Monday, November 12, 2007

Major League

I really love the movie Major League.

I love it so much that I kind of make a pain out of myself, talking about how much I love it and bringing it up at every opportunity. And then I start worrying that I don't actually love the movie that much, that I bring it up to be different or interesting or because I think it's funny.

Then I watch it and I remember how much I love it.

I'm not always entirely sure what I love about it. I'm not going to be claiming any time soon that it's one of the world's best movies, only that it's one of the world's most enjoyable movies to watch.

I think partly it's got to do with the way the movie actually replicates the experience of watching your team do better than you expected it to do. It's got this nice lazy stretched out feeling to it, where a bunch of players make more of an effort than they did before, and Charlie Sheen gets glasses, and then they're winning games that they expected to lose and doing American Express commercials. And it kind of is shown from the perspective of the fan: they spend a lot of time at the beginning showing Cleveland, and they take shots from above the stadium, and they have the guys arguing along the way, and people hugging in bars when the team wins (which once upon a time I would have said was pie in the sky, but I actually have hugged strangers in bars after my team won a playoff game and I'm not ashamed of it) and the way the players act is the way you want to imagine your team being on the inside where you can't watch them, even down to Corbin Bernson, who plays the rich asshole who, it turns out, still loves baseball on the inside.

(Here, I guess, is my big chance to share that I read the Esquire profile on Kobe Bryant, which revealed that a) Vanessa demanded to act as his stylist and b) she asked for more money than they offered for doing so.)

It makes the world feel strangely safe, Major League, which I guess makes more sense of the fact that the writer/director also wrote The Sting, and co-wrote Sleepless in Seattle, because as different as those movies are, I kind of remember them having the same effect.

I really hate when people switch sports teams. And sometimes I argue about this and try to score points of other people for it, because in my book it's just something that you don't do, and I don't have a reasoned position on it other than that only bad people switch sports teams.

But I think one reason I hate it is because it detracts to one extent or another, from the feeling of safety that you get watching your team having a better than expected season. It's precious and safe because you had to root for them anyway. If you could just root for anybody, you'd have to decide if these guys were really loveable losers or just kind of annoying, and if maybe those scrappy Red Sox were a better bet. Moveable fandom means that you just have another variety of mature adult relationship with your team. That's obviously ridiculous and pathetic.

That said, I couldn't tell you what the Lakers record is right now.


Noko Marie said...

I never saw Major League. I don't think I've ever literally hugged a stranger after my team won a play-off game but I've certainly done something roughly equivalent, during a Sabres play-off game years ago. A highlight moment in life, for sure, and I'm not even into sports. The only way I ever identify with teams is to identify with cities, but I understand from the sports perspective that isn't really how it's supposed to work.

Octopus Grigori said...

Under your personal rules for sports affiliations, are fans required to root for their local teams, as opposed to teams they have no connection to? That is, how do you feel about people in Virginia (or Argentina) rooting for the Lakers or from L.A. who are, say, Sacramento Kings fans?

Somewhat relatedly, can people who were not lucky enough to have been born and raised in L.A. ever become true Los Angelenos? How long does it take? Or is it the intensity of the acclimation that counts? Is it more of a "I-know-it-when-I-see-it" test? Why are some native Los Angelenos so stingy about sharing their town?

Okay, that second paragraph was not related at all and I apologize for that.

All that said, and being perfectly honest now, this reader can't tell if you really are a Lakers fan, or really like the idea of being a Lakers fan.

Do you have any love for the L.A. Sparks, the Lakers' sister team? Or the WNBA at all? Why or why not? Please discuss.

Captain Colossal said...

I was going to respond to Noko Marie's comment by saying that I thought sports affiliation, in its purest form, should be city related.

That said, if you affiliate young with a team because they were on tv a lot or you liked their colors, that's fine. (I hope, by the way, that we all remember the days when the Hornets were the team merchandise pick of choice.) You're just not allowed to reassess that decision later.

I am a Lakers fan to the extent that I will always want the Lakers to win, even if other teams might be, at that moment, more "fun". Whether that (and my two Kobe Bryant jerseys) are enough to qualify me as a true fan I'm not going to say.

I've never watched a WNBA game. There's no particular reason for it. There are clots of things I don't watch.

Captain Colossal said...

I mean lots.

Noko Marie said...

Huh. I somehow had the idea that the deepest essence of fandom was supposed to transcend city-feeling. There are all these ice-hockey fanatics I know here in Canada who have life-long obsessions with teams from cities they don't even care about. Somehow they got attached to the actual team -- by being into some one player as a kid, or something.

Though now that I think about it, those ties never contradict someone's city feelings... I mean, you can't hate Toronto and be a Leafs fan. So there is that.

I like "clots of things."

Captain Colossal said...

Doesn't hockey have some kind of original six mystique to it? Is that part of hockey rooting patterns? I have no idea.

I mean, there are lots of circumstances where you might get attached to a team in a city not your own, but I don't think that's more pure than rooting for your city's team.