Over the weekend, The Sandlot turned 25 years old. Major League Baseball is celebrating the anniversary of its release throughout the season with theme nights at nearly all of the stadiums. (The Brewers went above and beyond with their homage.) Despite growing up a devoted baseball fan—with aspirations beyond my abilities—in prime Sandlot era, I missed the film entirely until this week.
And now that I’ve seen it, the nicest thing I can say about The Sandlot is that it made me feel like I might have been too hard on The Mighty Ducks.
Not having any nostalgia for the movie certainly dampened my enjoyment of it, but so did the fact that two of the main characters appear to be sexist little creeps. The “You play ball like a girl!” didn’t exactly endear me to the heroes, nor did the weird kid in glasses sexually assaulting a life guard.
A contemporaneous piece in the New York Times noted that, “the cast of young characters is a politically correct mix more typical of the 90's than the 60's,” which is an opaque way of saying that there are two non-white kids in the crew. But that sentiment didn’t extend to the film’s treatment of girls and women—who are so explicitly exempt from the transformative baseball experience that Scotty Smalls marvels that a “girl” such as his mother would so much as know who Babe Ruth is.
Is thinking it’s bad for a pre-teen boy to pretend to be drowning so he can forcibly shove his tongue into a girl’s mouth just an overly precious manifestation of modern wokeness? I don’t think so! And anyway, the movie isn’t good enough to receive benefit of the doubt.