The Top 20 Fictional Teams in Sports History
There's nothing like a good sports movie...or even a bad sports movie, really.
Although the genre is diminishing, there will always be feel-good sports movies that leave us teary-eyed, laughing, or saying "there's no way that guy could play QB in the NFL!"
In any case, we're entertained, and some of the greatest sports teams this country has known have come from movies.
Let's take a look at the top 20 and, remember, we're talking about the teams and how good they were in the season covered in the movie, not the quality of the movie itself.
Again, these are fictional teams, so no angry comments about how Miracle, Hoosiers, or Cool Runnings should be on the list. Those movies were based on actual teams.
This is purely fiction. Enjoy.
20. The Bears (Bad News Bears)
We're not talking about the Billy Bob Thornton remake here. We're talking about the original Bad News Bears, complete with adorably racist, towheaded shortstop Tanner Boyle.
This team has everything, including ace pitcher Amanda Whurlitzer, bad-boy power hitter Kelly Leak, speedster Ahmad Abdul Rahim, and a portly catcher who hides a candy bar in his mask, Engleberg.
They're a little short on pitching depth (nobody wants Rudy Stein to come into the game under any circumstances), and in most Little League tournaments, you need two pitchers to compete.
But I wouldn't count out this feisty group of 12-year-olds that drinks beers after games and will not, under any circumstances, accept second place.
19. Chatham A's (Summer Catch)
The Cape Cod League is the premier wood-bat college summer league in the country, and it was depicted in the movie Summer Catch.
While there are obvious chemistry problems, the team itself is actually pretty nasty. They have top 10 pitching prospect Eric Van Leemer, who clearly has attitude problems (and the best hair in baseball history), but when has that ever mattered in a summer league?
Add to the mix Ryan Dunne, a lefty who throws "well over 90 miles per hour" and recently learned how to throw a curveball, and you have yourself a Lincecum-Cain style 1-2 punch. Then you have the guy who sleeps all game to come in and close things out.
You have to be concerned with the fact that Dunne left his team high and dry in the middle of a no-hitter to chase after a girl, but I think coach John Schiffner would take 8.2 innings of no-hit ball any day of the week.
Offense is going to be a problem for this team, but they can manufacture runs with speedsters like Fez...I mean Dabo Dominguez...at the top of the lineup. And with that staff, in a wood-bat league, all you really need is a run or two.
18. Texas State University Fightin' Armadillos (Necessary Roughness)
I know what you're thinking: The Texas State team from Necessary Roughness was terrible (either that or, "what on Earth is Necessary Roughness?").
Either way, let me justify my pick. The team didn't have a great record...in fact they only won one game all year. But that win was against the No. 1 team in the country, the Texas University Colts. If you knock off the best, that makes you the best, right?
Just go with it.
The team is led by 34-year-old former star high-school quarterback Paul Blake, a graduate assistant defensive lineman named Andre Krimm, and a female soccer player who was recruited to be their place kicker, Lucy Draper.
The team concludes the epic win over Texas when Blake passes to Charlie "Stone Hands" Banks who overcomes his case of the dropsies and catches the ball.
They may not be the best team in the land, but for that day, they were kings.
17. Nagoya Chunichi Dragons (Mr. Baseball)
In Mr. Baseball, former Major League Baseball first baseman Jack Elliot is traded to the Nagoya Chunichi Dragons of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball League.
Immediately, the heavily American Elliot clashes with the traditional customs and expectations of the Japanese players and his strict head coach, Uchiyama. At the same time, he struggles at the plate, unable to hit a traditional Japanese pitch called "shuto."
As in any good Hollywood movie, Elliot starts to adapt to the ways of Japanese baseball while bringing a little American flair to his ball club, and leads them to glory.
The team is solid, with another ex-Major League Baseball player, Max "Hammer" DuBois, leading the way (not to be confused with Pedro Cerrano or President David Palmer), and the Dragons win the pennant by defeating the Yomiyuri Giants.
They wouldn't be able to compete with MLB teams, but for the Japanese league, they are a top club.
16. Billy Hoyle and Sidney Deane (White Men Can't Jump)
They may have hustled each other in the past, but White Men Can't Jump's Sidney Deane and Billy Hoyle put their differences aside and won the 2-on-2 for Brotherhood tournament grand prize of $5,000.
Of course Billy, who's notoriously bad with money, lost it in a bet with Sidney that he could dunk, but that doesn't stop the two from being a dominant force in the 2-on-2 game.
If they ran into a team with a big man, it could create some matchup problems (Billy and Sidney each stand about 5'6"), but there's no stopping the duo once Billy gets into the zone.
Plus, now it will be easier for Billy to concentrate without the psychobabble of Gloria constantly in his ear.
15. Little Giants (Little Giants)
The success of the Little Giants is a result of the physical and emotional leadership of Becky "Icebox" O'Shea and quarterback Junior Floyd.
The two had a bit of a romantic relationship, so that could eventually lead to problems down the road, but they still have standout players like "The Berminator," "Rad Tad" and "Hot Hands" to carry the load.
They beat the more talented Cowboys in an emotional, "winner take all" game that allowed the Giants to become the sole Pop Warner team in Urbania. If the Giants were going on to play other towns' teams, I would say they stood little chance.
However, in a brilliant move, Giants coach Danny O'Shea (of the "one time" motivational speech fame) said he would take on some of the Cowboys' players, namely man-monster Spike and Kordell Stewart-like hybrid athlete Tommy.
With the new additions, it's hard to see a team in Ohio that can compete with them.
14. Beacontown Beavers (Teen Wolf)
The Beacontown Beavers of Teen Wolf had been mired in futility for decades. Then suddenly, their puny starting point guard, Scott Howard, realized that he could turn into a wolfman.
As we all know, wolves are extremely talented at basketball, so when Howard turned into the wolf, he suddenly played like LeBron James. He led the Beavers to the league championship despite problems with his teammates, but there is one issue.
Scott played the league championship as himself...not the wolf. They still won the game after an epic comeback due to one of the greatest montages in sports history, but without the wolf, they're just an average team.
They have Chubby, who can occasionally stretch the defense by knocking down the open jumper, and the unnamed lefty redhead who actually turns out to be their best player...but that's about it.
You have to think, however, that once they get into the playoffs, the pressure will get to Scott and the wolf will make a re-appearance.
13. The Sandlot Crew (The Sandlot)
When Scotty Smalls stumbled upon the baseball field in his neighborhood, he walked into one of the best groups of raw baseball talent ever assembled.
Led by the fastest and most talented kid in the county, Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez (who would go on to play for the Dodgers with an awesome mustache), the crew from The Sandlot could compete with any youth baseball team on the planet.
Smalls turned into a decent utility player, but the studs of the team besides Rodriguez are their pitcher Kenny DeNunez (who consistently threw his "heater" by batters), Ham "The Great Hambino" Porter (a power-hitting catcher with a penchant for trash talking), and Michael "Squints" Palledorous (who was known for scoring off the field as much as on).
As they proved in the movie, a lack of coaching didn't stop them from taking down organized teams...and humiliating them in the process.
12. Durham Bulls (Bull Durham)
There's no better way to get a young, talented, wild pitcher under control than to have him caught by a wily veteran who's seen it all.
That's the dynamic of the Durham Bulls' Nuke LaLoosh and Crash Davis, and after a shaky start, it begins to work toward the end of the season.
Unfortunately, Nuke gets called up to the show right before the stretch run, but the Bulls have enough coaching strength and depth to get the job done without him.
Plus they have Crash, the minor leagues' all-time leading home-run hitter and all-time leader in cliches.
11. Minnesota Twins (Little Big League)
Little Big League is one of the most underrated sports movies of all-time. It gets glossed over because it's considered to be a kids' movie, but it's not nearly as cheesy or unrealistic as movies like Rookie of the Year and Angels in the Outfield.
In fact, it's quite the opposite. The actual baseball that's played in the movie is as genuine as it gets, mostly due to the fact that the movie is filled with real MLB players, including two on the Twins that actually have real roles in the movie: Kevin Elster (former Rangers shortstop) and Brad Lesley (played in the minors).
The team is stacked with the consistent All-Star Lou Collins, the quirky relief pitcher Jim Bowers, the young speedy leadoff man Mickey Scales, and another All-Star in Lonnie Ritter.
You may point to the fact that they have a kid, Billy Heywood, as their manager, but he did lead them to a one-game playoff with the Mariners for the AL Wild Card.
The future is promising for this bunch, as long as they can deal with the ego of veteran pitcher Mike McGrevey and get over the fact that Poindexter is playing first for them.
10. Doug Dorsey and Kate Moseley (The Cutting Edge)
You might not expect to find a figure skating pair on this list, but if we're going to talk about the best teams of all-time, we can't discriminate.
The Cutting Edge is the story of Kate Moseley, a prima donna figure skater who runs through partner after partner until she is paired with retired hockey player Doug Dorsey.
The two butt heads initially (of course), but grow to work together both on and off the ice. Of course, their final Olympic performance is ridiculous (and contains a move that I'm pretty sure is impossible), and ends with a staged kiss, much to the delight of the crowd.
Despite the cheesiness of the movie, you can't deny the fact that making it all the way to the Olympics as a figure-skating pair makes you a pretty good team.
And while they don't show them receiving the gold medal in the movie, you have to think it was in their future.
9. ESU Wolves (The Program)
Sure they had their problems, but the ESU Wolves of The Program had more talent than any college team I've ever seen.
Those problems got in the way during the 1992-93 season that was filmed in the movie, namely:
Joe Kane: An alcoholic quarterback.
Alvin Mack: A linebacker who couldn't read and then had a career-threatening injury.
Steve Lattimer: A defensive lineman whose roid rage caused him to sexually harass a coed.
Darnell Jefferson: A freshman running back taking remedial courses.
Bobby Collins: A womanizing backup quarterback who was dismissed from the team for using the coach's daughter to cheat, only to later be re-instated when the starting QB went to rehab.
Countless boosters breaking NCAA rules by slipping $50 bills into the athletes' jacket pockets
That being said, Kane is a Heisman candidate, Jefferson is one of the best young running backs in the country, and they have a coach, Sam Winters, who knows how to recruit. Also, the members of the team are particularly good public speakers.
Best of all, they have a secret play where they "put the women and children to bed and go looking for dinner," which results in a touchdown an improbable 99 percent of the time.
8. Ducks (The Mighty Ducks)
The youth hockey team from The Mighty Ducks really has it all. They have skill in Charlie Conway, strength in Fulton Reed, and leadership in coach Gordon Bombay (who handles adversity with astounding resolve).
Also, throw in the fact that they have a fat kid in goal, which eliminates holes for the other team to score.
The Ducks proved that they could beat a more skilled team when they defeated the Hawks on Conway's game-winning penalty shot, so they'd clearly rise to the occasion when taking on more difficult opponents.
Plus, they'd probably pick up a few ringers for the stretch run...anyone but Keenan.
7. Miami Sharks (Any Given Sunday)
Talk about a team with problems, but definitely no lack of talent. Luckily, the Miami Sharks of Any Given Sunday are anchored by Hall of Fame coach Tony D'Amato, who specializes in motivational speeches.
The injuries to legendary quarterback Jack "Cap" Rooney and then his backup Tyler Cherubini opens the door for the flashy upstart Willie Beamen.
While the veteran Luther "Shark" Lavay holds down the defense, the offensive load is carried by outspoken running back Julian Washington until Beamen finally starts to figure things out.
Beaman uses his Michael Vick-style running and passing attack (and awesome music videos) to lead the Sharks to the Pantheon Cup, which they lose to San Francisco.
While the team certainly had issues, you have to put a team that makes it all the way to the championship game at the top of the list of fictional sports teams.
6. New York Knights (The Natural)
Can one man lead a team to victory? The answer we got from The Natural is a resounding "yes."
Roy Hobbs was one of the best pitching prospects the country had ever seen when he was inexplicably shot by an angry woman. He fought his way back and, though unable to pitch, he proved that he was just as great of a hitter.
He was originally a benchwarmer for the lowly New York Knights, but after a tragedy (Bump Bailey dies running through a fence), Hobbs is inserted into the starting lineup and never looks back.
Despite conspiracies and injuries, Hobbs perseveres and leads his team to the pennant in historically dramatic fashion.
While it's hard to believe that Hobbs would be able to return to baseball, it's clear that the Knights of that season had a great shot at winning the World Series.
5. Cleveland Indians (Major League)
Ricky Vaughn? Willie Hayes? I never heard of half these guys. Mitchell Friedman?
We don't know what happened to Mitchell Friedman, but Rick Vaughn and Willie Mays Hayes went on to turn the 1989 Cleveland Indians of Major League into the Cinderella story of the MLB.
In addition to Vaughn and Hayes, the team sported veteran catcher and positive clubhouse presence Jake Taylor along with Cuban power hitter Pedro Cerrano.
Mix in the veteran wiles of starting pitcher Eddie Harris and the no-nonsense coaching style of Lou Brown and you have yourself the makings of a dynasty.
The only problem with this squad is age, but a dramatic victory over the hated Yankees propelled them to the World Series.
A perfect blend of experience and youthful exuberance, much like the 2003 Marlins, could allow them to win the whole bleepin' thing.
4. Mean Machine (The Longest Yard, 2005)
If you get over the fact that Adam Sandler is supposed to be former NFL quarterback Paul "Wrecking" Crewe in the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard, you'll start to see how good this team really is.
They have offensive speed in Deacon Moss (played by a spry Michael Irvin) and Megget, and a serious amount of intimidation with Battle, Cheeseburger Eddie, Turley and Switowski.
They may not be allowed out of jail to play in the NFL, but if they were, they would definitely make a couple of Super Bowls.
3. Lincoln Railsplitters (He Got Game)
He Got Game finally answers the question: If Jesus played basketball, how would his team do?
Jesus Shuttlesworth (played by Ray Allen) deals with all of his family drama off the court, but on the court he is a cold-blooded scorer who leads his team, the Lincoln Railsplitters, to victory after victory.
He's not alone, though; Shuttlesworth's supporting cast includes point guard Coleman "Booger" Sykes who is in charge of feeding Shuttlesworth the rock.
Oh yeah, and there's also Sip, Mance and Lonnie, played by real life NBA players Travis Best, Walter McCarty and John Wallace, respectively.
Shuttlesworth is the top recruit in the nation, so it's hard to believe that with his supporting cast they'd have any trouble knocking off other schools and winning the state title.
2. West Canaan Coyotes (Varsity Blues)
Many fans thought that when Florida State-bound senior quarterback Lance Harbor went down with a knee injury, the season was over for the West Canaan Coyotes of Varsity Blues.
In stepped bookworm Jonny Moxon who, despite leading an insurrection against the legendary coach Bud Kilmer, helped the Coyotes win yet another district championship.
This team is loaded, starting with 400-pound, dangerously-obese offensive lineman Billy Bob. At receiver, they have the explosive Charlie Tweeder, who can hopefully stay out of jail for the duration of the playoff run.
At running back, you've got Wendell Brown, the self-described "black work horse" of the team.
It doesn't get much better than this in the high school ranks, and they even have the dreaded "oopty-oop" formation that creates all sorts of match-up problems for the defense.
The team is overflowing with talent, but they'll win mostly due to the fact that their players are clearly 30 years old. Apparently, they don't check birth certificates in West Canaan.
1. Western University Dolphins (Blue Chips)
Let's put aside the fact that Western University and coach Pete Bell were guilty of numerous recruiting infractions to put together the team from Blue Chips, and let's just concentrate on the team itself.
This could be the greatest collection of basketball talent on any team in history.
First you have the big, raw, talented center Neon Boudeaux. Then you have the point guard who is also more than capable of getting to the rim or knocking down a jumper, Butch McRae.
Add to them the sharp-shooting big man, Ricky Roe, who can play either the three or the four, and you have a Big Three the likes of which college basketball has never seen.
The only downside is that all of the players are freshmen, but we've seen freshmen lead their teams to victory in the past (Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose).
To help with leadership, they have Tony, a senior who dabbled in point shaving a few years back and had trouble passing his "TV" class, but has a heart of gold.
The momentum couldn't be any stronger heading into the "NCSA" tournament after knocking off No. 1 Indiana in a nationally-televised game, so it's hard to see the Dolphins falling anywhere short of the national title game.
The three freshmen may be "one and dones," but for that one year, they certainly have the best team in the country.