Bad News Braves

Sometime before game four of the National League Championship Series, the Atlanta Braves decided that instead of playing the baseball game, they would present a tribute to one of the outstanding baseball movies ever made, the Bad News Bears. This was an interesting idea considering the Arizona Diamondbacks had decided to pitch Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Lopez for this game against the Braves ace. But who am I to argue? So instead of a baseball review, let me change hats and give you my best Roger Ebert impression.

The part of Morris Buttermaker will be played by Bobby Cox. During the 1976 film, the beer drinking pool cleaning manager was played by Walter Matthau. Cox had a difficult role to reprise but did a masterful job of capturing the essence of the character during the third inning when the Braves committed three errors. I especially enjoyed the expression and pained look on his face. It was indeed a performance fit for Emmy consideration.

The part of Amanda Whirlitzer will be played by Greg Maddux. Maddux in the role made famous by Tatum O’Neal was less than believable. At times he lost his focus on what character he was trying to portray. During the classic third inning for example, Maddux left character and began to do his impression of Miguel Batista of the Arizona Diamondbacks during the Divisional Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Greg did have moments of brilliance. Having him soak his elbow in a bucket being used as a beer cooler was classic and who could forget that scene with Maddux in a bikini top selling maps to the stars when Buttermaker finds that she can still pitch even as she is growing up into a young lady.

The part of Kelly Leek will be played by Andruw Jones. There was not a more loveable character in the original movie than that of the ball hogging bad boy Kelly Leek. We can all remember when Buttermaker thought he had only one chance of making it to the Little League Championship game and that was for Kelly to catch all the balls hit to the outfield. Jones puts in a wonderful performance as he ran in front of teammates stealing balls and scenes from them during the whole game. The only questionable story line was the love interest between Amanda and Kelly. I just didn’t think Andruw showed the emotion that was necessary. Of course, not many people can truly pull off feigning love for Greg Maddux.

The part of Tanner Boyle will be played by Marcus Giles. Tanner, the little infielder who could was perfectly cast. We could all envision Giles missing grounder after grounder throwing his mitt down in frustration and always starting a fight both with those on his own team as well as opposing players. Marcus did exhibit one faux pas when he introduced a scene that did not appear in the original movie but rather in the not so successful sequel Bad News Bears Breaking Training. Still, seeing the classic bit where Tanner was running around the field while all the Diamondbacks players and fans chanted, “Let Them Play!” was well worth the effort.

The part of Timmy Lupus will be played by Chipper Jones. In an act of casting genius, the Atlanta Braves cast Larry “Chipper” Jones to play the part of little Timmy Lupus. We can all remember little Timmy who was vilified by his teammates for his poor play and for his constant habit of picking his nose during the game. No one on the team wanted Timmy to touch the ball as it equated to yet another error. Lupus of course became the hero of the movie by closing his eyes and holding his mitt in the air where a ball mercifully falls into it to record the final out. If only Chipper could play as well as Timmy.

Overall the movie seemed to drag on as each character attempted to define their role, but it was very entertaining and a fitting tribute to a classic movie. As a movie reviewer and Diamondbacks fan, I have to give Bad News Braves two thumbs up. Pass the popcorn and we will see you at the movies.

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