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Film / Major League

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

In this case, they're the Cleveland Indians, a baseball team that hasn't made a playoff appearance in over 30 years. No one in Cleveland even knows who's on the team, which is a calculated move by Rachel Phelps (Margaret Whitton), the new team owner. It's all part of her ploy to get the franchise to fail so badly (and draw so little attendance) that she can void her contracts and move the team to Florida. To this end, she assembles the sorriest bunch of ballplayers she can find. (If that sounds unrealistic, keep in mind, this was before either the Miami Marlins or Tampa Bay Rays existed, and seven years before the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore.)

The characters include:

  • Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn (Charlie Sheen), a recently released felon with a blazing fastball and control issues (both with his pitching and his temper);
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  • Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger), a catcher a decade past his prime and who never got over the one he let get away (Rene Russo);
  • Roger Dorn (Corbin Bernsen), a third baseman who is the epitome of the prima donna, more concerned with his endorsements and contract stipulations than his field play.
  • Willie Mays Hayes (Wesley Snipes), a leadoff man with Rickey Henderson-like speed on the basepaths who meekly pops out whenever he's at bat (thanks to his delusions of being a power hitter).
  • Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert), a voodoo-practicing power hitter who can't hit a curveball.
  • Eddie Harris (Chelcie Ross), a somewhat preachy veteran pitcher with a worn-out arm who has resorted to loading baseballs with Vaseline and, occasionally, his own snot.
  • Lou Brown (James Gammon), a tire salesman (and career minor league manager) who's tapped to be the manager who presides over the madhouse.

Throughout the movie, all of the new Indians' various quirks are revealed. Dorn's rookie pranks on Vaughn earn him more than a few fights, and Vaughn later sleeps with Dorn's wife (though he didn't know who she was at the time); Taylor fights to get his ex back from her new socialite boyfriend; Cerrano prays to Jobu many times, but doesn't get any closer to hitting a curveball; Harris gets a painful karmic comeuppance for his spiritual bad-mouthing, and Lou tries to get Hayes to hit like a leadoff man rather than a cleanup hitter.

Eventually, the owner's scheme is revealed to the team, and they go from worst to first (well, tied for first) with visual aid help from her... showgirl days. They're forced into a one-game playoff with the Yankees for the American League East title, and the ending is one of the more inventive Down to the Last Play endings in sports movie history.

The film spawned a sequel in 1994, changing leadoff men (Hayes is now played by Omar Epps) and leading men (Berenger for Sheen). Here, Vaughn has let the fame of the previous year go to his head, mostly seeking lucrative endorsement deals. This is elaborated by having to choose between two Love Interests, publicist Rebecca Flannery (Alison Doody), and philanthropist Nikki Reese (Michelle Burke). One wants to build his image, the other to keep him down-to-earth.

The other team members have their own subplots.

  • Taylor is cut from the team but is retained as one of Lou's assistant managers. He's replaced by new rookie Rube (a country boy who can't throw the ball back to the pitcher) and big off-season acquisition Jack Parkman (a no-nonsense guy who is pretty much the epitome of "clubhouse cancer", but is a very good hitter).
  • Dorn retires and b the team, but has to sell it back to the Rich Bitch after financial troubles force him to trade Parkman.
  • Cerrano, having converted to Buddhism, is now a happy guy who's lost his edge until he's challenged by Japanese acquisition Taka Tanaka.
  • Hayes, like Vaughn, lets the previous year go to his head and shoots a movie with Jesse Ventura in the off-season. This causes him to lose his edge on the basepaths.

Another worst-to-first comeback ensues, though under the guidance of Taylor after Lou has a heart attack; the Down to the Last Play ending in this one is a lot less inventive than the first. The sequel coincided with the real-life Tribe's 1990s resurgence (where they went to World Series in 1995 and 1997; in the 1997 Series they lost to the Florida Marlins, in what some would call ironic).

In 1998, another sequel, Major League: Back to the Minors, came out, which focused on a minor league team (The Salt Lake Buzz) with a new manager (played by Scott Bakula) and a pretty much all new cast of characters. The only carryovers from the original movies are Dorn (who now owns the Minnesota Twins, who the Buzz are the AAA farm team), Cerrano, Tanaka, Baker (who are players on the team), and Harry Doyle (Bob Uecker, the announcer). This one focuses mostly on Bakula's manager, especially with his teaching methods with a hot batting prospect and a pitching prospect who has a blazing fastball but no other pitches, and his battles with the manager of the Twins (played by Ted McGinley, signifying the moment the series was Jumping the Shark).

A fourth movie is reportedly in the works.

This film series provides examples of:

  • 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.)
    • Anyone with knee problems can tell you there's no way Jake could do what he does and still be standing.
    • 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 the 10,000-seat stadium the Twins' AAA affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings, actually play in compared to where the Buzz played.
    • 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.
    • 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. See the IMDb Goofs page.
    • 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.
    • The scene where Taylor tells Dorn to "step into one" is an aversion, even though there's a rule that the batter must make every attempt to avoid getting hit, and the ump can decide not to award the runner first base if this happens. This rule is so rarely enforced, though, that Taylor's strategy was a viable one.
  • 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 of Awesome: Cerrano. We even see him shaving for the coolness... using a big-ass knife.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Rachel Phelps and the New York Yankees in the first film.
  • Big Game: An Enforced Trope in all three films.
  • Bowdlerise: Sits with Die Hard 2 and The Big Lebowski as maybe the funniest dubbed-over-cussing TV edits in existance (for example, Dorn's I Have Just One Thing to Say speech below replaces "motherfucker" with "guy" in a completely different inflection, sort of like what you got from the announcers in the early Madden Playstation games).
  • 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.
  • Brick Joke: Pedro's "hats for bats" are being used by him in the on-deck circle in the last game.
    • Harris warming up with Jobu right alongside him.
  • 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: Yeah, yeah, that'll do it.
  • California Doubling: The scenes set in the Indians' home park were actually filmed in Milwaukee's County Stadium, then-home of the Brewers. Averted, however, in the case of the spring training scenes, which were filmed at Tucson's Hi Corbett Field, which was the Indians' actual spring training park at the time.
    • In the second movie, Oriole Park at Camden Yards doubled as Cleveland Stadium.
    • In the third movie, College Park at the College of Charleston acted as the Salt Lake Buzz's stadium. Averted with the big-league club; the fact that the movie got permission to use the Metrodome as a filming location is why the Buzz are a farm team of the Twins in the movie.
  • Calling Your Shots: Invoked, lampshaded and then subverted. Early in the first film when he first gets to the Indians' stadium, Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger) 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!
    • Hayes does this twice in a row in the second film, each time flying out to the warning track in left field.
    Harry Doyle: Of course he could be pointing at the center fielder.
  • 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.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The first film plays the climactic game as straight as can be with minimal attempts at humor.
  • Check, Please!: Vaughn uses it when Dorn's wife seduces him.
  • Cleveland: Chosen due to the Indians' mediocrity at the time.
  • 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.
    • 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 lolligags 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.
    • 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. 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.
  • 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: In the third movie, when Anderson hits a game-winning home run instead of laying down a bunt as he was told, he's benched for a 3-game series.
    • 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
  • Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: With Taka several times in the third movie. (It also translates Cantrell's English to Japanese.)
  • 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.
    • He should be solid. It's mentioned by Phelps that he'd been coach of the Toledo Mud Hens for thirty years! For comparison, as of this writing (June 2020), not a single MLB manager has been been with the same team for even 10 years (the longest tenure being that of Bob Melvin, with the Oakland Athletics since June 2011) and only three have been MLB managers longer than 30 years, whether with one team or not (Connie Mack with the Pittsburgh Pirates for three seasons and the then-Philadelphia Athletics for 50 seasons [he also owned the A's]; John McGraw for 34 seasons, 31 of them with the then-New York Giants; and Tony La Russa, with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland A's, and St. Louis Cardinals for a total of 33 seasons). The only reason he hadn't managed in the big leagues before was because he didn't want to have to deal with a bunch of overpaid prima donnas and overbearing owners.
    • Similarly, 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.
  • 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 motions him to come closer, and Hayes flips him off.
  • Focus Group Ending: The first movie's original ending (restored as a deleted scene in the 25th Anniversary Edition DVD) had Brown called into Phelps' office, where she reveals her Rich Bitch attitude and methods were all an act to motivate the players and cover for the team being bankrupt. The test audiences hated it, so the ending was reshot to preserve her antagonist personality.
  • 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.
    • Similarly, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Gul Dernit 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.
  • Greek Chorus: Harry Doyle and various fans.
  • Groin Attack: When Vaughn hits a cardboard pitching dummy during spring training. The dummy collapses in pain.
    • He also takes a dummy's head off with a pitch.
    • Taylor's neutering threat to Dorn.
  • 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 in the two previous times he faced Vaughn), but Lou coolly says, "I got a hunch he's due." Ricky proves him right.
    • Averted in a similar setting in the second movie. Taylor brings out Vaughn a batter early so he wouldn't have to face Parkman, but Vaughn insisted on walking the guy to get to him... leaving the announce crew confused.
    Doyle: Obviously, Taylor's thinking... (long pause) ...I don't know what the hell he's thinking!
  • 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. (collapses)
  • 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 Coulda Been a Contender!: Pops in the third movie is a career minor leaguer whose closest sniff of the bigs was a cancelled callup.
  • I Have Just One Thing to Say: "Strike this motherfucker out!"
  • 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.
    • In the first film, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • 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?
  • Large Ham Announcer: Harry Doyle combines elements of both this and Cuckoolander Commentator.
  • Leitmotif: Several characters in each movie have their own.
  • 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: Haywood gets Hayes picked off of first by telling him his shoe's untied.
    • 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!"
  • Miracle Rally: Straight from Worst to First in all three movies.
  • Missing Trailer Scene: Vaughn is lamenting the Grand Slam he gave up to Haywood. Taylor tries to cheer him up:
    Jake: That ball wouldn't have been out of a lot of parks.
    Rick: Name one.
    Jake: Yellowstone.
    • This scene was redone, with Nikki in Jake's role, in a scene in the 2nd movie.
  • 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 season."
  • 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 in the first movie, when the team is about to board the 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 in the first film to finding out his latest lay is Dorn's wife.
    • In the climax of the the first film, the Yankees third baseman when he realizes that Taylor had bunted. He shouts "Shit!" before making a charge at the grounder.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Level-headed team leader Taylor threatening to neuter Dorn if he ever lacks for hustle again. Dorn's prima-donna antics pretty much stop after that.
  • 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.
  • 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: American Express in the first movie ("Don't steal home without it!") and Right Guard in the second ("Anything less would be uncivilized... upside down!")
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Jake and Lynn's fiancee Tom duel in 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.
  • 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.)
  • Power Walk: Charlie Sheen does an epic solo power walk near the end of the movie, as his character's theme music plays over the stadium loudspeakers and the crowd goes wild.
  • 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..."
  • The Prima Donna: Dorn, until Taylor roughly snaps him out of 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 business for nothing, folks!
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: In the first movie, the team was literally built to lose. Dang, huh?
    • The third film is a rare example of making both the heroes and their opposition (the Twins) a ragtag bunch of hapless players. The reason Dorn sets up the exhibition game between them, besides money, is because he thinks the AAA club could actually beat his awful big-league team.
  • Rated M for Manly: It's baseball in The '80s, after all.
  • 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 threatens to leave Jobu unless he helps him hit a curveball. Then he does 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".
  • Rich Bitch: Rachel Phelps
  • 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."
    • In the first two movies, Lou gives a couple of them: the "winning streak" speech, and the one he gives when he finds out about the Springtime for Hitler plot (complete with showgirl visual aid).
    • 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: That last pitch, man... that 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 leadoff man. Sure enough, a hit brings Hayes around to home, Parkman prepares for a collision... and Hayes jumps over 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).
  • 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 feel like a banker."
  • 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 down 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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 in the first film 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.
    • 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.
    • Not so averted in the third movie. Almost every pitched and hit ball is easily recognizable as CGI.
  • Tempting Fate
    • In the first movie, Harris steals "Jobu's" rum and snarls a curse at him. He is promptly hit on the head by a flying bat.
    • 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.
  • 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 "Still hasn't landed yet" according to Vaughn 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 (sterotypical) Indian gear including a Chief-sized feather headdress and warpaint.
    • This is, of course, Truth in Television for die-hard Cleveland Indians fans (as well as Atlanta Braves fans, Washington Redskins fans, and Florida State Seminoles fans.)
  • 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.
  • You Are in Command Now: In the sequel, after Lou suffers a heart attack, Jake takes over as interim manager.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Hoo boy.
    • Jake admits he had an affair in the past while still with Lynn.
    • Lynn later sleeps with Jake while still with her fiancee.
    • Dorn sleeps with a woman at a victory party, which is picked up on by his wife who is watching the celebration at home. She sleeps with Vaughn as payback.
  • 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.)

Alternative Title(s): Major League II


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