Staff picks the best al­ter­na­tives with no sports on TV

The Mercury News - - Sports - By Bud Gera­cie Ex­ec­u­tive Sports Edi­tor

If you check our TV listings on Page 2, you’ll see your view­ing choices for to­day. If bowl­ing is your game — to watch — this is your time.

For the rest of you, we of­fer our staff’s fa­vorite sports films to help pass the next few weeks.

My first choice is “Eight Men Out”: I’ve been for­ever fas­ci­nated by the 1919 Black Sox scan­dal, and this film — a cin­e­matic doc­u­men­tary based on the ex­cel­lent book by Eliot Asi­nof — takes a se­ri­ous look at the men and their mo­ti­va­tions. Di­rec­tor John Sayles was true to the book and true to the times. The uni­forms are de­tail per­fect and, un­like An­thony Perkins in “Fear Strikes Out,” the ac­tors know how to throw a base­ball. Shout out to Char­lie Sheen and es­pe­cially to John Cu­sack, to whom I’ve been par­tial since “The Sure Thing” (1985).

Its time­less­ness gives it the edge over two other fa­vorites, “Field of Dreams” and “Hoosiers.”

For laughs, “Blades of Glory.”

El­liott Al­mond, sports en­ter­prise reporter

“Bull Durham”: It has hu­mor and wit and stars Kevin Cost­ner, Su­san Saran­don and Tim Rob­bins in epit­o­miz­ing a slice of Amer­ica through the lens of mi­nor league base­ball.

“Slap Shot”: Well, shoot, Paul New­man will­ing to have fun in a zany B-movie that has so many clas­sic lines it’s like the Air­plane of sports fil­mog­ra­phy.

“Cad­dyshack”: Any movie that casts Bill Mur­ray, Chevy Chase and Rod­ney Dangerfiel­d around a golf course is worth watch­ing.

“Mur­der­ball”: A won­der­ful doc­u­men­tary that brings view­ers in­side the Par­a­lympics.

“The End­less Sum­mer”: a trav­el­ogue that cap­tures the time­less vi­bra­tion of the sport of surf­ing. Sure, boards are dif­fer­ent now but the pas­sion of rid­ing waves is the same.

Cam In­man, 49ers beat reporter

“Bad News Bears”: Noth­ing de­fines Amer­i­can sports bet­ter than this 1976 clas­sic, most def­i­nitely not to be con­fused with the Billy Bob Thorn­ton re­make in 2005. So­cial di­ver­sity abounds. They’re the ul­ti­mate un­der­dogs

And yet they bond to­gether for the thrill of vic­tory, and ul­ti­mately they learn they can cel­e­brate their ac­com­plish­ments and sports­man­ship even amid the agony of de­feat. Now go stir me and But­ter­maker a mar­tini, a Coors and a Lucky Lager.

Jerry Mcdon­ald, Raiders beat reporter

“Mir­a­cle”: Does Dis­ney take some lib­er­ties with sto­ry­telling? Ab­so­lutely. But Kurt Rus­sell’s por­trayal of coach Herb Brooks engi­neer­ing the most mem­o­rable sport­ing event in our coun­try’s sports his­tory is must-see view­ing ev­ery time it’s on. Al Michaels’ sig­na­ture “Do you be­lieve in mir­a­cles, yes!” is thank­fully in­tact.

Kerry Crow­ley, Gi­ants beat reporter

“Re­mem­ber the Ti­tans”: It’s been 20 years since Re­mem­ber the Ti­tans was re­leased and in my opin­ion, no one has made a finer sports movie since.

Based on a true story, Den­zel Wash­ing­ton is bril­liant as Her­man Boone, the African-amer­i­can foot­ball coach tasked with in­te­grat­ing the T.C. Wil­liams High foot­ball team along­side his as­sis­tant and the school’s for­mer head coach Bill Yoast, played by Will Pat­ton.

There’s clashes be­tween play­ers, tur­moil in the com­mu­nity, and a com­pelling look into the harsh racial ten­sions that were stan­dard for play­ers, coaches and schools as teams were be­ing in­te­grated.

Shayna Ru­bin, A’s beat reporter

“The Sand­lot”: The per­fect base­ball movie. About a group of friends en­joy­ing the game at its purest: play­ing when­ever they can, how­ever they can, even on a dirt patch.

There’s sus­pense -- wrest­ing a Babe Ruth-signed base­ball from “The Beast.” There’s laughs — like when chew­ing to­bacco meets car­ni­val roller-coaster.

Ev­ery few years I watch it and en­joy it all the same.

“The Big Green”: This is a Dis­ney movie about a group of small-town-texas mid­dle school­ers who find pur­pose when a sub­sti­tute teacher from Eng­land teaches them how to play soc­cer.

It’s be­yond corny, but funny and fea­tures many of the ac­tors from “The Sand­lot.”

Wes Gold­berg, War­riors beat reporter

“Space Jam”: As a mil­len­nial, I am re­quired to ac­knowl­edge the ex­is­tence of this one. There are some iconic scenes and quotes — “He’s fix­ing a divot!” — and an es­sen­tial per­for­mance by Daffy Duck.

Di­eter Kurten­bach, sports colum­nist

“The Big Le­bowski”: This Coen Brothers cult clas­sic has, si­mul­ta­ne­ously, noth­ing and ev­ery­thing to do with bowl­ing. As we all hun­ker in for th­ese strange times, we can look to the ever-aloof Dude as an in­spi­ra­tion. I know I’ll watch it a few times — when sports re­turn, I cer­tainly don’t want to be “drag­ging this neg­a­tive en­ergy into the tour­na­ment.”

“Kick­ing and Scream­ing”: Will Fer­rell’s kids movie about youth soc­cer is tremen­dously watch­able for adults with­out kids.

“OJ: Made in Amer­ica”: We all have some time on our hands, so Ezra Edel­man’s five-part mas­ter­piece is a must-watch. It’s one of the finest films I’ve ever seen.

“Slay­ing the Bad­ger”: An ESPN 30-for-30 doc­u­men­tary that de­tails one of the great — and most dra­matic — events in the his­tory of sport, the 1986 Tour De France. You will leave this film with at least a healthy re­spect for the sport of cycling. I left a fa­natic.

Phil Jensen, high school sports reporter

“Char­i­ots of Fire”: At the time, I was a bud­ding high school dis­tance run­ner and grav­i­tated to­wards any­thing in that genre. Be­ing a Chris­tian, I also gain in­spi­ra­tion from Eric Lid­dell’s stand.

The slow-mo­tion se­quences re­ally res­onated with me about the feel­ing of all-out ef­fort dur­ing com­pe­ti­tion. The si­lence in parts of it also ac­cu­rately re­flected the fo­cus needed to main­tain a high level of ef­fort. The movie spoke per­son­ally to me, and still does.

Nick Roth, TV listings

“Field of Dreams”: One of the great­est base­ball movies of all time. Brings out the dreamer in ev­ery oneof us. The E.T. of sports flicks.

“Eight Men Out”: True story, best doc­u­men­tary reen­act­ment about gam­bling in sports. Fea­tures ter­rific ac­tors and sto­ry­line.

“Ma­jor League”: With some great ac­tors (when they were young), this movie felt some­what re­al­is­tic but also had a funny fac­tor.

“Mighty Ducks”: A bunch of hockey mis­fits that won with a spe­cial duck for­ma­tion fly­ing V (and hockey team was named af­ter it)

“Cad­dyshack:” Bill Mur­ray, Chevy Chase, and Rod­ney Dangerfiel­d in one movie. ‘Nuff said.

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