Friday, January 22, 2021     Volume: 21, Issue: 47
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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review
A VIGILANTE
BEST WISHES, WARMEST REGARDS: A SCHITT’S CREEK FAREWELL
BINGABLE: ABANDONED (2016)
BINGEABLE: BARRY
BINGEABLE: FLEABAG
BINGEABLE: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTARIES
BINGEABLE: OUTLANDER (2014-present)
BINGEABLE: STRANGER THINGS 3
BINGEABLE: THE SINNER (SEASON 2)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE MATRIX
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE PRESTIGE (2006)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: WILD AT HEART (1990)
BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM
DA 5 BLOODS
ENOLA HOLMES
FIRST COW
GUILTY PLEASURES: CHEER (2020)
HAPPIEST SEASON
HAVE A GOOD TRIP: ADVENTURES IN PSYCHEDELICS
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM
HONEST THIEF
I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS
LYING AND STEALING
MANK
SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE (2011)
SOUL
SUPERINTELLIGENCE
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM
THE MIDNIGHT SKY
THE OPERATIVE
THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN
THE PROM
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO SEVEN
THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW
TREAD
TV REVIEW: BATES MOTEL
TV REVIEW: BEST LEFTOVERS EVER!
TV REVIEW: BOSCH
TV REVIEW: DEFENDING JACOB
TV REVIEW: EVIL
TV REVIEW: FEAR CITY
TV REVIEW: HELL ON WHEELS (2011-2016)
TV REVIEW: HOMECOMING
TV REVIEW: I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE
TV REVIEW: I MAY DESTROY YOU
TV REVIEW: I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK
TV REVIEW: JULIE AND THE PHANTOMS
TV REVIEW: LENOX HILL
TV REVIEW: LITTLE AMERICA
TV REVIEW: LOVECRAFT COUNTRY
TV REVIEW: MRS. AMERICA
TV REVIEW: RAMY
TV REVIEW: RUN
TV REVIEW: SPACE FORCE
TV REVIEW: TABOO
TV REVIEW: THE BOYS
TV REVIEW: THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD
TV REVIEW: THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT
TV REVIEW: THE GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW (SEASON 11)
TV REVIEW: THE LAST KINGDOM
TV REVIEW: THE MIDNIGHT GOSPEL
TV REVIEW: THE MORNING SHOW
TV REVIEW: THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL OF ALL
TV REVIEW: THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA
TV REVIEW: THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT
TV REVIEW: THE THIRD DAY
TV REVIEW: THE VOW
TV REVIEW: TREADSTONE (2019)
TV REVIEW: UNDONE
TV REVIEW: WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
TV REVIEW: ZEROZEROZERO
UNDERRATED: BATMAN BEGINS (2005)
UNDERRATED: THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL (2014)
WONDER WOMAN 1984

UNDERRATED: THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL (2014)

PHOTO BY , COURTESY OF NETFLIX

UNDERRATED: THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL (2014)


Where is it playing?: Netflix

What's it rated?: Not Rated

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

To be honest, I’m really not the kind of person who’s easily lured by a romantic tale of the “American dream” on the big screen. But The Battered Bastards of Baseball—a must-see documentary telling the larger-than-life, crazily true story of one minor league baseball team in the mid-’70s—kindled my inner American spirit in a genuine way.

Like many boys, Bing Russell (father of actor Kurt Russell) grew up in love with baseball. He served as a batboy for the title-winning New York Yankees teams of the 1930s and ’40s, before moving to Hollywood to pursue acting. In his spare time, Bing even wrote dense instructional manuals and made little films about the fundamentals of baseball—for no other reason than to feed his passion for the game.

In 1972, the actor best known as the sheriff’s deputy in Bonanza (1959) saw an opportunity to chase his first love again. Portland’s minor league baseball team at the time relocated to Spokane, leaving the City of Roses without a ball club to call its own. Enter Bing—who decided to fill the void and create the Portland Mavericks, a Class A independent baseball team with no affiliation with a major league club, becoming the only such organization in existence.

Baseball bigwigs thought he was crazy. Portlanders chafed at the idea of this Hollywood dude bringing his circus to their city. But Bing didn’t flinch; he knew exactly what he was doing.

The Mavericks held an open tryout for their roster that got filled by a quirky, ragtag collection of misfits, dropouts, and rejects donning potbellies and unkempt facial hair. These were players whose baseball dreams had been crushed by pro scouts who deemed them unworthy of a chance, or former big leaguers who’d been dumped by their teams along the way. Bing’s selling point to his players was redemption; his everyday motto was to have fun.

For all of Bing’s silliness and showmanship, the man knew the game of baseball as well as anyone, and he wanted to win. He drew out those traits in his managers and players, and the Mavericks scraped their way to winning games. Quickly, the organization became a hit in Portland. The team set attendance records, garnered national attention, and cultivated an all-for-one, one-for-all spirit.

I won’t spoil the ending, but as Bing eyed his ultimate prize, a Northwest League championship, he weathered heavy fire from league executives who resented him and the whole spectacle. That tension culminated in climactic fights both on and off the diamond.

Bing’s grandsons, Chapman and Maclain Way, helm this charming documentary that mixes interviews with Bing’s son, Kurt (who played on the team), family members, Maverick players and staff, journalists, and minor league execs with beautiful, old source material.

Take my word for it: You don’t need to be a baseball fan to appreciate this underdog story. The values it’s grounded in—ingenuity, authenticity, community, family, faith, and, yes, baseball—are fundamentally American. (73 min.) 

—Peter Johnson

—Peter Johnson










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