The Cubs ownership let me down this year, and a lot of inertia has to be shifted for me to get behind the Mets (again) as my National League team (I split my AL energies, these last few years, on the Sox–White and Red). Left without a good reason to seek out baseball broadcasts this year and with the weather too shitty to hit the cricket grounds, baseball movies seemed worth a go. I watched Moneyball (you can find your own movie link, this one goes to an article) on the flights home from Germany and found it a nice start to the Baseball Film Festival…based on a former Met from my last time around supporting the club and centered around the A’s (who along with the Tigers were my childhood American League favourites). The hook was set.
Somehow I never got around to Bang The Drum Slowly, although Moriarty and De Niro are a couple of my favourites. It is a bit dated, though not as bad as M*A*S*H; not only a little too sentimental it has a lot of the anti-hero AND baseball clichés you might predict. Still, De Niro’s Georgia accent is outstanding. If you like the movie, read the book (linked above); if you read the book already you might be a bit disappointed with the film.
Batting third was Bull Durham, which somehow eluded me despite my abiding love of minor league ball and the inanity surrounding it. I think I was avoiding anything that required Kevin Costner to work hard at acting, but this wasn’t it and I should have seen it years ago. Quite a pleasant bit of fluff.
Clean-up was Pride of the Yankees, which I’ve seen before and I get annoyed that every time the “luckiest man in the world” speech comes around it isn’t as moving nor as funny as almost every impression of it I have ever heard (and EVERY American over 30-years-old has a version of it, usually vibrating their cheek or larynx with a hand to simulate the Yankee Stadium echo…ask one of ‘em to do Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech, if you don’t believe me, but don’t tell them why).
And pitching, of course was Dock Ellis. If you haven’t heard of him, he threw a perfect game on acid. Robin Williams tells the story well enough in two minutes here, but the better film is this little documentary, online, called Dock Ellis and the LSD No-No (and still it is only 5 minutes). I’ve done some amazing things on psychedelics under all sorts of stresses, but to perform at a top, professional level in any athletic endeavour whilst tripping your ass off is…if I need to explain it, you’ll never understand.
Short list of other good Baseball Movies worth a look:
‘Eight Men Out,’ John Sayles on the Black Sox Scandal
’61*,’ an epic journey to break one of the great records
‘Damn Yankees,’ ’cause whatever Lola wants…
‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ for the World Series scene in the day room
‘Ken Burns’ Baseball,’ as the ultimate documentary on the subject
and, the one that got away: ‘Cobb,’ because Tommy Lee Jones as The Georgia Peach has got to be worth a look.