Editor’s Note: In the spirit of seeking sunshine during a gray winter, and to help usher in the upcoming baseball season, we will be featuring baseball movies every Monday between now and Opening Day. Today’s choice of silver screen Baseball goodness is a Major League triple play.
Sometimes a baseball movie should just be about pure unadulterated humor. Yes, baseball is big business but it is also still a game and games are meant to be fun.
This week our focus turns to Major League the story of a rag tag group of players uniting for a common goal against a common enemy in the form of their team owner.
For the strict humor baseball movies it is hard to top Major League. Add to the equation that Charlie “Tiger Blood” Sheen did all of his own pitching in the film and you have the makings of a cinematic classic.
The movie follows the Cleveland Indians as they are in rebuilding mode following the death of their long-time owner.
The late owner’s widow has a plan to move the team from Cleveland to Miami. The catch in that plan is that they have to be the worst team in baseball in order to get out of their stadium lease.
To accomplish this goal the owner invites the worst players she can find to the team thinking that it will be a slam dunk to be so bad that a move to Miami can occur.
Of course at the time that the move came out the Marlins and Rays were not yet playing so the idea of moving a team to Florida was somewhat new and in the years that followed several teams used a move to Florida as a bargaining chip to get a better stadium deal back home.
In the end the players learn of the plot and in true underdog fashion they find a way to make it to the playoffs despite the strong odds against them.
In addition to Charlie Sheen as Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn the movie includes performances by Dennis “That Allstate Insurance guy” Haysbert, Wesley Snipes, Rene Russo, Tom Berenger, and most notably Bob “Just a bit outside” Uecker.
Uecker’s performance as the Indians play by play announcer, Harry Doyle, introduced so many quotable moments that they are forever etched in the lexicon of many fans of both the movie and baseball.
It is hard to watch a wild pitch to this day without uttering the phrase, “Just a bit outside.”
Of course a particularly rough outing from a pitcher with control issues can lead to uttering, “ball eight,” as well.
While I am sure that Uecker’s real life calls of the Milwaukee Brewers are not quite as over the top as his performance in Major League I have often wanted to hear him call a Brewers game just to be sure.
Baseball movies throughout the years have included great performances by real announcers that are able to let loose and play a slightly funnier version of themselves and Uecker definitely used every second of screen time to his advantage.
Major League begat two sequels that while not quite as funny as the original are certainly worth viewing as well.
There are even some rumors floating around of another sequel with the original cast returning but one really wonders how much comedic gas they could have left in the tank although I certainly could go for some more calls from Harry Doyle and am also curious to see if Charlie Sheen can still bring the heat.
Copyright 2015 R. Anderson