The Bad News Bears 1976

This movie was a surprise hit in 1976. It’s about an inept baseball team that is coached by an alcoholic Morris Buttermaker. The kids are foul-mouthed and the coach could care less for most of the movie. When I watch this movie I’m in little league again.

The script is smartly written and the comedy is good. Sometimes this movie gets overlooked but it is a great baseball movie. The cast includes Walter Matthau, Tatum O’Neal, Vic Morrow, and Jackie Earle Haley.

The movie rings true today. As bad as the kids are in the movie, the adults are worse. Parents screaming at kids when they make bad plays and one parent (coach) is about winning at any cost.

The movie is so 1970s but it pulls the veil back on youth sports then and now. They really nail down what the adults are like in little league… I coached little league a few years ago and I had a parent actually call me about his son at 10pm because he thought he should be hitting 3rd instead of 5th…this was a team of 4 and 5 year olds. I saw a coach and parent have a fist fight in the back of the stands…

It reminds me so much of my little league experience. People are shocked now when I tell them. I had a coach when I was 11 and we would be at the park practicing. I usually played 3rd base, pitched, and sometimes was the catcher.

Our coach would be hitting grounders to each of the fielders from home plate. The infielders would throw to first and then throw back to home…normal right? Our coach would have a beer in one hand and would hand it to me when hitting the ball. I would hand it back while the first baseman was throwing it back to me. This would happen in each practice on the city field. We didn’t think anything about it. The catcher was also the official beer passer and holder.

We had a lot of fun. I just knew I was going to play for the Dodgers when I grew up and take Ron Cey’s place when he was ready to retire. It was like going to college to be an accountant…you were training to be what you were going to be.

If you have never seen this film you are missing a baseball classic.`

Brett Marx was in this movie. He is the grand-nephew of Harpo, Groucho, Chico. and Zeppo. He was Gummos grandson…

brett marx.jpg

 

 

The Boys of Summer

Baseball is back and I’m thrilled. I’ve always been a baseball fan first. No other sport matches up against it. It’s a game that takes a tremendous amount of skill to play. Most players who get drafted never get to play in the majors . Hitting a major league curve ball is probably the hardest thing to do in all sports.

Anyway, there is nothing like spring training and the hope for a new season. Every team is tied at 0 in the standings. I really wish an MLB team was in the city I live in…we have an NFL team that I would trade in a heartbeat to get an MLB team. Baseball is not an action packed game like basketball, soccer or hockey but there is a game within a game. When you get up to bat…no one is going to block for you…no it’s you against that pitcher … What I love is the different sized fields, no clock, no salary cap, players with quirks, fastballs that are 95 and above and the people who have the skills to play it right…it is a beautiful thing to see.

Baseball really hasn’t changed too much over the years except for instant replay and some small changes. What you see now is pretty much what you saw in 1920s. It’s one of the few things in America that stays consistent.

It’s a game of numbers and history…From Honus Wagner to Babe Ruth to Ted Williams to Jackie Robinson to Willie Mays to Hank Aaron to Sandy Koufax to Clayton Kershaw to Mike Trout… No game has the history that baseball does that is as important.

I love to listen to broadcasts on the radio and to catch a game in mid summer after I get done with what I am doing. In an instant I’m back on the little league and then high school field…in what Bruce Springsteen says…my…”Glory Days”

The cold weather is leaving soon and it is time for me to follow my Dodgers all the way to a World Series again.