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DRaysBay’s Ultimate Baseball Movie Challenge: Division Finals

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Voting for the Division Finals is underway!

Baseball Comedy Finals

(1) Bull Durham vs (2) Major League

My personal bracket was busted right out of the gate when Bull Durham handily trounced my upset special pick, The Bad News Bears by a count of 109-42. Judging by the comments, though, this had less to do with any weakness on the part of Bears than it did the overwhelming strength of the Costner-Robbins-Sarandon classic.

It remains to be seen when — or if — the criticism of Bull Durham as “a chick flick disguised as a baseball movie” will rear its head in the vote tallies, but if it does, the backlash is most likely to show up against the least chickflicky contender left in the field: Major League.

The rejects from Cleveland dispatched A League of Their Own in a match-up that if the comments are any indication was a lot closer than the final 98-57 vote indicated. And if they’re going to knock off Bull Durham, the Tribe are going to have to do better than this:

Baseball History Finals

(1) Moneyball vs (2) 42

In the closest match-up of the first round, 42 took down 61* by a score of 84-54. But not only was it the closest match-up, it also had among the fewest participants in the poll. This suggests that fewer people have actually seen these films, which will put the Jackie Robinson biopic at a disadvantage in future rounds. Still, counting out 42 before the votes are in would be a mistake.

Top seed Moneyball took home about two-thirds of the vote in a 97-54 win against a surprisingly tough Eight Men Out. The Brad Pitt vehicle looks to have an excellent chance to move on to the final four.

Here’s Thatguy47 with some incisive commentary:

Well one of 2 baseball movies that I really like is out in the 1st round. Just another reason to hate Bull Durham. At least Moneyball still has a chance to get out in the 2nd round & go out with some dignity.

You don’t wanna let Thatguy down, do you?

Family Fare Final

The Sandlot (1) vs Rookie of the Year (2)

As expected, the cultural touchstone that is The Sandlot crushed Angels in the Outfield, 131-19. Does Rookie of the Year stand a chance against a film that can make grown men to do this?

It’ll be tough. But that’s not to say The Sandlot didn’t take some hits in the comments.

From user bobr:

“Incidentally, I have never understood the enthusiasm for "Sandlot" either, a movie I consider very cliched and derivative that telegraphs what it expects from the audience at every turn. Not having seen "Angels in the Outfield", I can’t comment on that, but doubt it is even less uninteresting.”

Brian Andersbot was disappointed Bears didn’t make it through, and added:

“I've always thought Sandlot was pretty bad. As a romance about the game of baseball it is fine, but so much of it is unbelievable that it becomes hard to even enjoy it. People like the Sandlot because it is fake nostalgia. Give me The Bad News Bears, either Matthau or Thornton would be fine, and let’s be done with it.”

Sir budman3 counters the contrarians:

"People like Sandlot because it's fake nostalgia."....Maybe people like it because they actually did live through it. Why belittle that belief?

#HotTake from Thatguy47

“Sandlot’s a failed attempt at replicating the magic of A Christmas Story. It’s full of mechanical issues (involving the plot, sequencing, etc.) but its real downfall is that it’s not authentic, as you said. IMO the whole time you can tell that the story & characters were written by hired hands, while A Christmas Story had autobiographical elements to it which lent it credibility.”

But for all the contrarian takes, there’s no denying that Rookie of the Year is going to have a tough time this round. While he did coast past Little Big League with a 97-42 win, I’m afraid Henry Rowengartner’s best chance at knocking off the big dawg might be to “float it.”

Baseball Drama Division

(1) Field of Dreams vs (2) The Natural

The top seeds again easily rolled through in the drama division, with Field of Dreams crushing indy-darling Sugar 128-18, and The Natural impressively taking down the criminally overlooked Bang the Drum Slowly 112-23. FoD drew the most heat in the comments.

Says Regional Nova:

“Field of Dreams is the 'Cat's in the Cradle' of movies. ie its a litmus test for people with daddy issues.”

From BravesRays

“I really do need to see Sugar, and maybe I need to watch Field of Dreams, again. I get the sense that people critical of Field of Dreams film bristle most at the overrating of the film by fans and critics, rather than genuinely disliking it or believing it to be unworthy of any acclaim. It’s like the Derek Jeter of baseball films.”

And the always excellent bobr:

“As for "Field of Dreams", I think Posnanski’s recent post about that is worthwhile. He loves the movie but recognizes its many flaws. I found it dismal and dull on first watch, (and even worse the second time when I tried to see it through new eyes as so many seemed to like it), and cannot overlook its flaws because it never grabbed me in any way.”

Lastly, Brian Andersbot:

“Only thing I’ll say about Field of Dreams is that James Earl Jones is fantastic.”

I’m with Andersbot on this one. I mean, just look at this:

For all of its convincing victory, I still feel like The Natural isn’t getting the love it deserves.

From BravesRays again:

“Bang the Drum Slowly is a really good film that people forget about when discussing baseball movies, so I was glad to see it get some recognition, even if it’s being trounced by The Natural, which for all its merits wasn’t nearly as good as the book (IMHO).”

User Jim_Turvey is calling it:

Early upset alert: The Natural over Field of Dreams and Major League over Bull Durham

Honestly, I’m not sure it would be that big of an upset. If movie magic has taught me anything, it’s that you don’t bet against Roy Hobbs. I mean, listen to the sound off his bat.

Sweet B.J. Upton, that sounds like baseball season, fellas.

Polls will close at 6PM on Wednesday to give me time to write Thursday’s Final Four post.