By C. Trent Rosecrans
You may have noticed, but it's been slow 'round these parts. Much of the baseball world is either sleeping or so extended rom Christmas spending that there's not a whole lot to do other than wait for spring training to start.
While many people like to watch Christmas movies this time of year, I'm a Grinch and prefer to spend the cold winter months watching baseball movies -- anything to avoid the scourge that is basketball. Every so often, I start thinking about what would be the best team of players from baseball movies. And since there's not much going on in real baseball, this time I'm going to actually write it down.
But there has to be ground rules:
1. Fictional characters only. No Babe Ruth, no Jackie Robinson, no Ty Cobb -- we know they were great, or there wouldn't be a movie about them.
2. Good guys only. Because, really, we want to root for our team, so no Clu Heywood, even though he leads the league in most offensive categories, including nose hair. But really, we spend more time with the heroes, so they're the ones on this team.
3. There were no sequels to Major League. Just like there was no Rocky V, Major League never had a sequel -- much less two. I refuse to believe it. A silly, arbitrary rule? Yep. But hey, it's my list. (I should note, Matt Snyder loves Major League II and believes it to be superior to the original. I say CBS obviously doesn't do enough drug testing and also point to the fact that he prefers Van Hagar to Van Halen, so that pretty much kills his credibility.)
4. Two entries per movie. This is just to make the list a little tougher, because otherwise you could just say, "everyone from The Sandlot" or the Cleveland Indians from Major League. I limited it to two because doing just one makes it too difficult.
5. Position changes are OK, but have to make sense. I mean, sure, someone can move from center to left, but I'm not exactly about to put a catcher at second base just to fill a spot. It has to be realistic. Also, for players who don't have a set position, they can be placed somewhere and it still has to make sense. This is a necessity because most of the baseball movies center around the pitchers and catchers.
6. Live-action players only. No cartoon characters, or superpowers. So that means no Snoopy or Bugs Bunny, but also no kid who can throw 100 miles per hour.
So, with that in mind, here's the CBSSports.com All-Movie squad:
C Crash Davis -- Catcher may have been the toughest position to pick, or at least the one with the most competition. The catcher seems to always be not just the sage of any movie baseball team, but they always seem to come through in the clutch and have the best lines. Catchers seem to make the best managers and the best movie characters.
1B Jack Elliott -- He's no 1992 Frank Thomas -- and if Mr. Baseball had been about the rookie, he'd be on here -- but Tom Selleck's former MVP still had enough left in the tank to lead the Chunichi Dragons to the playoffs.
2B Brad Johnson -- A first-round pick by Kansas City out of Stanford, Johnson didn't stay too long in Class A Quad Cities, but instead was on a fast track to the big leagues. Not too many people saw Sugar when it came out in 2008, but it's definitely worth a rental. Johnson is just a side character in the story of a Dominican pitcher's struggles in the United States. It's one of the best and most realistic baseball movies ever made.
3B Doris Murphy -- If it weren't for the limit on characters from one movie, this would be an easy pick for Major League's Roger Dorn, but Dorn isn't as essential as either of our other two picks from that movie, so Rosie O'Donnell's character from A League of Their Own is the default choice. As rare as third baseman are in the Hall of Fame, they're even more rare on screen.
SS Benny "the Jet" Rodriguez -- Rodriguez, the best player on The Sandlot, made it to the big leagues with the Dodgers. The movie shows Rodriguez, late in his career, as a pinch-runner, but doesn't mention what position he played. The guess is either shortstop or center field -- Benny had the ability for either, so we'll put him at shortstop. (As a side note, the worst part in this game is that the main character in that movie apparently grows up and displaces Vin Scully in the Dodgers' radio booth, which is just a shame.)
LF Bobby Rayburn -- OK, the movie stinks and Wesley Snipes' Barry Bonds-like character is far from likable, but there are enough character guys on this squad that it'll work. A three-time former MVP, Rayburn had played center, but we'll move him to left, just like another guy who won several MVPs and then went to San Francisco.
CF Willie "Mays" Hayes -- Surprisingly it's Wesley Snipes, not Kevin Costner, who gets two characters on the list. While Rayburn was in on a technicality, Hayes earns it with his play on the field and his desire -- not to mention his snappy dress. Talk about an amazing story, the guy wasn't even invited to camp and ends up on the team and scores the winning run from second base to send the Indians to the playoffs.
RF Roy Hobbs -- Yeah, he may be a little old, but he still knocks the cover off the ball -- literally. He does hang around some shady women, though.
SP Bingo Long -- In an upset over so many other popular characters (Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh, Montgomery Brewster, Amanda Wurlitzer, Billy Chapel, Henry "Author" Wiggen and Eddie Harris), my starter is the titular character from The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings, none other than Billy Dee Williams. The character is based on Satchel Paige and is played by the guy who played Lando Calrissian. That's a combo that's just too tough to beat.
CL Rick Vaughn -- Sure, it's cliched, but Charlie Sheen's performance is one of the best in movie history. It also popularized the intro music for closers. As good as Mariano Rivera's Enter Sandman entrance is, it's no Wild Thing.
Player/Manager Cecil "Stud" Cantrell -- The player/manager for the Tampico Stogies in Long Gone, Cantrell not only brings a young Virginia Madsen to the ballpark every day, he can pitch and slug. He wasn't quite Stan Musial in his younger days, but he did hit them harder than "The Man" -- or so he claims.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.