YouTube HOF: Special Spring Training ‘Baseball in Pop Culture’ Edition

Field of Dreams – “Go the Distance”

Bill Simmons: As I’ve written a million times, there are two kinds of people: people who love Field of Dreams, and people who don’t have a heart. When you love a movie, you learn to overlook a few technical glitches … you know, like the fact that it’s the fifth inning of the Fenway game that Ray Kinsella and Terrence Mann attended, only the scoreboard says 10:30. Look, nobody loves seeing footage of vintage late-’80s Fenway — before the park was turned into an advertising cash cow and infiltrated by pink-hatters and Neil Diamond songs — more than me. That’s the park I grew up with. But 10:30??? Was there a rain delay? Was there a bench-clearing brawl? What the hell happened in this game? It took three hours to play four innings? Every time I see 10:30, it bothers me. Of course, I’ve seen this movie 922 times and nitpicked it to death, so maybe I’m the only one. By the way … MOONLIGHT GRAHAM!!!!

1983 Congressional Baseball Game

Alex Pappademas: Great moments in color commentary:
ANNOUNCER: “I might say at this point that Ron Paul is probably the best long-ball hitter in the club.”
ANNOUNCER 2 (BARNEY FRANK): “I would add that he’s probably one of the best gynecologists that you’ll find out on this ball field today, without question.”

Trick Daddy (feat. Cee Lo Green & Big Boi) – “In Da Wind”

Jonah Keri: Normally, citing a rap video as a source of baseball in pop culture would be a huge copout — wearing a White Sox cap doesn’t really count. You know what does count? A vintage Gary Carter jersey. A vintage EXPOS Gary Carter jersey. This, presumably, is what the gentlemen meant by “Trick love The Kid(s).”

Dock Ellis & The LSD No-No

Dan Fierman: Had we not done the Simpsons last week — and been denied doing “Homer at the Bat” by our new insect overlords Hollywood Prospectus editor Mark Lisanti — I would have definitely gone with Ken Griffey Jr. getting gigantism from drinking too much Nerve Tonic. Instead, I’ll use this opportunity to tip my hat to this Internet classic, which takes a terrific moment from MLB history and turns it into a monument to what is best about the game: the true weirdness that baseball allows between the lines.

If you haven’t seen, enjoy. If you have, watch again. It’s more than worth your leap-day time.

“There’s No Crying in Baseball

Katie Baker: The American Film Institute rated “there’s no crying in baseball” the 54th best movie quote in the history of American cinema. (It should be top 10, but whatever.) I’ll have to assume that “Did anyone ever tell you you look like a penis with a little hat on?” came in at no. 101.

“Hey, it’s Enrico Pallazzo!”

Mark Lisanti: [saves Queen, crowd goes nuts] “EN-RIC-O PALL-AZZ-O! EN-RIC-O PALL-AZZ-O! EN-RIC-O PALL-AZZ-O!”

“Glory Days” – Bruce Springsteen

Andy Greenwald: OK, yes, right. Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: The Boss is more like an unpaid intern on the mound. His herky-jerk delivery makes Carl Lewis look like Dan Quisenberry. And, really, Bruce? Your old pal threw a “speedball”? Did he also not give up too many points? We should probably just be grateful this song came out in 1984 and not seven years later, when there could have been a verse about swingin’ on the flippity-flop with the lamestains up in Seattle.

But it’s worth taking the time to look past all the unseemly grinning and bad arm slots — not to mention the performance scenes with Little Steven vamping and leering like he’s about to turn an 8-year-old into Tom Hanks. I’ve always loved the earnest uncoolness of this song and video, loved it as a perfect example of how baseball is rich and malleable enough to be resonant in any context. Bruce clearly doesn’t know a thing about SABR rattling and would be surprised to learn his WAR (over, say, John Mellencamp) still remains a lusty 5.9. But baseball is still a handy metaphor for the fleeting nature of youth and boys turning into men, even for those who don’t spend much time watching it.

The other best thing about the “Glory Days” video is that it took me over 15 years to realize what a crushingly depressing song it’s is. (The tambourine-shaking jocularity of the bar scenes didn’t help. Also, I first saw it when I was 8.). It’s the sort of clip that hooks you in with an infectious sense of fun and only grows more somber and emotional the longer you spend with it. Kinda like baseball itself.

“Called Shot” – Major League

Amos Barshad: You know that thing in baseball where the old crotchety catcher calls his shot so that he can trick the infielder and leg out one last bunt single on impossibly creaky knees while the hot-shot outfielder slides home to win the big game and then the team’s evil owner can’t move the Indians to Miami and Rene Russo isn’t engaged to her jerk boyfriend anymore and now Tom Berenger and her can have their own apartment where the elevator opens right into the living room? That is my favorite thing about baseball.

Ken Griffey Jr. on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Ken Griffey Jr. cameo on The Fresh Prince by 23city
Rembert Browne: As a 7-year-old, I only really cared about a few things. Two of those things were The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Ken Griffey Jr. So imagine the joy that came over me that evening in 1994 when those two forces combined for 1:06. Unless you’ve ever screamed at the top of your lungs, jumped as high as you could, and then run straight into a wall, knocking yourself unconscious, only to wake up minutes later with a full-blown case of asthma, you can’t comprehend the joy that I felt that day.

“Wild Thing” – Major League

Megan Creydt: OH YEAH. Major League rocked my world, but I have an almost visceral memory of this scene, where “Wild Thing” Charlie Sheen makes his first pitching appearance with those nerdy-hot corrective glasses. Eight-year-old me totally had goose bumps. And there’s so much good stuff here — Willie Mays Hays, the voodoo guy, that scandalous tear-away cutout of the villainous showgirl-turned-team owner, Bob Uecker. What a classic.

High Heat Baseball – “It’s So Real”

Bill Barnwell: You know, the greatest commercial in the history of the medium just happens to be baseball-related. Does Sammy Sosa know whether he is in a poorly rendered stadium filled with flat representations of human beings or a real baseball game? What is that cell phone doing in his pocket? Considering the plight of Tim Raines, does the Hall of Fame have an irrational bias against ballplayers who carry items in their back pockets? Why does that bro summon him back to the video game world when he’s trying to play real baseball? What’s sooooo reeaaaaaaaaaaaaal after all?

MC Hammer – “2 Legit 2 Quit”

Mike Philbrick: It was a lost time for many of us in 1991. Heavy metal had begun to rust and gangsta rap wasn’t quite ready yet. Filling this void was former Oakland A’s bat boy and bankruptcy court veteran Stanley Burrell (aka MC Hammer). This latest shameless attempt to be like video vanguard Michael Jackson wouldn’t be complete without the iconic presence of such baseball luminaries as Jose Canseco, Kirby Puckett, Rickey Henderson, Deion Sanders, and Roger Clemens. James Brown (as a Godfather of Soul/sort-of dodgeball coach wizard) also stops by, along with Jerry Rice, Andre Rison, Roger Craig, Ronnie Lott, Isiah Thomas, David Robinson, Chris Mullin, Lynette Woodard, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, and former Atlanta Falcons coach Jerry Glanville. Unfortunately, MC Hammer makes an appearance as well.

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