3. Major League

It’s a classic and really a modern portrayal of baseball.  A team of no-names become contenders for one of the losing franchises in the sport.  The team of no-names is played by an awesome cast led by Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes, Corbin Bernsen and Bob Uecker.  This movie hits a bit of a personal note for myself as former catcher and 1981 World Series Co-MVP Steve Yeager was cast in the movie as well.

In the summer of 2008, I was hired to be the play-by-play announcer for the Golden Baseball League’s Long Beach Armada baseball team.  The manager that year happened to be former Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Steve Yeager.  My first face-to-face meeting with Yeager was epic to say the least.  He’s a fun guy to be around, but sometimes it’s hard to tell when he’s being serious or playful.  Once you’ve figured it out, it’s a blast to be around him.

Suffice it to say that summer was truly one of a kind.  I was doing what I loved to do and at the same time, I was working with former and aspiring big leaguers.  Unfortunately the league was not as forthcoming and we parted ways after 2008.  Yeager did the same and the Long Beach Armada played their last season in the summer of 2009.  That summer and the movie “Major League” to me are similar in so many ways.

The unquestioned leader for the Cleveland Indians in the movie “Major League” was Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger).  Two no-name players Ricky Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) and Willie Mays Hayes (Wesley Snipes) had talent, but didn’t know how to utilize it to their full potential.  Roger Dorn (Corbin Bernsen) was “high priced talent” but was a major part of the Indians turn around.  Uecker’s character, Harry Doyle was the play-by-play voice of the Indians and had a great comedic charm to his role, which he does in real life as the play-by-play voice of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Armada didn’t have high priced talent, but there were quite a few players that had seen time in the majors.  They didn’t hit their peak until the second half of the season, just like the Cleveland Indians did in “Major League.”  The Indians had an owner that wanted them to lose so she could move the team to Miami.  The Golden Baseball League owned the Long Beach Armada and they didn’t want them to lose, but they sure weren’t looking out for the team’s best interest.

The Indians were traveling on a crappy plane that became a crappy bus.  The Armada on one road trip had a bus driver that didn’t know where he was going and his company gas card wasn’t accepted at most gas stations.  The Indians had no hot water or proper materials for their locker room.  The Armada’s white pants were washed with dark colors that turned them into pink pants.  You can imagine the reaction of Yeager when that happened.  Priceless.

Very similar incidents, but it didn’t affect either team on the field.  The one fact that I will reveal now if you haven’t watched “Major League” is that it didn’t result in the Cleveland Indians winning the World Series.  They beat the rival New York Yankees, but how did they do in the playoffs?  Long Beach made the playoffs, but were ousted by their rival the Orange County Flyers.  Still, every time I watch this movie, even before I worked for the Long Beach Armada I can always laugh at the antics or one-liners that were uttered.

Steve Yeager’s one line in the movie came in Spring Training when he and the manager Lou Brown were wondering why this power hitter, Pedro Cerrano, wasn’t picked up by anyone else after crushing some pitches out of the ballpark.  The answer came after Yeager talked to the pitcher.

Lou Brown: [after seeing Cerrano hit a few fastballs out of the park] Jesus, this guy hits a ton, how come no one else picked up on him?

Duke Temple (Yeager): Alrght Eddie, that’s enough fastballs throw’em some breaking balls.
[Then, Eddie throws Cerrano a curve ball, which Cerrano swings and misses]

Harry Doyle was saying things that were going through my mind that I wanted to say on-air, but knew better.  The fact is that 99.99 percent of what I wanted to say was to be directed at the Golden Baseball League.  I will give you one example.  There was a double header one day and the first game was being delayed by 45 minutes.  Why?  The league didn’t have enough baseballs for both games.  They only had one case for two games.  So naturally as the play-by-play announcer, I came on the air and told the truth.  I said something to the effect of,
“the first game of the double-header today is being delayed due to the lack of baseballs for both games today here at Blair Field.”
I wasn’t going to lie.  I felt it was the right thing to do, plus it was funny as hell that you can forget to have enough baseballs for a double-header.

Bob Uecker did a phenomenal job with his character.  Here are a few of my personal favorite one-liners.

Harry Doyle: [after Vaughn was tossed from the game] So, an eerie start for the Erie warriors as they drop a heartbreaker to the Yankees, nine to nothing. The post game show is brought to you by…
[Rifles through papers]
Christ I can’t find it, the hell with it.

Doyle: [Vaughn is coming out to pitch] So, here is Rick Vaughn, the one they call the “Wild Thing”. So, he sets and deals.
[Vaughn throws a wild pitch]
Just a bit outside, he tried for the corner and missed.
[Vaughn throws another wild pitch]
Ball 4.
[Vaughn throws another wild pitch]
Ball 8.
[Vaughn throws another wild pitch]
Low, and he walks the bases loaded on 12 straight pitches. How can these guys lay off pitches that close?

Doyle: [an Indians pitcher is removed from the game] Well, you can close the book on Kellner.
[under his breath]
Thank God!

Doyle: In case you haven’t noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven’t, the Indians have managed to win a few here and there, and are threatening to climb out of the cellar.

Doyle: Just a reminder, fans, comin’ up is our “Die-hard Night” here at the stadium. Free admission to anyone who was actually alive the last time the Indians won a pennant.

There is another one, but I challenge to find it and let me know.  This movie as you can see hits me on a personal note in my life.  The players, the manager, Yeager and Uecker.  Baseball is by far my favorite sport to cover, even though it might not show.  I guess it’s because of the amount of great movies that have been made over the past couple decades.  This is a must see movie.  Yes, I believe it’s better than Rocky, Rudy and Caddyshack.  Numbers 6, 5, and 4 respectively on my list.  It’s partly because of the personal connection, but I just love watching great baseball movies.

This top 10 list is sports movies that I’ve seen.  Not what others recommend, but only what my eyes have seen and that I truly enjoy.  If you haven’t seen this movie, netflix it, pirate the movie, however you go about watching movies, just do it.

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