Of all the major sports, baseball might just have the most in common with movies. They’ve both survived for more than a hundred years, succeed or fail based on teamwork, are intimately linked with Americana — and have inspired more than a few people to spit.
A new Major League Baseball season also signifies another year of intense traveling for players like Kansas City Royals outfielder David DeJesus, who passes the time between games watching classic baseball flicks. In anticipation of another action-packed season, the MTV Movies team has assembled a list of the greatest fictional movie characters at each position. The up-and-coming slugger was eager to weigh in on which picks whiffed and which would make “The Show”:
Catcher: Crash Davis, played by Kevin Costner in “Bull Durham”
· “I think you’re right on target with that,” DeJesus said of the fictional minor-league home-run record holder, played by Kevin Costner. “He was the oldest guy on the team; you need those kinds of guys who have been in the league to teach the young pitchers how to be professional.” DeJesus warned, however, that some of Crash’s teaching techniques wouldn’t fly in the bigs. “I wouldn’t trust him,” DeJesus admitted, remembering a scene that had the catcher tipping off an opposing batter on a fastball to teach his pitcher a lesson. “He’s supposed to be worrying about winning the game.”
First Base: Jack Elliot, played by Tom Selleck in “Mr. Baseball”
· “He was one of those guys who went [to Japan] to a whole different baseball game, the fans loved watching him hit home runs, and he’d definitely be good here,” DeJesus remembered. Selleck’s mustache, he thinks, would also be a big hit among the fans. “Not too many guys use that look anymore,” he observed, singling out Kerry Ligtenberg’s sideburns and Sal Fasano’s Fu Manchu. “But he’d have to make sure he didn’t end up playing for the Yankees … some owners [the Yankees’ George Steinbrenner in particular] don’t like facial hair.”
Second Base: Tanner Boyle, played by Chris Barnes in original “The Bad News Bears”
· The miniature middle infielder with the Napoleon complex made our team mostly because we couldn’t think of any other cinematic second basemen — a difficult choice that got DeJesus thinking. “Why don’t they make movies about second-base guys?” he asked. “It’s not a very flashy position. They’re key for turning double plays, but there’s not a lot of drama going on there.”
Third Base: Doris Murphy, played by Rosie O’Donnell in “A League of Their Own”
· These days, O’Donnell is busy throwing brushback pitches at Donald Trump on “The View.” But, in consideration of a memorable performance and another thin position, we’ve chosen a female all-star to man the Hot Corner. “I’d rather see Roger Dorn from ’Major League,’ ” DeJesus chuckled, remembering Corbin Bernsen’s vain third-sacker. “I think it would be tough for Rosie to fit in with a big-league clubhouse … she’s pretty outspoken.”
Shortstop: Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez, played by Mike Vitar in “The Sandlot”
· “Benny the Jet, yes! He definitely had range and great speed,” said the outfielder, who stole a decent six bases himself last season. “I think you picked a good guy.” While DeJesus warned that we might run into some problems with a Little Leaguer in the lineup, he did remember that Benny was playing for the Dodgers by the end of the movie. “He did grow up to be a great player,” the four-year big-league veteran laughed.
Left Field: Shoeless Joe Jackson, played by D.B. Sweeney in “Eight Men Out” and Ray Liotta in “Field of Dreams”
· “That’s a great pick. You can’t beat that guy; he’s a legend in this game,” DeJesus observed of our only non-fictional player. “I’ve seen ’Field of Dreams’ more than the other one,” he said, remembering Liotta’s performance over that of Sweeney’s. “And if I was making a Hall of Fame, I’d have Shoeless Joe in there.”
Center Field: Willie Mays Hayes, played by Wesley Snipes in “Major League”
· Shockingly, one of our biggest no-brainers turned out to be the most controversial decision in the eyes of DeJesus. “This kills me, because I’m a ’Major League’ guy,” he admitted, “but Kelly [Leak, played by recent Oscar nominee Jackie Earle Haley] from ’The Bad News Bears’ … played all the outfield positions — right, center and left — and ran everything down … and even robbed a couple home runs!” Giving props to the pre-pubescent Fonzie of baseball, DeJesus is still in awe of Kelly’s defensive skills. “He was real young too,” he marveled, “but overall, Kelly was a better outfielder than Willie Mays Hayes.”
Right Field: Roy Hobbs, played by Robert Redford in “The Natural”
· Clearly the cleanup hitter on the MTV all-star squad, our big-league guest called Redford’s character the best fictional baseball player of all time. “There’s no doubt about him. When a guy hits a ball into the stadium lights, that’s game over right there,” gushed DeJesus, who admitted that it’s unlikely he’ll ever accomplish such a feat. “I’m a singles and doubles guy, so if I hit one up there, I’d definitely be talking that up in front of the power hitters on our team,” he laughed, noting that while such a feat might make it on “SportsCenter,” it might also endanger a few fans caught in the light explosions at Kauffman Stadium. “[The Royals] might not be too happy with that.”
Designated Hitter (Sorry, National League fans): Stan Ross, played by Bernie Mac in “Mr. 3000″
· It’s one of the only movies listed here that DeJesus hasn’t seen, but the man who is currently just 2,614 hits away from his own 3,000th said having someone like Mac around the clubhouse is a necessity. “He would definitely be the comedic relief, and you need to have that on your team,” he observed.
Pitcher: Henry Rowengartner, played by Thomas Ian Nicholas in “Rookie of the Year”
· “As long as this is before [his arm healed],” DeJesus said of the Little Leaguer whose injury gives him a blazing fastball, albeit briefly. “That guy was blowing people away!” Still, the MLB player said shouting, “Pitcher’s got a big butt!” wouldn’t go over too well with Curt Schilling. “Henry was a bit immature,” DeJesus laughed, “but what do you expect from a 12-year-old?”
Closing Pitcher: Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn, played by Charlie Sheen in “Major League”
· The self-described ” ’Major League’ nut” said the closest thing we have today to Sheen’s flame-throwing flake can currently be seen finishing games for the Toronto Blue Jays. “He’d throw 98, 99, 100 miles per hour … B.J. Ryan is a similar big, stocky guy who comes right at you and tries to throw it past you,” DeJesus marveled. “[I wonder if he] takes the heads off cardboard batters too.”
Manager: Coach Morris Buttermaker, played by Walter Matthau in the original “The Bad News Bears”
· “Other than the drinking and the smoking in the dugout, he’d be pretty good,” DeJesus joked. The outfielder claimed he’d be able to resist grabbing a can out of Matthau’s six-pack during the game, but that Buttermaker would find plenty of takers once the last pitch had been thrown. “Managing the Bad News Bears doesn’t necessarily qualify you to manage a Major League Baseball team,” he grinned, “but after the game, having a few drinks would be all good.”
Team Outlook: In the eyes of DeJesus, our MTV all-star team is ready to go all the way. “I think you guys did a great job,” he laughed. “You might win the World Series — as long as Henry Rowengartner’s arm holds out for the whole season.”
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