Morning Coffee with Mark Whelan: No Baseball? How About A Baseball Movie?


Tom Hanks and Geena Davis each give signs in A League of Their Own

No Baseball Today.

Second day in a row with no Major League Baseball.  This is like Winter.  Only shorter. What to do, what to do?  I know! Watch a movie about baseball!

But which one?  Here are my top four, in no particular order.

Bull Durham: Best all-around baseball movie. Kevin Costner is awesome in this one. Wait, is Kevin Costner in every baseball movie?  His character, Crash Davis, is exactly what we hope ballplayers will be like, and ultimately, what many of us wish we were like. Strong-willed, opinionated, a ladies man, funny, tough when he needs to be tough and sensitive when necessary. Pluses: Susan Sarandon, the scenes on the pitching mound where they decide what to buy for a wedding present, Nuke breathing through his eyelids and wearing a garter.  The “I believe in” speech.  And the only use ever of the word “gork” to describe a short fly ball that drops in for a hit.

Moneyball:  Best fictional non-fiction. The perfect movie for the stat junkie.  The story of Billy Beane’s sabermetric approach to building a winning Oakland A’s team. Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Philip Seymour Hoffman keep the story funny and human, and the baseball scenes are probably the most realistic ever on film. Love the scene where the old-school coaches are sitting around talking about the intangibles that separate one player from another.  “Well, his girlfriend’s only a 6, so he lacks confidence…”

A League of Their Own: Best baseball comedy. Major League is good, but this has characters that you care about as well as just ones that make you laugh, so this wins out.  Great characters AND a great story.  Pluses: Tom Hanks is absolutely brilliant as Jimmy Dugan. Jon Lovitz as the scout steals the show in the first half hour of the movie. Huge number of quotable lines, including “There’s no crying in baseball,” “Start using your head. That’s that lump three feet above your ass,” and “It’s the hard that makes it great.”  And the best part may be when they nail Stillwell with the baseball glove and knock him over.

Field of Dreams: Best fictional/fantasy baseball movie of all time. Costner (again) , but this one isn’t character-driven like Bull Durham; this one’s all about the story. But there are great characters, too, especially James Earl Jones as Terrence Mann.  Great original concept. Part buddy movie, part road trip, part fantasy movie, some “we’re gonna lose the farm,” all topped off with the generation-to-generation, father/son bonding theme that baseball has provided for over a century now. Can’t watch this one without shedding a tear at the end.

Got any other suggestions for me? Drop me a note in the comments.