The Top 30 Sports Movies of All-Time

Buoyed by the controversy surrounding his All-Time Comedies List, the challenge was once again thrown down and guest blogger Nicky D was asked to commemorate his Top 30 Sports Movies of All-Time.  And by “All-Time” we naturally mean since 1970 – the magical year when the universe was created.

Which of these classics of the genre made it to the top?

Rudy?

 

Chariots of Fire?

 

Raging Bull?

 
Nope!
 
The Greatest Sports Movie of All-Time is…
 
…you guessed it!
 
TEEN WOLF!!!!!!!!
 

It's a slam dunk, sucka!

Just kidding.
 
Now on to the actual list…
Advertisements

The Starting Nine

In honor of Opening Day, we now present to you…

The Schleicher Spin’s Guide to the Best Baseball Films:

*In the Outfield:

Left Field –

Cobb (1994) – This biopic did not fare well upon release.  However, Tommy Lee Jones gives an Oscar-worthy performance in a film not about baseball but instead about one of the meanest SOB’s to ever live – who just also happened to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time.  It makes for a fascinating character study.

Center Field –

Are you Madonna? There's no Madonnas in baseball!

A League of Their Own (1992) – This excellent ensemble drama and family film teaches history while preaching about girl power.  Any young player of the game can find much to be inspired by here.

Right Field –

The Sandlot (1993) – This is another kid’s favorite that celebrates the joy of the game and endless summers running amuck in the neighborhood. Continue reading

Autumn in Cooperstown

As not only the birthplace of baseball but also the birthplace of the American novel, Cooperstown, New York (named for the family that spawned America’s first great novelist, James Fenimore Cooper) is an endless source of inspiration.  After last year’s visit in early Spring, I decided I wanted to make a yearly pilgrimage to the place of Glimmerglass and Doubleday, leaves and lakes, ballplayers and writers, Coopers and Mohicans.  Mid-Autumn is an intoxicating sight to behold in Cooperstown and around Lake Otsego.  It’s the time of year when the “off season” is just beginning, part-time locals are enjoying a less crowded hamlet before retiring to warmer climates, year-round natives are still enjoying the nicer weather, the last shot of selective tourists leisurely ascends into town for fall foliage or in honor of the baseball playoff season, the few remaining sailboats glide over Glimmerglass, and the wildlife still roams freely but sleepily as they settle in for their upcoming long winter’s nap.  Hibernation, ice and loneliness await as the leaves slowly dance down from the treetops and cover the sidewalks as a colorful precursor to the white snow that will blanket the area all too soon.

Naturally, one can’t help but snap as many pictures as possible.  Continue reading

To the Victors the Spoils

World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.

Still to this day it sounds unbelievable…like I’m living in a dream…and just a year ago seemed as unlikely as President Barack Obama. 

In late October of 2008, the newly crystallized reality of the former and the hope of the latter were all that the city of Philadelphia had to hold onto in the wake of Wall Street slitting its throat and flooding the streets of America with blood.  But Philly’s streets were proud to run red, and in early November it turned out American’s hearts beat blue once again as Obama swept into the White House.  My most lasting memory from that time period was walking the quiet autumn painted streets of Society Hill in the swell of Philadelphia’s rising tide towards victory in the playoffs and seeing on every other window in the neighborhood an Obama sign next to a Phillies’ sticker.  The feeling of impending triumph was palpable.  Pardon the cliche, but you could almost taste it.

And now to the victors go the spoils, at least for a short while.  Continue reading

The Beijing Olympics

Now Playing in Beijing:  TRIUMPH OF THE PAGEANT

On the eighth hour of the eighth day of the eighth month in 2008 (Beijing time), the Communist run economic powerhouse and 1.5 billion people strong Chinese Machine finally had their coming out party.

The first images are streaming in from the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.  Famed filmmaker Zhang Yimou (who has been responsible for Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and Curse of the Golden Flower) staged the epic event with all the grand pageantry of his signature films.

The images are dreadfully beautiful and sumptuous, though the particular slide show linked below also features a hilarious shot of our President Dubya and the wife Laura with horrified looks on their faces as they are shown to their seats.  Could they be afraid of a little propaganda?  I highly recommend clicking the link and flipping through all the photographs to get the full effect of the power of what has been staged:

http://www.nbcolympics.com/destinationbeijing/photos/galleryid=183709.html?GT1=39003

I’ve been trying to avoid political commentary on this blog lately, but these amazing images couldn’t go unnoticed.  Why does it all remind me of Leni Reifenstahl, Triumph of the Will, and the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics?

The Opening Ceremonies will be televised tonight on NBC.

To keep track of the overall Medal Standings as the Olympics progress, click below:

http://results.beijing2008.cn/WRM/ENG/INF/GL/95A/GL0000000.shtml

Written by David H. Schleicher

Cooperstown Travel Log

In honor of the opening week of baseball season, I took a road trip with my brother and a friend up to Cooperstown, NY to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame.  It was the first time I had been back since I was a child.  Though cold (and rainy on the last day), it was the perfect time of year to go to avoid the crowds that typically swamp the small village nestled below the mountains beside Lake Otsego during the summer months.  The quaint town was practically all ours for the taking (spare for some bus tours and kids at the Hall of Fame), and it was great to be able to mingle with the genuinely friendly and sometimes eccentric locals (especially on the first night at the only two bars in town open past midnight).

Below are some of the images and landscapes I was able to capture during my brief stay.  Continue reading

Super Bowl Party Drinking Game XLII

A degenerate like myself never needs an excuse to drink or gamble, yet they still insist on playing the Super Bowl every year.  Quite frankly, I couldn’t care less about the game.  I’m a one sport kind of fan, and my heart belongs to baseball.  However, I never turn down the opportunity to legitimize my vices.  Super Bowl XLII boasts more appeal than usual as the showdown between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants in Arizona heralds that classic Boston-New York rivalry all sports fans love.  The Pats also have the chance to become the first unbeaten team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

Now let’s get serious, folks, do we really need a drinking game designed around the Super Bowl?  Heck no!  Most people will be blitzed before kick-off.  Here I present a drinking game for the Super Bowl Party most Americans will be attending.  The Super Bowl Party allows for some keen observation of human behavior while socializing with people of all ages in various forms of food and alcohol induced inebriation. Continue reading

Visiting the House that Ruth Built

 

Above: Yankee Stadium in the Past

They say every baseball fan worth their salt should go at least once to a game at Yankee Stadium.  After last night (8/28/07), I can say that I did–perhaps just in the nick of time as construction has begun on the new Yankee Stadium next door.  Not only did I go to Yankee Stadium, but I watched them play (and beat) the Boston Red Sox under a full moon that hung at dusk like a Christmas tree ornament over the hallowed ball field before disappearing behind the stands.  After taking the jammed-packed subway to the Bronx (a truly uncomfortable experience that was a real trial for this germaphobe who likes his personal space), outside of Yankee Stadium is like traversing some third-world country, and people are packed into the walls of the House that Ruth Built like sardines.  Never have I been to a ball park where the concourse is so narrow, the ramps so steep, the seats so precariously stacked and spaced.  Yet walking into the stadium there’s a palpable sense of history and the Yankees’ ghosts, and the rush of stepping off the concourse and up into the bowels of the stadium where you get your first glimpse of the field where Babe Ruth and so many other greats have played and became legends leaves you with a feeling that I doubt can be duplicated anywhere else in the sports world.  There’s an ancient, crumbling, yet fecund aura around the ball park, as I imagine it to be the modern equivalent of entering the Roman Coliseum at the height of the Empire.  From the stands on this eerily perfect summer evening, the modestly rising Bronx architecture seemed to be painted onto the backdrop by someone channeling the spirit of the 1930’s. 

Below: Yankee Stadium Today

Then, of course, there were the fans.  There’s no rivalry in sports more bitter and storied than the one between the Yankees and Red Sox.  The colorful profanity slung around the stands was wildly entertaining, and the staff and police on hand did an excellent job of stopping the mudslinging just in time before things got physical.  Our government intelligence agencies could learn a thing or two from these well-trained and attentive folks who know just when to swoop in and poor water on the fire before violence ensues between warring factions.  With the Yankees leading going into the top of the 8th, hard-throwing rookie sensation Joba Chamberlain took the mound, and the escalating fervor the ensued was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  New York loves this guy, cheering every strike thrown as if it was Game Seven of the World Series and the opponent was down to the final out.  Joba the Hut set things up perfectly for Mariano Rivera who in the 9th closed things out as usual and allowed the Yankees to gain a game in the standings on the 1st place Red Sox.  Thanks to Jeter’s solo home run earlier in the night, and Rivera’s save, my fantasy baseball team scored as well.  All in all, a great night this baseball fan won’t soon forget.

________________________________________________________________________

*To date, the ball parks I have been to:

Yankee Stadium, New York 

Veteran’s Stadium (sadly no longer in existence), Philadelphia

Citizen’s Bank Park, Philadelphia

Camden Yards, Baltimore

RFK Stadium (hopefully to be put out of its misery soon), Washington D.C.

Turner Field, Atlanta

*Ball parks I desperately hope to visit:

Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles

Fenway Park, Boston

Wrigley Field, Chicago

___________________________________________________________________________________

Written by David H. Schleicher

Selling Bonds

Well, he’s done it…and I saw it all live (thanks to my Extra Innings Package)…

Top of the 2nd…approximately 10:30pm EST, August 4, 2007…controversial San Francisco Giants’ poster boy for juicing and bad attitudes, Barry Bonds, nailed his 755th career home run on the third pitch from Padres starter Clay Hensley to tie Hank Aaron for 1st on the all time home run list.  Out of the sheer joy of seeing history before my weary eyes, I instinctively leapt from my seat.  It was met with the oddest mix of boos and applause from the San Diego crowd–seems they were as torn as I with both hatred and awe.  Cheaters always win.  When a relieved and smiling Bonds made his way back to the dugout…I was left wondering–when the hell did his teammate Dave Roberts get so old?  This guy looks like a dwarfish senior citizen next to Bonds’ eternally youthful and swollen head.

Fans can breathe a sigh of relief…as earlier in the day Yakees’ slugger Alex Rodriguez became the youngest player ever to reach 500 career home runs.  The records of cheaters, one hopes, will fall quickly.

Until then, we shall wait pensively with baited breath at each passing at bat…

Honest Hammerin’ Hank, you’ll always be number one in my book.

POST MORTEM: Bonds belted his 756th home run a few nights later, Tuesday, August 7, 2007 to stand alone atop the all time list.  Records are made to fall.

Written by David H. Schleicher

Play Ball!

I am sure all of my fellow die-hard baseball fans were sweating this one out….

Truly this is an Easter/Passover miracle!  MLB Extra Innings has been resurrected for another season on cable so you can continue to enjoy all of your favorite out of market games.  And who played the biggest part perhaps in bringing this about?  You guessed it…Senator John “Ketchup-Luvin’ Horse-Face” Kerry.  Never in a million years did I think I would say, John Kerry is my hero!

So bring on those late night West Coast games…so I can listen to the legendary Vince Scully call Dodgers games and watch Greg Maddux pitch what may be his last season and continue my new love affair with the Minnesota Twins…shhh…the Braves and Phillies don’t need to know a thing.

I normally don’t post things like this…but as a true baseball fan, I can’t help but rejoice!  HOT OFF THE PRESSES from Associated Press:

Baseball Keeps ‘Extra Innings’ on Cable

By RONALD BLUM (AP Baseball Writer)

From Associated Press

April 04, 2007 9:12 PM EDT

NEW YORK – After negotiations that went into extra innings, baseball struck a deal to keep its “Extra Innings” package of out-of-market games on cable television.

Under pressure from Sen. John Kerry, baseball and iN Demand reached an agreement in principle Wednesday on a seven-year contract, a deal that likely will allow the sport’s new TV network to be available in at least 40 million homes when it launches in 2009.

“The concern expressed by our fans who would have been forced to switch to alternative carriers or were unable to switch was something we tried to be responsive to,” baseball chief operating officer Bob DuPuy said.

Kerry had asked the Federal Communications Commission to investigate the original deal, and during a hearing last week in Washington he pushed baseball to resume talks with iN Demand, owned by affiliates of Time Warner, Comcast and Cox. While baseball had set a March 31 deadline, the sides kept negotiating and announced a deal Wednesday night, an agreement that still must be finalized.

“All we ever wanted was a victory for the fans, and this outcome is a big step forward,” Kerry said in a statement. “Everyone kept talking and pressing until we had a deal that protects the rights of most fans to follow their hometown team.”

IN Demand began making games available to cable systems in progress starting at 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday, president Robert Jacobson said. The package will be available for $159 this year through a free preview period that will extend into next week, he said, but the 2007 price for those subscribing after that has not been set.

“I’m exhausted but happy,” Jacobson said. “We always needed to feel like we were treated fairly relative to the other distributor. We felt like got our fair share.”

As part of the agreement, iN Demand and DirecTV each will receive about 16 percent equity in the new network, a person familiar with the deal said, speaking on condition of anonymity because that detail wasn’t announced. Under the original agreement, DirecTV was to be a 20 percent owner.

In Demand will make the “Extra Innings” package available to other cable companies, which also would be required to carry the MLB channel. Baseball is willing to resume negotiate with Echostar’s Dish Network, baseball spokesman Rich Levin said, but DirecTV president Chase Carey said he anticipated for now that his company would be an exclusive satellite carrier.

The dispute was largely over baseball’s desire to have a deal that will allow its network to be widely available on a basic cable tier. At 40 million homes, it would be one of the largest launches in cable history.

“It provides both the financial stability and the exposure to ensure a successful launch of the channel and bring the game to as many fans as possible,” DuPuy said.

Because of the new deal, DirecTV will pay less than it would have under the original agreement.

“The economics are better for us on the `Extra Innings’ side,” Carey said. “Clearly there were benefits you had in capturing subs (subscribers). We were paying a lot of money to get it. At what price? We weighed all the positives of each.”