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Baldwin: ‘Bad News Bears’ slides into the Kentucky theater

Greetings, my fellow film loving bat boys and bat girls of Winchester.

Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd … nope. Social distancing.

Slumps are a rut a baseball player find themselves in when they struggle to maintain their performance. All players find themselves in a slump now and again throughout their career. Failure to get a hit, a win and striking out consistently are the most common slumps players fall into.

Just look at this year’s bizarre season of play in the MLB. The season is short, the fans are nonexistent at the parks and a majority of the players are going through a collective slump due to the wacky curve balls COVID-19 has thrown at us.

The Kentucky Theater steps up to the mound this week and shows us the reality that slumps can happen on and off the field with their screening of the classic sports comedy “The Bad News Bears” (1976).

“The Bad News Bears” is the sports flick about hard drinking former minor leaguer Buttermaker, played masterfully by Walter “Grumpy Old Men” Matthau, and his reluctant assignment of coaching a little league team after receiving a payoff from a jilted city councilman whose son has been excluded from the league due to his lack of basic skills.

The lazy and cantankerous pool cleaning Buttermaker, never wanting to do more than he has to, finally agrees as he needs the greenbacks to fuel his car and taste for alcohol. Buttermaker then recruits, loses and rebuilds his misfit team of foul mouthed, uncoordinated, rough tweens when he enlists the aid of strong-minded female star pitcher Amanda, portrayed by Tatum (Paper Moon) O’ Neal, and the natural talents of dirt bike riding, cigarette smoking bad boy Kelly, played by Jackie (Watchmen) Earle Haley.

“The Bad News Bears” was directed by Michael (Fletch) Ritchie with a screenplay by Bill (The Thing) Lancaster. “Bears” was a hit upon its release among viewers and critics alike due to its rude, cynical, but honest look at youth competition, adult failure, and the lessons to be learned when being part of an underdog team.

There are a lot of deep rooted serious moments under its crude barrage of banter by the bratty kids but it reveals how they are a product of their environment and that if the parents took more interest in their kids rather than viewing them as a nuisance, they may have turned out better. I would not fear from sharing “Bad News” with your children if they are 10 and up due to its off-color humor and remarks because your little angels already know these words and have been exposed to much worse online. The damage has already been done.

The real take away from “The Bad News Bears” is that no matter what your lot is in life, the past, current and future failings as an individual or as a team, must be embraced to gain wisdom in moving around the bases.

Every sunrise and situation present an opportunity, so don’t stay in your slump and complain that it isn’t fair. You can’t win if you don’t play the game. Be the Babe Ruth of your own fate by stepping up to the plate, point your bat and swing for the fences every time.

I’d rather go down swinging than to just stand there timid and take a strikeout without trying to swing away in this game of life. For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ball game.

Have a film-tastic day! 

Rick Baldwin is a writer, filmmaker and film/music historian. He is president of the Winchester-Clark County Film Society. Find more from Rick on Facebook. He is on Twitter @rickbaldwin79  and can be reached by email at rickbaldwiniii@hotmail.com.