Baseball is a week away. So here’s a reminder that no list of great sports movies is worth a damn if it doesn’t include “Bad News Bears.” But I feel like it remains an afterthought instead of getting the respect it deserves. I used to think maybe I’m just biased because I was the same age as these kids when it came out and Tatum O’Neal was my first crush. But nope. It stands up to this day.
It’s a movie that practically invented the ending where the heroes don’t win, but they triumph anyway, a template that would soon be imitated by the first “Rocky.” This ending just has everything. Walter Matthau’s Buttermaker learning to give no fucks and handing out beers to the kids. The Yankees being condescending as hell. Tanner’s defiance. Even Lupus learning to talk shit. Bizet’s “Carmen” as the Bears celebrate. The pullback to the flag. It’s perfection.
And while I’m in the mood, here’s a bonus clip. A Wake Up With within the Wake Up With. It’s Lupus’ catch, a moment that still gets me every time.
Let’s hope MLB gives us one highlight that can live up to this, that people will be talking about decades from now.