Diamond In The Green On Screen

Rangers Home Opener and warmer weather will get you in the mood!
Rangers Home Opener and warmer weather will get you in the mood!

By Jay Betsill

Springtime is here in North Texas and for sports fans that often brings up conversations about major league baseball’s opening day and professional golf’s first major championship, the Masters.

Will the Texas Rangers be able to overcome the significant losses of Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Michael Young and Mike Adams? Is the drama in the team’s front office concerning Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan going to affect the onfield product? Will Tiger Woods finally win his 15th major – he has not made up any ground on the record 18 won by Jack Nicklaus since his dramatic U.S. Open win at Torrey Pines five years ago – or will Rory McIlroy be able to turn things around and win his second consecutive major title following his PGA Championship victory by eight strokes last August at Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

There probably are no two sports that better serve as metaphors for life than baseball and golf. Both sports have a way of showing a person’s true character be it in victory or defeat. Perhaps that is why they both translate so well to the silver screen and why sports and movie lovers alike are so passionate about their favorite films on each particular subject. That being said, here is the official list (approved by yours truly) of the best baseball and golf movies EVER: (NOTE: There are more baseball movies to choose from, therefore it got a longer list)

Honorable mention — The Sandlot (1993), Bang the Drum Slowly (1974) and Pride of the Yankees (1942).

10) THE ROOKIE (2002) starring Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths and Brian Cox. Texas baseball coach Jim Morris makes the major leagues with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays after agreeing to try out if his high school team made the playoffs.

9) FOR LOVE OF THE GAME (1999) starring Kevin Costner, Kelly Preston and John C. Reilly. The film follows the perfect-game performance of aging star Detroit Tigers pitcher Billy Chapel as he reminisces about his career and his relationship with his on-and-off girlfriend, while pitching his final game at Yankees Stadium.

8) THE BAD NEWS BEARS (1976) starring Walter Matthau, Tatum O’Neal and Vic Morrow. Aging, down-on-his-luck ex-minor leaguer Morris Buttermaker coaches a team of misfits in an ultracompetitive California little league.

7) EIGHT MEN OUT (1988) starring John Cusack, Charlie Sheen, D.B. Sweeney and David Strathairn. A dramatization of the Black Sox scandal when the underpaid Chicago White Sox accepted bribes to deliberately lose the 1919 World Series.

6) MONEYBALL (2011) starring Brad Pitt, Robin Wright and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane’s successful attempt to assemble a baseball team on a lean budget by employing computergenerated analysis to acquire new players.

5) MAJOR LEAGUE (1989) starring Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen and Wesley Snipes. The new owner of the Cleveland Indians puts together a purposely horrible team so they’ll lose and she can move the team to Miami. But when the plot is uncovered, they start winning just to spite her.

4) THE NATURAL (1984) starring Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Robert Duvall and Kim Basinger. An average baseball player comes out of seemingly nowhere to become a legendary player with almost divine talent.

3) A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (1992) starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna. Two sisters join the first female professional baseball league and struggle to help it succeed amidst their own growing rivalry.

2) BULL DURHAM (1988) starring Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. A fan who has an affair with one minor-league baseball player each season meets an up-andcoming pitcher and the experienced catcher assigned to him.

1) FIELD OF DREAMS (1989) starring Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones and Ray Liotta. An Iowa corn farmer, hearing voices, interprets them as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields; he does, and the Chicago Black Sox come to play.

Honorable mention – Bobby Jones: A Stroke of Genius (2004), Seven Days in Utopia (2011) and The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005)

5) FOLLOW THE SUN (1951) starring Glenn Ford and Anne Baxter. The inspiring film biography of the courageous champion golfer Ben Hogan’s recovery from a near-fatal car crash, culminating in his Los Angeles Open playoff battle with Sam Snead.

4) HAPPY GILMORE (1996) starring Adam Sandler, Carl Weathers and Christopher McDonald. Rejected hockey player Happy Gilmore puts his newly discovered golf skills to work on the pro tour to save his grandmother’s house.

3) DEAD SOLID PERFECT (1988) starring Randy Quaid, Kathryn Harrold and Jack Warden. Made-for-HBO version of the classic Dan Jenkins novel about pro golfer Kenny Lee’s adventures on the PGA Tour includes many scenes shot on location in Fort Worth including Colonial Country Club’s golf course and Joe T. Garcia’s restaurant.

2) TIN CUP (1996) starring Kevin Costner, Rene Russo, Cheech Marin and Don Johnson. Washed up driving range golf pro Roy McAvoy tries to qualify for the U.S. Open in order to win the heart of his PGA Tour rival’s psychiatrist girlfriend.

1) CADDYSHACK (1980) starring Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Michael O’Keefe and Bill Murray. The exclusive Bushwood Country Club has to deal with a brash prospective member, a slobby crew of caddies and a destructive dancing gopher.

With all of the movies made about these two warm weather sports, there are bound to be a few that don’t make the cut. Then there are the movies that are downright horrific and deserved to be singled out for their ineptitude.

Of course, there are multiple films that could fit here, but in baseball tradition, we’ll say the tie goes to the runner and give this honor to the 1992 film The Babe starring John Goodman, barely edging out 1996’s Ed, 2001’s Summer Catch and 1998’s Major League: Back to the Minors.

If there was ever a shoe-in for any award, this one is a no-brainer as Caddyshack II starring Jackie Mason, Robert Stack and Jonathan Silverman is not only the worst golf movie ever made, but one of the worst movies ever made, period. Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd also are a part of this mess and one can only assume it was to cash a check.