By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: A great story that most of us missed

Movies are a real source of life metaphors, as occasionally mentioned here. But never in the guise of a review or recommendation – I leave that to the experts.

So, as evidence of a broader interest, I gathered notes on the explosion of streaming video services during this 1-year-old pandemic. But the truth is, I just want to recommend a movie.

Whatchamacolumn

Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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Netflix surpassed 200 million subscribers in 2020, including about 75 million in the United States. Some of the largest services — Hulu, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, Peacock, Apple TV Plus and HBO Max — were expecting to end the year with 50 percent subscriber growth.

By the way, movie-watchers, Netflix this week began testing a feature that prods people to subscribe instead of borrowing passwords to avoid paying. Look for a future clamp-down.

How interesting! Now, about that recommendation:

I’ve always been a sucker for good baseball movies, from “The Pride of the Yankees” to “Bull Durham,” from “Eight Men Out” to “The Natural.” My list includes “A League of Their Own” and “Moneyball,” and of course the best, “Field of Dreams.”

Imagine my amazement to learn that an incredibly entertaining, funny and uplifting baseball documentary has been hiding in plain sight for the past seven years. And my embarrassment to have missed this great story in 1973-77 when it unfolded just 40 miles away.

The movie screened at the New York City Tribeca Film Festival when it was released in 2014. That event was canceled last year, and New Yorker film critic Richard Brody decided to reminisce about “The Battered Bastards of Baseball.”

Brody called it a “zesty documentary about the job and the business of the game,” which “unites sports and movies” and “resounds with the hearty wonder of a modern-day folktale.”

In 2014, L.A. Times entertainment columnist Glenn Whipp called the movie opening an “Oscar-qualifying run … celebrating the rewards that come from passion and individualism. In that spirit, the movie can be enjoyed by anyone, not just sports fans. Underdog stories simply don’t get better than this … the joy on display here is contagious.”

Many of you will know real-life characters in the movie, and some will share my chagrin at not knowing the story before now. In this time of introspection, it will boost your resolve to celebrate post-pandemic public life.

“Bastards” is streaming on Netflix with a $9 monthly subscription that can be canceled any time. I’d let you borrow my password, but Big Brother is watching!

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

Comments

Don Dix

Jeb -- 'Bad News Bears', 'The Sandlot, and especially 'Major League' are baseball movies that also top my list. For those that are a little tender or sensitive to locker room language or brief nudity (there are locker room scenes) ,'Major League' is rich with humor (R rating).

Jeb Bladine

Don ... Sometimes even stupid movies get a pass bacause of their connection to baseball (not that any of your are stupid). Maybe it just responds to deep-seated memories of neighborhood pickup softball and tennis court baseball games from so many decades ago.

And yes, it is "deep-seated," not "deep-seeded," even though at our age the latter might seem more appropriate!

Don Dix

In some ways, we were 'The Sandlot' bunch. Tennis court baseball -- there was a 'invention' that might be unique only to us.

Jeb Bladine

For the uninitiated:

TCB requires a two-tennis-court area surrounded by a high fence. Batting from a corner; pitching from far end of the net. Standard 3-out, 9-inning play. Anything hit into the ground or net is an out; over the net a single; half way up the fence a double; top half of the fence a triple; over the fence, well, you get it.

An accomplished TCB competitor plays as a selected team, announcing each hitter in accurate batting order and hitting left or right as per the major leaguer in question, including switch-hitters.

Needless to say, there were no video games back then.