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BBB POSTING OLYMPICS: Craig's submission.

 I’ve been hoo’ing and haw’ing  all morning, trying to decide what my final entry should be in the World Renowned BBB Posting Olympics. While daydreaming, saw the Banner across Blue Bird Banter advertising the upcoming Brad Pitt movie, "MoneyBall". If you guys are like me, you are all super stoked to see this, and it just so happens it is coming out on my Birthday. A movie about Advanced Statistics and Sabermetrics!!?!?!?!?! This will be the most exciting movie put out since "Watching paint dry" or its sequel "Grass growing, and how to watch it"

I got to thinking; there sure has been a lot of good baseball movies put out. I love sports movies, and baseball probably has historically been portrayed in the best sports movies ever made, so I decided to do a compilation of the "TOP 10 BASEBALL MOVIES". When reading the list, remember these are the 10 I enjoyed, and not necessarily the best 10 ever made. The Pride of the Yankees and Fever Pitch, might have been fine films, but do you really think I’m going to spend 2 hours watching a Yankee or Sox movie? If I want to spend 2 hours watching those 2 teams, I’ll just watch the 9th inning of one of their games.

Without further adieu, I give you "Craig’s Top 10 Baseball Movies":

10. Major League

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Starting the list, from the bottom, I have Major League. Look, I really enjoyed Major League and thought it was a very fun movie but I did have to downgrade it a bit for being directly responsible for the disaster that was Major League II.  Major League is the story of a fledgling Cleveland Indians franchise that was comprised of a ragtag bunch of criminals, nobody’s, and has-beens (Which pretty much is the storyline of 37.4% of all sports movies, but I digress). Ownership is trying to move the team, so purposefully put together a horrible team, but what ownership doesn’t anticipate is the group of misfits coming together, and creating a great camaraderie which leads to the team getting better. This is until they trade Aaron Hill and Johnny Mac, and tore apart the clubhouse. Wait, what?

Notable performances are Tom Berenger as a washed up catcher, Corbin Bernson as Roger Dorn (The teams biggest "star"), Wesley Snipes as Willie Mays Hays and Dennis Haysbert as  the teams Allstate insurance agent. Most notably it featured Charlie Sheen’s greatest method-acting role as he portrayed a girl chasing, law breaking, substance abusing bad boy. How he never broke character, I’ll never know.

9. Bull Durham.

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I’m starting to think if Kevin Costner could start his career all over again, he’d only do baseball movies. Sure he made big Hollywood blockbusters as Waterworld and Dances with Wolves (Which was just a rip-off of Avatar), but his finest work has always been in baseball movies, and 3 of his movies are on my Top 10 List. All his non-baseball movies were pretty much unwatchable drivel.

Another great movie, but another I had to drop on my list because of 1 unfortunate issue. The SNA%(Sarandon Nipple appearance percentage) was far too high. The league average SNA% is right around 0:100 and Bull Durham was closing on 2:100 meaning a full 2% of the movie contained, at least in part, Susan Sarandon’s exposed breast.  This was quite surprising since SNA% had never been an issue in previous performances, so some could say she was due, but for it to come out with such an extreme fashion, surprised even the greatest SNA% advocates. It was quite obvious that she was unable to maintain her current pace of nipple exposure as it dropped back to league averages in her following films, so it appears regression was due, but the movie did have to be downgraded for such an egregious statistical anomaly. I’ve thrown up 19 times doing my film study.

Ok, back to the actual movie, but I’m running out of space....

Coles notes version: Kevin Costner old, Tim Robbins Rookie, Susan Sarandon gross.

8. A League of their Own.

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A very underrated baseball movie with a pretty good ensemble cast featuring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell. Ok, so it featured Tom Hanks.

We all know the story; it is about a Woman’s softball team who are thrust into the spotlight as WW2 forces many of the men to war. At the risk of cancelling baseball, a businessman creates a woman’s baseball league that at first ran into much apprehension from the American public, but then stole their hearts with the surprisingly strong on field play. I think this is a true story, but I’m not sure….truth be told, I never actually saw this movie, I just stuck it in my list because we have 2 girl members.

7. Air Bud – 7th inning Fetch.

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Now THIS was a great baseball movie.

This is the 4th installment of the great line of Air Bud movies. Buddy has played basketball, football, soccer, and now he tries his paw at baseball….OH BOY!!!!

Buddy’s owner Josh is off to school, leaving him with his kid Sis Andrea who is a heck of baseball player and get’s Buddy involved. Just as the season is settling in, a terrible discovery is made - Buddy's puppies, have mysteriously started disappearing with the help of kidnappers' little helper, Rocky Raccoon!!!! (OH NOES!) Air Bud must find her puppies and make it to the major leagues as he goes to bat for the Anaheim Angels!

(*****SPOILER ALERT*******)

Buddy does find his puppies, and successfully makes the Anaheim Angels and finished with a .291 batting average some 70 points higher than Vernon Wells.

6. For The Love of the Game.

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The 2nd Kevin Costner movie on my list. This isn’t a typical baseball movie per se, but move of a love story between Costners character and Kelly Preston, with baseball as the backstory. (As a hopeless romantic, I had to put this on my list)

Costner played Billy Chapel who once was one of the greatest pitchers in the game, but is now at the tail end of his career. (Think a less great, but equally old Nolan Ryan). He is hoping to find love, at the same time trying to end his career gracefully as he is in the back end and his season isn’t going as well as he is used to. Much of the movie takes place near the end of the season when he is on the mound, perhaps pitching for the last time. On the mound he thinks back to his life, of his many accomplishments, on and off the mound, resulting in many flashbacks to prior times. It was an interesting way to make a movie and what I really enjoyed about it was his time on the mound. I enjoyed his inner dialogue as he processed information on how to get hitters out and pitch selection. I know it was a Hollywood movie and probably not all that accurate on what goes through a pitchers head, but I enjoyed it.

5. The Natural

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The movie Tagline: "An average baseball player comes out of seemingly nowhere to become a legendary player with almost divine talent".  Yes ladies and gentlemen, this is the story of Jose Bautista.

Jose Bautista was a utility player, hopping around the league playing with such baseball powerhouses as the Baltimore Orioles, TB Rays, KC Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates and then eventually traded to your Toronto Blue Jays.  When traded to Toronto, Jose was just his same ol’ self, striking out a lot, couldn’t hit a RHP to save his life and found himself at a crossroads. Should he continue his dream of being a professional baseball player, or quit and open a Booster Juice franchise?

The movie then flashes forward to Labour Day weekend, 2009 where Jose left Toronto for some much needed Rest and Relaxation and rented a cabin in Northern Ontario. There he contemplated his career and where he was to go from there. While sitting outside rubbing his beard, a storm rolled in and next thing you know there was a fantastic lightning storm. He witnessed the remarkable storm from the safety of the cabin as lightning crashed all around him. One particular crack hit very close as a tree only meters from his cabin was struck. When the storm subsided, Jose went out to analyze the damage. Something stood out, the tree that was struck produced what appeared to be a bat….A MAGICAL BAT WITH MYSTICAL POWERS. Jose brought the bat back with him to Toronto and decided to try it out at batting practice. The bat produced bombs so large, that Sportsnet had to create a new channel, because the first 29 channels couldn’t contain his power. That September Jose hit 10 HR, and no one in baseball has hit as many HR’s since then, and is widely considered the finest baseball player in the Game today.

I’m not sure about the casting choice as Robert Redford doesn’t really resemble Jose. I would have chosen Al Borland from "Home improvement" or maybe Joaquin Phoenix

4. Bad News Bears

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#4 on my list is the original Bad News Bears, not the Billy Bob Thorton version, although that probably could have gone without saying.

We’ve all seen the movie and it is yet another (albeit classic) movie about a rag-tag bunch of scrubs who overcome odds to beat the perpetual favourite….so I’m going to use this time to vent about something. What’s the deal with Trains? Seriously, it’s 2011. Do we still need trains, and who makes their schedule? I can’t count the times I’ve been late for work because I’m stuck behind a train. It wouldn’t be bad if they only went 1 way, but there is nothing worse than being stuck in traffic, have a train go 5mph 1 way, back up all the way, then go forward again. Seriously, we can put a man on the moon, but we can’t find a better way to ship stuff than trains? 1885 called, they want their mode of transporting  coal back.

3. Cobb

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Another movie of mine that is higher than I’ve seen in most "baseball movie" lists, mostly because it doesn’t actually feature baseball, rather than a baseball player. I realize Ty Cobb was a horrible human being, but I’ve always been personally fascinated by him, probably the same reason I’m fascinated by Hitler. (I love watching WW2 documentary’s on the history channel).

Cobb is the story of an old and decrepit Ty Cobb played by Tommy Lee Jones who is trying to write his autobiography and tell his side of the story. Much like "For the Love of the Game", the story is told primarily with flashbacks where an old dying Cobb recounts his baseball stories, along with other accounts such as (allegedly) killing a man in the streets, instances of infidelity and spousal abuse and leading a racist and misogynistic life. The autobiographer is feeling pressured, does he write the true account of Cobb, or does he write the story that Cobb tries to tell, him being a baseball hero and upstanding citizen? One of my favorite line’s of the movie is about (name escapes me) the fastest player he ever saw, was so fast that he would hit a line drive up the middle and knock himself out while sliding into second.

Movie is quite graphic and hard to watch at times, but I thought it was really well made, and again, I’m fascinated by the Ty Cobb story.

2. BASEketball.

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Holy crap, this was a funny movie. If you are a fan of Matt Stone and Trey Parker, and a sports fan, this is a great movie. If you think Stone and Parker are stupid and juvenile, than you will probably hate this movie. Luckily for me, I AM stupid and juvenile.

Movie is basically about 2 losers who suck at life, invent a made up game combining baseball and basketball, and hit it big. Once an established league, they have to fight to keep the purity of the game while not selling out to corporate pressures. The whole premise is so ridiculous, but they pull it off quite well. There are far too many funny moments to recap in a single post that is already getting far too long, but I do want to highlight the many cameo’s from people like Reggie Jackson, Ernest Borgnine, Bob Costas, Al Michaels, Dan Patrick, Kenny Mayne and especially Robert Stack who did a large "Unsolved Mysteries" segment during the show.

It is quite crude, so if Hugo’s mom is reading this, you might want to stick to one of the other movies.

1. Field of Dreams

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"If you build it, he will come"

The other 9 selections could really be in any order, but when starting my list, there really was only 1 choice of Best baseball movie. Not only is it the best Baseball Movies ever made, it is personally one of my favourite movies ever made. First I’m absolutely fascinated by the 1919 Chicago White Sox and the story of Shoeless Joe Jackson, so this movie hit right at home. The way the original writer used actual events and baseball players (ie: Archibald "Moonlight" Graham) to create a fictional piece was quite genius. After watching it, I loved going online and reading about the scandal, the players and the circumstances around the 1919 White Sox. Fun fact, Tom Dakers was on the 1919 White Sox AA affiliate but as a catcher in the minors, was blocked by long time catcher Ray Schalk. This movie was based on the WP Kinsella book "Shoeless Joe" which I haven’t read, so if someone has, I’d love to hear if it is worth reading.

The movie was very well made and had a dark and ominous vibe that made the whole thing very mysterious. Despite the glaring flaw that Ray Liota who played Shoeless Joe batted right, when Shoeless Joe batted left, this was the perfect baseball movie. It featured fantastic performances, a haunting score, historically accurate recounts and of course James Earle Jones. If RSN is looking for a replacement for Buck and Pat, I think the perfect person would be James Earle Jones. He doesn’t have to call the game, just say the odd baseball cliché in his deep mysterious voice. I could get behind this.

 ***

So that’s it Blue Bird Banter. What is your favorite baseball movie? I’d love to hear from you.

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