The Batter’s Eye: Major League

Baseball stories are full of underdogs and misfits.

Major League (1989, directed by David S. Ward) is all about underdogs and misfits. The new owner of the Cleveland team, Rachel (Margaret Whitton), wants to move them to Miami so her plan is to put together a terrible team that will lose. She puts together a roster of has-beens and unknown players in an attempt to do so, but the plan, of course, backfires.

Many elements of Major League do feel dated now. It’s unsurprisingly fairly racist and sexist, although less so than it could be (faint praise, I know) but I was surprised at how much fun it was. Tom Berenger’s Jake Taylor has an appealing everyman quality. Ricky is Charlie Sheen at the height of his bad-boy appeal and he works well here. Roger (Corbin Bersen) provides a great rival for Jake.

The only woman to have much of a presence here is Renee Russo’s Lynn, Jake’s ex-girlfriend. She at least manages to have a personality and her chemistry with Berenger is great.

But this isn’t meant to be a movie about women. It’s about a bunch of baseball players learning how to play as a team (and partially, learning how to play). There are shenanigans and adult humor. It’s exactly what you think an R-rated baseball comedy from the late ’80s is going to be.

The baseball action comes across as fairly realistic and there is quite a bit of it. I also like how, once again, the New York Yankees are the enemy team.

This is another baseball movie that I’d never seen and while I doubt I’ll watch it again, I do understand why it’s a classic. The appeal of this movie is definitely that this is a team created to fail on purpose but through the players’ camaraderie and love of baseball (as well as a desire for revenge), they end up winning. Baseball always embraces the oddballs and weirdos. Or at least, it feels like it does. That’s part of the joy of the game.