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Lou Brown: She put this team together because she thought we'd be bad enough to finish dead last, knocking attendance down to the point she could move the team to Miami and get rid of all of us for better personnel.[...] After this season, you'll be sent back to the minors or given your outright release.
Jake Taylor: Well, I guess there's only one thing left to do.
Roger Dorn: What's that?
Jake Taylor: Win the whole. Fucking. Thing.

A 1989 sports comedy film, written and directed by David S. Ward, about a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits.

In this case, the misfits in question are the Cleveland Indians,note  a Major League Baseball team that hasn't made a postseason appearance in over three decades and is indisputably the most moribund franchise in the sport (which, at the time, was Truth in Television). After the team's elderly owner suddenly expires, ownership passes to his much younger, ex-showgirl Trophy Wife Rachel Phelps (Margaret Whitton), who's a Rich Bitch and Corrupt Corporate Executive. Despising both the dreary city of Cleveland and the terrible reputation of the team, Phelps dreams of moving the Indians to a sunnier, more glamorous location – and it turns out that she can make this dream come true, as a clause in team's contract with the city states that if attendance falls low enough she will have the right to unilaterally relocate the team.

To accomplish this goal, she assembles the sorriest bunch of ballplayers she can find. This includes aging, past their best veterans like catcher Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger) whose knees and career are hanging by a thread, former star Roger Dorn (Corbin Bernsen), who now pays much more attention to managing his investments than to baseball, and Eddie Harris (Chelcie Ross), a pitcher who doesn't have much life left in his arm but makes up for it with a combination of cunning and various thoroughly illegal tricks and substances which he uses to give a little extra juice to his pitches. The veterans are joined by off-the-street rookies with no experience or reputation, like hot-headed, ex-con pitcher Rick Vaughn (Charlie Sheen), who's got serious control issues with both his pitches and his personal life, and the voodoo-practicing slugger Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert), who can't hit a curveball to save his life. Lastly there's the brash and fast Willie Mays Hayes (Wesley Snipes), who just sort of shows up at the team's training camp despite not being invited and wows the staff enough to earn a spot. All of the above players wind up under the gruff but caring guidance of new manager Lou Brown (James Gammon), who's spent his entire career with the minor league Toledo Mud Hens note  and has never managed a game at the big-league level.

With the local fans in Cleveland disgusted by the inept team who they don't know and have no connection to, Phelps seems to be well on her way to succeeding her plan. However, as the team spends the season navigating personal issues, in-house rivalries, and the glaring holes in their game, they begin to slowly come together and start outperforming expectations. And when the team finds out about Rachel Phelps's scheme, they can think of no better way to spite their boss than to do the unthinkable and win the pennant no matter how many obstacles she throws in their way.

The film was a critical and commercial success, with many of its memorable quotes worming its way into the baseball lexicon ("Juuuust a bit outside!"). Longtime baseball man Bob Uecker, an announcer for the Milwaukee Brewers who was also a comedic actor and played the Indians' snarky play-by-play man Harry Doyle, became a truly iconic, humorous figure within the sport thanks in large part to this movie. The Indians' fanbase (along with the rest of Major League Baseball) embraced the film as the best thing to happen to the franchise in decades, and it served as an unintentional precursor to the team's real-life winning ways in the 1990s, even popularizing Rick Vaughn's climactic stride out of the bullpen into a now-common practice in MLB.

The success spawned a Lighter and Softer sequel in 1994, Major League II, which brought back most of the cast in one capacity or another, sans now-a-superstar Snipes, with Omar Epps replacing him in the role. Several new characters – naive farmboy Rube Baker, Japanese import Isuro "Taka" Tanaka, and arrogant superstar Jack Parkman (who is briefly a teammate but swiftly gets traded and becomes a bitter rival to the Indians) – entered the fold, while the plot deals with the team letting the success of the previous year go to their heads and having to find their way back to their winning ways once more and take care of unfinished business.

Major League II faltered with critics and at the box office, but another sequel, Major League: Back to the Minors, was released in 1998. Minors switches the franchise from the Indians to the Minnesota Twins and follows their (fictional) AAA team, the South Carolina Buzz. The main character of the film is player-turned-manager Gus Cantrell (Scott Bakula), who tries to fix the various issues within his team while settling an old score with the manager of the Twins, Leonard Huff (Ted McGinley, thereby signifying that the series was Jumping the Shark). Some old faces also returned in Cerrano, Baker, Taka, Dorn (now the Twins' owner), and Harry Doyle, but the movie was a massive Box Office Bomb, setting a then-record for the worst opening weekend ever for a film opening in over 2,000 screens. A fourth film has languished in Development Hell ever since, but the original movie is still regarded as a sports-comedy classic in most circles.

Now has a Character Sheet.

Tropes found in the first film:

  • The Alleged Car: Jake's 1972 Chevrolet Impala sedan; its body has seen better days and the engine sounds pretty worn down as well.
  • Artistic License – Sports:
    • Even if they are nobodies, they're playing in the big leagues, and in real life the players' union would never tolerate the indignities the Indians are subjected to (bus travel, no training equipment, etc.)
    • While it's Truth in Television that most catchers will develop knee problems due to the stress the position puts on them, Jake's knees seem too far gone for him to believably be the starting catcher for a Major League Baseball team and to be able to last through an entire season. This is especially true on a team that is being shorted on therapeutic equipment/supplies and medical attention, as is depicted in the movie. Anyone with knee problems can tell you that Jake would be lucky to still be standing after a game, let alone after 162 of them. Realistically, the team would have at least one backup catcher.
    • Only eight spots in the batting order, not nine, elapse between Taylor's groundout in the 7th inning and his bunt single in the 9th. The earliest batter that would've been up with 2 out in the bottom of the 9th should've been Jack Taylor. See the IMDb Goofs page. Vlogger "Baseball's Not Dead" laid it out visually in 2023.
    • Correctly averted with Cerrano's game-tying home run in the playoff game. A player is not automatically out for carrying his bat around the bases; only if he uses the bat to hinder the fielders or gain an advantage is he out. Since a home run is a dead ball, Cerrano is not declared out.
    • On the managerial side of things, the film presents things as though the team is built from scratch with next to none of the players from the previous year being retained. (Dorn at least is established as a returner, as well as probably Harris.) There is a long list of reasons why this would be unlikely at the very best, unless Phelps pulled some sort of trick such as buying out the contract of every player from the previous team. Even so, one would think these odd/unprecedented moves would have drawn much more attention from the press and fans, exposing the Springtime for Hitler plan.
    • Dorn is apparently still a very good hitter, but his defense is absolutely terrible (though partially due to apathy; he's being cautious of injury after a close call). Given such a situation, it's very unlikely that a player like Dorn would be placed at such a key defensive position like Third Base, rather than moved to a position like First Base, Right Field, or Designated Hitter.
  • Badass Boast: Hayes tells Haywood that he bought 100 pairs of batting gloves for the season, "one for every base I'm gonna steal." He promptly gets picked off, but during the Indians' late-season Miracle Rally, he's seen nailing more and more pairs of battling gloves to his wall.
    Hayes: Excuse me while I take my first steps towards the Hall of Fame!
    Haywood: My ass.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Dorn in the American Express commercial. He reads his lines with weird emphasis, then snaps his fingers a second too late.
  • Bald Head of Toughness: Cerrano, who is the biggest, strongest, and most intimidating member of the team, shaves his head regularly. We even see him shaving for the coolness... using a big-ass knife. As for how tough he is, while Cerrano is a fairly laid-back and jovial guy, nobody dares to challenge him to his face about anything (except for Harris, who as a hardcore Christian occasionally gets upset by Cerrano's use of voodoo), and when a pitcher from another team nearly hits a teammate with a pitch Cerrano tells the other pitcher to try doing that with him and see what happens.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Rachel Phelps and the New York Yankees.
  • Big Game: An Enforced Trope in all three films.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor:
    • True to some extent in the first film, as its US distributor, Paramount, was owned by Gulf and Western at the time of the film's release, and Gulf and Western also owned the regional sports network that began televising Yankees games in 1989, MSG Network.
    • The making of features are full of this, as things like electronic signs in the background mock the actors who're being interviewed or call out story cliches.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Not truly blind, but Lou eventually realizes the problem with Rick's control: he needs glasses.
  • Blowing a Raspberry: Phelps gets a huge one from GM Charlie Donovan when she tells him to sit down instead of cheering when Cerrano hits the tying home run in the final game.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Taylor's ex explaining why she prefers her new boyfriend:
    Lynn: Well, he's stable, he's intelligent, and I never found him in bed with a stewardess!
  • Brick Joke:
    • Pedro's "hats for bats" are being used by him in the on-deck circle in the last game.
    • For about the first half of the movie, Harris doesn't take Jobu seriously. In the buildup for the last game, we see him warming up with a little Jobu icon on the mound with him.
  • Buffy Speak: During his spot in the American Express ad, Rick Vaughn says the card helps them get into "hotels and restaurant-type places."
  • Calling Your Shots: Invoked, lampshaded and then subverted. Early in the first film when Taylor first gets to the Indians' stadium, he steps up to the plate and imagines successfully calling a home run. Near the end of the movie he pulls out this Chekhov's Gun during the Big Game, apparently emulating the famous occasion where Babe Ruth did this. Then he bunts, and the Yankees are completely unprepared for it.
    Harry Doyle: What's this? Taylor is pointing to the bleachers! He's calling his shot! Nobody's done this since Babe Ruth in the '32 World Series!
  • Captain Ersatz: Averted quite refreshingly, thanks to MLB's relaxed practices of letting films use its images and logos, even for R-rated films such as this and The Fan.
  • Catchphrase: "Juuuuuuust a bit outside." Though it was only said once, it's now all Bob Uecker's.
    • Willie Mays Hayes attempts to create one introducing himself as "I play like (baseball immortal Willie) Mays and I run like (Olympic medal sprinter and football star) Robert Lee Hayes." After a few at bats, Lou replies that he runs like Hayes, but hits like shit. (Or, in the censored version, "like my sister.")
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The climactic game is played as straight as can be with minimal attempts at humor.
  • Character’s Most Hated Song: Rachel Phelps, the corrupt owner of the Cleveland Indians, cannot stand "Wild Thing", Rick Vaughn's entrance theme.
  • Check, Please!: Vaughn uses it when Dorn's wife seduces him.
  • Chew-Out Fake-Out: Dorn storms up to Vaughn on the mound before the latter is set to face Haywood in a big spot in the 9th, after Vaughn unwittingly slept with Dorn's wife earlier. Everyone on the team braces for a confrontation or a fight, but instead we get the following:
    Dorn: Let's cut through the crap, Vaughn, I only got one thing to say to you...strike this motherfucker out.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In the opening scene Phelps hands out the list of spring training invitees. One of the board members points out that one of them is dead. Phelps sarcastically tells him to "Cross him off, then."
  • Crazy Enough to Work:
    • Taylor signaling to Brown for what amounts to a squeeze play with Hayes on second. Brown notes that it's "a hell of an idea" and relays it to Coach Temple and Hayes. Truth in Television, it's been pulled off before, as seen here. Taylor's is more impressive, as it's with two outs in the inning, so he has to beat out the throw for Hayes to have a chance to score, and he is an old catcher with two bad knees.
    • Speaking of Hayes, his way of making the team in the first place is all this. He simply reports to the Indian's training camp uninvited and manages to impress Brown enough to get a roster shot, even though security had just tossed him off the property.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: After Dorn refuses to dive for a ground ball that nearly costs them a win, Taylor tells him that if he ever lollygags in the field again: "I'm gonna cut your nuts off and stuff them down your fucking throat!"
  • Dare to Be Badass: Taylor, to Vaughn, when he’s called to pitch to Haywood: “This guy’s the out you’ve been waiting your whole life for.”
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pretty much every line of Harry Doyle's broadcasts.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: A quiet argument between Jake and Lynn in the library about an affair he had while they were dating escalates to where she screams, "WHAT A BUNCH OF BULLSHIT, I HAVE A MUCH BETTER BODY THAN SHE DOES!", causing the library patrons to take notice at the pair. Both are pretty sheepish about it, with Jake shrugging, "She's right."
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Taylor threatens to literally neuter Dorn if he keeps up his lackadaisical play.
    • When Jake, Willie, and Rick see Lynn on a date, Rick offers to "drag him out of here, kick the shit out of him".
  • Down to the Last Play: The first movie has an inventive twist, but the other two play it pretty much dead straight.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Rick after learning Lou is selecting Harris to start the do-or-die game with the Yankees. Then a hot blonde walks up and hits on him, leading to a different kind of distraction altogether...
  • Father to His Men: Lou proves to be a solid coach - demanding when needed, but willing to defend his players when it becomes known the bitch owner is screwing the team.note 
  • Fire-Forged Friends: After butting heads over religious differences Harris and Cerrano celebrate together at the end of the first, as do Dorn and Vaughn; Dorn slugs him for sleeping with his wife (which even Vaughn knows he had coming to him), but picks him up and hugs him again.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: When Cerrano puts on a light show during his first batting practice, Lou is flummoxed how he fell into their laps.
    Lou: Jesus, this guy hits a ton, how come nobody else picked up on him?
    Temple: Ok, Eddie, that's enough fastballs, throw him some breaking balls.
    (Harris throws him a curveball that Cerrano whiffs by a good foot and a half)
    Lou: Oh...
  • Flipping the Bird:
    • While Rachel isn't looking at them, the entire team gives her a simultaneous bras d'honneur, then simultaneously drop their arms when she turns around.
    • Also Hayes, after he's trying to slide into second, but skids up short. The opposing player mockingly motions him to come closer so he can be properly tagged out, and Hayes flips him off.
  • Foreign Cussword: The Asian groundskeepers in the first movie. "They're shitty" indeed.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Inside the empty stadium, Taylor imagines himself calling his shot a la Babe Ruth and hitting a home run. He tries this ploy in the climactic game, although he subverts it by making the shot call a fakeout - he's tricking the fielders into backing up slightly in preparation for a big hit, and are unprepared when he bunts.
    • Cerrano sternly warns Harris that taking Jobu's rum will have consequences. Not only does this foreshadow Harris tempting fate, but after Harris swipes the rum and mocks Cerrano, Jobu's theme begins playing.
  • Glory Days: Jake Taylor is a former All-Star whose skills have deteriorated thanks to age and chronic knee injuries. He has some trouble letting go of his past glories, and is painfully aware that the opportunity to play in the majors again in the first film is almost certainly his last chance to do so.
    Jake: (at dinner with Hayes and Vaughn, before the season starts) Here's to baseball. And the start of two new great careers. And for me (beat) just one more good year in the sun.
  • Greek Chorus: Harry Doyle and various fans.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Where Vaughn hits a cardboard pitching dummy during spring training. The dummy tips over in pain.
    • Later on, he takes the much-battered dummy's head off.
    • Taylor threatens to castrate Dorn if Dorn ever intentionally blows a play again.
  • Gut Feeling: Lou summons Vaughn to face Haywood in the ninth inning, in a tie game with runners on. Taylor questions it (Haywood had "homered the only two times he's faced Vaughn"), but Lou coolly says, "I got a hunch he's due." Ricky proves him right.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When Cerrano interrupts Harris' locker room prayer, Harris yells out in frustration, "Jesus Christ, Cerrano!" Harris is also reading a Hustler magazine on the airplane while mocking Cerrano's self-crossing during the turbulent flight.
    Harris: Sure, now you come around! He's not fooled! *goes back to Hustler*
  • I Have Just One Thing to Say: "Strike this motherfucker out!"
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: After Vaughn strikes out Haywood to escape a bases-loaded jam in the ninth, Doyle asks, "Can you believe this, Monty?!", to which Monty simply reaches for Doyle's alcohol.
  • Large-Ham Announcer: Harry Doyle combines elements of both this and Cuckoolander Commentator.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After Harris finds himself alone in the the locker room, he notices the rum that Cerrano has poured out for Jobu and, despite an earlier warning that it is very bad to steal Jobu's rum, takes it, toasts Jobu with an insult and then downs it. Upon walking onto the field and mockingly telling Cerrano that Jobu needs a refill, Harris is hit in the back of the head by an accidentally-thrown bat and goes down on impact.
  • Lazy Bum: Dorn is apparently still a pretty good hitter (we don't really see that, but the coaches explicitly say as much). But he's terrible defensively because he's long past caring. He does have an reason (he took a ground ball in the eye the year before, and he's not willing to lose his sight playing for a terrible team), but neither Lou nor Jake are very sympathetic.
  • Leitmotif: Several characters in each movie have their own.
  • Look Behind You: Haywood gets Hayes picked off of first by telling him his shoe's untied.
  • Miracle Rally: The team goes straight from Worst to First in all three movies.
  • Modesty Towel: Averted with an angry Lou (during the Speak of the Devil scene below); she sees him full frontal (thankfully, we don't):
    Phelps: Don't you think you oughta cover yourself with a towel first, Mr. Brown?
    Lou (arms crossed): We're out of towels, and I'm too old to be divin' into lockers.
    Phelps: I can take it if you can.
  • Motor Mouth: Jake is this behind the plate to get in the heads of the hitters. Truth in Television as baseball's slow pace allows for a lot of chatter amongst players.
  • My Fist Forgives You: Dorn to Vaughn during the celebration at the end of the first movie.
  • Mysterious Past: It's never stated where Hayes came from or how he showed up to the Indians' spring training. Touched on by Doyle, who remarks that "we don't know where Hayes played last year."
  • Nerd Glasses: Rick Vaughn was fitted with them in the first movie; Lynn also has a similar pair of giant horn-rimmed glasses when she works at the library.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Harris, the old pitcher who uses an assortment of hidden greases and gels (and occasionally his own snot) to load the ball, is clearly based on famed spitballer Gaylord Perry.
  • Not This One, That One: Played straight, when the team is about to board their plane after the Cleveland Indians' Rich Bitch owner seeks to make them finish dead last.
  • Off with His Head!: That plywood cutout of a batter vs. Vaughn's wild fastball. Vaughn's fastball won.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Rick's reaction to finding out his latest lay is Dorn's wife.
    • At the climax, the Yankees third baseman when he realizes that Taylor had bunted. He shouts "Shit!" before making a charge at the grounder.
  • One-Liner, Name... One-Liner: After manager Lou Brown sees his Ragtag Bunch of Misfits arrive at spring training and is amused:
    Lou Brown: "My kind of team, Charlie, my kind of team."
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Level-headed team leader Taylor threatening to castrate Dorn if he ever lacks for hustle again. Dorn's prima-donna antics pretty much stop after that.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Dorn is caught in the background of a news broadcast taking a girl up to his hotel room. His wife is watching the news at the time and retaliates by sleeping with Vaughn (who has no idea who she is).
  • Opposing Sports Team: The New York Yankees in the first movie, the Chicago White Sox in the second, and the Minnesota Twins in the third.
  • Parody Commercial: American Express in the first movie ("Don't steal home without it!")
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Jake and Lynn's fiancee Tom engage in a mutual round of this in front of her and a guest party, much to her embarrassment. Finally, when they're out of earshot from everyone, the passivity stops:
    Tom: Stay away from her.
    Jake: Suck my dick.
  • Post-Victory Collapse: Played with. Taylor, who has bad knees that could potentially end his athletic career at any moment if he injures them again, has to run fast enough to beat out a ground ball in the film's final play. Taylor pushes his aging body and aching knees as hard as he can running to first base and immediately collapses face first after reaching it, raising a fear with viewers that Taylor may have in fact injured himself. Taylor is up again pretty quickly though and apparently fine as Hayes scores the winning run.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Dorn approaches Vaughn on the mound when he comes in to pitch to Haywood in the final game, and Vaughn is expecting to get his ass kicked for sleeping with Dorn’s wife. Instead, we get this gem:
      Dorn: Let’s cut through the crap, Vaughn. I’ve only got one thing to say to you...STRIKE THIS MOTHERFUCKER OUT!!!
    • As well as Phelps' reaction to the playing of "Wild Thing" as Vaughn comes in to face Haywood:
      "I hate this fucking song..."
    • Cerrano gets fed up with Jobu:
      Look, I good to you, I stick up for you, and you no help me now... I say fuck you, Jobu. I do it myself.
  • The Prima Donna: Dorn is one, spending most of the film as an arrogant jerkass who thinks he's entitled to special treatment and refuses to do anything that might potentially cause him to suffer an injury. This lasts until Dorn blows off a play that should have been routine and Taylor gives him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to snap him out of it.
  • Product Placement: Averted in some places (see below), but also enforced elsewhere, like the team filming the commercial for American Express.
    Hayes: The American Express card. Don't steal home without it.
  • Promotional Consideration: Parodied when Doyle can't find who the sponsors are for the post-game show. "Christ, I can't find it. To hell with it!"
  • The Quiet One: Harry Doyle's commentating partner, Monty, who rarely speaks, even on-air.
    Harry: Monty, anything to add?
    Monty: Umm... no.
    Harry: He's not the best color man in the league for nothing, folks!
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The team was literally built to lose. Dang, huh?
  • Rated M for Manly: It's baseball in The '80s, after all.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Jake Taylor gives one to Roger Dorn when the latter fails to put any effort in the game.
    Jake: You know Dorn, I liked you so much better when you were just a ballplayer. If you wanna be an interior decorator now that's none of my business. But some of us still need this team. (Dorn rolls his eyes) Now you listen to me! This is my last shot at a winner, and for some of the younger guys, it could be their only shot! I don't know what happened to you. But if you ever, ever tank another play like you did today, I'm gonna cut your nuts off and stuff 'em down your fuckin' throat!
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Indians GM, Charlie, who is aghast at Phelps' plan and lets Lou in on the plot.
  • Religious Russian Roulette: Pedro Cerrano in his last at-bat:
    "I pissed off now, Jobu. Look, I good to you. I stick up for you. You no help me now...(beat)...I say fuck you, Jobu. I do it myself". (And he does, knocking a curve out of the stadium to tie the game.)
  • Rich Bitch: Rachel Phelps
  • Rousing Speech: The one Lou gives when he finds out about the Springtime for Hitler plot (complete with showgirl cutout visual aid).
  • Rule of Three: It takes Vaughn a third attempt at Clu Haywood to get the better of him, and Cerrano's third at-bat in the climactic game to finally hit a curveball, hitting the game-tying homer.
  • Skeleton Motif: Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn has a skull and crossbones on the nosepiece of the Nerd Glasses that he wears while pitching.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps:
    • Vaughn has to be reminded by Brown that "we wear caps and sleeves at this level, son". During the American Express ad in the film, he's wearing a Tux with the sleeves torn off.
    • When Taylor takes him out to dinner, he chooses a place that requires ties. So he wears a tie... over his usual outfit. Vaughn's first line in the restaurant? "I look like a banker in this."
  • Speak of the Devil: When Lou is fed up with the "nickel-and-dime" equipment and resources in the clubhouse, he says aloud that he's "gonna get that bitch on the phone"; the camera pan reveals Rachel Phelps already there, firing back, "You wanted to talk to the bitch?"
  • Spinning Paper: Well, not spinning, but the worst-to-first montages captured shots from the wins in paper form; also used to give a quick backstory on the torturous Cleveland Indians history at the start of the movie.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Rachel's scheme to move the Indians to Miami in the first movie involves putting together a team so bad it drives away fans and causes attendance at the stadium to plummet so much she'll get the team out of it's contract with the city of Cleveland. Of course, the team she creates ends up becoming so popular that it drives attendance through the roof.
  • Strictly Formula: The movie could not be more clichéd (misfit team pulls together to win, with players like the catcher with bad knees, the slugger who can't connect, a runner who can't get on base, a pitcher with no control, etc.). It gets away with this by doing the old (ancient!) formula really well, which sometimes counts for more than being original, as well as putting a twist on Down to the Last Play. Tropes Are Not Bad indeed.
  • Take a Third Option: When Lou reveals the Springtime for Hitler scheme to the team, he lets them know that if they didn't finish last to the point where Phelps could move them, she would dump the whole team and try it again. Jake prefers a third option since they'll be out of jobs soon: "Win the whole fucking thing." The team agrees.
  • Talent Double: Mostly averted. Virtually all the baseball scenes were done by the cast themselves; for instance, that really is Snipes making the sensational home-run-robbing catch during the finale. Anything they couldn't do well, the crew just filmed around it (with Snipes, he couldn't throw well nor run fast, so Hayes isn't seen throwing a ball and is why his running is usually in slow motion). The baseball sequences were actually shot with the actors playing ball trying to match the outcome needed to depict on film. The actors were enthusiastic about doing it, since they had to train and practice like real players, as well as living out playing major league ball in front of 25,000 people. The notable exception is Tom Berenger; former Dodger Steve Yeager (who also plays the Indians third-base coach Temple) does most of Jake Taylor's catching action. Charlie Sheen was a pitcher in high school, so he already had excellent pitching form, though speedwise he was of course nowhere close to Vaughn's high 90's. Although not for lack of taking steroids to help.
    • During a montage of taking ground balls off his body, Corbin Bernsen was being hit with rubberized baseballs; however, those painful bruises he sees later are in fact real bruises he suffered.
  • Tempting Fate: Harris steals "Jobu's" rum and snarls a curse at him. He is promptly hit on the head by a flying bat.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: After relying on his god all his life to bring him luck, Pedro finally decides, at his last at bat, he has to do it on his own. And he does.
  • Trash Talk: As perhaps should be expected for a bunch of macho jocks, the first film is overflowing with it. Everything from snarky comments to what are essentially challenges to fist fights flow back and forth between the various players. Perhaps the best case being a game where Jake Taylor gets into the head of the last batter by telling him how the guy will either be a hero or a choker based on what he does at that moment, then at the very last second distracts the guy by saying he saw the guy's wife dancing with another man and implying the two are having an affair. The batter (who hit a ball that Vaughn says "Still hasn't landed yet" during his prior at bat), hits a harmless pop fly and the Indians win the game.
    Taylor: Uh-oh! I don't think this one's got the distance!
  • Tribal Face Paint:
    • When the Indians are close to winning the division we see a sportscaster dressed in full (stereotypical) Indian gear including a Chief-sized feather headdress and warpaint.
    • Also seen on the drummers in the bleachers, as well fans entering the stadium before the final game.
    • This is, of course, was Truth in Television at the time for die-hard Cleveland Indians fans (as well as Atlanta Braves fans, Washington Redskins fans, and Florida State Seminoles fans.) It is slowly becoming less so as teams like Washington and Cleveland abandon Native American mascotsnote .
    • Before the final game, Harry Doyle puts out a bunch of verbal Tribal Face Paint:
    Doyle: "a big Wahoo! welcome... where tonight before a capacity crowd of 75,000 screaming featherheads, the Fighting Braves of the Cuyahoga will leave their teepees..."
  • Trophy Room: Hayes nails a pair of batting gloves on his wall for every base he steals. It fills up quite a bit during the Miracle Rally up the standings.
  • Understatement: The aforementioned "Juuuuuuuuuuust a bit outside..."
  • Unreliable Narrator: To punch up the radio calls for the tepid Indians games, Doyle tends to comedically embellish the action, such as reporting Hayes's check-swing dribbler as a scorching grounder that the second baseman had to knock down.
    • During Vaughn's streak of 12 consecutive balls: "How can these guys lay off pitches that close?"
    • His description of opposing players is equally as colorful. His description of the Yankee's closer:
    Doyle: The Duke leads the league in saves, strikeouts per inning, and hit batsmen. This guy threw at his own kid during a father-son game.
    • And of their power hitter:
    Doyle: Here comes Clu Haywood, who leads the league in most offensive categories, including nose hair. When this guy sneezes, he looks like a party favor.
  • Woman Scorned: Suzanne Dorn, wife of Roger. After catching her husband in the background heading upstairs with a random woman on a news report at a hotel loaded with Indians fans, she immediately shuts off the television and hits the town in a very skimpy red dress, zeroing in on the first Indians player she finds, who happens to be Rick Vaughn, and bedding him, not disclosing who she is until the morning after. Next time she sees her husband, she absolutely delights in the fact she has something to tell him.
  • Zeerust: An unexpected source at times. Vaughn's velocity is clocked at 96 at the start and Lou was impressed. Today, that's just expected for a late innings reliever or a #1 or 2 starter. (Although the 101 and 102 he clocks as the last pitch he throws of each movie are still truly impressive.)

Tropes found in the sequels:

  • Artistic License – Sports:
    • In Back to the Minors, the AAA Buzz play at a tiny field and barebones clubhouse akin to a low class-A team (indeed, the film was shot at Charleston's College Park, home of the then-class-A River Dogs). In real life, AAA stadiums and teams are often crown jewels for cities who in most cases do not have pro teams of their own, and sport fields and facilities not too far off in quality from their big-league counterpart (after all, organizations want their up-and-coming players to be in the best shape when called up). This is CHS Field, the home venue of the Minnesota Twins' AAA club, the (St. Paul Saints, compared to where the Buzz played. CHS Field's capacity of 7,210 is the smallest AAA ballpark in the minors (normally, Mi LB parks' capacity tends to be between 10,000 and 14,000, but its facilities, architecture and fan amenities are comparable to other AAA parks.
    • In the second movie, Cerrano kills a bird with a swing; he goes into the outfield to mourn the bird and has to be tagged out. In Major League Baseball rules, he's out once he abandons his effort to run to the next base.
  • Always Identical Twins: In Back to the Minors, the Buzz's second baseman and shortstop are (and played by) identical twins, whom Gus Cantrell labels "Juan One" and "Juan Two" to tell them apart.
    Gus: There seems to be a mistake on the lineup card, you have a Juan Lopez at second and a Juan Lopez at short.
    Doc Wingate: That's no mistake; Juan!
    Juan #1: Hello, Coach!
    [Juan #2 pops in frame behind Juan #1]
    Juan #2: Buenos dias!
  • Brutal Honesty: When Gus starts giving Pops a "best for the team" speech when moving him from the outfield to first base, Pops asks for brutal honesty.
    Gus: You're too old, you're too fat, you're too slow. Straight enough?
    Pops: [taken aback] Yeah, yeah, that'll do it.
  • Calling Your Shots: Subverted in the second movie. Willie Mays Hays, having shot a feature film with Jesse Ventura in the offseason, decides to call his shot in his very first at bat of the season...but only has warning track power. And then, just to hit home how inflated his ego was, he tries it again (and fails again) in his second at bat of the season.
    Harry Doyle: Of course he could be pointing at the left fielder.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Downtown Anderson in Back to the Minors is a gifted hitter, but is exclusively a dead-pull hitter — primarily hitting balls to the same side of the field that he bats from — which makes it extremely difficult to do any damage to balls thrown on the opposite side of the plate. When Gus warns Anderson he's not major-league ready because of this, Anderson scoffs at the notion, but is immediately overmatched by major league pitching exploiting this weakness. Once demoted back to the minors, a humbled Anderson tells Gus he's ready to be coached up and is soon hitting the ball to all fields with authority as a complete hitter.
  • Deadpan Snarker Gus Cantrell in the third film.
    • While watching his aging outfielder try to track down a fly ball.
      Bench coach: Got a late jump on it.
      Gus: Not only that, he ran too long in the same spot.
    • Then when he gives Pops a "gift" to signal a change in position.
      Pops: This is a first baseman's glove.
      Gus: Yeah, that's what the guy at the sporting goods place said.
    • Also, Haywood of the Yankees, who has some snarky exchanges with Hayes and Taylor.
  • Demoted to Extra: Lynn Wells, Jake Taylor's Love Interest in the first movie, gets one scene in the sequel and is never even mentioned again; Rene Russo reprised the role uncredited. The same can be said for Taylor himself, who is the main character of first movie, has a much smaller role in the second, and doesn't appear at all in the third.
  • Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: With Taka several times in the third movie. (It also translates Cantrell's English to Japanese.)
  • A Father to His Men: Gus Cantrell, though he can be harsh at times (and, in fact, for the first half of the movie, the hot hitting prospect hates how he's so hard on him), gets the best out of every one of his players.
  • Foreign Cussword: When Rachel Phelps buys back the team in the sequel and taunts her way through the locker, Tanaka is able to toss some vicious insults at Phelps in his native Japanese. Since he does it with a polite smile and bow, Phelps thinks he's complimenting her.
  • Fun with Subtitles: With Taka in the third movie.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    Reporter: Hey Rick! Is it true you're moving to the bullpen?
    Vaughn: Of course not! Where do you guys get this stuff?
    • Cut to Vaughn sitting in the bullpen.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Rube expresses his frustration with every minced oath in the book. You can tell he's getting serious when he starts using real cuss words.
  • He's Back!: Vaughn ditches the new haircut and personality at the end of the sequel. Someone in the booth even recognizes the change and plays "Wild Thing" for him.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Averted with Lou's. One, he doesn't actually die from it; two, no one actually knows he's having one because he's in the middle of chewing out his players at the time. He also doesn't do any of the "stereotypical" heart attack mannerisms, like clutching his chest.
    Lou: Taylor, it's not your job to make excuses. That's all you guys do good! It's either a leg thing, or a spiritual thing, or a psychological thing, or a heart attack!
    Jake: Who used heart attack?
    Lou: Me. (drops to his knees against a water cooler)
  • Honking Arriving Car: A variant in Major League II. A muted trumpet on the movie's musical score emulates the sound of a novelty car horn when Willie Mays Hayes reports to spring training in a six-wheeled limousine with an exceptionally large entourage.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Hayes.
    (to Jake concerning Vaughn) Money's gone to his head... Let's go take a ride in my limo.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Pops in the third movie is a career minor leaguer whose closest sniff of the bigs was a cancelled callup.
  • Important Haircut: In the second movie, Vaughn adopts a "corporate" image thanks to his new girlfriend and publicist, Rebecca Flannery. This includes him wearing suits and doing a commercial for Right Guard Sport Stick at a country club. He also gets rid of his trademark haircut from the first film. This new persona lasts until the final scene, where we see him now sporting his infamous hairdo once again, thereby shedding his "corporate" image and returning to his "Wild Thing" persona.
    • Everything Vaughn does in that scene shows that "Wild Thing" has returned. Just before he comes out, Vaughn, off screen, finally tells off the obnoxious Indians fan who had been pestering him and insulting him throughout the film. The fan sees that "Wild Thing" has returned before we do and immediately shuts his mouth. Afterwards, he comes out of the bullpen wearing his leather vest from the original. Once people notice that "Wild Thing" has returned, the song "Wild Thing" is played over the stadium's P.A. system as Vaughn walks to the mound, recreating a scene from the first film. Vaughn then pitches while wearing his skull and crossbones glasses that he hadn't worn in the second film up to that point. All of this leads to him showing that he's gotten his intensity back and now remembers how to throw a fastball after apparently having forgotten how to do so.
      • Then, after the Indians win the pennant, he dumps Rebecca after telling her that she's much too good for him and gets back together with his ex-girlfriend, Nikki, the woman who helped him bring back "Wild Thing".
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: In the second movie Bob Uecker (Harry Doyle) starts opening day drinking Avian water, but switches to beer when the Indians lose, piling up empty bottles and moving on to hard liquor as the season progresses and things get worse and worse. Eventually, he passes out wearing a wifebeater, leaving the announcing to his hapless partner Monty. Fortunately, he improves when the team does.
  • I Read It for the Articles: Rube actually does read Playboy for the articles... which Taylor uses to help him overcome his throwing problems. When those problems suddenly return at the end of the movie, Taylor gives him a Frederick's of Hollywood catalog.
  • Ironic Echo: In the first film, Vaughn's first major-league inning, he throws 12 straight balls. In the second film, his first inning Vaughn strikes out the side on nine straight strikes. Of course, things quickly go downhill from there.
    • Second movie, before Cerrano's last at-bat:
      Cerrano: Parkman, my good friend. How you doin'?
      Parkman: Look at the scoreboard, Buddha, I'm doin' fine.
      • After Cerrano hits a homer to give the Tribe the lead:
      Cerrano (each syllable Punctuated! For! Emphasis! with a stomp towards and on home plate): Look at the scoreboard now, grasshopper!
  • Kicked Upstairs: In the sequel, Jake gets cut after they bring in All-Star Jack Parkman and rookie Rube Baker. Lou softens it by hiring Jake to be one of his assistant coaches, telling him he's the smartest player he's ever managed and he'll make a great coach.
  • Language Barrier: Tanaka hits this a few times. Perfect example is his confrontation with Cerrano in the second film:
    Tanaka: You know... you have no... (pauses, grabs his translation dictionary, frantically looking through) you have no... (finds something, throws the book down) MARBLES!
    Cerrano: Marbles?
    Cerrano: Marbles? (Beat, then he realizes something, and his stupefied look changes to anger) Huevos?
  • Lighter and Softer: The PG-rated Major League 2 was this to the R-rated original, which featured much more adult content and was significantly darker in tone.
  • Look Behind You: Hayes himself does this in the second movie: after hitting a high pop fly, he runs the bases, gets behind the 2nd baseman, then yells "I GOT IT!", causing him to drop the ball. note 
  • Losing the Team Spirit: The second movie opens like this, with members of the team either getting a swelled head from their success (Hayes, Vaughn), losing their competitive fire (Cerrano), realizing their age is catching up with them (Taylor) or retiring (Dorn).
  • Malaproper: With Taka's first scene in Back to the Minors:
    Taka: Family bicker. Customers complain. Everyone blames Taka. Have no... peace of brain!
    Gus: 'Peace of mind'.
    Taka: Same thing. *in Japanese* Is a duck's ass water-tight?
    • In fact, in his challenge to Cerrano in the 2nd movie, he has to consult a Japanese-to-English dictionary in the midst of his rage to find the words, and the best he can come up with is "You have no marbles!"
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: In the intro to the second film, Vaughn is described as setting a record for strike-outs in one season by an ex-con.
  • Parody Commercial: Right Guard in the second movie ("Anything less would be uncivilized... upside down!")
  • Personal Arcade: In the second movie, one of Rick Vaughn's new possessions is a Judge Dredd pinball machine for his apartment.
  • Poor, Predictable Rock: Hog Ellis in the third movie is a pitcher who can throw a dizzying fastball and that's it. He learns a decent curveball in in the last third or so of the movie, but that's still a very limited repertoire for a star pitcher (which is, of course, why he's still in the minors in the first place.)
  • Rotating Protagonist: In the first movie, the closest thing the film got to a protagonist was Berenger's Jake Taylor. In the second movie, he's Kicked Upstairs to bench coach (and eventually interim manager), while the protagonist becomes Sheen's Rick Vaughn. The third movie, only tangentially related to the first two, focuses on Scott Bakula's manager character, Gus Cantrell.
  • Rousing Speech: Lampshaded in the second movie, when Brown (in the hospital pending heart surgery) tells Taylor (who will be managing the team in the decisive playoff game that night) not to do it; Taylor does it anyway, complete with a thick layer of Narm. Subverted in the third movie, when Cantrell says how he hates the Rousing Speech, but it's "in my contract"... then tells his team to "win this one... for me."
    • Inverted with Rachel Phelps in the 2nd movie: After they win the first three games of the series, she gives a Rousing Speech designed to make them choke... and they lose the next three games.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • Cerrano's last at bat in the 2nd movie. Parkman just called a fastball that Pedro missed by a mile. Cerrano, pretending to still be a blissed out hippie/Buddhist, comments that the pitch was beautiful. Parkman calls the same pitch... and Cerrano crushes it.
      Cerrano: YEAH! Not as beautiful as that, though!
    • Hayes also does this to Parkman. Right before drawing a walk, he tells him he'll be around to score, and that he's not going to slide. Parkman, a large catcher, is amused at the implication that the much smaller leadoff man is going to try to run over Parkman at home plate. Sure enough, when a hit brings Hayes around to home, Parkman crouches low and braces himself for a collision... only for Hayes to jump over and past Parkman to score.
  • Sequel Reset/Sequel Escalation: They celebrated like they'd won the World Series in the first movie, only to lose the ALCS after (though it's kind of justified, as the Indians hadn't gotten even that far in years).
  • Shout-Out: One of the sponsors Dorn gets for the Indians is "Emilio's Repo Service", a likely reference to Repo Man which Sheen's brother, Emilio Estevez, starred in.
  • Status Quo Is God: With regards to the players in the sequel. Any player who tries to add a new dynamic to his game or life is punished for it, and the message is that these guys need to play to their strengths and leave their other ambitions behind. Hayes needs to ditch the film career and the attempt to add power to his game, while Vaughn needs to ditch his off-speed stuff and stop trying to flee his Wild Thing persona.
  • Tempting Fate: In the third movie, when Gus Cantrell asks God for a good player or just strike him dead right there, he's knocked unconscious by a line drive. Of course, he wakes up to Cerrano's smiling face in the dugout.
  • You Are in Command Now: In the sequel, after Lou suffers a heart attack, Jake takes over as interim manager.

Alternative Title(s): Major League II, Major League Back To The Minors