Watching the MLB Home Run Derby the other night reminded me of one of my favourite baseball movies – Major League. Even if you’re no fan of baseball movies, you’ll undoubtedly find something to enjoy about this film. It’s a great comedy full of wacky and hilarious characters and it turns the familiar story of a group of incompetent misfits who can’t do anything right, but who eventually thrive to beat the odds and win it all into one of the best movies about baseball ever made. Watching the growing pains of the last place Cleveland Indians and how they overcome blatant sabotage by the team’s owner who wants to move them out of the city never gets old for me. There is a certain charm about Major League that gives it that rare re-watchability factor.
What makes the film so good are the players that make up the Indians’ roster. There’s a prima donna, a delinquent rookie, a veteran, a hot-shot young player and an unusual guy with some odd superstitions. The unusual, superstitious guy is my favourite. Before Dennis Haysbert played President Palmer on the best seasons of 24, he played Pedro Cerrano, a practicing voodooist with a religious shrine inside his locker. The shrine includes a cigar-smoking voodoo doll named Jo-Bu and a sacrificial shot of rum. Every day Cerrano pays respect to Jo-Bu by lighting his cigar and a series of ritual candles around the doll to help cure his ailing bat. Although he’s a power hitter, Cerrano cannot hit a curveball and believes that his bat “likes fast balls very much, but hates curveballs.”
In the last game of the season which will decide whether the Indians will make it to the playoffs, the opposing New York Yankees are up two-nothing in the seventh inning with Cerrano at the plate. He’s having a helluva time and swings badly through two curveballs, facing an 0-2 pitch count. Frustrated, he stalks around home plate mumbling angrily to Jo-Bu. Through all of his adoration, respect and loyalty, he feels Jo-Bu has failed him at the crucial moment when his ability to hit a curveball is needed most. In what is arguably one of the best lines in the film, Cerrano defiantly proclaims before stepping in and winding up at the plate: “If you not help me now, I say Fuck you, Jo-Bu, I do it myself," then clobbers the next pitch by hitting a big two-run home run off of a curveball to tie the game.