6. Rocky

If there’s a better example of the ultimate “underdog” story, please share.  It’s quite amazing to think that a movie that was released back in 1976 is still considered not just one of the best sports movies, but one of the best movies of all time.

“The Italian Stallion” Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) gets the chance of a life time to fight the world heavyweight champion of boxing Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers).  Seen more as a publicity ploy by Apollo Creed than an actual fight, it turns out to be one of the best fights in recent memory.

At the same time, Rocky’s personal life is in shambles.  Being given the opportunity of a life time quickly thrusts him into the limelight and forces him to have a different outlook for the future.  He pairs up with Mickey Goldwill (Burgess Meredith), a trainer who didn’t give Rocky the light of day for six years until Rocky was given the chance to fight Apollo.  They form a strong bond that helps get them both through the training and the fight of the century.

Rocky also has met the love of his life Adrian Pennino (Talia Shire) who becomes the Yin to his Yang.  To Rocky, Adrian is something worth fighting for and it adds extra motivation for him to do his best and no matter what happens, he will still have her.

Ultimately it comes down to the relationship between Rocky and Adrian.  Even though Rocky is fighting for the world championship of boxing, he and Adrian continue to get closer as the fight approaches.  The night before the fight, Rocky goes for a walk.  He figures he has no shot at beating Apollo, but as he explains to Adrian when he comes back, there’s still a chance for respect.

Rocky Balboa: Ah come on, Adrian, it’s true.  I was nobody.  But that don’t matter either, you know?  ‘Cause I was thinkin’, it really don’t matter if I lose this fight.  It really don’t matter if this guy opens my head, either.  ‘Cause all I wanna do is go the distance.  Nobody’s ever gone the distance with Creed, and if I can go that distance, you see, and that bell rings and I’m still standin’, I’m gonna know for the first time in my life, see, that I weren’t just another bum from the neighborhood.

I’m sure most of you have seen this movie at least once.  Most of you probably have it higher on your list.  It’s a timeless classic.  Everyone can agree on that.  The characters are unforgettable.  Some of the lines are recognizable.

“Yo Adrian”
“You’re gonna eat lightning and crap thunder”
“Cut me Mick”
“You’re a bum”

All memorable quotes.  This was a great story that frankly went two movies too long.  “Rocky V” and “Rocky Balboa” were unnecessary and you could make the same argument for “Rocky IV.”  However, the standard was set with the original and “Rocky II” was just as good, but nothing is better than the original.

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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7. Happy Gilmore

Yes, it’s a golf movie.  Not the kind of golf movie you would expect.  I mean it stars Adam Sandler.  Now I will go ahead and say this now.  The rest of the list doesn’t have another Sandler movie?  Why?  To me this movie was better than “The Longest Yard” and “The Waterboy.”  If you’ve seen this movie, then you know exactly what I mean.  If not, I will set it up for you.

As I said earlier the main character is Adam Sandler’s.  That character is Happy Gilmore.  He is really a hockey player who isn’t as good as he thinks he is.  His grandmother’s house is being seized by the IRS and will be up for auction if they don’t pay up.  Happy discovers by accident that he can hit a golf ball over 400 yards.  So he figures he can make some easy money that way.  A former pro-golfer named Chubbs Peterson sees some real talent in him and offers his help to turn Happy Gilmore into more than a side show.  Happy will have to learn on the fly as a rival named Shooter McGavin will stop at nothing to make sure he fails.

Besides seeing Adam Sandler and his antics, the other cast is pretty well known and hilarious.  Chubbs is played by Carl Weathers.  Yes that same “Predator” and “Rocky” fighting individual.  Christopher McDonald does a great job of being Shooter McGavin.  Julie Bowen, who is one of the stars of “Modern Family” played Happy Gilmore’s love interest Virginia Venit.  She is fantastic.  And last, but not least Bob Barker from “The Price is Right” makes an appearance.

The following scene with Happy Gilmore and Bob Barker is the best way to sway you to watch it for the first time or the one hundredth time.  This is easily one of the best if not the best thing about this movie.  Enjoy.

Happy Gilmore: [Having a bad day of golfing due to a member of the crowd] That guy’s driving me *crazy*!

Bob Barker: You know what’s driving *me* crazy? You, not getting the ball in the hole.

Happy: Don’t push me, Bob! Now’s not the time.
[Happy hits the ball, which hits a man standing on a boat, who then falls into the water]

Bob: This guy sucks!

Announcer: We haven’t seen Happy Gilmore play *this* badly since his first day on tour. He and Bob Barker are now dead-last.

Bob: I can’t *believe* you’re a professional golfer! I think you should be working at the snack bar.

Happy: [Angrily, with teeth clenched] You better relax, Bob.

Bob: There is *no* way that you could have been as bad at hockey as you are at golf!

Happy: Alright, let’s go!
[Happy throws down his club and punches Bob in the face, who falls to the ground]

Happy: You like that, old man? You want a piece of me?

Bob: [Shaking his head as he gets up] I don’t want a *piece* of you, I want the *whole thing*!
[Punches Happy in the gut, then proceeds to punch him in the face ten times, sending Happy falling into a pond]

Happy: [Happy gets out] Now you’re gonna get it, Bobby!
[Happy grabs his club and swings at Bob, who blocks, punches Happy in the face, then throws him to the ground. Happy tackles Bob, resulting in both of them rolling down a hill. At the bottom, Happy headbutts Bob]

Happy: The price is *wrong*, bitch!

Bob: [Bob grabs Happy’s throat, opens his eyes with a menacing look, stands up, punches Happy in the gut twice, and once in the face before Happy falls down again] I think you’ve had enough.
[Starts to walk away, but notices Happy start to stand up again]

Bob: No?
[Kicks Happy in the face]

Bob: *Now* you’ve had enough… bitch.

Yes.  Bob freaking Barker is the man.  Aside from that, “Happy Gilmore” really brought the sport of golf to the forefront for me.  Not that I watch it all the time, but I do have an interest in it.  Heck, it does run in my family and most of yours to.  If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it and that you watch it with someone who has.  You will appreciate it that much more.

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.

8. Remember the Titans

This is the first of only two football movies on my list.  Why?  It’s difficult to make a great football movie.  Put together your top ten list and tell me how many of them are football movies.  Unless you’re a die hard football fan and that’s the only sports movies you will watch, you won’t have many on your list, guaranteed.

“Remember the Titans” is based on the true story of the 1971 T.C. Williams high school football team from Alexandria, Virginia.  The main character is the head coach of the football team, Herman Boone played by Denzel Washington.  Now don’t go storming off to watch this because Denzel is in it.  There is much more to this movie.

Basically the story goes like this.  Segregation was beginning to be washed away and in Virginia it started with an all white school and an all black school being integrated into T.C. Williams.  Boone was hired to be the coach of the all black school while the all white school coach Bill Yoast, played by Will Patton, was to be the head coach for T.C. Williams.  Boone was going to be an assistant under Yoast at T.C. Williams, but the school board decided before the season to give the job to Boone over Yoast.

Of course that didn’t go over well and all hell was about to break loose.  What it all boils down to is that it’s a case of black and white at a time when they were judging by the color of their skin and not the content of their character.  Even when it came to playing a game of football.  This true story of what both Herman Boone and Bill Yoast did to calm the animosity both on the field and in the community is nothing short of miraculous.  At the same time the football team was doing something that was extremely special too.

The two star players, both playing on defense, were at each others throats from the start.  Gerry Bertier, played by Ryan Hurst was white.  Julius Campbell, played by Wood Harris was black.  Both were headstrong, but soon realized that what they originally thought about each other was completely wrong.  Their story along with the coaches was amazing to see unfold.

During their camp at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, coach Boone decided to take the entire team for a pre-dawn hike.  At the end of the hike they came upon hallowed ground in which coach Boone said the following:

Coach Boone: Anybody know what this place is?  This is Gettysburg.  This is where they fought the battle of Gettysburg.  Fifty thousand men died right here on this field, fighting the same fight that we are still fighting among ourselves today.  This green field right here, painted red, bubblin’ with the blood of young boys.  Smoke and hot lead pouring right through their bodies.  Listen to their souls, men.  I killed my brother with malice in my heart.  Hatred destroyed my family.  You listen, and you take a lesson from the dead.  If we don’t come together right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed, just like they were.  I don’t care if you like each other or not, but you will respect each other.  And maybe… I don’t know, maybe we’ll learn to play this game like men.

If that was just a Hollywood speech so be it.  If the real Herman Boone said this, that is truly an amazing speech.  Either way, it brings to life what the movie is all about.  We too will be destroyed if we don’t come together right now.

To me this movie both brings light to modern times.  It’s just a movie, but the core of the story is that we need to judge someone by their character and not by skin color if we are to be a cohesive society.  Anyone can play a game together and anyone can do anything they want so long as they strive to be the best they can be.  Tensions were high and no body wanted to get along, but they realized that there wasn’t anything different about them other than the color of their skin.

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.

9. Rookie of the Year

Time to move from the make believe sport (No. 10 Baseketball) to the real sport.  Now “Rookie of the Year” is more of an after thought nowadays, but when I first saw this movie, to me it was every kids dream come true.  Who wouldn’t want to be playing baseball with their favorite baseball players?  Now I won’t refer much to the other movie that came out a year after this one, but I will say that “Little Big League” was totally lame.  If you don’t believe me, watch it and tell me otherwise.  Both are similar, but “Rookie of the Year” had a better story.

The jest of it is that a 12 year old kid named Henry Rowengartner from Chicago is having a rough time becoming a good baseball player, heck even an okay one.  An accident at school results in a broken arm to which he has to wear a ridiculous looking cast for the summer.  Once the cast is removed, he goes to a Chicago Cubs game.  While sitting in the bleachers, a home run ball hit by the opposing team is given to Henry to throw it back.  He does, but it results in a bullet thrown to the catcher at home plate.  Henry is there by signed by the Cubs and becomes an attraction at first to get fans to Wrigley Field.  What surprises everyone is what he does to help the Cubs become winners.

Without going into too many more details I will just say that there is also a great story between Henry and his mom Mary.  I don’t want to give it away, but I’ll just say that there is more to his mom than Henry thinks.  I’d be interested to hear what Cubs fans think about this movie.  To me it does bring to light the amazing futility of the Chicago Cubs for over 100 years now.  They haven’t won a World Series since 1908 folks.  But I think it also sheds some light into why the Cubs are always called the “Lovable Losers.”  Who doesn’t want to see the Cubs finally win one?

The cast is pretty well known nowadays.  The main character Henry Rowengartner was played by Thomas Ian Nicholas of the three original “American Pie” movies.  Gary Busey was the star pitcher Chet “Rocket” Steadman of the Cubs.  Even John Candy was in the movie as the Cubs play-by-play announcer Cliff Murdoch.

This quote pretty says it all about what would probably be the first thing you would say if you were asked to play baseball for your favorite team.  The Cubs General Manager Larry Fisher asks Henry the important question.

Larry Fisher: Hey, kid! How’d you like to play for the Chicago Cubs?

Henry Rowengartner: Great! But I gotta ask my mom first.

Now you can’t say that wouldn’t be your first response.  Right?  Not a well known movie, but a good one in my view.   The list will start to get more intriguing in the coming days so stay tuned.  Don’t forget to let me know what you think here and on twitter @WesSportsGuy

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.

10. Baseketball

Some won’t classify this picture as a “sports” movie.  Why?  I don’t know.  I mean, yes it does involve a made up sport that has never existed.  But when I describe this movie to someone who has neve seen it.  I usually say, “it involves two guys who are losers until one day they make up a sport that helps them become sports stars.”  Isn’t that the whole point of the movie?  The main characters are playing a sport albeit a made up one.

Now before I saw this movie, I never saw a single second of South Park.  Even more shocking is that both Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the stars of this movie, didn’t even write or direct this movie.  David Zucker directed Baseketball.  He directed the first Naked Gun movie, which includes probably the best 30 minute parody of a baseball game ever.  See it for yourself.  Anyway with Baseketball, you get a good dose of comedy and an interesting cast.

Jenny McCarthy (pictured in the middle) is in the movie.  Without giving anything away, she is some pretty funny scenes.  Yasmine Bleeth, mostly known for Baywatch is also in the movie.  Ernest Borgnine and Robert Vaughn play two of the owners in the Baseketball league.  You will also see Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Reggie Jackson, Kenny Mayne and Dan Patrick make some cameo appearances.  By far the most entertaining part of the supporting cast was what Bob Costas and Al Michaels were saying as the play-by-play guys.  Never thought I would’ve heard those say the things they said.

Now to help make my case for this movie I’m going to include a little part of the movie that I think sums it up the best.  The character Robert Vaughn is playing is named Baxter Cain and the one Matt Stone is playing is named Douglas “Swish” Reemer.

Baxter Cain: Do you think Shaq got rich playing in Orlando? Hardly, he made his fortune moving to L.A. You know how much he makes now?

Doug Reemer: As much as he made playing in college?

Cain: What? No, a lot more! Big money, and you can too!

Reemer: Would I have to quit baseketball?

Cain: What? No, I need you to get Coop to go along!

Reemer: He’d have to quit baseketball too?

Cain: [Dumbfounded, holding his head in pain] Ehhh… ahh.
..
Reemer: Did I just fart?

Now I should have prefaced this, but 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, go to Blockbuster…oh…right, they’re bankrupt.  Then netflix it, pirate the movie, however you go about seeing it.  Watch it once and let me know what you think.  Be forewarned, the movie is rated R, but you will enjoy it.