Back in December, I committed to the following list of favorite baseball movies on Twitter:
This list came with a caveat that it changes frequently. But, I wondered if there was a semi-scientific way to determine what the actual order would be, so I decided to rank them based on the following categories:
Rewatchability, Quotability, Quality of Baseball Scenes, and the always reliable category of “Would/Did Kevin Costner make this a better movie?”
Below I’ve listed my top 5 in their original rank with the scoring results.
#1 Bull Durham
Rewatchability – 5 out of. Every scene in this movie is money. Costner, Sarandon, and Robbins work so well together. This is also Costner’s best movie by a mile.
Quoteability – 4 out of 5 “Your shower shoes have fungus on them.” “I believe in the soul..” “Rose goes in the front, big guy.” The quotes in this movie are endless and hilarious.
Quality of baseball scenes – 5 out of 5 From the mound visits to the play by play announcer, baseball scenes are A+.
Would/Did Kevin Costner make this movie better? Absolutely. I tried to imagine another actor in the role of Crash Davis and nobody brings anything better to this film. +1
This somehow feels like the most underrated baseball movie ever.
Rewatchability – 4 out of 5. I can finish watching this movie, then immediately want to start watching it again.
Quoteability – 1 out of 5. This shouldn’t be considered a knock, but the other movies in contention have more memorable quotes than this movie is able to provide. Best line, though:
Billy Beane: Would you rather get one shot in the head or five in the chest and bleed to death?
Peter Brand: Are those my only two options?
Quality of baseball scenes – 1 out of 5. The actual games aren’t really the focus of the movie, so the baseball scenes only provide context for what is going on in the GM’s office.
Would Kevin Costner make this movie better? Hmm..Kevin Costner as Billy Beane? Nah. Peter Brand? No way. How about Art Howe? That could work! Steve Schott? Now you’re talking! Schott is in maybe two scenes and bringing in Costner for a cameo would be incredible. +1
#3 Field of Dreams
Rewatchability – 1 out of 5. Again, not a knock, but I can watch this movie wall to wall and feel satisfied without a need to watch it again for a while.
Quotability – 2 out of 5. Impassioned speeches from James Earl Jones, The Voice, “What’s in it for me?” All good stuff, but nothing that can top the majority of the movies in this list.
Quality of baseball scenes – 2 out of 5. I appreciate sports movies that aren’t about the big game at the end. This movie is about the idea of baseball, which works perfectly. The actual playing of the game really only happens in the background and is secondary to the main story.
Did Kevin Costner make this movie better? Thinking of actors that were big around the time this movie came out got me thinking: Could another actor have turned in a good performance in the role of Ray Kinsella? I could see it. Tom Hanks? For sure. How about Michael Keaton? I think so. Costner is obviously so ingrained with this role that it’s hard to imagine anyone else, but I think both Hanks and Keaton could have brought a unique performance and the film would have been just as successful. +0
#4 Major League
Rewatchability – 3 out of 5. I wore out an old VHS copy of this movie that my father recorded off of HBO.
Quoteability – 5 out of 5. KING OF QUOTABLE SPORTS MOVIES. So many great lines. “JUUUUST bit outside.” “Yo Bartender, Jobu needs a refill!” “Nice catch, Hayes. Don’t ever fucking do it again!” ‘”This guy here is dead!” “Cross him off then!”‘ These examples barely scratch the surface. No baseball movie has a more quotable script than Major League.
Quality of baseball scenes – 3 out of 5. Some of the best scenes in this movie happen during the games. This film, along with the two films that finished ahead of it are really too close to call.
Would Kevin Costner make this movie better? Ehhh…probably not. The only role that would work for him would be aging catcher Jake Taylor. But Major League is more of an ensemble about the TEAM. I think if you swapped Costner in for Tom Berenger, it would become a Kevin Costner movie, which would affect how the film worked. +0
#5 The Sandlot
Rewatchability – 2 out of 5. This is a great movie and I’ve seen it numerous times. However, this film falls into the same idea as Field of Dreams, once I’ve seen it, I’m good for a while.
Quoteability – 3 out of 5. You’re killing me, Smalls! The line that has stayed in the American lexicon since 1993 and is probably the most well-known line from any movie on this list, Aside from a few others (FOR-EV-ER), there isn’t enough to make the top of the list.
Quality of baseball scenes – 4 out of 5. This ranked high almost solely for nostalgic purposes. Everyone had that backyard/field/parking lot where they would play catch growing up and watching this film always reminds me of that.
Would Kevin Costner make this movie better? Sure. You could swap him for Dennis Leary and achieve the same effect, but it’s basically a wash. +0
Bull Durham – 15
Major League – 11
Sandlot – 9
Moneyball – 7
Field of Dreams – 5
Whoa. The only movie that kept its original ranking was Bull Durham, so at least I know my absolute favorite baseball movie FOR SURE. I truly thought Moneyball would rank higher than fourth.
Brad, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry.