Surprisingly good…especially when you consider that it was made for Netflix.
This film is a very compelling documentary about the little guy figuratively tweaking the nose of professional American baseball and getting away with it…kind of. However, what makes it particularly interesting is that it was made specifically for Netflix—the American movie service that ships DVDs to folks’ homes or streams films and television shows directly to your home or device. You would not expect this service to be able to create or fund projects the quality of The Battered Bastards of Baseball! But, it IS an excellent little film—one that might just surprise you.
The story is about Bing Russell (father of Kurt Russell) and his ownership of the minor league ball club, the Portland Mavericks. He was a very unusual team owner, as he made his fortune appearing on TV—in shows like Bonanza and he was a minor celebrity. Also, unlike most other teams, his club was not affiliated with a major league franchise but was an independent that scraped together players often rejected by other teams. What shocked the league was that the team was SUPER-successful and ended up setting attendance records…and they also somehow won a lot of games. But, this rag-tag group of castoffs also irritated the powers that be because they had attitude and didn’t play the game exactly like the rest. Because of that, major league baseball appeared to be willing to destroy the team, if necessary, to prevent an outsider who played the game differently from being successful. How would they do this? And, how would Russell get the last laugh? See the film and find out for yourself.
Aside from some music that was too repetitive, the film was amazingly well made and will be of interest to everyone–even those who couldn’t care less about sports. It’s filled with nice old film clips, recent interviews and a lot of fun. I cannot say this for sure, but I really think a lot of non-baseball fans would still enjoy it. Well done and I look forward to seeing more of this stuff from Netflix.
By the way, I have no idea if this will be released outside of Netflix where it’s just been released, so stay tuned you folks who do not have access to this service.
by Martin Hafer