The Top Ten Sports Movies

Boxing movies almost all suck.

Boxing movies almost all suck.

Revisiting a tired question.

Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, we’re chatting sports movies with Ray Didinger, co-author of the new book “The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies.”

Didinger, along with Glen Macnow, tried to answer the question of which movie is better, “Field of Dreams,” “Bull Durham,” “Hoosiers,” “Raging Bull” or “Rocky”? Those last three were their top three, in alphabetical order (they reveal their ranking in their book). The duo watched over 300 movies, grading them and coming up with a top 100

Actually, none of these is in my Top Ten. Didinger/MacNow believe somehow that Rocky is the best sports movie ever made. Total bullcrap. It’s not even close to being the best boxing movie ever made. (In fact, it may be the worst of the genre.) There’s nothing realistic about the ring scenes at all. Both fighters would have been dead by the end of the fifth round.

Field of Dreams and Bull Durham also don’t belong on any list of good movies, let alone great sports movies. Costner’s overwritten, artificially inserted soliloquy citing the crack of the bat and the smell of pussy kills Bull Durham dead the moment it occurs. And Field of Dreams in its static nostalgia is more a cremation than a celebration of baseball.

Truth is, there aren’t a hundred great sports movies. There are just a few. Here are ten:

10. The Replacements. Almost all football movies are sentimental, inaccurate garbage pretending to be truth. This one is just fun. I’d probably have put Major League in this spot, but there’s no other football movie worth mentioning.

9. Stroke of Genius. The story of Bobby Jones, played by Jim Caviezel. A man pitted against himself. Insight into genius and its penalties.

8. Mystery, Alaska. Yeah, I know. Everybody loves Slap Shot as best hockey movie. Sorry. This one is less slap stick and more hockey.

7. Sea Biscuit. Great history, great performances by everyone involved. Only a couple of inaccuracies. (War Admiral wasn’t huge, and Sea Biscuit had a fine thoroughbred pedigree.) Still, a stirring movie you can watch more than once.

6. Coach Carter. Not about winning the championship. About winning in life. No other movie about basketball compares.

5. Pastime. It’s about baseball and baseball players. The best ever. Proof? The real-life major leaguers who played cameo roles. Nothing splashy. Just true.

4. The Greatest Game Ever Played. Yeah, golf is a sport. And one American finally put our country on a map that used to be limited to the British Isles. Excellent movie.

3. Senna. Formula 1 car racing. A documentary. Riveting as any fictional drama you’ve ever seen.

2. Secretariat. More history, well told. One of the greatest sporting achievements ever.

1. Ali. Boxing should be easier to get right than baseball, football, hockey, or basketball. Turns out it isn’t. The only movie ever that got it right. The Liston, Terrell, and Foreman fights are not only accurate historically, they’re viscerally, violently compelling. The rest of the movie is absorbing too, as befits its landmark subject.

I’d do Honorable Mentions, but I think I’ll leave that to you all. Have fun with your sharpshooting.

P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, an excerpt from a text message I sent to my good friend Josh today:

All I have to do is battle through the fatigue… Saw the movie Ali today. Like a time machine for me and the sensual realization of the only Mailer book I ever liked. He was ringside at Ali-Foreman in Zaire (which I watched live on HBO in B school after an exam and have written about). Mailer said the sheer sound of Foreman’s body punches in the first round was terrifying. He didn’t believe Ali could survive the round or if he did survive the round he might not survive the fight with his life. The movie captured that terror perfectly. It was torture watching round after round of rope a dope: body blow, body blow, body blow, body blow… with everyone in Ali’s corner screaming, “Get off the ropes!” Because nobody can take that prolonged a beating from such a punching machine. And then, suddenly, the lights that had seemed doused in Ali’s eyes flashed back on and here he came, off the ropes, resurrected, dancing (dancing!) and slugging like a predator who’s finally seen the opening he was waiting for. It took only a few moments and the best punch was the one not thrown, which Ali pulled back as Foreman was hitting the canvas. I will never forget it. Me and my B-school buddies practically cheered the roof off the apartment we were in. But the neighbors didn’t complain. They were cheering too.

Time machine.

All I have to do is battle through the fatigue. What Michael Mann was saying in his movie. For years, Ali had to stand against the ropes and just take it from the U.S. government AND the Nation of Islam. No wonder he won the Rumble in the Jungle. He’d had all the training anyone could ever expect to get.

Me too.

P.P.S. The missus watched the Ali-Foreman fight in the movie before the On-Demand timing expired. What did she say? “Good God. I get it.” Meaning everything I’ve said about Ali over the years. Just as she’s gradually gotten my love of the Stones. Slowly but surely, she begins to understand that I’m not arbitrary (or wrong) in my admirations.

Trash (probably NSFW)

Rule of what? Oh yeah. Pussy.

Rule of what? Oh yeah. Pussy.

There’s really nothing left. The people in charge are all trash. You know who they are. We do what we want, whenever we want. You don’t like it? Screw you. NSA observation? What have you got to hide?

How about my privacy? Should I specify? No. But I will. You don’t get to know what I look up at Google or where I go with GPS. None of your business. What is my business? Ah. I’ll let you in on the secret, just this once.

The Clintons. Big Bill is, was, allowed to commit perjury. We loved him for it. Which makes us trash too.

Maybe that’s when it all ended. After that came Hillary, who was also trash. She lied her ass off about understanding a husband who screwed teenagers and raped campaign assets. No reason to believe anything she ever said afterward. No wonder Benghazi was a treacherous, tragic farce.

Then came Obama. Who just lied and lied and lied until anyone with any sense would have thrown up, but nobody had any sense and so we’re stuck with the worst president the U.S. ever had. When no one can believe anything you say, there’s no more freedom. You’re just the unpredictable psycho in charge, like the chief gangster in Escape from New York.

Really enjoyed the new IRS director’s report on how the tax kids did nothing wrong, no matter how hard he tried to find out otherwise.

The same way I loved The FBI director’s inability to remember anything about any investigation of anything.

And Eric Holder’s insistence that he’s never done anything to interfere with the freedom of the press. Hell, everyone knows the press is sick to death of being free.

And don’t forget the War on Women, recently won by the Planned Parenthood, er, Obama electoral victory in 2012. Because women have to be free to screw their brains out and flush away the consequences right up to the last minute. Because, you know, women are morally superior to every living being who doesn’t have a penis. Why it’s so important for them to show their penis-free crotches to everyone via Facebook, texted images, and TMZ.

Trash? Do any of you even know what it is? It’s people who don’t have values but poses, foul mouths, fancied privileges, and exorbitant appetites. Michelle? Anybody? Barack? Everybody? The mentality of me, me, me, me, me is nothing but trash when you’ve asked millions to spend hundreds of millions to put you in charge. Especially when you refuse to take responsibility for absolutely anything that happens on your watch. Trash.

What’s the practical adult result?

It’s that we now have a record and an outcome, a fatal one. The end of the rule of law. An administration that enforces laws it likes and ignores laws it doesn’t. Like an arbitrary, angry girlfriend.

Which is the ultimate corruption. It no longer matters what laws are passed. The ones the Obama Gang don’t like just don’t matter at all. So why should the Congress pass anything? No reason at all.

Meaning what? We have a president who’s little more than, well, what he always was, let’s face it, a stupid trophy wife. If only he had her balls. He can telephone Lebron but not Putin. More French-tongue than shark-bite. The republic is dead. When Rome killed its republic, the Empire was born. In our case, the republic dies, with all its liberties, just in time to get overrun immediately by a wave of barbarians who’ve been waiting for the pouting pussy we now have as president.

Somebody characterized it as the Second Carter term. I think that understates it. I still don’t think Carter 1) wanted to kill the United States, or 2) thought hanging around with Hollywood and NBA royalty was the whole point of being president.

So now we’re just a joke. Gives us new aspirations to pursue, right? We can become the Greeks of the new age of China. Slave architects, technologists, and entertainers.

It’ll be fun, right? Until they piss on our climate control fantasies… unless the Pussy-in-Chief is willing to lap that up too. Who knows what he’s already learned from the FLOTUS flow?

Peanut

image

Sometimes life is just life. For weeks, for years, my wife has been following the fates of red-tailed hawks nesting at the Franklin Institute. There’s a website that shows the nest, the eggs, the hatching, the shifts of both parents bringing food to perpetually hungry mouths, and then, finally, the fledging. First flight.

Last year was especially affecting. Hawks are monogamous. But one day dad didn’t return from a routine foraging expedition. Somehow, he died. Then came the young male web watchers dubbed T2 (for Tercel 2). He stepped right in and did everything possible to raise the three chicks he didn’t sire. Cool, huh?

This year the chicks were his. Three more bobbleheads my wife has been watching in her damaged condition. The fear this year was about the third chick, who hatched days after the first two. We were worried. That he’d be neglected, slow, lost in the fledging race. So many times we’ve seen the last to take wing get into trouble. One year, the first flight of the last chick ended up with a fledgling walking across the JFK Parkway all by his lonesome self while web watchers stopped traffic to save his sorry ass.

Not this year. The first to fly was the one called Peanut, which was the name given to the last chick to hatch. Apparently, he’s the true son of the noble T2. Long may he rule the skies.

My name is nut Peanut. It's Imperator.

My name is not Peanut. It’s Imperator.

Starlet??? Why Breitbart Sucks.

Lindsey Lohan?  Tara Reid? JLo? Jolie? Guess again.

Lindsey Lohan? Tara Reid? JLo? Jolie? Guess again.

Why do I beat up on Breitbart? Because they get all kinds of basics wrong, from spelling to grammar to sentence structure to, well, facts. Their managing editor can’t write a screed without stubbing his toe on English. Breitbart Sports has reporters who lose their way in the middle of a sentence. The Breitbart headline writers have only the vaguest idea about the relation between word order and meaning. My common reaction to Breitbart heads is “huh? What?”

Which reached a kind of zenith today with this headline and teaser copy:

Book Spills Ava Gardner’s Secrets, Shows Steamy Side of Three Star Marriages

A new excerpt from the tell-all “Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations” reveals the dirt behind the starlet’s three high-profile marriages.

Excuse me. Ava Gardner was no starlet. She was one of the most charismatic female superstars ever to grace the silver screen. She would rank in almost anyone’s top five most beautiful actresses ever. Don’t care who you lead with — Grace Kelly, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo — she’s still going to make the list. Of all of them, she’s the only one who had no bad angle. Oh? Really? You didn’t know Rita Hayworth shaved her forehead and Marilyn took amphetamines? Ava was always completely beautiful. Didn’t know that?

Then watch this. Yeah. Watch every minute. I’m serious.

The decisive difference? The cleft chin. Don’t tell me you ever encountered such a bewitching thing. Not to mention all the tits and hips and the fact that you can practically smell her in heat on screen and in part. Maybe the hottest woman who ever lived. All the sluts of today are just passing pikers. Ava Gardner was a courtesan for the ages. A superstar? A goddess. Kardashians be damned. Ava was not a force of media but of nature.

Starlet. What a tool to say it. Breitbart, grow the hell up and buy yourselves some writing talent. Getting tired of reading fake facts and phony punditry.

Collapse

Sometimes, no matter how big you are, you just curl up into a ball and tune everything out.

Sometimes, no matter how big you are, you just curl up into a ball and tune everything out.

Obviously, we’ve been busy here. Falling into a new routine. My wife is gradually becoming nocturnal, sleeping much of the day and staying up most of the night, probably an inherent propensity. That’s my natural rhythm too, but I can’t follow her penchant because I have to feed the seven others in our household beginning at dawn. So we now visit for a few hours a day until one or the other, depending on the clock, dozes off. So be it. But my legs and energy are slowly getting stronger, and we will work through this.

But, also obviously, I’ve pretty much fallen out of the great electronic multiverse. No updates at the languishing other site. Not much here either. I haven’t even checked my email and text messages. No stomach for it. Getting used to isolation. The island writ supreme.

Perhaps that gives rise to paranoia, but when I check Drudge, as I still do from time to time, what I’m seeing now is a series of snapshots of collapse. In just five years, the United States has plunged into a state of ruin. The CIA can’t stop one renegade whistleblower from fleeing through five hostile countries. The government officials and officeholders can’t (or won’t) remember that the real outrage is what he revealed about the destruction of American privacy and liberty, which is supposedly what we were defending from the Islamist (who?) terror threat. They’d much prefer to scream for the whistleblower’s head. So called conservatives are ready, willing, and able to pass another gigantic pork laden bill without reading it, all for the purpose of placating their own funding sources and lobbyist cronies. The president is utterly and completely AWOL, jetting from one irrelevant place to another, silent as the tomb about everything important and maundering on about climate control while all the world’s most ambitious powers laugh in his face. Meanwhile the nation’s press is collectively cutting its own throat, and ours, by choosing to push the narrative that there are no real scandals — not NSA, not PRISM, not the IRS, not Benghazi, not HHS extortion, not even freedom of the press. David Gregory yesterday aligned NBC with the DOJ’s position that a reporter who receives a story objectionable to the government from a lawbreaking whistleblower is a co-conspirator subject to prosecution. Oh yeah. And the stock market is beginning to go south.

The constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the nation’s global power and influence are all in tatters.

It’s called collapse. But all of us are too busy to notice, right? We have our own schedules, appointments, and personal commitments to keep us diverted from the exponentially cascading end of the American Experiment. None of this is as important as what I’m doing today and tomorrow. (Uh, hardly.)

God help us all. But he’s got a very good reason by my lights to be too busy too.

What we deserve no doubt. Still horrifying and sickening to witness. Or have we all just stopped watching?

PS. Couldn’t resist this because it’s sooo symbolic. On the feminist front, MADD has agreed that illegal immigrants with two DUIs should still be eligible for amnesty. Even the most ostentatiously self-righteous humanistic causes aren’t about solving problems anymore. They’re about promoting ever bigger government by mindlessly endorsing all leftist policies. Can’t wait for the position of MADCAT (Mothers Against Dangerous Cell-phoning and Texting) with regard to middle eastern immigrants. Since every Indian and Pakistani and Arab in retail is on his cellphone 100 percent of the time, all day, every day, even if no mere paying customer can get their attention. Who cares if they’re buying pirated Bollywood films or pressure cookers? I’m sure MADCAT’s tolerance will be nearly infinite. Collapse.

The Island

When push comes to shove, we're always together.

When push comes to shove, we’re always together.

Amazing. People are like cats. When one of them is hurt or sick or injured, cats react by becoming hostile or isolate.

The same thing happens with people. Especially when someone is regarded as normally invulnerable. How they wind up on the island. Nobody wants to confront the reality that the supermen of their lives can be laid low by anything.

Why dogs really are superior. Their impulse when you’re hurt or alone is to get closer, even if there’s some barking and snarling involved.

Actually, we hate each other. Most of the time.

Actually, we hate each other. Most of the time.

Nobody likes it, nobody wants to believe that my wife, Boudica, is really hurt. They’d prefer to stay away and pretend it didn’t happen or isn’t serious.

My friends the same. Not realizing or wanting to know that there is no me without her.

Um. One exception. The one who has been here throughout. Call her Boudica Junior.

Who do you want me to kill?

Who do you want me to kill?

Why we’re not alone on the Island.

PS. No dog is an island.

I admit it it. He's OK. Mostly.

I admit it it. He’s OK. Mostly.

Time for Punks

I'm a Christian. Sure I am.

I’m a Christian. Sure I am.

Time to quit pretending this joker wants anything but the conversion of the United States into a Third World barbarian tribal state.

The Catholic media is up in arms over comments President Obama made during a speech while in Northern Ireland for the G8 summit. Obama made what is described as “an alarming call for an end to Catholic education,” in spite of the fact that it is considered “a critical component of the Church.”In front of an audience of about 2,000 young people, including many Catholics, Obama claimed that Catholic education divides people and blocks peace, according to the Scottish Catholic Observer.

“If towns remain divided -— if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another and fear or resentment are allowed to harden—that too encourages division and discourages cooperation,” Obama said

Catholic World News noted:

Ironically, President Obama made his comments just as Archbishop Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told a crowd in Scotland that religious education upholds the dignity of the human person. Archbishop Müller said that Catholic schools should promote “all that is good in the philosophies of societies and human culture.”

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf quoted the Observer’s article on Fr. Z’s blog and added:

Another example of what this man wants: total isolation of any religious values in the private sphere alone. Pres. Obama is working either to intimidate or legislate or even TAX religious freedom out of the public square.

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a foreign visit to an Islamic nation where he told people on his arrival that they shouldn’t have Madrases. Can you?

Did he when visiting, say, Israel, say “You Jews shouldn’t have synagogue schools and you muslims shouldn’t have mosque schools.” I can’t remember. Did The Catholic media is up in arms over comments President Obama made during a speech while in Northern Ireland for the G8 summit. Obama made what is described as “an alarming call for an end to Catholic education,” in spite of the fact that it is considered “a critical component of the Church.”

.

Time for everyone to throw away labels like conservative and liberal. Our president will do anything to defend Islamists from “profiling.” Meanwhile he does everything he can to prevent Christians and Jews from sustaining a culture that has no other solid underpinning.

What’s the year? 1938. If you can’t see how dire our situation is, you don’t deserve even to be alive.

Shammadamma.

The clock is ticking…

Marco Rubio, 2016

Marco Rubio, 2016

Like many many Americans, my wife thinks Marco Rubio is cute. She hates it when I point out that he’s balding faster than Bruce Willis in his Moonlighting TV series and already has the look of a fat man ready to burst out of a young body. You know that look. It’s the look most corrupt old urban pols had before they started bloating up on bribes in office.

But this isn’t a political post. It’s just a warning to all you charisma junkies. Prompted by my seeing Sarah Palin on Fox & Friends this morning. She was co-hosting. In a miniskirt and strappy spike heels.

Not quite her outfit today, but it was still in the ballpark.

Not quite her outfit today, but it was still in the ballpark.

Amazing woman. After all the disgusting sexual insult and abuse she has been subjected to, she’s still not afraid to be the hot chick absolutely everyone knows she is.

Trust me. I've got this.

Trust me. I’ve got this.

Marco’s little spike of popularity is wilting. If not today, then soon and for the rest of his life. Count on it.

Father Figures

Sometimes he tells me "No."

Sometimes he tells me “No.”

It was Father’s Day. Got the usual cards and stuff, but all I am anymore is a grandfather. Marooned as we are, we celebrated the day mostly by watching movies, two we sat through and one I only saw advertised because I don’t need to see it again.

First up was “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Which, to be honest, I’ve had my problems with over the years. Not because I mind a movie in which nothing whatever happens for the first two or three hours, but because I feel mockingbirds are seriously misrepresented. They’re absolutely not little Billy Budds on the wing. They are highly intelligent, devious, and frequently malicious little bastards who deserve a comeuppance as much as slicksters and conmen of any other species. I remember a mocker who decided on slight evidence that a cat named Tigger had assaulted his nest. (Yeah, he was probably guilty but the case was purely circumstantial…) For two weeks thereafter, Tigger couldn’t take a step outside without being dive-bombed, chased, and driven into the bushes alongside the house.

It reached a climax when I was finally present to witness the extremity of Tigger’s distress. The mocker stationed himself on a telephone wire in front of the house, like a middle linebacker shadowing the quarterback. Whenever, wherever Tigger moved, the attack came like a furious pass rush. One time tough guy Tigger cringed and tried to press his body into the foundation of the house. While the mocker returned to the wire and laughed, yes, laughed at his victim.

I’d had enough. I got the hose, turned the nozzle to the “jet” setting and blasted the little sonofabitch off the wire. Then I did it again. Which is all it took to show the newly moistened maniac that the first time wasn’t an accident. He left Tigger alone after that. But don’t try to sell me on the crapola that mockingbirds are God’s defenseless little sweethearts.

Where were we? Oh, right. The fraudulence of the central metaphor aside, the movie is an excellent representation of a lost ideal of fatherhood. It reminds my wife of her own father, and it reminds me of my paternal grandfather. Yes, there really were such men. Believe it and experience the sorrow of not having such a one in your own life. Men whose natural gravity and goodness sufficed to replace angry words, punishment, and lectures. The very worst thing you could possibly do was disappoint their abiding faith in you, and you’d do anything to prevent that catastrophe.

I almost never watch movies multiple times, and I avoid TKAM because it always makes me miss the key figure of my childhood, but I watched it all the way through again last night. This time, an old man myself, I found myself fixated on the suits Atticus Finch wore in every scene. He wasn’t a dandy. He was just dressed for behaving with politesse and honor, dressed for living up to the demands of life. I miss that more than I can say. There are no role models in track suits.

Next up was Life with Father, which old time Hollywood turned into a fairly broad comedy with father as the reliably stuffy, unobservant Victorian punchline. The movie itself is entertaining, a Technicolor delight starring William Powell, Irene Dunne, and a very young Elizabeth Taylor. But I was reminded of the book it came from, in which Father comes across rather differently, not as a punchline but the rock-ribbed anchor of a household. Neither unkind nor hopelessly rigid, he set an example of duty, firm principle, and magnanimous authority that is also missing in action today.

Finally, the one I didn’t want to, didn’t need to watch again: Searching for Bobby Fischer. Another necessary variety of father, the one who drives his offspring to fulfill the very best they are capable of. In our time, such pressure looks indistinguishable from child abuse. But it isn’t when the men behind it are motivated by love and faith rather than narcissism. We need more fathers who make serious demands on their children, not just in terms of accomplishment but character, morality, and discipline.

I meant this to be a positive post. Why do I feel that Father’s Day has slowly become a kind of Memorial Day, mostly devoted to remembering what is irretrievably lost?