Batter Up! Action!

by Rich on April 2, 2018

Baseball season is here, and of course that makes me think of movies. To be fair, ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that there is little in this life that doesn’t remind me of movies. What can I say? I fawn over flicks. I feast on film. I’m mesmerized by movies. But I’m not centered by cinema because that’s just pretentious. At any rate (12.5 %)… baseball makes me think of movies, because so many of my favorite movies are baseball movies. And that begs the question: why are most of the great sports movies about baseball?

I could fill this column with nothing but a list of well know, mostly popular and successful baseball movies. They cover everything from unorganized backyard ball (“The Sandlot”) to little league (“The Bad News Bears”) to high school (“The Rookie”) to college (“Everybody Wants Some”) to the minors (“Bull Durham”) to the pros (“Major League”) to post pro (“Mr. Baseball”). And there’s a ton that cross genres. Comedies, dramas, retro, Sci-Fi, and one of my favorites, women’s baseball. It’s all there.

No other sport has produced the sheer volume of film the way baseball has, despite the fact that one could argue the game has been dethroned as “America’s Pastime” by football. Why is that? I mean, try to think of all the football movies you can… I’ll wait.

That didn’t take long, did it? If you include “The Last Boy Scout” and the remake of “The Longest Yard”, you get maybe 50 movies. Baseball has double that, not including some of the greatest documentaries of all time. But let’s not just limit it to football movies. What other sports have provided great films? Hockey, oddly enough, while not by quantity, has given us some big ones. “Slapshot”, “Miracle”, “The Mighty Ducks”, and one of my favorites, “Mystery Alaska”. Basketball has been a pretty big bust, save a few notable exceptions like “Hoosiers” and “Space Jam”. Ok, you can include “Blue Chips” if you must. I’ll allow it. NASCAR has a couple, even wrestling and horse racing. But none come close to the proliferation that baseball brings to the silver screen.

Again…why? What is it about the sport that lends itself to story telling? Is it that common of an experience that we just all “get it”, even if we aren’t baseball nuts or sports fans? I mean, the game doesn’t even have a clock. You can’t have the buzzer beaters, the last second shots that come with basketball or hockey or football.

I think it has something to do with the pace of the game, it’s unpredictability and the very fact that it has no clock. Baseball is much more like life than other games. There is more time to interact, more chances to build relationships and experience the ups and downs just like we do in our every day lives. Heck, even the season seems to take most of the year. We pass through almost every season between those early days when pitchers and catchers report, to the last pitch of The World Series. I think it’s this spanning of time that allows great stories to develop.

To be perfectly frank, as much as I enjoy baseball (the game), I actually enjoy baseball movies more.

Except “Pitch Perfect”. Don’t even get me started…

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