On March 7, 2015, the seedings and pairings were announced for March Madness, Hollywood Style. We are wrapping up the Round of 32 to arrive at our Sweet 16. The match-up summaries and results for the Mid-West and West second round regional games are as follows:
Hoosiers (Basketball, 1986) # 1 Seed
Slap Shot (Hockey, 1977) #9 Seed
“Slap Shot” has a true cult following and those who are in that group are true believers. But that is not enough to defeat perhaps the most iconic high school sports underdog and feel good story that is “Hoosiers.” Jimmy Chitwood continues to hit jumpers from downtown and they prove to be fatal shots to “Slap Shot.”
Field of Dreams (Baseball, 1989) #4 Seed
Little Big League (Baseball, 1994) #12 Seed
Field of Dreams was filmed in Dubuque County, Iowa. Here is a post-script to the producing of the film. The producers actually built the field that stood partially on the property of two adjacent neighbors. When the production company left, the two owners elected to continue to profit from the film’s success and turned the area into a tourist attraction. After some years of purported bickering between the neighbors about tourist dollars and rights, one of the two purchased the land of the other and the operation continued. In fact, the same location was used as the site of a heart-warming 25th Anniversary Reunion last year. The continued interest in the story so many years after the film’s release does not relate directly to the movie but speaks volumes about the kind of legacy that has followed “Field of Dreams.” “Little Big League” is just no match.
Sweet 16 Match-up: Hoosiers (#1) vs Field of Dreams (#4)
Rudy (Football, 1993) # 2 Seed
Brian’s Song (Football, 1971) #7 Seed
Both of the films are all about how the size of one’s heart can help overcome almost any obstacle. Each has a quote that embodies the theme of the film. In Brian’s Song, Billy Dee Williams (portraying Gayle Sayers) says the following at an award acceptance ceremony: “I’d like to tell you about a guy I know, a friend of mine. His name is Brian Piccolo. And he has the heart of a giant, and that rare form of courage that allows him to kid himself and his opponent, cancer. He has a mental attitude that makes me proud to have a friend who spells out the world ‘courage,’ 24 hours a day, every day of his life. Now you honor me by giving me this award. But I say to you here now Brian Piccolo is the man who deserves the George S. Halas award. It is mine tonight… and Brian Piccolo’s tomorrow. I love Brian Piccolo. And I’d like all of you to love him too. And so tonight, when you hit your knees, please ask God to love him.” Charles Dutton spoke the following memorable words nearing the end of “Rudy” and summarized what is at the heart of this film. Scolding Rudy, Dutton’s character (Fortune), says: “You’re five foot nothin. A hundred and nothin. And you have barely a speck of athletic ability. And you hung in there with the best college football players in the land for two years. You’re gonna walk outta here with a degree from the University of Notre Dame. In this life, you don’t have to prove nothin’ to nobody but yourself. Am I making myself clear?” OK, I loved Brian Piccolo and “Brian’s Song” but not enough to silence the chants of “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy.” Am I making myself clear?
The Natural (Baseball, 1984) # 3 Seed
A League of Their Own (Baseball, 1992) #6 Seed
“The Natural” was like a great Norman Rockwell painting; it captured the innocence of that generation but without making caricatures of the characters. “A League of Their Own” did create some caricatures, such as how Tom Hanks played Manager Jimmy Duggan. Regardless, he was great, as was Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell and especially Geena Davis, who put in her best performance since “Thelma and Louise” (in which she co-starred with Susan Sarandon, who starred in another great sports film, “Bull Durham”). But I digress. Both of these films belong among the finalists, but “A League of Their Own” remains in a league of its own and pulls off the upset.
Sweet 16 Match-up: Rudy (#2) vs A League of Their Own (#6)
Jerry McGuire (Football, 1996) # 1 Seed
Caddyshack (Golf, 2006) #8 Seed
Talk about a mismatch, what is best about one film is the opposite of what is best about the other. Unlike the real March Madness, the decision cannot be made on the court. So, I elected to use the test of time and realized that if anyone mentions “Caddyshack” in a group setting, almost everyone will have a thought or comment about their favorite part. It is just comedy at its best and here, it takes out the number one seed. Sorry, Jerry.
Seabiscuit (Horse Racing, 2003) #13 Seed
Million Dollar Baby (Boxing, 2004) #12 Seed
Both of these films were longshots to get out of the first round despite each being Academy Award worthy. But I’ve got to tell you, when I first saw Seabiscuit, I expected it to be a pulse-rising ride and it was. I did not expect a story about a woman boxer to be so captivating so “Million Dollar Baby” went beyond drawing me in, it touched my soul. It is a great film. Don’t just take my word for it if you have not seen it. Find it on Netflix, Hulu, Red Box or wherever it may be available. It wins again.
Sweet 16 Match-up: Caddyshack (#8) v Million Dollar Baby (#12)
Happy Gilmore (Golf, 1996) # 2 Seed
The Sandlot (Baseball, 1983) #10 Seed
As I ponder this match-up, I remember the words of Kevin Nealon in Happy Gilmore: “Yeah, lot of pressure. You gotta rise above it. You gotta harness in the good energy, block out the bad. Harness. Energy. Block. Bad. Feel the flow, Happy. Feel it. It’s circular. It’s like a carousel. You pay the quarter, you get on the horse. It goes up and down and around. Circular. Circle. With the music. The flow… all good things.” I then realized that “Happy Gilmore” is in the same category of comedy classic as “Caddyshack” and it therefore beats out “The Sandlot.”
Karate Kid (Martial Arts, 1984) # 3 Seed
Coach Carter (Basketball, 2005) #6 Seed
From even the youngest youth leagues, people can gain the title of “coach.” As children progress to higher levels of competition, almost anyone can continue to coach. This occurs with seemingly little understanding of what a coach is really called upon to do. It is not to win championships or create professional athletes. It is to inspire, lead and teach. Coaching requires insight and passion, as well as a desire to bring out the best that the young athletes can attain. A coach prepares players for life. Yes, in the rarest of circumstances, coaches get the opportunity to help develop a future professional athlete but that is about as likely as is winning the lottery. Remember that Mr. Miyagi said “If karate used defend honor, defend life, karate mean something. If karate used defend plastic metal trophy, karate no mean nothing.” Coach Carter led one of his players, Timo Cruz, to realize that “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Pure gold, and that is true for these two films, where we see the best of what it takes to be a mentor, a teacher, a coach. Who wouldn’t want someone like Mr. Miyagi or Coach Carter to guide their child? In any event, Mr. Miyagi is just too great a figure for Coach Carter to beat him out.
Sweet 16 Match-up: Happy Gilmore (#2) v Karate Kid (#3)
Next up: The South and West Regions round of 32.