Bull Durham

This is it. This is the pinnacle of baseball movies. As it is the pinnacle of baseball movies, it is the pinnacle of sports movies. Not in a sports way but in a movies way. This, like THE SANDLOT (which you listened to that episode, right? It’s back in season 2 or whatever), has no big game. It’s about more than baseball but baseball is both the frame and the delivery mechanism. Baseball teaches us about life so often–as a sport where succeeding 1/3 of the time is hugely successful will–and it has more than just baseball. This is BULL DURHAM.

Bull Durham movie poster

There is a lot going on in this movie. There is a lot that I talk about–it’s one of the longer episodes that I’ve recorded and that’s that I already know that I should never record longer episodes. And there is just a ton that I left out. I’ll look at some of that here as is my way.

Ron Shelton slaps. That’s that. Dude is a gangster and lives in a similar space as Linklater. I don’t exactly know how to communicate it but I would say it’s the writer/director that fully understands their niche and understands themselves and, regardless of whatever copious life experience they may have, understands how to distill these concepts to something that really works in a movie. For more, you can check out my episode on DAZED AND CONFUSED.

Sarandon, Costner, and Robbins were almost picture perfect. Costner does this sarcastic chuckle thing that I’m sure seemed cool on paper but it’s a little less successful in practice. Other than that he was made for this role. I’ve heard that Costner is not necessarily the best person to be around while being a mere mortal but you cannot fault him in this role whatsoever. This was also “before he was famous” and that’s weird to me because fuck Untouchables or whatever–this is what made Costner for me. Robbins knocks it out of the park. I love watching Tim Robbins–like everyone with cable I’ve seen THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION only a few dozen times and I still eat it up every time. But he was always that Tim Robbins–even in BULL DURHAM. Even in HIGH FIDELITY.

Susan Sarandon was aces in this. She goes on from here to do THELMA & LOUISE which co-starred Gena Davis (yeah, you thought she was going to come up but I said this was the last baseball movie…. for the moment) and was directed by Ridley Scott. She’s top-tier. She’s stellar. She’s in peak form at all points in time–there is zero phoning it in. Sarandon’s performance was my favorite as a character in this movie. I only say that because Costner is 100% an actual baseball player while playing a baseball player and knowing the mind of a baseball player because he is an actual baseball player while playing a baseball player ad nauseam.

Yes, this movie does have some exploration into homophobia of some sort. It’s not as bad as this might make it sound but it does happen. It’s probably better than average for a movie coming out in the 80s and is not outright hostile. There is a point where a character questions their sexuality and that’s actually interesting–not offensive. This is all relating to the academic paper that I mention in the podcast (at the end). I think it comes from a very reasonable place where the ideal set for masculinity isn’t complete domination but instead security and support. The characters themselves are trying to figure things out at times. There’s another time where it’s just an insult but, to quote Ralph Maccio–politics aside because his views are bad–“hey, it’s the 80s”. That’s actually quoting his character, Daniel LaRusso, who isn’t the bully but becomes able to defend himself. I realize that COBRA KAI might take that view a little differently when extrapolated however I’m reading from the text of THE KARATE KID and haven’t watched COBRA KAI because, when I tried to cast it to my TV, YouTube wouldn’t let me watch it fully. When you watch BULL DURHAM just think of that statement. Not about Ralph Maccio but the statement about masculinity.

I’ve seen several ways to present the titles of movies but my favorite is in ALL CAPS. I’m trying that out. Does it lend me more credence… clearwater? Revival? Lookin out my back door?

I’m sure I’m leaving things about but I 100% apologize for all of the wikipedia scholastics about religions. Journalism (if you can call what I do that), or academic research (if you can call it that), takes a lot of time and these people deserve a living wage like so many others. The economy for that is so upside-down that it’s ridiculous. I don’t know the answer to solve that problem–IF I have an answer for a problem then that problem is probably dumb as fuck and y’all politician-ass motherfuckers need to sort that shit out because I’m a guy that watches movies and waxes pedantic about them in his spare time. I have no business having solutions for any social problems.

I’d be eager to understand what Crash Davis’ life might look like in the era of Sabermetrics and the all-knowing internet. Would he have been passed over? There is no telling because, somehow, the story feels the same. You work really hard in the minors and maybe fortune smiles upon you.

I think that Chris Carter was a baseball player as well. He was also an author of flowery speeches. Was this influence from Bull Durham and Ron Shelton or was this direct action? Was Ron Shelton a ghost writer for The X-Files? Probably not, but I’m trying to manufacture some type of actual relationship there. Their stories don’t feel too different. Perhaps, if I had just been better at baseball, I’d be a screenwriter now. That’s overly simplistic and reductionist and I don’t know where I’m going with it. Nowhere, most likely.

Actually, I think I’ve narrowed down where I’m going with it. I throw out these half-assed theories and it’s not that I want to be right, but that I want the people to read or hear the theory and be like “yeah, that’s the one” in their own vacuum. Perhaps that is a bit forward but if that happened I’d just be totally OK with it.


(2138) Bull Durham the Musical – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btVHsQIrDZY

(2138) Melissa Errico – “A Little Time To Myself” from Bull Durham: The Musical (Live) – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJoHlceoybI

So there’s a YouTube comment in there from 8 months ago saying that the music will go to Broadway. I may actually bend that motherfuck of a corner to go see it if that’s the case. My wife will not understand. But I am compelled.

Realistically, that’s the only link. The academic paper mentioned is behind some type of paywalls so walk into your local public college or university’s library and search for it there. You can likely print it out or save it to a USB drive. This is what public institutions are all about and I’m 100% for it. You can also potentially rent movies and music from the library. That’s intense. Support your public universities and support your libraries.


I’m sure I left things out. I’ve spent enough time working on this that I’ve lost notes that I’ve taken. I’m not angry I’m just angry at myself but it’s not going to stop this show. It’s happening. The file is already uploaded before I even begin typing this. You’d think I’d feel liberated by this loose format and you’re correct@! I do. It’s great. I recommend bucking the system and just being yourself to everyone who can afford to do it because, the reality of the situation is, not everyone can just be themselves and continue living their lives. There are 100% people who should not be able to be themselves and also live their lives and they’re mostly falling under the banner of racists so fuck them. Be nice. Check out the paradox of tolerance. Play some baseball. Watch some baseball. Watch a movie. Do something nice for someone. Contemplate existence. Actualize yourself in a way that elevates everyone around you. Tap that untold power of the ever-expanding cosmos. Play Dungeons & Dragons, or another tabletop RPG that allows you the freedom to create and inhabit a character–it’s great! Try at something you think is pointless because it probably isn’t.

Major League 2

MAJOR LEAGUE II, (poster art), Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, 1994, © Warner Bros.

Yeah, this one didn’t stand the test of time. It’s unfortunate but it happens. You can tell just from the poster. See what this Cleveland baseball team is up to, again! Wow. My lack of enthusiasm is apparent. But it’s 1994’s Major League 2 and hopefully some folks made money off of it.

This is the second at-bat for the baseball trilogy, and it is… not good. Ground ball to short and a throw out at first, perhaps. It’s fine. It was fine for the time. There were a flood of kid-oriented baseball movies coming out that were doing numbers. I get it. But it’s not worth going out of your way for in 2022.

Major League

Let’s dig into one of the most influential sports movies of… the history of movies, I guess. Major League was a stone whose ripples in the pond of American culture are still seen to this day. The late 80’s, but especially the early 90’s, were rife with baseball movies and the continued success of Major League definitely pushed studios to green light them.


I am pretty tired of Sublime.

Superstition in Baseball

There’s a lot to superstition in baseball. Well, there’s a lot to the psychology of baseball. The actual mental processes are intense, visceral, and at the lowest level of human performance. This is catching arrows in the air type shit. However the superstition is maybe less impressive. To read about the impressive shit check out this link Going, Going, Gone! The Psychology of Baseball – Association for Psychological Science – APS. If you can’t see it go to scummbags.com and view the show notes HTML. Or change your podcast app. I use Pocket Casts and it shows the whole HTML type thing. It doesn’t show images, sadly, (and it fucking used to) but you get the links.

I hypothesize that the superstitious nature of baseball is more akin to the superstition of gamblers. Baseball has a mostly random reward schedule and it definitely depends on the frame of data that you’re looking at to determine how “random” it may be. That’s a data science thing. But as a human, having that imminent possibility–nay, the likelihood–of failure and then associating a ritual with success? That’s power. Gamblers do the same thing but, in gambling, it’s much more a mechanical probability. There’s a lot to baseball, as per that previous link, But sometimes you associate power to a ritual and it enables all of those other things to fall into place to the point that you are performing at your peak against the other players doing the same. But even at peak you’re losing 7/10ths of the time as a batter. It’s wild. Superstitions brace the players for what is to come.

Ritual in gambling is not only about winning–it’s often about being in the zone. It’s about getting into that flow state. At 162 games a year you may need to use that boost to get through. Then you think about the players who have gone back down to the minors and then back up to The Show. It’s an ecosystem that promotes this type of… categorization? Correlation? Calling it “thinking” is a bit much but it’s definitely an association with the ritual and winning or, more likely, just getting through and surviving.

Friday Night Lights

Lucas Black is not from Arkansas.

The roar of the crowd. The thrill of the cliché and the agony of defeat. These are just a few things I’ve typed into this episode’s show notes. This isn’t the first sports movie I’ve done but it is the first (American) football movie and the first one based on a true story (I think) (I think it’s the first movie on the show based on a true story because I haven’t bothered to check but I know that this movie is based on a true story) and it’s the 1990 book’s 2004 film adaptation: Friday Night Lights. None if the preceding had much to do with the movie except for the title of the movie.

There are definitely some hanging chads in this episode that likely came from the temporal disparity of how it was created. Initially I stated that “I don’t wahnt yer laf” was the thesis of Friday Night Lights but I don’t know that it was so much accurate as it was convenient for the Varsity Blues tie-in. I think that some, probably many, of the children in Friday Night Lights do, in fact, “wahnt [this] laf”. To be a football player is the greatest achievement that many of them know and probably the greatest achievement that they’ve been presented with. There are also lines in the trailer that don’t even sound like actors in the movie–I think those might have been soundalikes by the trailer house because I don’t actually remember some of those lines in the movie. By some I mean like one or two. I also don’t know what song that is in the trailer.

Spy Game – SCUMMbags

Lucas Black is from Alabama. Not Arkansas. I don’t know where I got Arkansas from. Maybe I was thinking about Billy Bob Thornton and just got confused. It was 2AM. The relatively coherent intro, however, was recorded the day after watching the movie and at noon. A reasonable hour.

If you’re thinking about the dangling concept from the intro regarding who would set that straight you might have made the connection about me not talking about the half-time speech at the championship games that Coach Gaines makes. That’s basically it. That’s who does it and that’s where he does it. And it is probably the actual thesis of the movie. That and the curses speech are the two most important pieces of dialogue. I didn’t talk about the half-time speech because I’d love for you to watch it–if not in the context of the movie then look it up on YouTube because I’m fairly certain it’s available.

Allan Graff is an accomplished second unit/AD director and stunt coordinator. He also worked on the football sequences for Any Given Sunday and that was readily apparent to me when watching the movie. I didn’t actually look that up to confirm it until now which is why I didn’t pop off like i told you i was right im always riiight aaaaghghahgahaghah. That’s typically not a good look. But it feels great. I’m not always right, though.

Thinking back what’s up with the part they gave Connie Britton? She did 100 episodes on Spin City and she ends up with 5 or 6 lines? Then goes on to do 76 episodes of Friday Night Lights because c’mon team. Then goes on to do 98 episodes of Nashville. Let’s put some respect on her name.

There’s an embed on the page for the Patrick (H) Willems video “A Complete Guide to Pop Music Needle Drops in Movies” below. If you can see it you do have enough information to search for it on YouTube.

The photos below are my copy of Explosions In The Sky’s pressing of “The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place”. It did have that inscription on the back of the second disc and it’s really something beautiful and unexpected. I don’t know that my second disc has ever seen the turntable but I did take these photos at 3AM and it really did resonate with me. I thought the watermark would be an interesting way to get some search traffic but ultimately it looks terrible and I apologize. On another day I’ll probably update the images with something less hideous.

I really am a sucker for good packaging on a record. If you don’t believe me check out the episode of Mark’s Music Collection on Foxhole’s album “We The Wintering Tree”. And when I said “The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place” was featured in its entirety I actually meant “every song shows up”. And when i said “repro”, like reproduciton, I meant “reprint”. The music used in the recording is from a sound library–it isn’t an Explosions In the Sky song. The entire album doesn’t play but every song makes an appearance. It is an album of love songs, according to the band, and I would go out on a limb and say it’s love that’s maybe been lost. And that’s difficult. But the earth is not a cold dead place. In a way these kids in this movie lost the loves of their short and brilliant little lives–football. Youth. It’s leaving them at every minute and they just don’t know it yet–and least not until the end of the movie. And it’s on them to accept that and move on but they are still listening. They are still breathing.

As always you can find me on twitter @coolmarkd and on Letterboxd @MarkD20