@NASCAR Laps @NFL with Higher Faith Equality Index Score

This weekend’s Daytona 500, launching NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series, will draw the attention of millions of Faith Driven Consumers as FaithEqualityIndex.com releases new data scoring the faith friendliness of NASCAR as well as key sponsors of leading race teams

Faith Driven Consumer™ (FDC)—representing 41 million consumers who spend $2 trillion annually, has earned wide recognition for its groundbreaking FaithEqualityIndex.com (FEI). The FEI scores more than 500 major brands for compatibility with the FDC community, making it the 2nd largest diversity index in America after the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. In the last two weeks, the group released its first annual ranking of Super Bowl advertisers and the National Football League, as well as a Valentine’s Day Shopping Guide for Faith Driven Consumers. Today, FDC is releasing its first score of NASCAR as well as key race team sponsors.  Continue reading “@NASCAR Laps @NFL with Higher Faith Equality Index Score”

I May Be In The Minority…

…well actually, I know I am. I was in the minority of those who predicted the Broncos would win. I’m not exactly claiming I was alone in the wilderness on this one, as many writers and talking heads called the same outcome – but we were in the minority. The reason I thought the Broncos would win the game was two-fold; the Broncos’ pass rush and the Panther’s pass protection.

For some reason, most of the media had played Cam up to be Superman. And let me interrupt myself here by making it clear, I am not knocking Cam Newton at all. He won the regular season MVP, deservedly so. He was very difficult to stop all season long and in the playoffs, and presented a fairly unique challenge. But somehow the bulk of the media ignored that the Falcons handled this “unstoppable” team, 20-13. Cam was only 17-30 in that game. More importantly, Newton was sacked 33 times in the regular season. That’s a higher rate per pass attempt than the “immobile” Peyton Manning, by the way.

Att      Sacks   Pct

Newton    495       33       6.67

Manning  331         16      4.83

Osweiler  275         23      8.36

Just so you can see, it isn’t that Denver’s O-line is impregnable, it’s that Peyton was hard to sack. Anyway, yes, I’m well aware that Peyton got dropped by the Panthers five times, threw more than a few poor balls, even fumbled. The Panthers played a great game on defense.

Von crushes it

Unfortunately for them, the Broncos were even better. They compiled 52 sacks in the regular season, and added 7 more in their playoff run to the Big Game. So how is it a surprise they got to Cam? I’ll admit, I didn’t expect them to sack “Superman” six times. They also picked him off once, forced him to fumble twice, and held him to a pretty unspectacular 18-41. And if that sounds like I’m dogging Cam, I’m not. They did to the Panthers exactly what they did to the Patriots. Ton Brady gets rid of the ball faster than anyone, yet Von Miller and his merry wrecking crew were in his face that entire game. Cam gets rid of the ball pretty quickly, but not as fast as Tom. Cam was sacked 33 times in the regular season. So how and where did this narrative of Cam being unstoppable arise?

I’ll tell you what I think. I think that the Panthers got so little respect all season long, that when they finally blew out the Cardinals, a lot of the media felt compelled to flip back as hard as they could, and proclaimed this team as a heavy favorite. Going into this game, Cam was obviously the better quarterback, so at one level, it makes sense. Despite his stats, Cam was the better quarterback in the Super Bowl, too. Cam got away from several sacks, sheerly on his wits and athletic ability. The running game all but disappeared, too. So basically, it was Newton vs the Broncos D, and that’s a tough play. If Peyton had been playing against his own D, you could add a couple more sacks to that whipping.

Super Bowl Football

Again, I am not dogging Cam. With luck, he and the Panthers will be back – although there are no guarantees; just ask Dan Marino. But neither Super Bowl MVP Von Miller nor the rest of the ferocious Denver D was going to be denied tonight. So all the Cam haters can keep their hate in check – well, they won’t of course, but they should. Newton was about the only guy who showed up on offense for the Panthers; just as Tom Brady discovered, one person cannot beat eleven, Hall of Famer or not.

By the way, I also stated that I believed Peyron would manage to shake off the past two years of accumulated injuries; that certainly didn’t happen. As he stated, he’s no longer the lead singer, but he can solo a few times here and there. Tonight, Von Miller took the lead, and crushed it.

NFL: Super Bowl 50-Carolina Panthers vs Denver Broncos

I may be in the minority, but here’s what I think: while Cam isn’t Superman, he isn’t a bumbling Clark Kent either. He’s an extraordinary football player who ran into an extraordinary defense. He’ll be back; I’m sure he’d just as soon never see Von Miller across from him again, though.

 

 

 

I May Be In The Minority…

…but I still think baseball movies are better than football movies, for the same reason the game is better. As I wrote in the first installment of this monologue/diatribe. The very thing that defines football, its speed, is the same thing that typically – please note I said typically – holds it back from being as good a subject as baseball. Baseball, by its very nature, allows time for introspection. This is a gross simplification, but at it’s core, football is action, baseball is drama. Yes, football can be dramatic and baseball has plenty of action, I get it. But I stand by the overall premise.

So as before, I’m including the Rotten Tomato score, or in the case of older films the IMDB user rating, scaled to match the 0-100 scale. The following are from number ten, up to my all-time favorite baseball and football movies.

10. The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings, 1976, 87. Let’s just start with James Earl Jones, Billy Dee Williams, and Richard Pryor. Billy Dee is a fictional Satchel Paige, Mr. Jones a stand-in for Josh Gibson, and Richard is -well, Richard is Richard, in this great look at barnstorming team of ex-Negro League . A very, very funny movie that still manages to take a serious look at the awful state of segregation.

10. Rudy, 1993, 84. Yeah, a lot of people are really pissed right now. First, this idiot says baseball movies are better, and now he’s saying Rudy is just tenth!?! I’m outta here! That’s okay, maybe we’ll see you another time, like when I explain why Star Wars isn’t as great as everyone thinks it is. Anyway, as for Rudy, I like it a lot. I just like nine other football flicks more.

lola

9. Damn Yankees, 1958, 76. The only musical on either list, it’s all about the wish fulfillment of a broken-own old guy who sells his soul to lead the Yankees to the pennant. No, it isn’t the Alex Rodriguez story, but it does feature Ray Walston as the Devil, and man, he is so, so bad. By which I mean good. And as the poster says…

9. Friday Night Lights, 2004, 81. This look at big-time football in small-town Texas was the basis for the even more popular TV series. Awfully good, but only the third-best high school football movie.

8. A League of Their Own. You can tell the competition is heating up when I have to list this flick all the way down at eighth. Lori Petty is at her best, Geena Davis is great, and Tom Hanks merely turns in about his eighth-best performance – which is just terrific. Like Bingo Long, it’s a very funny movie that manages to take a serious look at the obstacles faced by a minority – this time, women in sports.

radio

8. Radio, 2003, 36. The movie about the challenged kid that’s adopted by his high school team. Let me just say that the aggregate rating of 36 is insane. I can understand it might not be your kind of movie, or your favorite, but to say it’s bad is ridiculous. Ed Harris is excellent as always, and Cuba Gooding Jr. again proves he is one of the most under-utilized actors today. If you don’t cry during this movie, never come back to this site again.

7. The Pride of the Yankees, 1942, 92. And if you don’t cry during this movie, just leave the damn planet. I can’t even write any more without Niagra Falls hitting me…

7. We Are Marshall, 2006, 49. Again, lots of tears, and how the hell did so many critics get this wrong? This is as good a time as any to mention that it was very, very difficult to rank the Lou Gehrig bio-pic so low, but there are just so many damn good baseball flicks, they can’t all be number one. On the other hand, I really didn’t have to struggle with the number one football flick until it got to the top three.

6. The Bad News Bears, 1976, 96. The third highest-rated baseball film on Rotten Tomatoes, and damn, is it good. Tatum O’Neal is just as good here as she was in her Oscar turn in Paper Moon, and Walter Matthau is at the height of his curmudgeonly powers. And was any 14 year old ever as badass as Kelly Leak? Thank you, Jackie Earle Haley.

6. North Dallas Forty, 1979, 85. Amazingly, there was less profanity in this gritty film about pro football than there was in the movie about Little Leaguers. Nick Nolte and Mac Davis play the stars of drug, sex, and booze fueled team in Texas. Yes, kiddies, it was in fact based on the Dallas Cowboys, based on a book by a former Cowboys wide receiver. I have to say, if they had cast an actual actor in the role of the QB, instead of first-time actor and hot-at-the-time country singer Mac Davis, this could have been the best football flick ever. Like, Burt Reynolds…who will pop up later.

42

5. 42, 2013, 79. Of the two Jackie Robinson movies, the one not starring the Hall of Famer is by far the better. Two reasons; first, in 1950 they chose not to portray anything close to the abuse Robinson endured. Second,- well, let’s just say I’ll take Jackie on the diamond, but on the screen, it’s gotta be Chadwick Boseman. And for the 315 million of you that never saw Get On Up, the biopic of James Brown…you are missing Boseman in an even better performance.

5. Paper Lion, 1968, 63. I probably have this rated higher than any other list you could find, but it’s my list, dammit. Alan Alda is perfect as Sports Illustrated writer George Plimpton, who actually did attend a tryout with the Detroit Lions. Plimpton’s son has stated that his father handled the pressure with more grace than was portrayed in the film, but, come on, it’s funnier to see Alda scream at Alex Karras than just shrug it off.

4. Eight Men Out, 1988, 85. A terrific film about the Black Sox scandal, with a terrific cast, highlighted by John Kusack as Buck Weaver, and the film’s director John Sayles in the important supporting role of journalist Ring Lardner, who broke the story. Sayles bears a remarkable resemblance to the writer. Pop quiz: Which is the director, and which the journalist? Careful now… The answer, later.

4. Jerry Maguire, 1996, 85. Much like The Blind Side, football serves as more of a backdrop than the driving force of the film. Take out football, and The Blind Side is still a great drama about a family adopting a kid who needed a chance. Take out football, and Jerry Maguire still needs Dorothy to complete him. I just don’t know where Rod Tidwell is gonna get his quan. Cuba Gooding Jr. was great in the role, of course, but thank God he won the Oscar, or we would have never seen one of the best acceptance speeches ever. Yes, it’s a damn shame #OscarsSoWhite this year. More on that another time.

3. Bull Durham, 1988, 97. Tied for the top rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I have at times said this is my favorite baseball movie of all time. And if I were to revisit in another five ears (or maybe five weeks), it may be again. Because “I believe in the small of a woman’s back, the hanging curve ball”…and all the rest of it. Yes sir, Crash Davis. Yes sir.

3. Brian’s Song, 1971, 91. THE male tearjerker movie. The football version of Bang The Drum Slowly – except that this was based on fact, of course. Billy Dee Williams scores again as Gale Sayers, and James Caan gave probably his best performance as the doomed Brian Piccolo.

2. The Natural, 1984, 81. This too has taken the top spot for me at times. While some criticize what they see as the bastardization of Bernard Malamud’s dark theme of the pursuit of fame, I say – screw you. It’s Robert Redford. I’ll take the climax of the falling sparks reflected in Wilford Brimley’s glasses any day over the downbeat ending, thank you. Absolutely the most beautifully filmed sequence in any sports movie, maybe any movie. Thank you, Caleb Deschanel, one of the greatest cinematographers ever.

2. Remember The Titans, 2000, 73. Hopefully, every high school football team views this at least once before their season opener. Denzel Washington is – he’s Denzel, okay? It’s a bit redundant to say he’s great. Will Patton really shines in this for me, though. Denzel is amazing reading his grocery list, I’m sure. I love his performance, but Patton was just as good, and to me, had the more difficult role as well, as the character that had to change more. Great, great movie.

field dreams jej
You know this speech by heart

1. Field of Dreams, 1989, 86. Dennis Schwartz. Ralph Novak. Michael Wilmington. Dessen Thomson. Rita Kempley. Robin Clifford. David Sterrit. Peter Travers. Richard Corliss. These are the nine critics who thought the sublime treatment of fathers, sons, baseball and yes, dreams, was “gooey..” “hard to swallow” “mush”, and “the male weepie at its worst”. Gee, sorry none of you ever had fathers or dreams. Art is subjective, of course, and I’m really not calling any critic out for their opinion, especially not Sterrit, Travers or Corliss. But, come on. Even if 90 percent of the movie was crap, it would still make my top ten for two scenes alone. James Earl Jones’ great soliloquy on baseball..”The one constant through the years”, and the amazing presence of Burt Lancaster. Burt Lancaster, and that twinkle in his eye as he says, “Son, if I’d only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes…”

longest yard
Game ball.

1. The Longest Yard, 1974, 81. Please, for the love of all that is holy, please note this is the original, not the remake that somehow asked you to believe Adam Sandler was not only funny, but a pro quarterback. Burt Reynolds is at his best, blending the hard edges of roles like Lewis in Deliverance with the wise-cracking sardonic wit from, well, The Tonight Show. Burt’s a funny guy. Anyway, the football scenes between the prisoners and the guards are great, and the grim battle of will between Eddie Albert’s corrupt Warden Hazen and Burt’s just-doesn’t-give-a-damn Paul “Wrecking” Crewe give the film the heft it needs to have something more at stake than just a game. It’s easily my favorite football movie…

…and I may be in the minority, but it still wouldn’t crack my top five sports movies. Football movies just aren’t that great. Oh, and John Sayles is in the color photo. Double reverse psychology for the win!

Justin Upton, My New Favorite Player

Justin Upton, to those who only follow the celebrity aspect of sports, is not the child of Justin Verlander and Kate Upton.

kate and justinThe photo above is click-bait, I’ll admit it. Anyway, Upton is far more important than that possible future wunderkind. Justin Upton is now my favorite player. Okay, not really, not just yet, but I’m very hopeful he will become just that. When the news hit that the Tigers – my most-favored baseball team – signed Mr. Upton, my initial reaction was a mental shrug. Nope, not even worth an actual physical shrug; that’s how little I cared about the signing.

But upon further reflection, I’m very happy with the news, and excited about Detroit’s postseason prospects. Why the change of heart? Well, let’s take some steps back into history – about 32 years back.

In 1984, the Tigers were coming off a fine year; they went 92-70, and finished second in the AL East. They had a damn good roster, including one of the best double play combos ever in Whitaker and Trammel, an excellent catcher in Lance Parrish, and some quality pitchers, led by Jack Morris. But they were still missing something – enough fire to put them over the top in the talent-laden East. Turns out they’d had that missing piece all along; it just took him time to put it together. His name of course, is Kirk Gibson.

gibby

Gibson made his debut at the age of 22, getting into 12 games for the Tigers in 1979. He never played in more than 100 games until 1983. In his first mostly full-time gig, he played in 128 games, with a slash line of 227/320/414. 66 of his games were at DH, and just four in right field – in which he showed limited range and committed one error in seven chances. Gibby hit third in 55 of those 128 games, and rewarded his skipper with an OPS of .632. Manager Sparky Anderson looked at this performance and did the only thing that made sense: he installed Gibson as his full-time right fielder and batted him third in 93 of his 134 starts. Gibby of course caught fire with this vote of confidence, and was as responsible as anyone on the team for their ridiculous 35-5 start. Chet Lemon and Alan Trammel were still better players, but Gibby, one of my favorite players ever, had arrived.

upton homer

Which brings me back to Mr. Upton. He comes to the Tigers at the age of 28, one year older than Gibson was in his breakout year of 1984. Gibson played baseball and football at Michigan State, delaying his arrival in minor league baseball until he was 21. Upton hit the minors straight from high school and wasted no time there, reaching the big leagues at the age of 19. So instead of age, I’ll compare the two players through their first nine years of play.

Here’s Gibson.

Gibson G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Totals 893 3672 3210 528 885 140 35 150 499 166 51 380 713 .276 .352 .481 .934
Average 99 408 357 59 98 16 4 17 55 18 6 4 79 .276 .352 .481 .834

And here’s Upton.

Upton G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Totals 1184 4934 4329 694 1175 234 35 190 616 115 44 509 1185 .271 .352 .473 .825
Average 132 548 481 77 131 26 4 21 68 13 5 57 132 .271 .352 .473 .825

These guys look pretty similar, right? Upton strikes out a lot more, steals less, but that’s a function of today’s game as much as it is his particular game. Upton’s fielding is a big edge; Gibby just wasn’t very good in the field, with 23 assists and a RF of 1.91 after nine years; Upton has 39 assists and a RF of 2.15. Hey, I said he was better than Gibson, not Guerrero. Gibson’s total WAR in his first nine years was 24.4; Upton’s is 24.7. Upton has more upside entering his tenth year simply because he’s younger. And more importantly, he’s a big upgrade to the Tigers’ outfield, filling the gap that the trade of Yoenis Cespedes left in mid-season last year.

The question for me is simple: will he show anything close to the drive of Gibby? I doubt it; after all, few did. I know this much; I hope to God someone paints the inside of his cap with eyeblack in spring training. I mean, all Gibson did after blowing up and informing his new teammates in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t there to screw around, was win the National League MVP, wreck the Mets in the NLCS, and make his own version of The Natural against the game’s best closer, proving to the Dodgers they could win the Series. Gibby, you’re calling games for the Tigers now; think maybe you could sneak into the dugout in Lakeland in a few weeks?

upton tiger uni

So Mr. Upton. You’re entering your tenth year in the bigs, just like Gibson in 1988. You’re on a new team, just like Gibson was with the Dodgers. You’ve got talent here already, just as Gibson did in Los Angeles. Can you be that missing piece? Here’s to my early pick for the AL MVP, and vastly more important, (hopefully) my new favorite player, Justin Upton. And by all means, if a certain Tigers broadcaster asks to see your cap, hand it over.

If You Get It Right – That Would Be Phenomenal!

by Rob Steele

Two things that happened last night that bugged me.

They happened during the Royal Rumble, which if you don’t know, because you live under a rock or something, is a professional wrestling pay-per-view done by the WWE. Yes I consider wrestling to be considerably more of a sport board then something like golf, because golf is primarily a guy swinging a stick at a ball in what feels like slow motion, and then walking. Now that’s actually to the spectator point of view I understand that there’s a lot more that goes out in the sport. I can hear the complaints now. “Rob like you gotta line up the ball and figure out where it’s going and there’s the wind and this and that.”

You know what shut up. It’s not a sport it’s a competition. I’ll give you a competition it’s not a sport. In sports people get excited. You don’t get excited in golf, or if you do you have to whisper it. So no, golf is not a sport.

In professional wrestling, yes, the outcomes are preordained. I don’t consider wrestling to be “fake.” I consider it to be scripted. There’s a big difference. Yes a lot of the punches thrown don’t actually connect with anything. That’s fine. But when you have somebody pick somebody else up and throw them and there’s no wires involved, there’s a bit more reality going on.

Now do these guys know how to land properly? Yes. Thus making it essentially a stuntman competition. Look at it that way and it’s fun, as opposed to golf which is boring no matter how exciting you try to make it.

So at the Royal Rumble last night there was a new participant in the WWE. He’s a guy I’ve known for quite some time (not personally). I’ve watched him wrestle. His name is “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles and he was known for over a decade as the face of Impact Wrestling, or TNA Wrestling, or TNA Impact Wrestling (if it would pick a name that would be nice) but my point is he’s actually a fairly big name wrestler who just happen to not be in the WWE- until last night when he was entering number three in the Royal Rumble.

I had two problems with this happening the way it did. Problem number one when he was introduced. Actually there a few things with his introduction, let’s start with his theme song. He’s had the same theme song, or at least a variation thereof, for as long as I’ve known him. (2004) When it kicks in, you automatically know who’s coming- in this case: AJ Styles.

Last night they didn’t do that and that bothers me because they started off with some kind of slow country music thing, which is not exactly what his theme song sounds like, and it never picked up. It made him look boring. AJ Styles is not boring.

AJ-Styles-Royal-Rumble-16-645x370
The Phenomenal One has FINALLY arrived. Can he save the WWE?

This is the WWE we’re talking about here. Vince McMahon, you’ve got the money splurge a little bit and get the song. I’m pretty sure AJ owns at least part of it by now. Of course they could not use his song because this would mean they have to acknowledge other wrestling companies. In a sense, I know, the announcers didn’t last night they said, “oh yes! He was the IGJPRFQ champion just like Brock Lesnar was!” Whatever the hell alphabet that was, it wasn’t the same as saying he was the five-time heavyweight TNA champion the six time X Division Champion and however many time tag team champion. (he’s got a lot of belts) And that doesn’t include New Japan or ROH. Did they mention any of those? No. Why? Because the WWE doesn’t care about history. (Which is why they’re dooming themselves by repeating it. More on that in a moment.) My point is that saying that might have actually built him up a little bit. And we can’t have that in a newcomer now can’t we?

The other big thing that bugged me was the way he was eliminated. If you don’t know about how to eliminate someone from a Royal Rumble match, you have to throw your opponent over the top rope and, yes, you can have up to, I think, they had at most 30 people in the ring at a time – up to 40 competitors. Last night there was just 30 – which is plenty.

AJ Styles was the third of the participants. A new one is introduced every two minutes or something (I wasn’t paying that much attention because I tuned and specifically to watch AJ and after that I didn’t care about the WWE- I’ll get to that in just a minute) He was eliminated a good half an hour later. That’s a pretty good run, but he was eliminated by a guy named Kevin Owens (formally Steen- of ROH)

What bothers me about him getting eliminated by Kevin Owens was not that he was eliminated by Kevin Owens. It was that Owens looked at AJ and said “welcome to the WWE!” before throwing him over the top rope. Here’s my problem with that. Kevin Owens has been with the WWE maybe six months. They got the absolute newest guy to say “welcome to the WWE!” Like he’s been there long enough to say that! If that have been said by Kane, who’s been there for 20 something years, or if it been said by Bray Wyatt, who’s still relatively new but has more than 6-months under his belt, I would have had a better time accepting that phrase being used there.

With Steen Owens, saying it, that doesn’t sit well with me.

What I was saying about not caring where the rest of the match, I didn’t. Still don’t. Especially since Triple H won the belt. Oh goody, nepotism at its finest! And that’s my biggest problem with the WWE. It is no longer about the wrestling. It’s about the ownership, namely Vince McMahon and Triple H, and how much wrestlers are willing to kiss their asses. In some cases, literally. I wish I didn’t mean that.

But there’s a bit of hope.

AJ Styles is not one of the biggest guys in the world. He’s a cruiserweight. Over the weekend, the WWE also signed Austin Aries (who I do know incidentally) to a deal with NXT – the minor leagues of the WWE. Couple those signings with the addition of a number of new “high flying” cruiserweight-style stars and we could see the return of the cruiserweight division which has been kept rather low-key in terms of being involved in the whole “Vince and Triple H Ego Show.”

You know. The way wrestling used to be. When it was fun. They have a great opportunity here and I honestly hope they don’t screw this up.   If they don’t, that would be Phenomenal.

I May Be In The Minority…

…but don’t worry, your regularly scheduled rant will return in this slot soon enough. For now, we’ll return to those halcyon days of yesteryear in 10th grade English: choose a subject, then compare and contrast, Mr. Vandenberg. Today we’ll learn why baseball movies totally rule, and football movies are the worst.

Baseball is a far different sport than football, as George Carlin famously described in his classic routine. Baseball, played at its own pace, encourages talk and reflection. Football, governed by the ever-ticking clock, is best discussed and digested after the game. In my mind, films about the sports reflect this aspect as well. Of course there are exceptions, as we’ll see. But baseball films tend to be more personal, deeper and richer than football films. I’ll rank my favorites from 20 through 11, comparing the baseball movie to its football counterpart. I made the cutoff at twenty because frankly, there aren’t a lot of great football movies. This forced me to leave out some pretty good baseball flicks like The Sandlot, Alibi Ike, It Happens Every Spring, Angels in the Outfield, and Ed. Yeah, just seeing if you were paying attention with Ed.

I haven’t matched films for similar themes, although in some cases they do match up well; this is simply my personal ranking of the movies. I’m including the Rotten Tomato score, or in the case of older films the IMDB user rating, scaled to match the 0-100 scale.

Jackie-Robinson-Story

20. The Jackie Robinson Story, 1950, 63. Not a great film, but it’s pretty awesome to see one of the all-time greats portraying himself, even a deeply sanitized retelling of his struggles. The story is better told in the terrific 42.

20. Everybody’s All-American, 1988, 30. A college star fades, and finds that life sucks. Dennis Quaid is good, at least.

19. The Life and Time of Hank Greenberg, 2000, 97. This documentary shows that Greenberg had his own battles to be accepted in baseball. The lesson of America: don’t be different.

19. All the Right Moves, 1983, 53. Tom Cruise does good work as an angsty high school football star.

18. Fear Strikes Out, 1957, 82. Tony Perkins is terrible as a ballplayer, but exceptional portraying the emotional battles of Red Sox star Jimmy Piersall.

18. Varsity Blues, 1999, 40. A CW take on high school football, years before the CW began.

17. Ballplayer: Pelotero, 2012, 88. Great documentary that focuses on two kids in the Dominican Republic and the signing process in the MLB. By the way, Dominican means Shortstop in Spanish.

17. The Replacements, 2000, 41. Coach Gene Hackman turns to a bunch of scrubs when the real players go out on strike. Keanu Reeves proves to be a baller.

16. 61*, 2001, 80. This HBO feature follows Maris and Mantle in their chase of Ruth’s single season record. Barry Pepper and Thomas Jane shine in their respective roles. Thank you, Billy Crystal! Yep, that Billy Crystal, who not only produced the film, he directed it as well.

16. Knute Rockne, All American, 1940, 68. Pat O’Brien plays the legendary Notre Dame coach, and Ronald Reagan impersonates George Gipp. You know, win one for the Gipper? Yeah, we got eight years of him because of this movie.

15. Major League, 1989, 82. C’mon, you know this movie. I’ll say, “Just a bit outside”, and leave it at that.

any_given_sunday

15. Any Given Sunday, 1999, 51. Al Pacino is loud, Cameron Diaz is mean, and Dennis Quaid (again) plays ball. At least Quaid and Jamie Foxx looked like they could play.

14. The Rookie, 2002, 83. Damn, that Quaid guy sure likes sports roles. Here, he plays high school coach Jim Morris, who at the age of 35 regained his fastball and played two years in the bigs. Yes, it’s a true story. Amazing.

14. Invincible, 2006, 71. Another “old guy makes it” story, in this case with Mark Wahlberg as Vince Papale, who debuted with Philadelphia Eagles at the age of 30. Oddly enough, this is the only film at which Dick Vermeil never cried.

13. The Stratton Story, 1949, 83. Jimmy Stewart plays pitcher Monty Stratton, who managed to get back to the minors after losing his leg in a hunting accident. The film won the Oscar for best screenplay.

13. The Blind Side, 2009, 66. Another real-life story, about the journey of Michael Oher, who came from a tough background to a career in the NFL. Naturally, the white lady won the Oscar. Yep, I went there.

moneyball

12. Moneyball, 2011, 94. A great look at the mechanics of how teams are assembled, and sabermetrics. Yes, I am a geek. Oh yeah, Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill rock this flick.

12. Undefeated, 2011, 96. This story of a small-town, resource poor team that won it all won the Oscar for best documentary. No flippant comment; this is a great movie.

11. Bang The Drum Slowly, 1973, 88. Robert De Niro and Michael Moriarity are terrific in this story about a not-too-bright catcher and the world-wise pitcher who takes him under his wing.

semitough

11. Semi-Tough, 1977, 80. Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson, and Jill Clayburgh are at their peak in this funny, sexy look at two football pros, their mutual girlfriend, and the weirdness that was the 70s.

The average Rotten Tomato score for the baseball flicks is 84. For the football movies, it’s 59.6. While these are my personal rankings, the overall scores for baseball compared to football changes little including the top ten. So those rankings may be biased, but they’re not my bias. And we haven’t even gotten to my personal top ten movies – sure, there are some great football flicks, but nothing that stands up to the best of baseball.

So maybe football movies aren’t the worst, unless they’re football movies with Adam Sandler. For once I’m in the majority – football movies aren’t as good as baseball movies. The worst critic’s consensus score was 63 for The Jackie Robinson Story; all other baseball-themed films scored at least 76. There are twelve football movies that scored under 76, five under 50. Baseball just lends itself to storytelling better than football. Add a great cinematic team, and baseball is magical in a way that football just can’t reach.

I may be in the minority, but I’d rather watch a replay of Game One of the ’88 World Series than Super Bowl 50 live. Or even It Happens Every Spring.

I May Be In The Minority…

…but exactly how did Adam Sandler’s latest flick, the direct-to-streaming The Ridiculous 6, set viewership records on Netflix? In its first thirty days of availability, more people watched this movie (sorry, won’t refer to it as a film, and yes I’m one of those people) than any other film in its initial 30 days. That’s right, an Adam Sandler flick was more popular (at least initially) than any other movie.

The-Ridiculous-Six-movie

So…a movie with a resounding rating of 18 out of 100 on Metacritic is the people’s choice for streaming. This explains a lot of the political scene today…but I digress; that’s a topic for another time. The quick answer regarding The Ridiculous 6 is that Netflix promoted it very heavily; they should, they produced it. Sandler certainly has an established fan base. And of course the title plays off Tarantino’s The Hateful 8.

But this isn’t really about Adam Sandler, either; well, not eventually. But for now, let’s look at Mr. Sandler’s last 10 movies. I’m not including voice work here or strictly acting appearances, just flicks that he produced and or wrote – you know, basically the Happy Madison productions.

Title                                                               IMDB user score           Metacritic score

The Ridiculous 6 5 18
Pixels 5.7 27
The Cobbler 5.8 23
Blended 6.5 31
Grown Ups 2 5.4 19
That’s My Boy 5.6 31
Jack and Jill 3.4 23
Just Go With It 6.4 33
Grown Ups 6 30
You Don’t Mess With the Zohan 5.5 54

 

Please note there’s a ringer in there, and that would be Just Go With It. Sandler was not a writer for the project, but it is a co-production of Happy Madison, so I’ll let that in, just to help the guy out.

So the average rating for his last ten pictures – movies in which he had control – is a resounding 5.53 out of 10 for user ratings – that is, people who watch movies – and 28.9 out of 100 from the critics.

Now, if you like Adam Sandler’s movies, go ahead, like ’em. I’m not saying you’re wrong – I’m saying you have weird taste, but then again, I loved Chappie. Let’s look at the two movies that put him on the map:

Billy Madison                  6.4       16

Happy Gilmore                7.0       31

Wow, the critics REALLY hated Billy Madison. Anyway, that average of 6.7 and 31.5 is quite a bit better. And to cheat a little, while there was no Happy Madison production company as of yet, Sandler’s writing partner for the first two flicks (Tim Herlihy) did write this classic:

The Wedding Singer       6.8       59

Now we’re looking at an average user rating of 6.7, and a Metacritic average of 35.3. And yes, that’s STILL pretty crappy, but a damn sight better than what he’s done lately. I can’t even see the trailer for Jack and Jill without throwing up in my mouth a little bit. The old Adam Sandler would just say that; the new Sandler says it, shows it to you, describes how it tastes, then shows you again. Then laughs about it, then shows you a third time.

Happy-Gilmore-Poster

And that’s the issue as I see it. He’s forgotten what’s truly funny. Remember his days on Saturday Night Live? Of course they weren’t all treasures, but he did a lot of genuinely funny bits. Happy Gilmore is overall, one heck of a funny movie. Sandler didn’t let himself devolve into the excesses you see in the dreck he’s been doing for the past several years. He’s certainly never done high brow comedy; that just isn’t his thing. He’s certainly a very smart guy, and capable of excellent performances; just watch him in Funny People or Punch-Drunk Love. In the right team, he delivers.

And that as I see it is the entire problem; his team. Sandler, in my view, has surrounded himself with the old gang, the guys he came up with, and in almost every respect, that is admirable. He hasn’t forgotten where he came from, and he’s taking the boys along for the ride. Problem is, it looks like none of his gang is willing or perhaps even capable to tell him no. As in, “Adam, love you man, but playing your own twin sister – just, no.” I have nightmares about a movie I’ve never seen. And I will NEVER see it.

Jack-and-Jill

Sandler is on the same road that other great comics have traveled, former mega-stars like Eddie Murphy and Jim Carrey. Oh, sorry, you actually liked Pluto Nash and Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Like Sandler, they lost their touch too. Of course I’m not in their inner circle (I’d like that, though, there’s probably some leftover Cristal from 1990).

So finally, here’s the point. Successful people don’t surround themselves with yes men; they gather teams with differing viewpoints, people who have the courage to say, “Seriously, man. You cannot play your own sister.” And to come back around to politics, why would you vote for someone who obviously doesn’t listen to differing opinions, someone who brooks no dissent in his own camp? Lincoln’s cabinet was famous, perhaps infamous, for the battle of wills and ideas. And Lincoln actively encouraged this; he wanted to hear all the possible sides of every argument, so he could make the best decisions possible. I believe that’s a problem a lot of today’s candidates have, and the problem Mr. Sandler has as well.

I may be in the minority, but I’m holding out hope for the next Happy Madison project: Adam Sandler as “Abraham and Mary Todd”.

Free your mind!

Let me guess – it’s 2016 and you made some New Year’s resolutions – right? What you’re really thinking is that you can’t wait for February – so that you can return to your old habit and not feel guilty.  Habits can be a trap for people in leadership positions – whether they are in business, politics or in any other industry.

Simply making a New Year’s resolution to have a more open mind in 2016 likely won’t be enough to turn things around. There are behaviors and practices that, through repetition and perseverance, can help leaders and anyone else develop a mindset that’s open to imaginative and better ideas. Continue reading “Free your mind!”

I May Be In The Minority…

…but I am shocked and shocked as hell that there aren’t more people talking about these damned Black Lives Matter and Muslim TERRORISTS that have dared to take over the federal building out there in Oregon!!! There’s hundreds of them dirty SOB’s walking around in broad daylight with guns that surely was given to them by the Muslim in Chief Barack Hussein Obama and no one is doing a damn thing about it! The libtard media isn’t saying a word about it either. Of course they won’t! This damned illegitimate so-called president – and he ain’t MY President dammit – is even bothering to hide his takeover. This is nothing but the second stage of Jade Helm! I have no doubt the jackbooted thugs are no doubt on their way to protect these immigrant sand – well I ain’t gonna say it but you know what I mean – and our homegrown welfare coloreds. When is this country gonna wake up!! Continue reading “I May Be In The Minority…”

3 tips for a healthy workplace

Did you know 41% of Americans will gain weight as a result of their desk jobs. Yes, it’s all about what you’re in-taking into your body, posture and staying hydrated.   If you’ve followed @baseballbeerbbq – here are some words of advice for those looking to shape up in the office. Continue reading “3 tips for a healthy workplace”