Cheney Stadium sits empty and there are no live games for the time being. This time away from our fans is something we will never get used to. The world keeps turning and we look forward to sharing some classic Cheney Stadium action on Sunday. Until then, as part of our research, we’ve been seeking sports in other places, watching the best soccer and baseball movies we can get our eyes on.
Rather than arrange a top-10 list, we want to fit your mood. Everyone is dealing with the pandemic differently, and our suggestions include what we’ve deemed the best movie from both of our sports based on what you want to feel during the credits.
Bull Durham (available on Showtime with a subscription, or most services for $2.99) is not in the top of any category. It’s a love letter to minor league baseball, so of course we love it.
Want to Smile and Laugh?
- Major League – A holy grail of baseball comedies. The former #1 in the box office features Charlie Sheen before his fall-rise-fall-again, Wesley Snipes before he became an action hero, and Hall of Fame announcer Bob Uecker calling the action for a team as hopeless as can be. The jokes live on in today’s pop culture, and for those who weren’t able to experience it in 1989, you’ll recognize memes and gifs from a film that kills with laughs for its entire run time.
Available at no additional charge if you have Sling TV or fuboTV. Priced at $2.99 on most other streaming services.
- Shaolin Soccer – The most absurdly beautiful soccer film we could find. Take a bunch of martial artists and train them to use their high flying moves on the dirt soccer fields of Hong Kong. Facing off against Team Evil, Team Shaolin has to deploy moves that are only possible in comics and cartoons. Shaolin Soccer is to soccer what Ant Man is to heist films – you can’t wait to see the next gag or absurd special effect.
Available for $3.99 on YouTube, Google Play, iTunes and some other streaming services.
Others: The Sandlot (available as part of a subscription on Encore, Starz, and Hulu) is shamelessly derivative and overly nostalgic according to Rotten Tomatoes, but frankly, that’s why we love it. Total throwback to your playing care-free with your friends as a kid and a film that half of America can quote along with.
For soccer? What idiot would want to manage the English national team with all the high expectations and regular failure? Mike Bassett: England Manager. That’s who. (Available on Amazon Prime for $3.99).
Want a Movie for the Kids?
- The Big Green – Our second film starring young Chauncey Leopardi. The Big Green follows all the expected story beats in a kids sports film, but with psychedelic hallucinations thrown into the mix. With a dash of England and a shake of Texas, The Big Green’s jokes definitely target pre-teens. The soccer elements are by people who thought soccer would never make it in America.
Available on Hulu as part of subscription, and for $2.99 on most other services.
- Rookie of the Year – For decades it seemed that the only way the Cubs would win the World Series is through a miracle. Did you ever think they’d kick the curse? In Rookie of the Year, Henry Rowengartner is that miracle. Come for the inspiring slapstick story. Stay for Gary Busey. Available on Disney+ with subscription, or for $2.99 & $3.99 on other services.
Others: A drama inspired by the true story of Jim Morris, The Rookie is the tale of a 33-year-old whose dreams come true. (available on Disney+). Angels in the Outfield is what happens when you throw a dozen huge actors into a sports film about heaven’s touch on America’s Pastime (available on basically every streaming and cable service).
Want to Feel Empowered and Hopeful?
- Bend it Like Beckham – There might not be a more powerful tale of how soccer can build friendships and provide hope, no matter the circumstances. Many of the world’s best women footballers credit the film for inspiring them, according to a recent story in The Athletic. In part because of its inspiring message for female athletes, Bend It became the movie that blasted past genre to become a global hit. (Available on Hulu with a subscription, and on most other services at $3.99.)
- Field of Dreams – If you want to hope and believe in the power of America, there is no better speech than Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) telling Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.” We think it’s about time to watch Field of Dreams again to remind us all of what was once good and will be again.
Available on Starz, Encore, and Hulu with a subscription. Priced at $3.99 on most other services.
Want a Love Story?
- Fever Pitch (soccer version) – The original soccer version of the film is about the love a man has for his local team. Through his own struggles, the struggles of the club, and the eventual success of the team he knows that he always has a place where he is comforted – be it the pub or the stands. And it’s a human romance as well.
Available to rent or buy on Amazon.
- Fever Pitch – The remake of the book’s story for an American audience is also about a man who loves his team a bit too much. This time that man is Jimmy Fallon. The two films have the same story beats, while focusing their film on the different cultures surrounding soccer and baseball. In this work of historical fiction, the Red Sox win the 2004 World Series, breaking the Curse of the Bambino, and Jimmy wins the love of Drew Barrymore. Sweet.
Available on most services for $3.99.
Want to Expand Your Knowledge of America’s Pastime and the Beautiful Game?
- Baseball – Ken Burns’ 10-inning look at the history of America’s game is the mecca for all things baseball history. Our staff can’t recommend it enough. It dives deep into how the sport grew from the fields of New York and survived pandemics and World Wars to echo the heartbeat of American culture and politics including westward expansion, race, and labor. There is no greater documentary of the sport.
Available with Amazon Prime.
- We Must Go – Before Bob Bradley was the coach of LAFC, he was in Egypt as the National Team coach. Emerging from civil war, the Pharaohs and Bradley attempt to make the 2014 World Cup. They fall short of that goal, instead finding a little bit of unity and hope for a nation that desperately needed it.
Available on iTunes.
Others: Docudramas 42 (available on most services for $2.99) and 61* (also $2.99) explore two of baseball’s most powerful stories. American Football (available for purchase on Vimeo for $5.99) is a behind the scenes look at the men that make the Seattle Sounders season a family. On the fields of England, two codes were being developed simultaneously – The English Game (available on Netflix) explores the emergence of soccer and rugby.
When there’s no sports, we turn to what we can. When in doubt, the world of cinema and the escapism found in screens is doing the trick. If you’re like us, your mood is ever changing in this time of shelter and making decisions is hard. Hopefully, this guide serves as a road map to passing the time a little bit easier.
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About the Tacoma Rainiers
The Tacoma Rainiers are the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. Tacoma has been a member of the Pacific Coast League since Cheney Stadium opened in 1960, and has been a Mariners affiliate since establishing the Rainiers moniker in 1995.
The most up-to-date news and notes about the Tacoma Rainiers and Cheney Stadium can be found at WeRTacoma.com, or by following the Rainiers on Twitter (@RainiersLand), Instagram (@tacomarainiers) and liking the team on Facebook.
About Tacoma Defiance
Tacoma Defiance is the USL Championship affiliate of reigning MLS Cup Champion Seattle Sounders FC. You can follow The Future of Champions on Twitter (@TACDefiance), Facebook, and Instagram (@tacdefiance). We are #DefiantlyTacoma.
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More information on social distancing and how to prevent the spread of Covid-19 can be found at Tacoma-Pierce County Health. The most up-to-date information on how COVID-19 is affecting events at Cheney Stadium can be found here.