Major League Baseball (MLB) Opening Day Review - 2021

With the Major League Baseball (MLB) opening day slated for a week from today, I find no better method to peak my interest (other than tossing the ball outside) for the new season than watching my favorite baseball films.

While opening day isn't a calendar holiday, I can watch these five films year-in-year-out to prepare myself for the start of a new MLB season.

Anchored by phenomenal performances from Chadwick Boseman (Jackie Robinson) and Harrison Ford (Branch Rickey), "42" is my favorite baseball movie produced to this date. Boseman's inspiring and courageous performance of Robinson gives viewers an insight to the struggles black men faced breaking into "white baseball" and the countless acts of hate and segregation they encountered in 1947 (Robinson's first appearance in Major League Baseball). Additionally, Harrison Ford's stardom doesn't distract from the civil and emotional weight of the film.

The genius of "42" is its ability to balance the racial disparities and baseball events of the film perfectly. Writer/Director, Brian Helgeland, includes enough rough scenes of inequalities against Robinson, his wife (Rachel), and the black community for historical acuracy without turning to the soap box. By the same token, baseball fans of all creeds will enjoy the well-cut scenes on the diamond. In the end, this equates to a gripping and inspirational film under the backdrop of MLB integration.

"If you build it, he will come." Perhaps one of the most recognizable quotes from any sports film, ever. What I love about "Field of Dreams" is its entry point. Set on a farm in Iowa, Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) is an ordinary man doing something (farming) that he doesn't particularly love. However, when he hears "the voice" he realizes this may be the only chance he has at fueling his passions and fulfilling his greatest dream.

The theme of opportunity is once again underlined when we're introduced to the character, Dr. Moonlight Graham (Burt Lancaster). Graham fulfilled his dream of playing in the Major Leagues but only has a defensive replacement. He never got an at-bat. During an encounter with Ray he says, "We just don't recognize life's most significant moments while they're happening. Back then I thought, 'Well, there'll be other days.' I didn't realize that was the only day."

At its core, "Field of Dreams" is a great what-if story. The what-if being, what-if the happiness and dreams we all long for are right in front of us? We just need to adjust the way in which we view things.

Set during World War Two, when many of the nations men were fighting in the war. MLB, not wanting baseball to be dormant for too long, decided to form teams of women. Headlined by Geena Davis (Dottie Hinson), Tom Hanks (Jimmy Dugan), and Madonna (Mae Mordabito), the film will leave you laughing, crying, and feeling empowered to challenge any status-quo.

While "A League of Their Own" offers up countless memorable scenes, the one that always stays with me is at the end of the film. Dottie is discussing with Jimmy her dilemma of going off with her (now returned) husband (Bob) or continue with the team. Dottie expresses how hard the baseball aspect of it all is. To this Jimmy says, "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great."

Throughout many points in our lives we're are faced with either adaptation or extinction. "The Natural" is based on this premise. Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) a promising pitching prospect is stopped in his tracks when he's shot in his hotel room by a mysterious woman dressed in black. Sixteen years later, Hobbs returns to baseball for the last-place New York Knights, as a hitter.

Supplemented by Randy Newman's heartwarming score, "The Natural" follows Roy Hobbs in his journey with (and against) romantic relationships and a fame that came much later than he expected.

After losing his mother, Roger Bomman (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is living in a foster home with his only friend in the world, J.P. (Milton Davis Jr.), and his love for the MLB team, California Angels. Throughout some of its wackiness, "Angels in the Outfield" addresses the idea that we all need each other, in one way or another. In thinking he's a good luck charm, Angels Manager, George Knox (Danny Glover) invites Roger and J.P. to all the Angels games. However, in the end, much how Roger and J.P. are in desperate need of a father figure, Mr. Knox realizes Roger is in his life for more than good luck.

Towards the end of the film, the Angels hold a press conference to determine Mr. Knox's future as manager. Roger, J.P, and their foster-mother, Maggie Nelson (Brenda Fricker), are all in attendance. Realizing the importance presence Mr. Knox plays to Rodger and J.P. she stands and says, "We all need someone to believe in. Every child I have ever looked after has someone: an angel. You've got to have faith. You've got to believe. You have to look inside yourself. The footprints of an angel are love, and where there is love, miraculous things can happen. I've seen it."


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