MSG is premiering a series Monday called “The Lineup: Best Sports Movies,’’ taking it one sport at a time in eight nights, thus highlighting an age-old verity: There are baseball and boxing movies, and there is everything else.
For example, Monday’s five baseball finalists, all from the fertile period 1984-92, include “Field of Dreams,’’ “The Natural,’’ “Bull Durham,’’ “Major League’’ and “A League of Their Own.’’
That ignores another excellent film from that era, “Eight Men Out,’’ and too many others to list out of other eras, from “The Pride of the Yankees’’ to “Bang the Drum Slowly.’’
And then there's this: “I’ll tell you the most underrated baseball movie of all time: the original ‘Bad News Bears,’’’ said Robert Wuhl, an actor in “Bull Durham’’ and a panelist on the show, alongside host Fran Healy, Spike Lee, Jeffrey Lyons and Chazz Palminteri.
Meanwhile, “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh,’’ made the final five for Tuesday’s basketball show, along with “He Got Game,’’ “Coach Carter,’’ “White Men Can’t Jump’’ and the bet-the-house inevitable winner, “Hoosiers.’’
“The most underrated movie I saw out of the 50 I saw – and I’m not just saying this because [director] Spike Lee is on the panel, was ‘He’s Got Game,’’’ Healy said.
Gerry Cooney is not on the panel but he does have opinions about boxing movies. His favorites include “Rocky,’’ “Raging Bull’’ and “Million Dollar Baby,’’ all of which are finalists, along with “The Fighter’’ and “Cinderella Man,’’ thus leaving out a couple of dozen other classics.
“There are so many great films that really portrayed boxing in the right light,’’ Cooney said.
Nothing moved him quite like the 1942 film “Gentleman Jim.’’
“I remember being a kid watching Errol Flynn [as Jim Corbett] take the belt from John L. Sullivan,’’ he said. “What a moment that was. That was a moment. It stayed with me forever.’’
The 30-minute show will be on Monday through Thursday each of the next two weeks and include interviews with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Eli Manning, Carmelo Anthony, Mark Messier and Brian Leetch.
Here is a complete list of the finalists other than the aforementioned for basketball, hoops and boxing:
The Longest Yard (original)
The Greatest Game Ever Played
The Legend of Bagger Vance
The Mighty Ducks
National Velvet (1944)
The Black Stallion
Chariots of Fire
Here are quotes from the show provided by MSG:
Mariano Rivera, Yankees
On The Natural:
“I love the movie. I don't know about that ball exploding, though. I don't know about that. I haven't seen that happen.”
Carmelo Anthony, Knicks
On playing for Hoosiers’ Coach Dale:
“It would be very difficult because as a kid you don’t really understand the game… so to have somebody on you like that every second, every day, all day, it can be tough.”
On Raging Bull:
“There's something intense about (De Niro’s) acting. There's something that he does that very few of them do, where if he came in tomorrow playing George Washington in a movie, you'd believe that's what George Washington looked like. Not a lot of those guys can do that.”
Tyson Chandler, Knicks
On White Men Can’t Jump:
“I love the movie White Men Can’t Jump. It’s just that era and that time of basketball, that’s what street ball was all about and what was going on. Venice Beach was an area I grew up in so, I really enjoyed that movie.”
Jason Kidd, Knicks
“Hoosiers is a great movie because there are so many story lines and it just shows that a team can come together and if you believe in one another, you can win.”
Gerry Cooney, Boxing
On Raging Bull:
“Jake LaMotta is a very good friend of mine and that was really him…he was the guy who was against the odds and he stuck it out and became Champion of the World. He’s what boxing is really about. When you look at boxing in the dictionary his picture’s next to it.”
John Thompson, former Georgetown Coach
“It touches your heart. It’s an underdog story. It’s a story about a group of kids who are building…when I started at St. Anthony’s High School, it was the only co-ed Catholic high school in Washington. It had probably about 20 boys and all of them were athletes. And you thought about building your program. So when you saw Hoosiers, you say to yourself the underdog team did well. I thought it was a great movie.”
Joe Namath, Former Jet
On North DallasForty:
“Yeah, that was gritty, that was pretty close to a lot of things. Nolte was very good. I enjoyed that movie. I enjoyed it more 20 years later, because when you're a football player, at least this one, I have a tendency to critique everything that’s going on right now…we wouldn't do that, we wouldn't be….so it’s distracting. But years later I looked at North Dallas Forty again, and I really appreciated it.”
Steve Schirripa, Actor
On Raging Bull:
“Everybody loved that movie, of course, with what De Niro did, but it was also a history lesson. Not that many people knew about Jake LaMotta before that movie. Now everyone knows. Before that, who’s Jake LaMotta? At least for younger people. And you got a little mob stuff in there, you got boxing stuff, you got New York stuff. That movie had the whole thing.”