Baseball is entwined with American history, but it can also be the source of propaganda.
Baseball has a storied and deliberate history of being connected to American politics, from its roots in the Civil War to presidents throwing Opening Day first pitches to the widespread belief during World War II that baseball made America more peaceful than Europe. Though it is correct that these connections have in some ways produced an American baseball synonymous with American politics, these efforts have perpetuated the dangerous belief that the mere existence of American democracy safeguards people from suffering and persecution.
These issues were on full display in a 1951 Lew Fonseca short film titled The Democracy of Baseball. The film was packaged as a celebration of the game on behalf of the National League’s 75th anniversary and the American League’s 50th. The 17-minute film was shown to baseball writers, boy scouts, and young baseball players, among many others, as a means of educating them on the sport’s history. However, the heavy-handed American democratic and militaristic ties to the sport on display in the film present a superficial account of the game that, in service of specific political goals, omits the real, full nature of baseball’s American-ness.
A former first-round pick has a lot to learn about film.
Slade Heathcott was the Yankees' first-round pick in the 2009 draft. He's had trouble staying healthy since then, but he has plenty of talent: even though he'd played in only 129 minor-league games before the start of this season, Kevin Goldsteinranked him as the Yankees' 13th-best prospect. Kevin called him an "extreme athlete" who "remains raw."
A look at some of the best (or simply most enjoyable) baseball movies ever made
1) Field of Dreams
To be perfectly honest—and when discussing a movie sewn through with themes of simplicity and the supposed erosion of classic American values, honesty should be required—not only isn’t Field of Dreams my favorite baseball movie, it’s not even my favorite Kevin Costner baseball movie. That, of course, would be Bull Durham, and as both films arrived in theaters when I was in my twenties, Bull Durham’s irreverent comedy was far more likely to strike a nerve than the overwrought sentimentality of Field of Dreams. Enjoying Field of Dreams at that point in my life would have been akin to copping to a fondness for Steel Magnolias. Sure, I made the two hour pilgrimage to the Field of Dreams film location at Dyersville—after all, there’s not much else to break up the drive from Madison to Iowa City—but when I ran the bases and smacked a few batting practice lobs into the left field corn, I did so with a practiced smirk. I rolled my eyes when I overheard comments about how “peaceful” and “pure” the experience was, chuckling at the ongoing squabbles over commercialization between the two families that then owned portions of the site. I enjoyed myself, reveling in my ironic detachment… until my girlfriend asked me if I wanted to play catch, shattering all my pretension and reminding me that I hadn’t been immune to the film’s melodramatic charms after all.
You see, Field of Dreams may be a Capra movie without Capra, burdened with Costner’s sub-replacement-level Jimmy Stewart, but you can’t deny the power of its Capital M Moment. After ninety minutes of fully ripe Iowa cornball, it’s hard to believe that the appearance of Ray Kinsella’s father and their game of catch could pack such an emotional wallop. It seems completely unearned, but when I saw it in the theater, I teared up—one of only five times a film has done that to me. This was despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that I had a very happy, baseball-filled childhood and didn’t suffer from Paternal Catch Deficiency. What’s more, I’ve had at least a dozen friends or acquaintances tell me they had the same experience of not particularly enjoying the film but welling up during the game of catch. I can’t explain it, and in many ways it’s completely counterintuitive, but it’s true. It happened, and even now I get a little misty just writing about it. Whatever your opinion about Field of Dreams as a whole, it’s hard to deny its ability to get under your skin, and while that doesn’t make it the best baseball movie of all time, it certainly makes it one of the most memorable. —Ken Funck
There isn't much about in the way of statistical reports on managers here at Baseball Prospectus. The official BP POV is that you need proof to prognosticate or pontificate, and there is little about managers that can be explained without resorting to subjective, anecdotal evidence. The most we can do is point out aspects of a manager's personality or performance that are well-documented and likely played some role in influencing the performances of those around him. Fortunately, the most successful and longest lived managers--not always the same thing--have left a fossil record of accumulated incidents that goes a long way towards defining them. Though it is impossible to prove a manager's precise effect on his team's record of wins and losses, the historical record contains ample evidence of managers' ability to both hinder and, in more select circumstances, help their teams. Here, in order, are the 20 managers who have compiled the most victories in the history of the game, with an emphasis on their human side--from which much about their teams can be inferred, but conclusions cannot be drawn.
Though it is impossible to prove a manager's precise effect on his team's record of wins and losses, the historical record contains ample evidence of managers' ability to both hinder and, in more select circumstances, help their teams. Here, in order, are the 20 managers who have compiled the most victories in the history of the game, with an emphasis on their human side--from which much about their teams can be inferred, but conclusions cannot be drawn.
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