The Battered Bastards of Baseball

2014 baseball documentary

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Details Bing Russell, a guy who spent his childhood with the Yanks and whose own baseball career ended with a bean ball, and his efforts to run a successful independent minor league team in Portland, Oregon. He assembles the titular ragtag crew of has-beens and never-wases and surprisingly puts together a productive team that both wins and draws fans to the ballpark.

Somebody in this offered up the perfect description of the Mavericks: They "led the league in stubble" and had players who "literally had toes coming out of their spikes." This documentary tells an interesting story with no narration, only interview snippets with a lot of the players (including Bing Russell's kid, some guy named Kurt Russell), the coach, a couple local sports writers, and a bat boy. It's part real-life Bad News Bears, and you'll want a happier ending for the motley crew. The players were eccentric but had this drive that you don't see in all professional athletes that made them fun to watch. And pretty damn good, of course. Sub-stories about Jim Bouton, a guy whose hat fell off when he pitched and who was blackballed by Major League Baseball for writing an expose, and Swannie, a left-handed catcher who somebody actually asked, "Did you know you were left-handed?" were really good, and this taught me the idiom "That's the way the pickle squirts" which I'd never heard before. I like what the real-life story says about second chances, the joy that everybody who gets the opportunity to be associated with baseball should have, and what a little ingenuity from passionate people can accomplish. As a baseball fan who really enjoys the quirkier characters and stories from the history of the game, I thought this was entertaining. And I didn't know anything about this team or Bing Russell, so it was educational, too.

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