"Wanna have a catch?" ... Baseball in the 80s
Thank the maker that Major League Baseball is about to start. I'm not sure I can handle any more televised basketball or hockey. And I've watched "Top Gun" so many times lately that even my TV remote has lost that lovin' feeling and thinks Maverick is dangerous.
But until that first pitch on opening day goes flying past somebody's noggin, we can derive a little preseason excitement from the baseball movies of the '80s, which not coincidentally is the subject of next week's podcast.
Times pop music critic Sean Daly and sports columnist Tom Jones will join the show to decide once and for all: Which was the best baseball movie of the 80s?
Which one would you pick? Here are some pros and cons:
THE NATURAL (1984)
Balls: Beautifully scored, featuring sublime performances by Robert Redford, Darren McGavin, Kim Bassinger, Wilford Brimley ("Don't you know I hate losin' to the Pirates?!?").
Strikes: Seeing Redford play an 18-year-old version of himself is creepy. And other story lines seem a bit hooky at times.
Favorite quote: "I guess some mistakes you never stop paying for."
BULL DURHAM (1988)
Balls: Considered the most realistic movie made about the minor leagues (how many others can you name?); perhaps Kevin Costner's single-best film performance.
Strikes: Watching Tim Robbins pretend to be pitcher is painful; and listening to the never-ending, thick North Carolina accents is like taking a Nolan Ryan fastball to the forehead. (Note to Hollywood: I'd prefer the fastball next time. It'd ease my pain.)
Favorite quote: "The rose goes in the front, big guy."
FIELD OF DREAMS (1989)
Balls: Possibly the most quotable baseball movie of all time and featuring the best speech about baseball every conceived -- delivered by the always brilliant James Earl Jones ("It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.")
Strikes: Is it really a baseball movie? Or just an excuse to see if every male you know cries like a baby at the ending? (Just say, "Dad ... wanna have a catch?" and here come the waterworks.)
Favorite quote: "Hey rookie! You were good."
EIGHT MEN OUT (1988)
Balls: Great ensemble cast featuring John Cusack as the tortured Bucky Weaver.
Strikes: Difficult storyline to follow unless you're already familiar with the 1919 World Series. Christopher Lloyd channels "Rev. Jim" from "Taxi" for his turn as "Bill Burns."
Favorite quote: "Those guys are all gone now."
MAJOR LEAGUE (1989)
Balls: Easily the funniest of the group, thanks to Bob Uecker ("Just a bit outside"), James Gammon as manager "Lou Brown" and "Wild Thing" Charlie Sheen.
Strikes: The Cleveland Indians as winners? Only in Hollywood.
Favorite quote: "Yo, bartender, Jobu needs a refill."
So what's your pick? We'll read the best comments during the podcast.