Now that both the L.A. Kings and LeBron have been crowned, sports-fans can finally turn their undivided attention to America’s favourite pastime. The summer may have only just begun, but the regular baseball season is already in full swing. And while I only follow MLB with a passing interest, cultural osmosis has cultivated in me a profound appreciation for the game itself. The history of Baseball is the history of the 20th Century. Its past is our prologue. Baseball is mythical. Anyone who’s made the pilgrimage to Cooperstown, and wandered the halls with hushed reverence, can attest to this inalienable truth. It’s also cinematic. I may not love the sport, in its current hyper-corporatized incarnation, but I love baseball on film.
It's a genre of simple pleasures. From the classics (The Pride of the Yankees) to the comedies (Major League), from the kids-flicks (The Sandlot) to the Kostners (Bull Durham, For Love Of The Game), baseball movies spin timeless tales of fathers and sons, brothers and best friends. They’re most effective when waxing poetical rather than statistical… baseball as a metaphor for life. The Natural, starring Robert Redford, gets me every time. When he cracks the climactic homer -- unleashing a cascade of sparks upon the diamond -- I lose control, more blubbery than a can of tuna.
A man’s tears are shielded from fraternal heckling on all but a few occasions; when his child is born and when his team wins the championship. But I’ve yet to meet a real man who’s eyes don’t mist up at the end of Field Of Dreams. Proof positive there is crying in baseball.