This year we lost a lot of “friends in the field”, from John McNamara at the Annapolis Capital Gazette to Rich Tandler at NBC Sports Washington.  From former WTOP anchor Sean Hall to Indiana basketball beat reporter Terry Hutchens.  I’ll miss each one.  Also passing this past year was Chris Chase, the writer of USA Today’s “For the Win”.  Chris and I connected on our affection for sports movies, good and bad.  Our last conversation concerned his list of top ten sports movies.  Here’s the list I contributed…and one raises the question, are these the best films ever made?  No.  But each is interesting in their own way.  Just like the friends I lost this past year.
Rocky III- from Thunder Lips to the amazingly quotable Clubber Lang, this has it all.  And Apollo shows he was the true soul of the series.  Sadly, I’ll never run on the beach the same way again.
 
Damn Yankees- this past year I swore Nats rookie Juan Soto was the second coming of Joe Hardy.  Gwen Virdon in petal-pushers easily boasts a WAR of 10+.  And the teacher from Fast Times at Ridgemont High is the devil. Makes perfect sense.
 
Victory- combining soccer, Stallone and a World War II prison camp escape.  Pele elevates the soccer sequences with the patented bicycle kick…and speaks the pivotal line of the film.  It’s in the net…
 
North Dallas Forty- from watching Nick Nolte drag himself out of bed to the “these aren’t the Cowboys” casting of coach and quarterback, a spot-on look at the NFL of the 70’s.  Favorite quote, from a team executive looking to show Nolte he’s obsolete: “Do you speak Canadian?”
 
Big Wednesday- coming of age surfing film in the 70’s trailing three friends through the Vietnam era. Great camera work, plus Gary Busey’s character was nicknamed “The Masochist”.  And he delivers.
 
The Naked Gun-  Enrico Polazzo ruined me for being serious during the National Anthem for 3-5 years.  And what team in their right mind bats Jay Johnstone leadoff?  Word is Reggie Jackson improvised his “robot” mannerisms for his big scene (“I must kill…the Queen”).
 
Teen Wolf-  We all knew Jimmy Chitwood would hit the shot, but could Scott when he wasn’t the wolf?  And how did NIKE not get in on sponsoring the Beavers or the Dragons?  “Win—in the End!” is a great song too.
 
Karate Kid- if Daniel is so bummed about leaving New York, why is he wearing a Wes Chandler jersey?  Front-runner.  And there are theorists on YouTube who say that Daniel was the real villain.  Worth a watch or 20.
 
Miracle- “THIS IS YOUR TIME!” works on me every time.  I invite you to check out the quickie TV movie made in the early 80’s with a 70-something Karl Malden playing a 40-something Herb Brooks, Steve Guttenberg as Jim Craig and Marsha Brady’s husband from the “Brady Brides” as an Olympic hopeful.
 
Eight Men Out- the good guys don’t always win.  And there they double-cross the game as well as themselves.  Fantastic performances by a who’s-who of “that’s the guy from…”
 
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