Today marks the first full day of the new baseball season, as well as the start of a month-long retrospective at the MoMA on the game as seen through the lens of American Cinema, including everybody's favourites (Field of Dreams, The Natural, Bull Durham) and some less-heralded, rarely seen and worthy films about the game (Cobb with Tommy Lee Jones and The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings with Billy Dee Williams and Richard Pryor). I guess they had to be choosy when making their picks for this retrospective, as they forgot a few:
Mr. Baseball (1992) - Tom Selleck plays an aging New York Yankee who is traded (along with his moustache) to the Japanese leagues. Lots of 'l' and 'r'-word jokes ensue as Selleck adds some American swagger to the Japanese style of play, as well as being a Rice King and getting involved with the manager's daughter.
The Fan (1996) - Wesley Snipes plays, basically, Barry Bonds, and Robert DeNiro a mentally-detached baseball fan (a knife salesman no less) who worships him. DeNiro tries to help Snipes out of his hitting slump by murdering the teammate who took his lucky uniform number and then, when that turns out to be unappreciated, by kidnapping his son. This was the first Tony Scott film that unleashed his current "Crystal Meth meets Avid" editing style.
The Bad News Bears Go To Japan (1978) - The third film in the popular series, where Little League manager Tony Curtis (what, William Devane wasn't available?) takes his rag-tag fleet of tomboys and brats off to Tokyo to play in the Little League World Series. Hilarity concerning 'r' and 'l' words and sumo wrestlers (the comedy accompanied by gong crashes) ensues.
Ed (1996) - This heartwarming* film features Matt LeBlanc and a chimpanzee. LeBlanc is a minor-league pitcher who develops stage fright on the mound; the chimp is the team mascot who winds up curing LeBlanc of his hangup as well as providing him with solid infield support (he turns out to be a crack third baseman). Perhaps the MoMA is saving this one for a future retrospective on films about animals playing sports (e.g. Air Bud or MVP: Most Valuable Primate).
And the MoMA missed out on a golden opportunity to host the world premiere of the latest entry to the baseball movie canon: The Benchwarmers.
* - 'heartwarming' should be pronounced heartworming - JH.