Saturday, April 4, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 5
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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review
1917
AD ASTRA
BINGABLE: ABANDONED (2016)
BINGABLE: DON’T F**K WITH CATS: HUNTING AN INTERNET KILLER (2019)
BINGEABLE: Barry
BINGEABLE: CASA DE LAS FLORES
BINGEABLE: FLEABAG
BINGEABLE: GRACE AND FRANKIE
BINGEABLE: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTARIES
BINGEABLE: OUTLANDER (2014-present)
BINGEABLE: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (1995)
BINGEABLE: RUSSIAN DOLL
BINGEABLE: STRANGER THINGS 3
BINGEABLE: THE PEOPLE V. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY
BINGEABLE: THE SINNER (SEASON 2)
BIRDS OF PREY (AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: COOL RUNNINGS (1993)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: FISH TANK (2009)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: HOUSE
BLAST FROM THE PAST: OLDBOY
BLAST FROM THE PAST: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
BLAST FROM THE PAST: ROBOCOP
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE MATRIX
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE PRESTIGE (2006)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: WILD AT HEART
BLAST FROM THE PAST: YOU’VE GOT MAIL
BLOODSHOT
DOCTOR SLEEP
EMMA
FORD V FERRARI
GUILTY PLEASURE: THE HANGOVER
GUILTY PLEASURES: CHEER (2020)
GUILTY PLEASURES: GIRL MEETS WORLD (2014-2017)
HATEWATCH: 92ND ACADEMY AWARDS (2020)
HATEWATCH: NAILED IT!
HATEWATCH: THE WITCHER (2019)
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM
I STILL BELIEVE
JOJO RABBIT
JOKER
KNIVES OUT
LITTLE WOMEN
MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN
ONCE UPON A TIME … IN HOLLYWOOD
ONWARD
THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM
THE CALL OF THE WILD
THE GENTLEMEN
THE HUNT
THE INVISIBLE MAN
THE LIGHTHOUSE
THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON
THE WAY BACK
TV REVIEW:
TV REVIEW: LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE
TV REVIEW: SELF MADE: INSPIRED BY THE LIFE OF MADAM C.J. WALKER
TV REVIEW: TABOO
TV REVIEW: WESTWORLD (Season 3 debut)
UNCUT GEMS
UNDERRATED: BATMAN BEGINS
UNDERRATED: DOUBLE DRAGON (1994)
UNDERRATED: INSOMNIA
UNDERRATED: SHUTTER ISLAND
UNDERRATED: THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL
UNDERRATED: THE FALLING
YESTERDAY
ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP

UNDERRATED: THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL

PHOTO BY NETFLIX

UNDERRATED: THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL


User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

When? 2014

What’s it rated? Not rated

Where? Netflix

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








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