With the much-celebrated return of football, the homestretch of MLB’s regular season tends to get overlooked. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore what could prove to be a very exciting playoff race (even if your team is out of the running). Luckily for us, American Cinema has produced several great baseball movies that can reignite anyone’s passion for America’s pastime. While no list of five can satisfy everyone, here is a handful of excellent baseball films (in no particular order) that’ll whet your appetite for this year’s playoffs.
One could compile a separate list of Kevin Costner baseball films alone, but Bull Durham stands out for its emphasis on mentoring and teambuilding. While the team in question is only triple-A, the stakes seem high nonetheless. Costner’s character, Crash Davis, is in the last leg of his playing career with only a brief stint in the Majors to his credit. The fleeting nature of his own success reflects the win-or-go-home pressure of the playoffs. But the movie’s also very energizing and funny; watching the goofy Durham mascot get beaned by errant fastballs is always good for a few chuckles.
This 1984 classic, based on the 1952 novel by Bernard Malamud, has an enduring, mythical quality to it. This quality is fostered by its stark representation of good versus evil, theatrical lighting, an uplifting score and certain events that seem downright supernatural. It’s worth watching if just to witness its indelible climax of exploding stadium lights as Roy Hobbs rounds the bases in slow-motion.
Inspired by Michael Lewis’s book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, this David-and-Goliath(s) story depicts former-ballplayer-turned-GM Billy Beane as he tries to manufacture on-field success in the face of overwhelming payroll inequality. Beane’s tactics are now wide-spread throughout the league as ball clubs look for the perfect winning formula. With Beane still running the show in Oakland, the A’s have been one of baseball’s best performers this season and will likely nab one of the American League’s two Wild Card spots. Could this be the year Beane’s Moneyball experiment pays off in the playoffs?
“There’s no crying in baseball!” This famous line is just one of this film’s many merits. It features humor, heart and strong performances — all while touching on issues such as sibling rivalry and the dissolution of wartime families. It also reminds us how important the game of baseball has been during times of trouble and anxiety, and suggests that anyone can excel at something if given the opportunity.
This is an especially timely film to revisit if you’re a real-life Cleveland fan, as 2018’s Tribe have clinched a playoff spot and hope to claim the World Series title they just missed out on two years ago. Bob Uecker of Milwaukee Brewers broadcasting fame lends his voice talents in the booth while Charlie Sheen shows us he’s always been wild and has been “winning” as far back as ’89. But the movie’s main selling point is its comic crew of underdogs, who remind us how fun the game can be.