20 Years Later: The Sandlot Revisited – It’s A Lot Darker Than You Remember

The Sandlot boys

The Sandlot boys

I’m a firm believer that the movies you watch growing up help shape you into the type of person you will one day become.  So that’s why you’ve probably had conversations with your best friends about The Never Ending Story in one way or another.  Being a young kid during the 90s, we were spoiled with some of the better sports movies made to date: A League of Their Own, Little Giants, Rookie of the Year, Angels in the Outfield, Little Big League, Rudy; hell, even the Shaq invested waters of Blue Chips introduced my generation to what all white guys will eventually turn into; a grizzled old man with spit constantly on the sides of his mouth (Nick Nolte).  However, I do believe the one that stands out above the rest will always will be The SandlotThe Sandlot is one of those movies that everyone; men, women and children alike, just seems to adore.  And the moment someone you don’t know utters the words, “You’re killing me, Smalls” you know they’re on the level.

The Sandlot is now officially 20 years old. Let that sink in.  Benny “the Jet” and Hamilton Porter have been in our lives for two decades.  The film was originally released on April 7, 1993 (how about us kids getting lucky with Cop and a Half being released just one week earlier…..ah, childhood) and it’s 20 year anniversary has sadly been pushed to the back-burner thanks to the roaring acknowledgement that Jurassic Park has been getting (hey, did you notice that dope pun I just used?).  So, I embarked on a journey of whimsy and nostalgia the other night by re-watching The Sandlot as an adult-esque, man-child.  What I found though was extremely disappointing.  I discovered some very negative undertones and sub-stories of a supposed children’s classic that may have passed over our heads as we watched as young, wide-eyed yuppies.  My friends, please see below for the top 5 reasons why The Sandlot is fucking dark.

1. Denis Leary was a cold-hearted, abusive step-father

Pure Evil

Pure Evil

How about Denis Leary in this movie?  He plays the step-dad to Scotty Smalls (Thomas Guiry) and the husband to Mrs. Indiana Jones, Karen Allen and COULD NOT be more of a jerkstore.  Not only does Scotty actually like his step-father (most kids in this situation are resentful and full of hate towards a man in this position), but actually yearns for his respect and maybe just a little but of his attention in the form of playing catch.  But Denis, playing Bill, doesn’t want any part of it.  Oh I’m sorry Bill, is your morning “Irish” coffee and reading the paper about some good old-fashioned 1962 style racism holding you back from going outside with a young child to throw a ball for 5 minutes?  Bill is just always tooooooo busy and “under the gun”.  Finally he gives in, but only after his wife’s persistence.  Do you have any idea the courage it takes a kid at that age to play catch with a man whose respect you want, but also know the activity you’re about to do is way out of your skill set?

So, Bill takes him outside to have a catch.  It is very obvious very early that Scotty does not have the hand-eye coordination for this type of playing.  After a couple misfires and some bull-shit lessons on how to catch the ball (“where the ball goes, move your glove”), Bill gets fed up and fires his Nolan Ryan express at the young kid’s face from about 15 feet out knowing goddamn well he couldn’t catch it!  Scotty Smalls gets pelted in the face and winds up with a huge black eye from a sociopath who just so happened to have worked his way around what would now be categorized as child abuse!  Then what does the MFer say to the kid who is now battered and bruised (literally and figuratively)?  He snidely states, “gotta watch out for the curve?”  So the kid can’t even put the glove on the ball and you’re throwing him your off speed stuff? Screw you Bill. Scotty’s thoughts: Thanks for busting my face and my mitt. Oh, and here’s a new ball with the whole Yankees team signatures from the late 1920s on it, making it a gazillion times more valuable than your ball.  My reward from you? Thanks for grounding me, dick.

2. Slavery Implications Running Amok

Shackled and forced to pitch.

Shackled and forced to pitch.

Fact: 9 were players on the team and only 1 was black.  His name was Kenny DeNunez.  As we can all remember the kids NEVER STOPPED PLAYING THE GAME.  That’s all they did, baseball, baseball, baseball. Baseball needs a pitcher to play, right?  Well, let’s just throw in the black kid to do that as the rest of us just take our turn in the field, fielding 1 grounder every 15 minutes.  In a day and age where professional baseball players making millions are being pulled from games that count in order to keep their pitch count low (Stephen Strasburg), the kids from The Plantation  Sandlot forced their only black player to do all the heavy labor in the field.  Who cares what his future looks like? We want to play now!  It was 1962 at the time so what was Kenny supposed to do, speak up?  Geez, I haven’t seen such blatant racism since the present day slave-auction we’re trying to pass off as the NFL Draft Combine.  I mean come on…a bunch of old, rich white dudes sitting around taking notes on who is the biggest, fastest and strongest black man for their team.  If you’re not seeing the correlation to Leonardo DiCaprio’s Candie Land in Django Unchained right now with his “Mandingo fights”, well then you need to open your eye there, Johnny Naive.

3. Squints was Suicidal 

One last "smile"

One last “smile”

If it’s one thing little kids like, it’s getting made fun of for a problem they have no control over.  And in this case, Michael “Squints” Palledorous was fed up with the constant ridicule from his friends.  He could not help his size or his eye glasses, so that day at the pool he just “couldn’t take it any more.”  Using his lust of Wendy Peffercorn as an excuse, he rose from the pool and walked slowly to the deepest end.  He gave his “friends” one last smirk and without the ability to swim, jumped right in. There was no struggle, there was no fight.  He wanted to go his way. But Wendy Peffercorn did what a lifeguard was supposed to do.  She pulled him out and brought him back to life.  Squints then realized that he did in fact want to live and that’s why he decided to kiss Wendy right then and there, a proclamation to starting anew.  Living longer was not part of his plan as  he was tired of being teased by his friends.  However at this point he said he planned it all along in order to save some face and experience no more ridicule.  I mean could you imagine if they found out Squints wore glasses and was suicidal?  They’d have a field day.  So what happened?  His friends then tipped their hats to him because no one would have thought to put the moves on the lifeguard.  Squints pulled a lucky, fast one on everyone and was never made fun of again.  He ended up marrying the woman that saved his life, giving him reason to live.

4. Benny “The Jet” was a low-life, drug addict criminal who was fueled by ego

Can't afford a ball, but can afford new shoes?

Can’t afford a ball, but can afford new shoes?

Scotty Smalls just finished 5th grade, putting him as an 11-year-old kid that summer. Benny was a “kid” with a 5 o’clock shadow who looked to be about at least 14 years old playing around with kids way under his skill level, in order to always be the best on the field.  All Benny tried to do was feed his ego.  He was the original humblebragger.  Benny’s thoughts on the day that it was too hot to play: “Even though I don’t want to practice because its 100 degrees out, I’m still going to say we should practice just so these guys can tell me that I don’t need to practice.”  Yea, we’re onto you Benny!  In addition to that, where is a kid that never references his parents or family throughout the whole movie getting the money for 2 gloves (his old one given to Scotty)?  He stole that glove! That’s why.  Oh, you can’t afford a baseball, but somehow you got some new PF Flyers to get yourself over that wall, huh?  Jesus, what type of back door dealing you making to get all this new stuff?

So old, so smug

So old, so smug

Key the emotional scene where Scotty reassures Benny that he in fact DID NOT have to do this (talking about jumping over the fence to get his ball).  Yea he does, Scotty.  He needs to feed his ego so he can always be remembered.  No one really seems to care about the ball at this point, but Benny. I guess after having a lucid, drug-aided hallucination (only explanation at this point) where he speaks to a man who looks nothing like Babe Ruth (BTW, doubtful Babe Ruth is resting in heaven still wearing his baseball uniform), is when you decide that your “legend” is the most important thing in the world.  Someone else died trying to be a legend.  His name was Achilles and he let Troy burn so he could get his glory.  Also, very unnecessary route to the sandlot in mid-chase scene from the dog Hercules (notice the irony and correlation to half-Gods at this point everyone): let’s just take a detour through the public swimming pool where everyone is as well as a movie theater matinée so all could see how fast he is.

ALSO, the movie’s present day takes place in 1993.  The movie’s past takes place in 1962.  The kids we’re all supposed to be 11 at this point.  So if Benny was in fact say maybe 12 at this time , that would mean that when he stole home in the MLB game 31 years later, he was a 43-year-old pitch runner, trying to live out his glory one last time.  What a dink.

5. Bonus Grim Material

Bertram - OD'd * Yeah Yeah - Speech Impediment  * Timmy Timmons - Neglected * Porter - Pervert

OD’d * Speech Impediment * Neglected * Pervert

  • Bertram got real into the 60s and no one ever heard from him again. Translation: dude OD’d at a nightclub before he was 18.
  • Yeah Yeah had a terrible speech impediment that no one acknowledged. Thanks to GI (and AJ) for that one.
  • Tommy Timmons came from an abusive family.  He was a neglected child who was only noticed when he acted out; i.e. repeating everything his brother Timmy said.
  • Porter, during trash talk with his rivals, revealed that he was a peeping tom who watched young girls get naked in their rooms, just like George McFly.

I love The Sandlot and here’s its original trailer:

Post By: Anthony Fanelli

PS Everything on here was in good humor.  Well, except the Combine theory. That’s kind of accurate.


The Week That Was: March 31 – April 7, 2013

Day’s go bye (Enjoy). March 31 – April 7, 2013 has come and gone.  So here’s a recap of the week’s top stories in case you missed them.

SNL: Melissa McCarthy

Saturday Night Live this week was just fantastic.  I heart me some Melissa McCarthy.  When she hosts (this is round 2), she is not just a host; she’s a polished, experienced, true-blue sketch performer, that makes everyone around her better.

Taran Killam, McCarthy, Bobby Moynihan 'Ham" Dancing

Taran Killam, McCarthy, Bobby Moynihan ‘Ham” Dancing

Not too often with an SNL crowd do you get people actually saying “Awww” because they feel bad for a character (in a  good way). But when straight-man Jason Sudeikis’ loan officer turned down McCarthy’s pizza-eating business, that’s exactly what we got.

Other bright spots:  Everyone in The Voice sketch, Bobby Moynihan’s Drunk Uncle and Vanessa Bayer’s Jewish boy Jacob visiting the Weekend Update desk, and obviously the Ham dance executed to perfection.  Also, I love that all of Melissa McCarthy’s characters always remind me of one of my aunts.

Evil Dead Is Back

The Evil Dead remake opened at #1 at the box office this weekend bringing  in 26 million dollars, while the documentaries about America’s financial crisis and Serbian genocide have both been blocked from Netflix due to no one watching.

Ray J Sucks

Just like one of the senior pics I took.

Just like one of the senior pics I took.

Brandy’s little brother Ray J has officially released a song, chest-puffing himself for his sexual escapades with Kim Kardashian.  The beautifully titled “I Hit It First” has the following lyrics:  She might move on to rappers and ballplayers. But we all know I hit it first.

  • For those of you that hate Ray J, remember when he cried in that episode of Punk’d?
  • For those of you that like Ray J, all I can think of that is positive is that he was on “The Sinbad Show”….(look at him trying to sneak one on  us with this Willie Norwood bullweed).

Halle Berry With Child

In entertainment news, Halle Berry is 46 years old and pregnant! That’s right, Swordfish’s and Cleveland’s own Halle Berry is pregnant with Billy Bob Thorton’sAnthony Fanelli’s,  Oliver Martinez’ child, giving hope to aging women worldwide (Liz Lemon style).  I mean if a beautiful, rich and healthy woman with unlimited resources and no stress can get pregnant, so can you!

Trailer Report: This is the End

Remember when you and your buddies took a camera and just made a movie because you were all friends and thought it’d be cool to make a movie together?  Well that’s basically what this is, except instead of starring a bunch of hillbilly friends in their mom’s basement (I did that numerous times), it stars a bunch of rich, talented YoHo (young Hollywood) bros making a comedy about the end of the world.  FYI, I will be seeing this opening night because I like everyone in it and thoroughly laughed throughout the trailer.

Rutger’s Coach Abusing Players

Rutger’s Basketball Coach Mike Rice was fired after a video surfaced of him throwing basketballs at players, literally kicking them in the butts and hurling homophobic slurs.

I was going to try to write something clever, but SNL and Melissa McCarthy’s amazing short parodying this, kind of makes it hard.  But let’s try it anyway! Hey (taps microphone), after hearing of this Mike Rice thing, Amanda Bynes has taken the opportunity to cleverly hit on guys by telling them she wants to bring them back to her place so she can Mike Rice all over their face!

MLB Opening Day

Opening Day in Major League Baseball has come and gone!  30 teams, playing 15 games over the course of 2 days, creating nostalgia for those old and young.  15 games down, only 2,415 to go before playoffs!

#GOTRIBE #TribeGetsMeanIn2013

NCAA Final Four

After some hyped up drama, #1 seed Louisville and their pocket-squared coach Rick Pitino survived the shock of possibly losing to the 9 seed Witchita State Shockers, by coming back from a 9 point deficit and holding on for a 72-68 victory.

Coach Pitino wearing the shit outta that suit.

Coach Pitino wearing the shit outta that suit.

The team was given a much-needed emotional boost after sophomore guard Kevin Ware suffered the worst leg break since Chong Li unnecessarily snapped that guy’s shin bone in Bloodsport.

In the other game of the Final Four, the Syracuse Orange (easily the laziest nickname/color combination in collegiate athletics) was outdone by the NBA infused bloodline of the Michigan Wolverines, 61-56.

The tip-off for the National Championship game of Louisville vs. Michigan, starts at the very normal time of 9:23pm EST, Monday April 8, 2013.

Mondays, got a classic case of em’ right now,


Jurassic Park….Still Got It After 20 Years.

Jurassic Park re-opens in 3D and IMAX on April 5, 2013.

Jurassic Park re-opens in 3D and IMAX on April 5, 2013.

June 11, 1993 is the date that Jurassic Park originally hit theaters.  I know this date by heart and didn’t even need to look it up, I swear.  Vividly imprinted in my mind with that date was a cardboard 3D-style cut-out of Sam Neil running with the two kids during the now famous stampede scene. I was 9 years old when I saw the JP cut-out at my local the-A-ter (twas’ staring daggers at me) as it showed up in the theater lobby after I watched the end credits of Aladdin for the 6th time. Seriously, as an overweight kid whose claim to fame was the innate ability to always get cold cores in the winter, I decided to back my swagger with a half-dozen viewings of Aladdin in the theater!  I even remember my Dad asking me nicely, “are you sure you don’t want to come see Jack the Bear with me and your brother instead?  It’s PG-13, could be cool!”  Uh, no thanks Dad. Just give me money for a large butter tub with a little bit of popcorn and I’ll back-row fart my way through Aladdin again.  However, my Jurassic Park “burning-bush” moment would come to transcend me into a more grown-up appreciation of the movie world.  Prior to this I was Disney.  But thanks to Jurassic Park, I was now learning about Earth’s history and that books were worth reading!

I was ENTHRALLED with this movie, trying to soak up all of the information surrounding it, including reading about these Spielberg and Stan Winston fellas. I read the review in the Akron Beacon Journal written by Mr. Mark Dawidziak on Thursday, June 10th. 20 years later, I still remember that that jerk gave it a B- as opposed to an A+.

Pizza Hut Toys

Pizza Hut Toys

Stegosaurus led the pack as my absolute favorite. Probably because he was short, wide and had spikes to protect him from negativity (a deep metaphor of my childhood obesity, replacing spikes with fat-kid humor). It also helped that like most kids that didn’t have the internet growing up, I was already obsessed with dinosaurs (Land Before Time and Dinosaurs set the bar pretty high from the get-go).  Opening night came, so I cancelled my usual Friday night plans of bologna sandwiches and playing Uniracers, and had my Dad take me to this movie. Although he hated crowds, especially opening night movie crowds, he was over the moon that I wanted to see Jurassic Park and not a cartoon musical. So off we went, and my world-view on film was shattered. With the re-release of Jurassic Park in 3D and IMAX coming this weekend I have compiled just a few reasons why Jurassic Park is one of the best movies ever.

1. John William’s Score

Besides a mean desk drum, I am not that musically trained or talented.  Aside from “Mary Had A  Little Lamb”, I can play a grand (pun taking off…) 3 things on a piano (pun landed): “Heart & Soul (Big),” the Halloween Theme Music, AND the score to Jurassic Park.  Thanks to a piece of sheet music and a cheap electronic keyboard at my neighbor Brandon’s house growing-up, I learned a skill I still use today. When at house gatherings (translation: adult parties), my unwarranted renditions of JPs famous score has the ability to spark conversation like you wouldn’t believe. One, it’s relatively easy to play.  Two, it’s from Jurassic Park which everyone knows. Side-Bar: Jurassic Park should replace talking about the weather as the go-to when you’re in an elevator with someone. And three, people then tend to believe I am lot more talented than I really am.  Thank you to John Williams for striking many cords in my heart and creating this orchestrated masterpiece.

2. Ariana Richards & Joseph Mazzello

Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello

Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello

Thanks to the Disney Channel, child actors have evolved into human caricatures of actual children, emoting over-the-top feelings and extremely weird hair-cuts.   But Jurassic Park gave us two of the best.  Joseph Mazzello (playing Timmy) was no stranger to dark material after teaching us about childhood abuse AND alcoholism in 1992s Radio Flyer.

Radio Flyer

Radio Flyer

He would then go onto to graduate from dinosaurs to psychotic white water rafters and AIDS.  Either way, I can remember cracking up when he finally got to “3” post fence-electrocution and then being in awe of his WWE-level strength as he locked a Velociraptor in a freezer.  Only knock on Mazzello here is that…why didn’t he grab Dr. Sattler’s (Laura Dern) gun while Lex was hacking Newman’s virus?  Instead, he stood there like a normal 8 year-old freaking out.  Bonus here: he grew up to look kind of like my friend Bill McDonald (scroll to very end).

Ariana Richards is the lovely co-star of 3 of my favorite movies of all time: Jurassic Park, Tremors and Angus.  She turned a terrible hat bend into preteen hotness with her computer geek character, Lex.  She then proceeded to give all future scream queens a quick clinic on how to shriek and genuinely be scared of things that, you know, would actually scare people in real life…like dinosaurs chasing you.

3. The Special Effects

Chasing the original hipster.

Chasing the original hipster.

Jurassic Park was made 20 years ago yet still holds up against the test of time.  While movies today film most of everything with CGI, turning action movies into a Pixar-style video game features (see Wrath of the Titans for further explanation), JP decided to make its monsters look, sound and feel real (thanks to Stan Winston).  With a real foot hitting the mud and making an indent, to an actual eye looking in the soon-to-be busted Jeep, the audience gets to not only see and hear the realistic creatures, but feel them as well (I know that sounds artsy, but its true). When was the last time you experienced an action sequence as slowly paced as the “T-Rex getting out of it’s fence for the first time” scene, that was able to keep your knuckles white and your butt on the edge of your seat that much?  That action all unfolds in Kiefer’s 24-style real-time and is backed by no soundtrack, just screams and rain; also unique.

The reason Speed is still fun to watch is because we are watching an actual bus drive around.  Regardless of how great CGI gets and regardless of how many people are now deciding to wear glasses (we can thank Jeff Goldblum for introducing my generation to what it means to be a hipster), us humans can still tell the difference.

Some Honorable Mention Talking Points

Steve Irwin's inspiration

Steve Irwin’s inspiration

  • Steve Irwin got inspiration for his future iconic wardrobe.
  • “Sam Jackson,” not Samuel L. Jackson, was still a person and not a Kangol infused brand.
  • Richard Attenborough’s famous line gave me a joke I have been using for 20 years now:

Me: Hey ladies, what movie is this from?

Ladies: Okay, go ahead.

Me: Welcome to Jurassic Park.

Ladies: Jurassic Park (laughs). Let’s go make out now. We’ll pay you money.

Me: (blush)

Jurassic Park re-opens nationwide in 3D & IMAX this Friday, April 5th.  Go see it…..and then watch Angus so we have something else to talk about.

Later ya’ll,

Anthony Fanelli