Totally Subjective Top 10 List of Baseball Movies: Number 7

Editor’s Note: In the spirit of counting down to the start of the Major League Baseball season over the next two weeks we here at Triple B will present our completely subjective ranking of the Top 10 Baseball Movies. Today we look at number 7 on the list.

Few people can argue that the game of baseball was forever changed when the sabermetrics element of the game was moved from the back rooms to the general manager’s office.

Like it or not the advanced analytics are here to stay and coming in at number 7 on the Triple B Top 10 Baseball Movies list is Moneyball which is the true story of how the Oakland Athletics front office used charts and graphs to build a team in a way that changed the game of baseball.

The number 7 movie on the Triple B totally subjective top 10 countdown of baseball movies is Moneyball starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. Photo R. Anderson
The number 7 movie on the Triple B totally subjective top 10 countdown of baseball movies is Moneyball starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.
Photo R. Anderson

In the movie starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill (who received an Oscar nomination for the role), viewers are transported into the mind of the Oakland Athletics front office as they took a different approach to finding players for their roster.

While a new concept when it was introduced by the Athletics in the 1980’s, almost every team today using sabermetrics in one degree or another to build their rosters each year.

Whether sabermetrics is good for baseball in the long run is still up for debate but it has certainly allowed many smaller market teams the ability to be competitive and stand toe to toe with the big spenders in baseball for the past few decades.

While the past few decades have certainly proven that sabermetrics is certainly not going away any time soon, for those wanting to see how it all began Moneyball is the way to go.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson

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Totally Subjective Top 10 List of Baseball Movies: Number 8

Editor’s Note: In the spirit of counting down to the start of the Major League Baseball season over the next two weeks we here at Triple B will present our completely subjective ranking of the Top 10 Baseball Movies. Today we look at number 8 on the list.

Kevin Costner has made three baseball movies in his career. By the time the third leg of the Costner baseball triangle rolled around though it was clear that he did not have much left in the tank.

Still, it is hard to not count the complete Costner trilogy in a listing of baseball movies so coming in at number 8 on the Triple B Top 10 Baseball Movies list is For Love of the Game which allows Costner to move from behind the plate to the mound as a nearing the end of his career pitcher.

The number 8 movie on the Triple B totally subjective top 10 countdown of baseball movies is For Love of the Game starring Kevin Costner. Photo R. Anderson
The number 8 movie on the Triple B totally subjective top 10 countdown of baseball movies is For Love of the Game starring Kevin Costner.
Photo R. Anderson

The movie focuses on Costner as a 40 year-old pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. Throughout the course of pitching what could be the final game of his career Costner flashes back to various points of his career both on and off the field and thinks about the events that made him the person that he became.

The movie is helped by the presence of Vin Scully calling the on-field action as only Vin Scully can.

Like the number 9 movie on our countdown, Fever Pitch, this movie probably could also fall into the romantic category but as Fred Savage’s character in The Princess Bride comes to learn you likely won’t mind the “mushy stuff” as the movie draws to its conclusion.

The baseball action is strong for the most part and the flashbacks do not seem to water down the present day action.

Again, it is not Kevin Costner’s strongest baseball movie but it does deserve a place on the shelf next to the other two sides of the Costner baseball triangle. And of course like I said there is Vin Scully to listen to so one really can’t go wrong there.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson

Totally Subjective Top 10 List of Baseball Movies: Number 9

Editor’s Note: In the spirit of counting down to the start of the Major League Baseball season over the next two weeks we here at Triple B will present our completely subjective ranking of the Top 10 Baseball Movies. Today we look at number 9 on the list.

Like Neil Diamond, one tends to either love or hate the Boston Red Sox. It probably is not too surprising then that Neil Diamond and the Red Sox are so intertwined with Red Sox fans belting out a Neil Diamond song during every home game.

While the Red Sox have a long history of winning, they also had a long year of “cursed” play where the diehard fans wondered if their beloved BoSox would ever hoist the World Series trophy again.

The number 9 movie on the Triple B totally subjective top 10 countdown of baseball movies is Fever Pitch starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore. Photo R. Anderson
The number 9 movie on the Triple B totally subjective top 10 countdown of baseball movies is Fever Pitch starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore.
Photo R. Anderson

As the defending World Series champions heading into the 2014 season, the Red Sox have certainly been on a bit of a winning streak lately.

Coming in at number 9 on the Triple B Top 10 Baseball Movies list is Fever Pitch which explores the fanatical side of Boston Red Sox fandom while also exploring interpersonal human relationships in the form of a baseball Rom Com, or romantic comedy.

At its surface the terms romantic comedy and baseball should not really be uttered in the same breath. But upon deeper inspection one can accept that baseball fans have long had a romance with the game that often starts when they catch their first game or pick up a ball and glove for the first time.

In Fever Pitch, the romance is between a Red Sox loving man, played by Jimmy Fallon, and the conflict that arises as he tries to choose between his love of his team and the pressure he feels to grow up.

The movie resonates with fans in different ways depending on where they see themselves along the spectrum.

For some people at a crossroads they can think about whether they need to give up their childhood love of the game and get a real job.

For others watching perhaps they long for a return to when they loved the game as much as the characters in the film.

Others may be somewhere in the middle finding balance between a so called normal life and support of the home team.

Regardless of where one stands in terms of their personal baseball journey, Fever Pitch offers a glimpse into a year of fandom related to one of the teams with the most rabid fan bases in all of baseball.

Of course, the movie also may or may not have helped break some of those dreaded Red Sox curses so it should be a must have for any member of Sox Nation.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson

Totally Subjective Top 10 List of Baseball Movies: Number 10

Editor’s Note: In the spirit of counting down to the start of the Major League Baseball season over the next two weeks we here at Triple B will present our completely subjective ranking of the Top 10 Baseball Movies. Today we look at number 10 on the list.

I have often said that baseball is a sport that is best experienced live and in the Ballpark since there are so many sights, sounds, smells and other sensory sensations that just can’t be captured on television.

But for people who may not have access to a Ballpark or live in an area where games are frequently rained out there are several cinematic options to transport the movie goer into the world of the bleachers.

Coming in at number 10 on the Triple B Top 10 Baseball Movies list is Bleacher Bums which explores the view from the bleachers and the relations

The number 10 movie on the Triple B totally subjective top 10 countdown of baseball movies is Bleacher Bums starring Wayne Knight and Brad Garrett. Photo R. Anderson
The number 10 movie on the Triple B totally subjective top 10 countdown of baseball movies is Bleacher Bums starring Wayne Knight and Brad Garrett.
Photo R. Anderson

hips that can build over the course of a season among fans with adjoining seats.

The movie follows a group of season ticket holders over the course of the season and captures the highs and lows that go along with being a diehard fan.

Fans of Seinfeld will be treated to Wayne Knight in the film but do try to resist shouting “Newman” whenever he is on screen as one will end up with a sore throat and miss a lot of the dialog.

While the actual baseball scenes in the movie offer a few errors the film connects on the interaction of fans and the conversations that often break out during the course of a game.

Through the years just as I think I have heard almost everything imaginable in a Ballpark something new is overheard from my seat and I am reminded of Bleacher Bums and how it captures the Ballpark conversations to a science.

I never will understand fans that heckle players and feel it is their right to do so because they purchased a ticket to the game but unfortunately that is a part of the Ballpark experience.

While I recommend going to the Ballpark in person as often as possible to hear actual conversation, on a rainy day or when the ballpark is too far away the number 10 movie on our totally subjective countdown can be a good fit. Plus, you can always fast forward through the heckling scenes which is something I certainly wish could be done in real life.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson

Surprises can be Both Good and Bad

The other day I took my Jeep in for a routine oil change and alignment check.

While I try to be good about coming in every 3,000 miles or so I am occasionally tardy in my duties as a car owner and stretch things out to four or five thousand miles between oil changes.

This was one of those times where I was closer to the five thousand mark than three thousand but I figured the car was no worse for it.

Since the mechanic is within walking distance of my house I will often drop off the Jeep and walk home as opposed to sitting in the waiting room watching the History Channel, which always seems to be on when I am there.

A recent surprise flat tire got me thinking about some surprises I would actually like to see this year. Photo R. Anderson
A recent surprise flat tire got me thinking about some surprises I would actually like to see this year.
Photo R. Anderson

Don’t get me wrong, I love the History Channel but I figure there are so many more things that I can do in the comfort of my own home as opposed to spending time in the waiting room.

So as I was sitting at home on my couch watching the History Channel, the mechanic called to tell me that they would not be able to fix my flat tire since the bolt had gone through the side wall.

This news surprised me in many ways.

First, I had not been aware that I had a flat tire and secondly how exactly does a bolt manage to enter a tire at a 90 degree angle?

I mentioned to the mechanic that I was not aware of a flat tire and perhaps he had mixed up my chart with someone else’s. He assured me that one of my tires was punctured and it was time to look at the options.

After it was determined that the tire could not be repaired and would need to be replaced, I realized that my $20 oil change was going to be far more expensive than originally planned.

My first reaction at having to purchase an unplanned tire was of course one of anger since I never seem to get the full manufacturer’s suggested amount of miles out of a set of tires.

In fact the tire that was mortally wounded by the bolt only had around 6,000 miles on it which made it a tire teenager cut down in its prime.

While the surprise aspect of the additional tire purchase was certainly not what I had planned on, I was definitely happy to have the surprise of a punctured tire happen while I was sitting on my couch as opposed to driving down the highway and experiencing a blowout or other tire issue that would have caused more damage to the Jeep and/or me.

So, all in all learning about a flat tire in air conditioned comfort on a couch with someone else doing the repair was certainly a welcome surprise albeit an expensive one.

The surprise World Serie pairing that I want to see in October is the Tampa Bay Rays against the Washington Nationals. Photo R. Anderson
The surprise World Serie pairing that I want to see in October is the Tampa Bay Rays against the Washington Nationals.
Photo R. Anderson

The surprise flat got me thinking about other potential surprises that could arise with the pending starts of the Major League Baseball, NASCAR and Indy Racing League seasons over the next couple of weeks.

Of course if one knew what was going to happen in each of those areas ahead of time they would not be surprises but for the sake of argument here is one potential surprise and one dark horse surprise that I would love to see in each of those sports this season.

First up let’s look at the surprises for Major League Baseball.

With the Major League Baseball season just around the corner the biggest surprise I would like to see is the Tampa Bay Rays making a return trip to the World Series against the Washington Nationals.

While the Rays and Nationals are both loaded with talent this year they each face huge obstacles in their quest for October glory. The Rays have a slightly better chance at postseason play despite playing in the toughest division in baseball.

Were the Houston Astros to somehow win the American League West title this season it would likely be the surprise of the year if not the century. Photo R. Anderson
Were the Houston Astros to somehow win the American League West title this season it would likely be the surprise of the year if not the century.
Photo R. Anderson

But for the record the Major League Baseball surprise I most want to see this year is a Rays against Nationals World Series.

Of course my dark horse surprise, that has almost no chance in the world of happening, would be for the Houston Astros to win the American League West.

That surprise is probably at least a decade away from happening but anything can happen I suppose.

With the Major League Baseball surprises written down my sights soon turned to NASCAR.

The Daytona 500 kicks off the 36-race NASCAR season this weekend (more on that in Friday’s column).

As in the past few seasons the powers that be added some tweaks to the points and other rules that teams will need to quickly get up to speed on.

Danica Patrick would surprise many people including Richard Petty were she to win a NASCAR race this season. Photo R. Anderson
Danica Patrick would surprise many people including Richard Petty were she to win a NASCAR race this season.
Photo R. Anderson

Perhaps no other sport enjoys messing with the rules each year as much as NASCAR does so they are certainly consistent with their constant changes.

My NASCAR related surprise that I would like to see involves the driver of the #10 car Danica Patrick.

After becoming the first woman to win an IRL race, Danica became the first woman to start on the pole and lead laps in the Daytona 500 last year during her first full year in NASCAR’s highest level.

My Danica related surprise would be for her to silence her critics in the Petty family and elsewhere by winning a race this year.

There are 36 opportunities for her to accomplish that and I feel that she very well could make history once again and make The King Richard Petty eat that feather on his hat.

In a perfect world Jimmy Johnson would let someone else win the championship this season. Photo R. Anderson
In a perfect world Jimmy Johnson would let someone else win the championship this season.
Photo R. Anderson

As for the NASCAR related dark horse surprise I would most like to see, that would be for someone other than Jimmy Johnson to hoist the Champion’s trophy at the end of the year.

I mean come on Jimmy you have six of them already it is time to share with the rest of the class and take some time off before getting that record tying seventh championship that no amount of rules changes can prevent you from eventually winning.

Lastly let us look at the big surprises I am predicting for the IRL this year.

With the series returning once again to Houston for a two-race weekend in June I would like to have the surprise of seeing both races run without any career ending injuries such as the one that Dario Franchitti suffered last year.

Dario Franchitti's racing career ended on a racetrack constructed in a stadium parking lot. Hopefully no other drivers face the same fate when the Indy Racing Series returns to Houston this June. Photo R. Anderson
Dario Franchitti’s racing career ended on a racetrack constructed in a stadium parking lot. Hopefully no other drivers face the same fate when the Indy Racing Series returns to Houston this June.
Photo R. Anderson

Hopefully with more time to plan race organizers can make sure that the track will be in better shape so the drivers can race each other and not worry about whether the track is going to cause them to lose control or take them out of the championship picture, or end their careers.

As for my dark horse surprise I want to see this year in the Indy Series, that would be for Juan Pablo Montoya to win the IRL Championship for Roger Penske after coming over from a few years spent in NASCAR driving for Penske’s bitter rival Chip Ganassi.

So there you have it several surprises to look out for over the next six months or so in MLB, NASCAR and IRL competition.

Of course if any of those surprises do end up happening you can always say that you read about them here first.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some surprises to get ready for.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson