Column: ‘Field of Dreams’ and more bad baseball on film
Major League Baseball is heading to the “Field of Dreams” next season to pay homage to a terrible flick.
Given my contempt for “Field of Dreams,” many have asked for my reaction.
I say: Don’t stop there.
If the big leagues want to truly honor the worst in baseball-related cinema, here’s a whole lineup of potential locales.
Warning: Spoilers to follow, but try to look at them as public-service knockdown pitches that will hopefully remove any lingering desire to watch these awful films.
9. SOUTH CENTRAL MEXICO — “The Scout” features the talented Albert Brooks in the namesake role, discovering an improbably talented player deep in the heart of an obscenely-stereotyped Mexico. The stud of a player, portrayed with minimal athleticism by Brendan Fraser, makes his debut in the World Series, but only after he’s brought down from the roof of Yankee Stadium with perhaps the worst CGI version of a helicopter ever to grace the big screen. Of course, he whiffs 27 straight hitters with nothing but strikes (final pitching line on Steve Nebraska: 81 pitches, 81 strikes, zero balls) and hits the game-winning homer in a climax that’s totally devoid of drama.
8. HACKENSACK, NEW JERSEY — “Brewster’s Millions” pulled off a nearly impossible cinematic double play: It offers very little humor despite the presence of Richard Pryor AND John Candy. Pryor sleepwalks through his role as Monty Brewster, a pitcher for the minor-league Hackensack Bulls who would’ve been far better off staying with Bingo Long’s Traveling All-Stars. The ludicrous plot has something do with Monty having to squander millions of dollars in order to inherit even more money. He winds up hiring the New York Yankees to play an exhibition in Hackensack, where freight trains run through the outfield during games.
7. BALTIMORE’S WATERFRONT — “The Babe Ruth Story” turns up on nearly every list of the worst movies ever made, with good reason. Rushed into the theaters shortly before the real Babe Ruth died in 1948, the script was apparently written in about 45 minutes by someone who knew nothing of the most famous American athlete of that generation. This flick begins on the aforementioned waterfront — and off we go, on the mythical journey of a superhero who can make an invalid kid walk with a simple greeting, raise another boy from his deathbed by hitting a homer, and even rush a dog to the emergency room (right in the middle of a game, mind you) after he smashes a liner into the wayward pooch. Nothing, it turned out, could save this movie.
6. BUZZ STADIUM (APPARENTLY IN SOUTH CAROLINA) — The original “Major League” was so ludicrous, it was actually pretty good. We call that the “Road House” effect. The first sequel wasn’t really needed, especially when Wesley Snipes declined to reprise Willie Mays Hays. But the third installment, “Major League: Back to the Minors,” should’ve been titled “Major League: We’re Just Here For the Check.” This stinker has something to do with a minor-league team known as the Buzz, who I always thought were based on the Salt Lake Bees. I’ve just learned they were actually the South Carolina Buzz and the movie was filmed at an old ballpark in Charleston.
5. TOKYO, JAPAN — Speaking of sequels that didn’t need to be made, we give you “The Bad News Bears Go to Japan.” This horrific third installment in trilogy that started off so well would mean a return trip to Tokyo, which already has been the site of 10 regular-season games. But MLB shouldn’t pass up the chance to associate with a film that Jackie Earle Haley described on a Reddit AMA as the “worst movie ever made.” And he starred in it!
4. PIZZA HUT — I wanted to go with “Rookie of the Year” in the four-hole, but the movie about a 12-year-old closer who helps the Cubs win the World Series wouldn’t work for this purpose since it was filmed largely at Wrigley Field. So, we’ll make a call to the bullpen for “The Benchwarmers.” Granted, I’ve never seen this film. But any movie that’s made by Adam Sandler’s company, stars the comedic dream team of David Spade and Rob Schneider, and was filmed partly at a Pizza Hut according to its Wikipedia page has got to be in this lineup somewhere.
3. SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIA — A chimp that can play baseball displays more acting chops than alleged star Matt LeBlanc in “Ed,” where the brevity of the title gives you a pretty good idea of how much time they spent producing with this error of a flick. In short, LeBlanc and a chimp named Ed are best friends AND teammates on the minor-league Santa Rosa Rockets and … well, let’s just stop there. “Ed” holds the coveted 0% approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Yet, in one of the worst decisions in the history of the Razzie Awards, LeBlanc and a mechanical version of Ed lost out for Worst Screen Couple. They’ll always be winners in our eyes.
2. DANVILLE STADIUM — Some of the scenes for “The Babe” were filmed at this actual stadium in Illinois, which is now used by a college summer league. Those games have far more entertainment value than John Goodman’s bomb. “The Babe Ruth Story” is its clear muse and certainly worse, but the 1992 film gets bonus points for awfulness because it should have known better. Seriously, how do you turn such an incredibly fascinating life into not one, but two terrible movies? This movie actually me laugh out loud on an overnight flight with its ludicrous scene where the Babe hits a pop-up so high he’s able to circle the bases for an inside-the-park homer before it comes down. Again, I’d like to apologize to those passengers I awakened.
1. THE PARKING LOT FORMERLY KNOWN AS ATLANTA-FULTON COUNTY STADIUM — “The Slugger’s Wife” stars Michael O’Keefe (from the best golf movie ever made, “Caddyshack”) as a power hitter for my hometown Braves. Many of the scenes were filmed in Atlanta’s first major league stadium, and there were small roles for team announcers Skip Caray, Peter Van Wieren and Ernie Johnson. But, much like the Braves of 1985 (who went 66-96), the movie that came out that year was a dismal failure. Despite batting zero on Rotten Tomatoes, if you were a Braves fan back then, that was about as good as it got.
I look forward to MLB setting up a temporary stadium in the ATL, but would advise them to cover up the marker for Hank Aaron’s 715th homer that still stands in the parking lot. We wouldn’t want The Hammer to be associated with anything as vile as “The Slugger’s Wife.”