Taking Issue: "The Sandlot"

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Taking Issue:

Few movies have had as much a positive an impact on a generation as The Sandlot.

One of the best sports movies of all time, The Sandlot reached multiple generations when it was released in 1993—kids who loved to play baseball and had big dreams, and adults who grew up in the 1950s or 1960s and remember similar times.

Though children were the target audience, anyone can enjoy watching this movie.

However, as blasphemous as it sounds, The Sandlot was not perfect. In watching it again, I took issue with several aspects of the film.

Kenny's favorite player is Babe Ruth

Nothing against the Babe. I'm just throwing this out there, but I figure an African-American kid growing up in Los Angeles in the 1960s, and aspiring to be a big league pitcher might be a fan of Satchel Paige or...I don't know, Jackie Robinson or Hank Aaron. Maybe not.

Fireworks provide enough light for a night game

During the Fourth of July scene, the kids play their "only night game of the year" because the fireworks allow them enough light to see the field. It's hard to see a baseball when the sun is still setting, let alone when the sky is completely devoid of any sunlight. I'm not buying it. Smalls would get another black eye.

Home team bats first?

One of the more empowering scenes from the movie is when the privileged, uniform-clad Tigers ride their bikes to the sandlot to talk trash. Ultimately, Ham tells one kid he "plays ball like a girl," resulting in a challenge for the teams to play the next day at the Tigers' home field.

When the sandlot kids show up to L.C. Romney Baseball Park, Ham does the honors, screaming "PLAY BALL!" from behind the plate. You would think the visitors might bat first.

Chewing tobacco

"All the pros do it. It gives you energy!"

Then why did they wait until after he game to use it as a celebratory treat? You don't need energy to go on rides at the carnival!

The ensuing vomit-fest conveys to kids you shouldn't use chewing tobacco, but all it tells me is you shouldn't use it before going on the Tilt-A-Whirl.

Screw steroids, somebody go grab me some Skoal!

Benny hits the cover off the ball

Nope, not buying it.

It didn't even leave the field of play! Smalls caught it! Reminds me of the scene from "Little Big League" where Lou Collins breaks his bat and almost hits a home run, which we know is impossible.

Nobody inspects the Babe Ruth-signed ball

Smalls gives the ball to Benny. Benny hands it to Kenny DeNunez, who throws it around the diamond. Smalls misses the first pitch, giving Ham and DeNunez more time to see the Babe's signature. Nobody noticed the autograph? Really?

The chase scene

Solid, solid action. Knocking over trash cans, breaking windows and movie theater screens, ruining the fresh-baked cake—I love it.

My only question is this—is the "Mommy, Mommy, look at doggy! Ooooh, a big doggy!" kid a boy or girl? I've never been able to tell.

And shouldn't Hercules' ADD kick in at some point? I've never seen a dog dedicated to something for such a long time. Even licking its own—ah, nevermind.

PF Flyers make Benny run faster and jump higher

Actually, I don't have a problem with this. My PF Flyers do the same for me.

Aftermath

We all know Benny becomes a professional pinch runner for the Dodgers and Scotty Smalls becomes the next Vin Scully, but do you remember what happened to the rest of the gang?

  • Ya-Ya: The only one of the group to join the army. The Vietnam War didn't end until 1975. You would think at least one or two others might have been drafted.
  • Bertram: A victim of the 1960s. Nobody ever saw him again. He was reincarnated as a character in Family Guy. Unless Bertram is just the obligatory name given to any ginger kid.
  • Timmy and Tommy: Became architects. Lame.
  • Squints: Married Wendy Peffercorn, had nine kids, and owns the local drug store. Life didn't turn out to be everything he hoped for when he hit his mid-30s and Wendy was no longer sexually appealing at the ripe old age of 50. Now, all he looks forward to is working for the rest of his life to put all nine kids through college.
  • Ham: Professional wrestler, "The Great Hambino." Wait, he was a ginger, too. His name should be Bertram.
  • DeNunez: Made it to AAA ball, but never got his big break. Now he's a little league coach. He didn't even blow out his arm or anything. He just wasn't good enough.

What a great movie.

Further reading - Taking Issue: The First Mighty Ducks Movie

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