With the Oscars just around the corner and Spring Training getting underway it’s time for every Nationals fan out there to get themselves back into fighting shape for the season. You have to be mentally ready for the ups and downs of a season. If you’re not prepared for months of injuries, losing streaks, open auditions for a fifth starter, and the never ending saga of second base it’s going to be very hard to enjoy this year. In order to prepare for the brutality of the long MLB season the three of us here at NTP highly suggest you follow our time tested methods for gearing up for the season. Without any further ado, we present the Baseball Movie List. Each of these films has been carefully selected to enhance your season enjoyment.
1) Our first selection is Major League. This first offering is designed to ease you back into the game of baseball. We know you’ve been binging on Football all winter and it’s important that you start slowly. Major League doesn’t take itself to seriously, something that’s truly important for all Nationals fans. The movie follows a team of miscreant baseball has-beens and never-will-bes as they rise above their own mediocrity to try and clinch the divisional pennant. They’re challenged at every step of the way by a cast-iron bitch of an owner who desperately wants to move the team to Miami. There are three important things to come away with. First, if a group of ragtag castoffs and past their prime veterans can overcome their differences off the field to focus on winning, magic can happen. Second, it always helps to have a slightly crazy manager who occasionally makes a move that makes absolutely zero sense. And thirdly, you should come away with these one-liners memorized. Their use at a ball game is mandatory.
- “Yo, bartender, Jobu needs a refill.”
- “Too high, too high. It wasn’t too high, it was too hard. Too high, too hard, who gives a shit, it's gone”
- “Just a bit outside”
- bonus points for “How’s your wife and my kids”
2) The second film on our training regimen is the great minor league epic, Bull Durham. This was Kevin Costner’s first celluloid journey into baseball. Bull Durham follows two minor leaguers, the up-and-coming fire-baller Ebby Calvin “Nuke” Laloosh and the aging veteran Crash Davis. Crash has one last shot at baseball and it’s mentoring the brash control shy Nuke who, as Crash says, “couldn't hit water if you fell out of a fucking boat.” Bull Durham serves as a good second course because it combines the free spirit of Major League with the spiritual side of baseball. It helps to be reminded that while baseball it a game, it provides more than just amusement. As Annie quotes Walt Whitman, "I see great things in baseball. It's our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us." That sentiment will be very comforting to think of in the middle of the Yankees series when Frank gets ejected arguing about Soriano’s missed tag on Johnny Damon. Hopefully whomever the Nats voice is will offer up “and frankly, sports fans, he used a word that's a no-no with umpires.” Bull Durham is full of lots of great quotes too, all of which are mandatory at the ball game.
3) Our third film is Costner’s other great baseball drama. For the record, anybody who thought of "For the Love of the Game" just now should be shot. We are of course talking about Field of Dreams. Another look at the spiritual side of baseball, Field of Dreams underscores the tremendous connection to the past that baseball offers us. The great James Earl Jones points out that generation to generation “The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.” This is particularly important to Nationals fans. Washington was once the home of a great baseball slogan “First in war, first in peace, and last in the American League”. That slogan which was once good could be good again, although we’re in the N.L. now. Also important are the mysterious words “If you build it, they will come”. In the movie this is coming from a cornfield, but in our reality this is coming from Tony Williams and he’s talking about tax dollars.
4) Fourth on our carefully crafted plan is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This is an optional assignment but the serious fan should partake. However, this should be considered a must for any fan planning on attending a day game. Of particular interest are the scenes at Wrigley Field. It’s always funny to bust out “You realize if we played by the rules right now we'd be in gym”.
5) The Natural is our fifth selection. This is hands down the greatest baseball movie of all time. Enough said.
6) And finally, to truly prepare a Nationals fan for the season we cap off our list with Apocalypse Now. Sure it’s a war movie that has zero baseball in it, but this bizarre journey into the soul of a madman is the closest we can come to approximating the off-season. It’s important that we all recover from the last five months if we’re going to get the most enjoyment out of the upcoming season. On second thought, maybe we should make this one first on the list.