Story (1948)

Jerry's comments

My list gets really fuzzy after the first 15 or 20, a lot of also-rans. For example, I might actually enjoy watching “The Babe Ruth Story” for the unintentional humor factor (45-year-old William Bendix playing 19-year-old Babe Ruth always makes me laugh), and that might elevate it from last place, depending on mood. “Pride of the Yankees” gets a good billing here because I'm feeling nostalgic, and it was always my dad's favorite. Some of the also-rans I barely remember. Also, loved the “When It Was a Game” documentaries, but not sure where I'd rank those. I like this baseball invention better than the aluminum bat. Way better.

Your turn

Rank the Baseball Movies.

HBO's "Long Gone" with William Peterson and Virginia Madsen

The 1987 HBO movie, “Long Gone,” with William Peterson and Virginia Madsen, about players who never made it to the bigs, has never made it to DVD.

Posted at 06:31 AM on Apr 26, 2013 in category Baseball
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Thursday April 25, 2013

Ranking Baseball Movies with Josh Wilker

Josh Wilker is the proprieter of the Cardboard Gods website (“Voice of the Mathematically Eliminated”: best website tagline ever), in which he searches for meaning, both personal and historical, and often finds it, from his mostly 1970s baseball card collection. He's also the author of “Cardboard Gods: An American Tale,” one of the my favorite recent books, and a short, smart analysis of the movie “The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training,” part of the “Novel Approach to Cinema” series. His defense of the second, horrible “Bears” movie, his No. 1 pick below, is something close to a work of art.

Josh's Baseball Movie Rankings

1. The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training (1977)
2. The Bad News Bears (1976)
3. Sugar (2008)
4. The Natural (1984)
5. Ken Burns’ Baseball (1994)
6. Bull Durham (1988)
7. Major League (1989)
8. Eight Men Out (1988)
9. The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1998)
10. Field of Dreams (1989)
11. A League of Their Own (1992)
12. Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)
13. Fever Pitch (2005)
14. The Rookie (2002)
15. Fear Strikes Out (1957)
16. Bad News Bears (2005)
17. The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978)

Josh's Comment

Let them play.

Further comment via email

My #1 film is surely unique, but think about this--if all the full casts of all the movies (not counting documentaries) had to play a tournament, my film would coast to a championship (picture Kevin Costner trying to hit against JR Richard).

As for why “Breaking Training” is first on his list and “Go to Japan” last?

My memory of “Go to Japan” is pretty vague, but I remember it was the worst movie ever made. There was very little baseball, for one thing—it was mostly focused on a waxen Tony Curtis, who seemed to have very little connection whatsoever with the team. Tanner and Ogilvie were missing, as was “Breaking Training” catalyst Carmen Ronzonni, and Kelly was horribly neutered by a weak romantic subplot. I saw an interview with David Pollack (Rudi Stein) somewhere where he talks about how the first two movies were a blast to make, but the third movie was a joyless, pointless chore. It shows. 

Your turn

Rank the Baseball Movies.

The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training

Posted at 06:41 AM on Apr 25, 2013 in category Baseball
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Tuesday April 23, 2013

Rank the Baseball Movies!

Baseball fans! And movie fans! And fans of baseball movies!

As I promised yesterday, you can now rank your favorite and least-favorite baseball movies with our new interactive feature. Just several easy steps:

  1. Drag the movies you haven't seen into the box in the lower right.
  2. Drag your favorite movies into the first column and your least-favorite into the last column.
  3. Organize.
  4. Share.

Once you hit the “Share your rankings” button you can send them to me. Or you can simply cut-and-paste your list and share it with friends.

I'll probably post a few of the lists, as I did with the best-picture Oscar rankings, particularly if there's a good comment attached.

I've made several baseball-movie lists over the years (2004, 2011, 2013), but testing our interactive feature yesterday made me realize, yet again, some of the sad truths of baseball movies.

The greater the player, the worse the movie. At the bottom of my pile, you'll find these titles: The Babe Ruth Story (1948), The Babe (1992), Cobb (1994), The Jackie Robinson Story (1950). I.e., The greatest players to play the game. Apparently we make our worst movies about them. Which is the best baseball biopic about a great star? Probably Billy Crystal's “61*,” about Mantle and Maris and the 1961 season. “42,” mostly about the '47 season, is second. Stick to seasons, kids.

The best baseball movies are about losing: “Bull Durham,” “Moneyball,” “The Bad News Bears,” “Catching Hell,” “Sugar.” Read your Roger Angell: “You may glory in a team triumphant but you fall in love with a team in defeat.” It's a lesson Hollywood never seems to learn.

Don't incude the word “Mr.” in the title. Both “Mr. Baseball” (with Tom Selleck) and “Mr. 3000” (with Bernie Mac) are sad, obvious stories about egotistical assholes who learn the value of teammwork in middle age, and who, on the last day of the season, with self-aggrandizement on the line, sacrifice-bunt their team to victory. Spoiler alert.

Keep the kids away from the Majors. Movies about a kid coaching a big-league team (“Angels in the Outfield”), owning a big-league team (“Little Big League”) or playing for a big-league team (“Rookie of the Year”), are just godawful. Kids should be with kids (“The Sandlot”). Even better if you make them foul-mouthed (“The Bad News Bears” (1976)). Even better if you include Walter Matthau. And best? “Hey Yankees! You can take your apology and your trophy and shove it straight up your ass!” Tanner Boyle for Hall of Fame.

Finally...

Keep the Bad News Bears in Van Nuys, Calif. If you send them to Texas, or, worse, Japan, or even into 2005, you do so at your own risk. But if you have to go somewhere with them, make sure you take your Josh Wilker with you.

Now rank ball!

The Bad News Bears team picture, North Valley League, 1976

The Bad News Bears, North Valley League, 1976

Posted at 07:49 AM on Apr 23, 2013 in category Baseball
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Monday April 22, 2013

Why Do IMDb Users Dislike 'Bull Durham'?

I posted my rankings for the best (and worst) baseball movies the other day, and shortly you'll have a chance to do so yourself, but in the meantime I thought I'd list how baseball movies fare on IMDb.com.

I know i've done this kind of thing before, mostly with best-picture winners, but what caught my eye this time was the IMDb rating for Ron Shelton's “Bull Durham”—regarded by baseball fans as the best baseball movie ever made.

On IMDb it's got a 7.0 rating. Which isn't great. Here's how it ranks among baseball movies:

Title IMDb Rating IMDb Rank My Rank Difference
Ken Burns’ Baseball (1994) 8.6 1 2 -1
42 (2013) 7.8 2 15 -13
Catching Hell (2011) 7.8 3 8 -5
61* (2001) 7.7 4 3 1
The Pride of the Yankees (1942) 7.7 4 23 -19
Moneyball (2011) 7.6 6 4 2
The Sandlot (1993) 7.6 6 30 -24
Field of Dreams (1989) 7.5 8 14 -6
Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story (2010) 7.4 9 18 -9
Long Gone (1987) 7.4 9 n/a
The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1998) 7.4 9 5 4
The Natural (1984) 7.4 9 7 2
Eight Men Out (1988) 7.2 13 9 4
Sugar (2008) 7.1 14 10 4
The Bad News Bears (1976) 7.1 14 6 8
A League of Their Own (1992) 7.0 16 13 3
Bull Durham (1988) 7.0 16 1 15
Damn Yankees! (1958) 7.0 16 21 -5
Major League (1989) 7.0 16 11 5
The Stratton Story (1948) 7.0 16 24 -8
Angels in the Outfield (1951) 6.9 21 26 -5
Fear Strikes Out (1957) 6.9 21 33 -12
It Happens Every Spring (1949) 6.9 21 n/a
Pastime (1990) 6.9 21 16 5
The Rookie (2002) 6.9 21 12 9
Bang the Drum Slowly (1973) 6.8 26 17 9
Take Me Out to the Ballgame (1949) 6.7 27 27 0
Trouble with the Curve (2012) 6.7 27 40 -13
The Perfect Game (2009) 6.6 29 n/a
Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (1976) 6.5 30 22 8
The Pride of St. Louis (1952) 6.5 30 n/a  
American Pastime (2007) 6.4 32 n/a
BASEketball (1998) 6.4 32 42 -10
The Final Season (2007) 6.4 32 n/a
Cobb (1994) 6.3 35 37 -2
For Love of the Game (1999) 6.3 35 19 16
The Jackie Robinson Story (1950) 6.3 35 38 -3
Fever Pitch (2005) 6.1 38 20 18
Hard Ball (2001) 6.1 38 45 -7
The House of Steinbrenner (2010) 6.1 38 28 10
It Happened in Flatbush (1942) 6.0 41 n/a
Bad News Bears (2005) 5.8 42 n/a
Game 6 (2005) 5.8 42 25 17
Little Big League (1994) 5.8 42 31 11
Angels in the Outfield (1994) 5.7 45 36 9
Talent for the Game (1991) 5.7 45 n/a
The Babe (1992) 5.7 45 39 6
Calvin Marshall (2010) 5.6 48 n/a  
Mr. Baseball (1992) 5.6 48 29 19
Rookie of the Year (1993) 5.6 48 34 14
Mr. 3000 (2004) 5.5 51 35 16
The Babe Ruth Story (1948) 5.5 51 44 7
Major League II (1994) 5.2 53 32 21
The Scout (1994) 5.2 53 41 12
The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978) 5.1 55 47 8
Safe at Home! (1962) 5.0 56 n/a
Major League III: Back to the Minors (1998) 4.2 57 43 14
The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training (1977) 3.1 58 46 12

To be fair, most of the movies above it are good (“61*”) or considered to be good (“Pride of the Yankees”).

Even so: Tied for 16th? With “The Stratton Story”? Six points behind “The Sandlot”?

I get most of the early discrepancies between myself and the general IMDb user. “42” is still riding its newness; “Pride of the Yankees” was long-considered the best baseball movie ever made and still has its fans, who apparently vote; and “The Sandlot” gets a big push from the youngsters, who most assuredly vote. The younger you are, the more you like “The Sandlot.”

But whither “Bull Durham”? Thoughts?

Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon in the bathrub in "Bull Durham" (1988)

Talkin' baseball/ Wrigley and Camden
Talkin' baseball/ Costner and Sarandon

Posted at 06:48 AM on Apr 22, 2013 in category Baseball
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