By: Noah Wright
One of the most iconic baseball movies ever is the Major League movie series starring Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, and Corbin Bernsen. The movie focuses on a rag-tag and dysfunctional group of baseball players who play for the Cleveland Indians. Each of whom have their flaws, which I’ll get into later. This group is put together by the owner, Rachael Phelps (played by the late Margaret Whitton) who inherited the team from her deceased husband, and wants to intentionally lose so she can move the team to Miami. When the team and the head coach Lou Brown (played by James Gammon) hear of her plan, they put their differences aside, and start playing like a team. They make it all the way to the World Series in the first two movies, and while they lose, they put Phelps’ plan on hold. Throughout the first two movies, we are introduced to many colorful characters, and some of which are even funnier speaking of the state of MLB baseball in 2019.
For starters, let’s look at the team’s power hitter, Pedro Cerrano. In the movie, he’s portrayed as a big slugger who plays right field (and he is a believer in voodoo, and his voodoo doll’s name is jobu). He can hit absolute moon shots. We see him even hit a tree past the scoreboard at the team’s spring training facility. However, he has one flaw: he strikes out, a lot, on anything that isn’t a fastball. Sounds familiar? Well, I can name tons of players who fit this mold, and it’s been a trend surrounding baseball. There were 12 players with at least a 25% strikeout rate, and .200 ISO. In 2000, there were only a 5 players who had at least a 25% K rate, and .200 ISO. In total, we’ve seen a large rise in strikeouts, but also a large rise in sluggers.
The next player is Charlie Sheen’s character, Ricky, Wild Thing, Vaughn. Vaughn is portrayed as a convict the teams signs, but he has a blazing fastball. He can dial it up into the high 90’s, low 100’s. But his flaw is pretty obvious, he has absolutely no control. While he does fix his control problems by fixing his vision with a pair of glasses, it’s his fastball that makes him standout. In the MLB, we’ve seen a large rise in average fastball velocity. Back in 2008, the MLB average fastball was 91.8 MPH. Since then, it’s rose. In 2018, the MPH has risen to 93.7 MPH. It also seems that many players are getting shots not because they are good at locating all their pitchers, but because they are hard throwing.
In the movie, the Indians owner decides to try to intentionally lose to move the team. While in the MLB, teams aren’t intentionally losing to move to a new location, rather teams are basically intentionally losing to acquire better draft picks. This is called tanking. Tanking is hitting the MLB, hard. Last year, there were 3 teams with 100+ losses. There hasn’t been a season where 3 or more teams lost 100+ games for a while, or at least in the past decade.
Major League, if you ask me, has gotten funnier. Things we made fun of in the 90’s with baseball are becoming a reality. All or nothing batters are on the rise, as well as hard throwing pitchers who lack control. This also goes for teams trying to lose.