"Moneyball," the story of how a small-market ball club manages to compete with its larger-market adversaries, was released to DVD and Blu-ray recently, and I, being a baseball fan, bought my copy.
Watching it with my friends led me to think about all the baseball movies that have been made. Some have been great, like the aforementioned; some have been terrible, like "The Benchwarmers." Needless to say, with "Moneyball" coming off four Golden Globe nominations and a chance to shine at the Oscars, I've decided to put together a list of the five greatest baseball movies of all time.
(Note: Instead of pictures of movie posters, I will be using scenes from each of the following movies)
Even if you're not a Yankees fan, this movie has the power to bring a tear to your eye every time you see Gary Cooper step up to the microphone and deliver Lou Gehrig's "Luckiest man alive" speech.
The film, a biopic about the great Yankees slugger, goes through his life, from his childhood to his first days with the Yankees—replacing Wally Pipp in the lineup—to his consecutive games streak to his fatal illness.
But throughout the film, the one scene that makes this movie a classic is the speech. In fact, the line, "I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth," is one of the American Film Institute's 100 greatest movie lines.
Another thing worth pointing out, Babe Ruth played himself in the movie. How's that for cool?
We fast forward four decades to this comedic gem. "Major League" is a film about the Cleveland Indians and their attempt to prove that despite all their imperfections, they can get out of the cellar and avoid moving to Miami.
This movie gave many actors their big breaks. Dennis Haysbert was a virtual unknown before he played Voodoo-practicing slugger Pedro Cerrano—it would become his best role until "24," in which he played President David Palmer.
Before Charlie Sheen became a big star then a winning-obsessed man-child, he played Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn, a flamethrower with vision problems.
Wesley Snipes was known for Willie Mays Hayes, a speedy outfielder, before he switched to action movies.
Let's also not forget James Caan and Bob Uecker.
I was almost tempted not to put this movie on the list because Hollywood took personal liberties, which screwed up both the plot line and the ending, but nonetheless, it's a good film.
In Robert Redford's last film in which he looked young, he played a slugger for the hapless New York Knights. He deals with his shadowy past and his fading future as he goes to play for a manager who's on his last legs looking for a pennant.
Also, you can't resist Wilford Brimley as Pop Fisher.
In a way, "Fever Pitch" is a chick flick; in another, it's a movie about the Red Sox. In this film, Jimmy Fallon plays a Red Sox fan who meets a girl and subsequently brings her into the BoSox culture. Throughout the movie, he tries to balance his new girlfriend and his favorite team.
I actually was at the "Opening Day" scene, albeit I was in a luxury suite. All in all, it was a good game, even though the Sox lost to the Rangers. What should be known is that game took place in August.
"Moneyball" is a great film about a master general manager who has to make due with a payroll that prevents him from signing premier talent. It features quality performances by Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
"Moneyball" is a very faithful adaptation of the book, with the only flaw being Peter Brand. Paul DePodesta, as the influence of the character, was the real guy behind Billy Beane. The filmmakers decided to not use his name because DePodesta objected to the "nerd" portrayal.
"Moneyball" will be up for several awards at the Oscars. Let's hope it wins at least one.