The Best (and Worst) that Baseball Movies Have to Offer

We are officially in the doldrums of summer. The Phillies suck (again) after one fun series with the Cubs before completely shitting the bed against the pathetic Padres, everyone is online arguing about bad chicken sandwiches that will give them type 2 diabetes and my Twitter account is being harangued by people who think “Friends” was just as good of a show as “Seinfeld.”

This is indeed a dark time right now. Still three more weeks until the Eagles and the grim specter of another Flyers season is looming in the Autumn wind to depress us all yet again.

We need to do something big. Something splashy. Something OUT OF THE BOX to infuse this city with some energy.

You know what that means….it’s time to arbitrarily rank baseball movies because I have nothing better to do with my life!

Rather than just give you a list of the top-5 baseball movies of all time (which I will do anyway because I’m an unoriginal hack) I’ll dole out a few awards Academy style to the best and worst that baseball movies have to offer.

So without further ado….LET THE FIRST COGGY AWARDS COMMENCE!

Most Unintentionally Hilarious and out of Place Baseball Scene in a terrible 90s movie: Simon Birch

Oh “Simon Birch”….HOW I LOATHE THEE. The 90s was the perfect shit-storm of saccharin, nonsensical movies designed to tug at your heartstrings without offering anything of substance over the course of a horrendous 90 minute journey. I blame “Forest Gump,” a genuinely GOOD movie that Hollywood ran into the ground for the rest of the decade. There was no disability or mental disorder too big a producer couldn’t exploit to make a few bucks from the hayseed dopes that would flock to the “talkies” in Middle America. A leg amputee yearns to achieve his dream of being a professional soccer star? Perfect, I hear Bill Pullman is interested in playing the coach who doesn’t think he can make it, but then is inspired by the character’s ability to hop for days.

“Simon Birch” took full advantage of ALL these tropes. Kid who is different? Check. Wisecracking sidekick? Check. Questions about religion? Check. Jim Carrey when he wanted to transition out of comedy? Check.

Here’s the description of the movie:

Simon Birch (Ian Michael Smith) and Joe Wenteworth (Joseph Mazzello) are boys who have a reputation for being oddballs. Joe never knew his father, and his mother, Rebecca (Ashley Judd), is keeping her lips sealed, no matter how much he protests. Simon, meanwhile, is an 11-year-old dwarf whose outsize personality belies his small stature. Indeed, he often assails the local reverend (David Strathairn) with thorny theological questions and joins Joe on his quest to find his biological father.

HOW DROLL.

Anyways, thrown into this ramshackle shit pile of a movie is a baseball scene so uproariously hilarious and out of place I thought I was in the midst of a fever dream when I hate watched the movie on TBS a decade ago. Behold:

THAT LITTLE FUCK KILLED HIS FRIENDS MOM WITH A FOUL BALL. I’m all for not extending the netting at baseball stadiums if it means murderers like Simon Birch will find themselves in prison for a long, long time.

Best Use of Randy Newman in a Baseball Montage: The Naked Gun

Please. Could it be anything else?

Look at those mountains, look at them trees, hey that bum over there man he’s down on his knees!

Maybe the best sports montage EVER. Still makes me laugh every single time I see it. If you don’t laugh at Leslie Nielsen dancing while calling the third strike at an important divisional game between the Angles and Mariners you have no taste.

Best Death: John Kruk in “The Fan.”

Ever think to yourself, “boy, I have a pretty good life. Gorgeous wife, nice house, two sweet children…but something feels missing. I have this…gap…and I don’t know what to fill it with. I wish I could be happy.”

Forget religion or family to fill the gap in your heart, become a more fulfilled person by watching this 8-second clip of John Kruk in a Giants uniform waddling out from a dugout only to immediately get stabbed by Robert DeNiro.

Fun stuff! Better than church.

Best Baseball Movie About a Kid Who Suddenly Finds Himself in Major League Baseball: Little Big League

Please, lets all be adults about this. It’s high time we admit “Little Big League” is a far better movie than “Rookie of the Year.” Yeah yeah yeah, we all love it when the doctor says “Funky butt lovin’.” Hilarious.

But does “Rookie of the Year” have an 11-year-old falling in love with hotel pornography? I think not.

Night Nurses from Jersey. That’s just good old fashioned family fun in a PG movie.

And now, without further ado….the greatest five baseball movies to ever be made.

5) The Sandlot

I was 10 when this movie came out. You can’t be a kid in the 90s and not fall in love with this movie. The Beast? Ham? Wendy Pfeffercorn? Kids ingesting dangerous amounts of chewing tobacco before getting on a carnival ride? Amazing.

Smalls, Ham, Squints, Yeah Yeah….come on now. Doesn’t get much better.

Best line: “You’re KILLING me Smalls.”

4) A League of Their Own

Tom Hanks at his funniest. Geena Davis knocking the shit out of anything thrown her away. Casual insults about Marla Hooch’s appearance….amazing. Just a great, funny baseball movie with a fabulous cast.

If you don’t laugh at Tom Hanks nailing a fat kid in the face with a glove then I weep for you.

Points off for Kit though. Kit sucked…though I do have a theory that Dottie Hinson dropped the ball on purpose in the climactic scene to finally give the spotlight to her whiny sister.

The actress who played Kit, Lori Petty, reads The Coggin Toboggan so she’s not all bad.

3) Field of Dreams

If you don’t tear up at the end of the movie when Kevin Costner has a catch with his dad YOU’RE DEAD INSIDE. DEAD.

2) The Bad News Bears (1976)

Only in the 70s could an R-rated movie about a raging alcoholic coaching a little league team filled with racist children ever be made. Filled with racial slurs, underage drinking, child abuse, and Vic Morrow before he got his final haircut (look it up). Hilariously offensive and completely unable to be made today (as evidenced by the piece of garbage PG-13 2005 reboot).

Walter Matthau is at the HEIGHT of his surly, drunken powers of this movie. And Jackie Earle Haley as Kelly Leake? He rides a Harley Davidson and he’s like 11 years old.

An alternate version of this movie exists where Morris Buttermaker mows down his entire team with his car in a drunken haze as he does donuts in the little league outfield. May have been better than what they put on film.

1) Major League

Please. Did you think it could be anything else? The greatest SPORTS movie ever made, a classic worst to first formula with a motley crew of losers and a number of AMAZING montages.

They were the 93′ Phillies before the 93′ Phillies. Each character is gold, from Jake Taylor to Rick Vaughn. Bob Eucker’s Harry Doyle brings the entire movie together.

Legitimately great baseball scenes mixed with hilarious comedy that doesn’t romanticize the “game” of baseball.

The perfect Saturday afternoon baseball movie. It doesn’t get better.

I hear there’s also a great sequel in the works as well…

There you have it. The definitive list of baseball movies and the first even Coggy Awards are in the books. If you have any problems with my choices, please go sit on a baseball bat and rotate. Thank you.

Go buy Phillies gear by clicking the banner below and try not to kill any of your friend’s moms with foul balls like that murderer Simon Birch.

Philadelphia Phillies gear at Fanatics.com

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