Sports and movies are inexorably linked. Actors want to be athletes and athletes want to be movie stars, right, Shaq?
It is through movies and sports that we normal people find solace and strength. We find inspiration in the words of Herb Brooks (played by Kurt Russell) before the Miracle on Ice in the movie Miracle.
It is through movies and sports that we find happiness. We find humor in the words of Carl Spackler (played by Bill Murray), the infamous greens-keeper in Caddyshack.
It is through movies and sports that we find that we are not alone when we are down. We find a piece of something good by watching someone do something they are so good at that it is scary, such as Bobby Jones in The Legend of Bagger Vance.
And it is in movies that those of us who have never reached the highest levels of professional sporting competition can get inside the minds of those athletes who achieved what we could not, just for a minute, and see the world through their eyes. This is what we get from the words of Buck Weaver (played by John Cusack) in the movie Eight Men Out.
If you ask any guy in the world, and a lot of women, if they would rather be a professional athlete or a movie star, most of them would have a tough time deciding. I know I would.
So here is a small sampling of some of the best lines to ever come out of cinema about sports.
If you have not seen Caddyshack, you are not a sports fan. It's just that simple.
Caddyshack remains the best movie about golf ever made and is absolutely hilarious.
There are a hundred quotes in the movie. The legendary Rodney Dangerfield plays Al Czervik, the boorish millionaire who is contemplating buying Bushwood Country Club so he can develop the land. Czervik is insulting a hat he has seen in the pro shop until he spots Judge Smails (Ted Knight) wearing it. "Oh, it looks good on you though."
Smails himself remarks at one point that he has sent teenagers to the electric chair and that he felt he "owed it to them."
Chevy Chase plays Ty Webb, a reclusive millionaire who is an amazing player as long as there is no money on the line. Chase's delivery of several one-liners is so dead pan and funny that you could simply watch a reel of clips of Ty Webb and it would be time well spent.
But Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) steals the show. In one memorable scene, he explains to a young caddy how will achieve total consciousness on his dead bed. "So, I've got that going for me, which is nice."
There is also an incredible scene in which Spackler and Webb discuss grass types and whether or not Webb has a pool or a pond.
The best of all is Spackler pretending he is playing in the Masters while he chops the heads off flowers outside the pro shop.
"What an incredible Cinderella story! This unknown, comes out of nowhere, to lead the pack at Augusta. He's at the final hole. He's about 455 yards away, he's gonna hit about a 2-iron, I think. [swings, pulverizes a flower] Oh, he got all of that. The crowd is standing on its feet here at Augusta. The normally reserved crowd, going wild... [pauses] for this young Cinderella who's come out of nowhere. He's got about 350 yards left, he's going to hit about a 5-iron, it looks like, don't you think? He's got a beautiful back-swing... [swings, pulverizes another flower] that's- oh, he got all of that one! He's gotta be pleased with that! The crowd is just on its feet here. He's a Cinderella boy. Tears in his eyes, I guess, as he lines up this last shot. He's got about 195 yards left, and he's got a, looks like he's got about an 8-iron. This crowd has gone deadly silent... Cinderella story, out of nowhere, former greens-keeper, now about to become the Masters champion. [swings, pulverizes yet another flower] It looks like a mirac...it's in the hole! It's in the hole!"
In November, 1970, a plane crash took the lives of 37 Marshall football players, 6 coaches, and 32 other people.
In the ashes of that horrific event, coach Jack Lengyel is hired to rebuild the program with the one coach and 18 players who were not on the plane, and walk-on players.
The movie is filled with memorable lines and monologues. Several people wondered if Marshall should not just stop fielding a football team all together and Lengyel convinces them to put the team back together.
During a pre-game visit to the grave sites of six members of the team who could not be identified, Coach Lengyel delivers a heartfelt speech to his new team.
Jack Lengyel: When you take that field today, you've got to lay that heart on the line, men. From the souls of your feet, with every ounce of blood you've got in your body, lay it on the line until the final whistle blows. And if you do that, if you do that, we cannot lose. We may be behind on the scoreboard at the end of the game but if you play like that we cannot be defeated. Now we came here today to remember six young men and sixty-nine others who will not be on the field with you today, but they will be watching. You can bet your ass that they'll be gritting their teeth with every snap of that football. You understand me? How you play today, from this moment on is how you will be remembered. This is your opportunity to rise from these ashes and grab glory. We are...
Young Thundering Herd: Marshall!
Jack Lengyel: We are.
Young Thundering Herd: Marshall!
Jack Lengyel: We are!
Young Thundering Herd: Marshall!
Jack Lengyel: The funerals end today!
Sports are filled with stories of overachievers, players who were told time and again that they weren't big enough, strong enough, or fast enough to play.
Rudy is story of Dan "Rudy" Ruettiger who dreamed of playing football for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish his whole life. The only problem is that he is too small and has virtually no athletic ability. On top of that, he is not the best student (thanks to undiagnosed dyslexia), so even getting in to Notre Dame to attend classes proves problematic.
Rudy manages to get into a local junior college and finds a job working at the Notre Dame stadium. His boss is salty man who goes by the name Fortune.
Fortune had been on the team and quit because he never got to play. When Rudy tells Fortune that he is quitting because he is not getting the opportunity to play, Fortune has some choice words for Rudy.
"Oh you are so full of crap. Your five foot nothin', a hundred and nothin' and hardly a speck of athletic ability. You hung in with the best college football team in the land for two years, and you are also going to walk out of here with a degree from the University of Notre Dame. In this lifetime, you don't have to prove nothing to nobody except yourself. And after what you've gone through, if you haven't done that by now, it ain't gonna never happen. Now go on back."
Jerry Maguire was a sports agent, on top of the world, until he has an epiphany and realizes there is more to sports, and life, than money.
He starts his own agency on the premise of having fewer clients and taking less money so he can have more of a personal relationship with his clients.
Rod Tidwell is a receiver for the Arizona Cardinals who wants to stay with Maguire, but he tests Maguire during a very long telephone conversation. While he is on that call, Maguire's competitors contact all of his former clients and convinces them to stay with the agency Maguire left.
The main theme of that phone call is Tidwell telling Maguire the one thing he wants from his agent.
Rod Tidwell: It's a very personal, a very important thing. Hell, it's a family motto. Are you ready, Jerry?
Jerry Maguire: I'm ready.
Rod Tidwell: I wanna make sure you're ready, brother. Here it is: Show me the money. Oh-ho-ho! SHOW! ME! THE! MONEY! A-ha-ha! Jerry, doesn't it make you feel good just to say that! Say it with me one time, Jerry.
In World War II America, the boys are off to war and there is no baseball. To remedy this, a women's league was created so people back home would have some baseball to watch.
The managers of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League are former pro players and managers, including one Jimmy Dugan.
The fictional Dugan was a great player, having hit three home runs in the World Series for his former club, but he liked to party a little bit, too. He fell out of a hotel to escape a fire that he started, injuring his knee. Not playing baseball meant he had a lot more time to devote to drinking, which is exactly what he did, slipping into obscurity.
When he finally realizes that he has a pretty good team to manage, he dries up and begins to manage them.
During a game, his center fielder, Evelyn Garner, throws the ball in to home plate, instead of the cut-off, which allows the game-tying run to get in scoring position. As Dugan berates her, she begins to cry, which leads to the following classic exchange:
Doris Murphy: Why don't you leave her alone, Jimmy...
Jimmy Dugan: Oh, you zip it, Doris! Rogers Hornsby was my manager, and he called me a talking pile of pigs**t. And that was when my parents drove all the way down from Michigan to see me play the game. And did I cry?
Evelyn Gardner: No, no.
Jimmy Dugan: NO. And do you know why?
Evelyn Gardner: No...
Jimmy Dugan: Because there's no crying in baseball. THERE'S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL! No crying!
Hundreds of books and thousands of words have been written about the golf swing. Everyone who has ever played the game has an opinion on the right way to do it and no two are exactly the same.
In the movie Tin Cup, Roy "Tin Cup" McAvoy is a down and out driving range pro in the boondocks of west Texas. He is legendary amongst his friends for trying just about any shot and usually pulling it off. He has incredible talent, but is so engrossed with hitting the memorable shot that he will not, seemingly cannot, simply play the shot required to win.
When Dr. Molly Griswold shows up at his driving range for a lesson, because she recently began dating McAvoy's biggest rival from his college playing days and she wants to be able to play golf with her new boyfriend, McAvoy explains to her the essence of the golf swing during their first lesson.
Roy 'Tin Cup' McAvoy: Well, I tend to think of the golf swing as a poem.
Clint (Observing from the pro shop): Ooh, he's doing that poetry thing again.
Roy 'Tin Cup' McAvoy: The critical opening phrase of this poem will always be the grip. In which the hands unite to form a single unit by the simple overlap of the little finger. Lowly and slowly the clubhead is led back, pulled into position not by the hands, but by the body which turns away from the target shifting weight to the right side without shifting balance. Tempo is everything, perfection unobtainable as the body coils down at the top of the swing. There's a slight hesitation. A little nod to the gods.
Dr. Molly Griswold: Ah, a nod to the gods?
Roy 'Tin Cup' McAvoy: Yeah, to the gods. That he is fallible. Perfection is unobtainable. And now the weight begins shifting back to the left pulled by the powers inside the earth. It's alive, this swing! A living sculpture and down through contact, always down, striking the ball crisply, with character. A tuning fork goes off in your heart and your balls. Such a pure feeling is the well-struck golf shot. And then the follow through to finish. Always on line. The reverse C of the Golden Bear! The steel workers' power and brawn of Carl Sandburg's Arnold Palmer!
Romeo Posar (Observing from the pro shop): Unnhh, he's doing the Arnold Palmer thing.
Roy 'Tin Cup' McAvoy: And the unfinished symphony of Roy McAvoy.
Back-to-back with Kevin Costner. He really has been in a lot of sports movies.
In this one, Costner plays an Iowa farmer by the name Ray Kinsella.
Kensella hears a voice that repeatedly says, "If you build it, he will come."
Somehow, Kinsella interprets this message to mean that he should build a baseball field in his corn field, and if he does, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson will visit.
After several mysterious visits to the dream world, and meeting several past baseball players, both famous and obscure, Kinsella has most of the 1919 "Black Sox" playing on his field in the corn.
Near the end of the movie, Jackson reveals that the "he" in the phrase was Kinsella's own deceased father, who had loved baseball and the White Sox.
(Sorry, I couldn't find a video of this particular scene)
When Jackson says, "If you build it, he will come," he motions to a player in catcher's gear. The catcher is Kinsella's father. The tearful men enjoy a game of catch while cars are filing onto the farm to watch a game.
In this movie, a racially mixed high school in Virginia in 1971, hires an African-American head football coach.
The players do not like each other because of their differences, and Coach Herman Boone brings them to Gettysburg to get them to realized that their differences are not as big as they all think.
(I apologize for the relatively short synopsis. I have not seen this movie, although I intend to now. T)
"This is where they fought the battle of Gettysburg. Fifty thousand men died right here on this field, fighting the same fight that we are still fighting among ourselves today. This green field right here, painted red, bubblin' with the blood of young boys. Smoke and hot lead pouring right through their bodies. Listen to their souls, men. I killed my brother with malice in my heart. Hatred destroyed my family. You listen, and you take a lesson from the dead. If we don't come together right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed, just like they were. I don't care if you like each other of not, but you will respect each other. And maybe... I don't know, maybe we'll learn to play this game like men."
Seabiscuit is the true story of the depression-era horse by the same name.
The movie has several messages, not the least of which is that sometimes it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog. Or, in this case, the horse.
In the beginning of the movie, Seabiscuit is going to be put down, but is saved by trainer Tom Smith.
Charles Howard made his money selling cars to people who were used to riding horses, but decided to buy Seabiscuit and race him. He hired Red Pollard as his jockey.
Pollard was large for a jockey and had a penchant for fighting that had gotten him into trouble.
Given very little chance to win anything, Howard remarks on the long odds he and his team face.
"Our horse is too small, our jockey's too big, our trainer's too old, and I'm too dumb to know the difference."
This movie about inmates forming a football team and playing against the guards was remade in 2005, but the 1974 version with Burt Reynolds is a classic.
Reynolds plays Paul Crewe, a disgraced former NFL quarterback who was expelled from the league for point shaving. He is sentenced to 18 months in jail after leading the police on a high speed chase.
In jail, things are not going well for Crewe. The guards dislike him simply because he is a prisoner. The other inmates dislike him because he threw his life away and got kicked out of the league.
Crewe's only friend is an inmate who calls himself Caretaker. He and Caretaker are discussing Crewe's situation when Caretaker reveals why there is so much animosity toward him from the other inmates.
Caretaker: Most of these old boys don't have nothing. Never had nothing to start with. But you, You had it all. Then you let your teammates down, got yourself caught with your hand in the cookie jar.
Paul Crewe: Oh I did, did I?
Caretaker: Oh I ain't saying you did or you didn't. All I'm saying is that you could have robbed banks, sold dope or stole your grandmother's pension checks and none of us would have minded. But shaving points off of a football game, man that's un-American.
One of the biggest scandals in baseball, indeed in all of sports, was the 1919 Chicago "Black Sox" scandal. Allegedly, several members of the team conspired to throw the World Series, although they were acquitted of charges when several pieces of evidence went missing. Two members of the team, Eddie Cicotte and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson confessed to their involvement, and then later recanted those confessions when they went missing.
The movie Eight Men Out is the story of that team and if nothing else, it gives a look into the mind of a player at the highest level of the game.
Buck Weaver, the White Sox third baseman, said the following, describing what it is like to play in the bigs (again, I couldn't find a suitable video of the quote):
"You get out there, and the stands are full and everybody's cheerin'. It's like everybody in the world come to see you. And inside of that there's the players, they're yakkin' it up. The pitcher throws and you look for that pill... suddenly there's nothing else in the ballpark but you and it. Sometimes, when you feel right, there's a groove there, and the bat just eases into it and meets that ball. When the bat meets that ball and you feel that ball just give, you know it's going to go a long way. Damn, if you don't feel like you're going to live forever."
Kevin Costner is back, and this time he is Detroit Tigers pitcher Billy Chapel.
Chapel has had a hall of fame career and he is contemplating retirement as new ownership has taken over the team and they are looking to rebuild.
In the final game of the season, Chapel takes the mound in Yankee Stadium and goes to work. During the game, he is ruminating about his life and career.
He let a woman he loves get away and wonders if they will ever be together again.
He relives the hand injury he received and his rehab from that. He is arm-weary and hurting, each pitch exacting a physical toll on him.
Because he is so caught up in his reminiscing, he does not realize that he is in the bottom of the eighth and is pitching a perfect game. His catcher, Gus Sinski, who is also aging and not as productive as he once was, tells Chapel that the whole team is there for him. They are going to do whatever they have to do to preserve a perfect game for Chapel. "We're the best team in baseball," Sinski tells Chapel.
It is in this moment that Vin Scully, who is announcing the game, puts a poignant commentary on Chapel's performance to that point.
"And you know Steve, you get the feeling that Billy Chapel isn't pitching against left-handers, he isn't pitching against pinch hitters, he isn't pitching against the Yankees. He's pitching against time. He's pitching against the future, against age, and even when you think about his career, against ending. And tonight I think he might be able to use that aching old arm one more time to push the sun back up in the sky and give us one more day of summer."
If I have to tell you what the Miracle on Ice is, then you are on the wrong website. The movie Miracle was based on the unbelievable win by the Americans over the heavily favored Soviet Union in the Lake Placid Olympics. Herb Brooks took a handful of college kids, most of whom hated each other because they had played against each other in college, and won an Olympic gold metal.
For this article, it would have been easy to simply quote Al Michaels' famous line, "Do you believe in miracles?" That line always, and I mean always, brings a tear to my eye. The enormity of the situation, the political climate at the time, the socio-economic status of the country in 1980, the fact that the Soviet Union had just pounded the USA in a pre-Olympic exhibition in New York City all added up to one of the most remarkable moments in the history of sports. And Michaels' call of the American's win is classic.
It was so classic, in fact, that it is the one time that commentary was not re-recorded for the movie. Michaels felt he would not be able to duplicate the emotion of the moment accurately enough, so they used the original call for the final seconds of the game in the movie.
For those of you who do not know much about Herb Brooks, he was a very tough and very smart guy. The scenes in the movie of him physically abusing his players with drills and exercises are very accurate. Everything he did had a purpose and usually that purpose was to win. At one point, his assistant coach asks the team doctor, who had been with Brooks for years, why Brooks was being so cruel to his team. The doctor remarked that maybe if all the players hated him, Brooks, they will forget that they hate each other.
There is a scene during the opening rounds of the Olympic tournament when Brooks accuses one of his best players of quitting on the team because of an injury. The accusation serves to inspire the team, who go on to tie that game. It is a calculated move, as we discover when Brooks asks his assistant coach, "Think that will fire them up?"
Before the game with the USSR, Herb Brooks delivers an inspiring speech to his players, who are clear underdogs in the match against the Soviets.
"Great moments are born from great opportunity. And that's what you have here, tonight, boys. That's what you've earned here tonight. One game. If we played 'em ten times, they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight. Tonight, we skate with them. Tonight, we stay with them. And we shut them down because we can! Tonight, WE are the greatest hockey team in the world. You were born to be hockey players, every one of you, and you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time is done. It's over. I'm sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw 'em. This is your time. Now go out there and take it."