College and pro football are done. The XFL is abominable and is a huge embarrassment to the word “sports.” The NBA is devoid of any excitement at all, save the “Days of Our Lives” saga that has been gripping Los Angeles since the dawn of time. Pretty much all a sports fan has these days is college basketball, and for Georgetown fans, at the rate they’re going, that won’t be around much longer either.

Thank God for baseball.

But don’t get ahead of yourselves and run out to have a catch quite yet; it’s only February, and it’s still too cold out. Instead, grab a beer and a few friends, sit back and do the next best thing to watching baseball on television; watch movies about it.

For my money, baseball movies are right up there with war movies as the ultimate escapist fantasies. They have the power to inspire, and present a much closer look at the game than any sports writing can. So this weekend, while the XFL marches on and the Hoyas probably lose, I’ll be on my couch, watching my favorite baseball movies.

One movie I will most certainly not be watching is The Natural – it is awful. It doesn’t make sense; why does that woman shoot him? Where does the Natural go in between his youth and his middle-agedom? I don’t care if it was written by Bernard alamud and that people read it in English classes; the movie flat-out stinks and shall be banished from my list of top baseball movies.

That being said, here are the five movies I’ll be watching this weekend.

Field of Dreams. This movie is so purely good it is almost sickening, but that’s the beauty of it too. Kevin Costner’s Ray Kinsella is redeemed through baseball, finally finding himself and reconciling with his father. Normally, in order to believe in a movie so fantasy-filled you need to be able to suspend your disbelief. Not so in this movie, because deep down, we all know that baseball does have that magic, and we all need to believe in it.

The movie also features a better description of the virtue of baseball than any I could ever hope to offer.

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time,” says James Earl Jones in his epic baritone. “This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.”

Pride of the Yankees. The biography of Yankee great Lou Gehrig, this movie can regularly be seen on cable TV at least once a day, twice during the playoffs. Gary Cooper is a magnanimous Gehrig, and his pure goodness shines throughout the entire movie. If you don’t get filled up with his farewell speech to the Yankee Stadium fans, you have no soul.

Plus, Babe Ruth is in it too.

A League of Their Own. This movie does not have a great degree of verisimilitude to Major League Baseball, and intentionally so. What it does have is a great portrayal of, again, the redemptive power of the game. Tom Hanks is an excellent grouchy, surly manager with a heart of gold who gets his life straightened out once he realizes again that he loves the game. Even Madonna is charming as the slutty outfielder. Add a cameo from Mrs. Cleaver, and you’ve got everything you could ever ask for in a movie.

Major League. As Tom Petty once said, even the losers get lucky sometimes. This series of movies about the hard-luck late-’80s Cleveland Indians is more about the off-the-field aspects of the game than anything else. The movie, as hilarious as it is unrealistic, follows a bunch of lovable losers who beat all the odds to almost win it all. Easily Tom Berenger’s finest non-Gettysburg performance.

The Sandlot. You’ll never remember your little league days so fondly.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.