5 baseball movies to keep you interested during the MLB lockout

Courtesy+Columbia+Pictures

Courtesy Columbia Pictures

Dan Buffa , Special to the Jewish Light

There’s no other way around it. The 2022 Major League Baseball season has a moderate chance of being delayed in some capacity. Fans, the ones who pay their hard-earned wages to fill stadiums, can’t control a thing.

Blame the owners for being bloodhound greedy for so long, making players pawns in their money stacks-building schemes while introducing lunatic rule changes. Blame the players for picking 2021 to dig their feet into the ground after losing several past Collective Bargaining Agreement arguments. Ask any person with knowledge of the negotiations and the two sides are pretty far off.

What makes you think that will change suddenly? The Christmas season only makes people want more things, so the millionaires and very well-paid folks will continue to bark at each other. While the real losers-the fans and anybody who puts stock in spring training and regular season jobs-wait for one side to blink, here are some baseball movies. Films to keep you invested and interested in a sport that is currently locked out.

Bull Durham

My top baseball film, without a doubt. While you struggle with the throwing motion for Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), I revel in the edgy humor that writer/director Ron Shelton brought to the film. It cemented Kevin Costner’s status as a baseball movie god, and holds up on multiple viewings since its late 1980’s release. The introspective and honest depiction of the minor league hustle is something a lot of future movies passed on telling. Shelton, Costner, Robbins, and the temperature-rising Susan Sarandon wrapped that into a story about the everlasting devotion of a sport. (Amazon Prime, Hulu, Paramount Network)

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Cleanest one-liner:

“Don’t think, meat. It only hurts the ballclub.”

Moneyball 

Written by Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian, Bennett Miller’s movie offers a fascinating look at the shifting dynamic in baseball evaluations. Gone were the adoration for home runs and runs batted in, and arriving were the idea that on-base percentage and walks carried value too. Around 2002, after McGwire and Bonds checked out, front offices clocked in to a new way of winning. Miller framed all of that into a thrilling account of a low budget team finding new ways to win.

Brad Pitt’s performance as real-life Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane deserved award consideration, while Jewish actor Jonah Hill did get nominated for his work as Beane’s assistant. Any baseball addict will eat up the locker room confrontations and GM trade talks, while casual fans can just watch Pitt work in one of his better roles. (Netflix)

Great dialogue exchange:

“First base isn’t that hard, Scott. Tell him, Ron.” 

“It’s incredibly hard.”

A League Of Their Own 

What if women wanted to play while the men fought overseas? Penny Marshall’s film about a ragtag women’s league starred Geena Davis (movie star prime), Lori Petty, and a hilarious Tom Hanks as members of the Rockford Peaches. This 1992 film grows even more timely with the lockout, as the owners of the women’s league didn’t want the sport to go quiet during war. The result was a family baseball film with some PG-rated edge to it, bolstered by Hanks leaning into comedy and a slew of rich supporting performances.

Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna as best friends/teammates created sincere laughs while Davis and Petty’s rivalry in the film supplied the gravitas. Jon Lovitz and David Stratharin had their moments. Try not to feel the heartstrings pull when they all gather at the Women’s Baseball Hall of Fame late in the film. (Vudu, Amazon Prime Video)

“It’s supposed to be hard. It’s the hard that makes it great.”

Major League

30 years later, this Cleveland Indians baseball comedy still carries laugh-out-loud moments. A cast featuring Missouri native Tom Berenger and the late James Gammon, along with Wesley Snipes and Charlie Sheen, rounded out a rock-solid cast. The late Margaret Whitton’s portrayal of icy GM Rachel Phelps should remind every soul in St. Louis of a female Stan Kroenke. Dennis Haysbert’s Pedro Cerrano putting golf club covers on his lumber bat. Players wearing caps and sleeves during spring training. Ring a bell? (Amazon Prime Video)

“This guy’s dead.”

“Then cross him off the list then.”

The Natural

Ladies and gents, this is cinema cheesecake. If the grandparents don’t like all that cursing, all a young lad needs to do is put on a golden-looking Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs. When I was a kid, I would put this movie on for my mom to enjoy after dad and I played a slew of action movies. She’d sit down and eventually say, “He’s handsome,” before relaxing for the movie. It’s an old school classic story: the kid with a special bat who experiences adversity and breaks into the league at an old age. Can he hit? Oh sure he can. (Showtime, Amazon Prime)

As good as Redford is, Wilford Brimley steals the show as the manager who dislikes Hobbs at first yet eventually befriends.

“You know, I believe we have two lives.”

“How… what do you mean?”

“The life we learn with, and the life we live with after that.”