You’re probably familiar with Redbox — that’s the company that lets you borrow DVDs from a box outside the supermarket. Supposedly it’s all automated, but frankly they have a long way to go to convince me there’s not a guy in there pushing copies of ”Passengers“ out through the little slot.
But apparently Redbox does more than distribute movies sans human interaction. They also do polls, specifically polls about movies. Their latest, just in time for Opening Day, is a poll to determine ”America’s Favorite Baseball Movies,” a list which does not include ”Ed“ (1996). ”Ed” starred Matt LeBlanc (Joey from ”Friends”) and a chimpanzee who played baseball, or something, and it is nobody’s favorite movie, baseball or otherwise. The fact that the Redbox list does not include it speaks well to its overall legitimacy.
So here’s what the list does include:
10) Moneyball (2011). OK, so this movie conveniently leaves out the fact that the A’s had three of the best starting pitchers in baseball during their improbable 2002 20-game win streak. It’s still one of the great inside-baseball (literally) movies, and Jonah Hill (”That’s Pete”) almost manages to steal it from Brad Pitt, which is saying something. Even Clooney and Bruce Willis couldn’t do that.
9) Rookie of the Year (1993). This is the one where a 12-year-old kid breaks his arm and when it heals he can throw a 103-mph fastball, so of course he’s immediately drafted into the Major Leagues. It is NOT the one where a 12-year-old kid is left a Major League baseball team by his late grandfather and appoints himself manager — that was 1994’s ”Little Big League,” which I probably would have put on this list instead of ”Rookie” (if only because it had Timothy Busfield instead of Gary Busey, who even then seemed insane).
8) Bull Durham (1988). All I will say is, the fact that this isn’t closer to the top of the list is an insult to baseball, and movies, and lists. And now I will share a ”Bull Durham” quote: ”Strikeouts are boring, besides that, they’re fascist.”
7) The Natural (1984). Yes, it sold out the book’s downer ending, and Robert Redford was way too old to play Roy Hobbs, and I’m pretty sure that no matter how hard you hit a baseball, it won’t cause stadium lights to explode in a cascade of inspirational fireworks. I have decided I do not care, and that we should all have a glowing Glenn Close who stands for us when we get up to bat.
6) The Bad News Bears (1976). I watched this a few years ago with my son, who was probably around 10, because I remembered it from my childhood as being such wholesome family fun. Which it was, except for all the drinking, smoking, swearing and racial slurs. Ah, the 70s!
5) Angels in the Outfield (1994). Put ”baseball” through a Disneymogrifier and it would spit out this movie every time — it has cute kids, laughs, no shortage of sappy inspirational moments and, of course, a dead mother. And Tony Danza, who pitches the game of his life despite not being helped by angels, and being like 50 years old, and having terminal cancer. Ah, Disney!
4) Major League (1989). I know I’m going to hear it for this, but … I liked ”Major League 2“ better. What? It had more Bob Uecker! And now I will share a Bob Uecker from ”Major League 2″ quote: ”Hello, Tribe fans, welcome to Major League Baseball … sort of.”
3) The Sandlot (1993). Am I the only one who found ”The Sandlot” weird and kind of creepy? Between the lead kid who not only isn’t good at baseball but also seems only vaguely aware of its existence, to the nerdy kid who sexually assaults the pool lifeguard, I thought the whole thing was oddly off-putting. And then Benny becomes a major league ballplayer only to have that achievement ruined by having the worst mustache in the history of cinema, and that includes this one. You’re killin’ me, Smalls!
2) A League of Their Own (1992). There’s no crying in baseball! Enough said. (Except perhaps to note that Donald Trump probably hates this movie, since it features loser Rosie O’Donnell, disgusting Madonna and an entire cast of fully-clothed and competent women. And Tom Hanks.)
1) Field of Dreams (1989). If you build it they will come, and if you do a poll of favorite baseball movies, ”Field of Dreams” will always come out on top of it. WE ALL JUST WANT ONE MORE CATCH WITH OUR DADS, OK?! And now I will go smell my old mitt and cry quietly to myself.
All in all a fine list. Sure, it could have used a few more older gems — wherefore art thou, ”The Pride of the Yankees,” ”Bang the Drum Slowly“ and ”Fear Strikes Out“? — and that it doesn’t have 2013’s instant classic ”42“ is a crime. But as I mentioned earlier, it also doesn’t have ”Ed.”
That makes it a winner in my book. (Sorry, Joey.) Play ball!