Episode 5: The Sandlot

The-SandlotWith summer just around the corner, we discuss a movie from our childhood that makes us long for the days of no school and no responsibilities.  The Sandlot enjoys a place of unalterable honor in many people’s minds, Nate’s included.  Ryan doesn’t hold it in such high esteem.   In this episode, we discuss nostalgia, memory, and how much personal history plays a part in how we watch movies.

Listen, then tell us your thoughts.  Is there a movie from your childhood that you’ll defend till you die?  What sets The Sandlot apart from all the other sports/kids movies in people’s minds?

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  1. I enjoyed this. But being the age you tow guys are, you missed parts of this movie. It is definitely a movie for adults. But it was written for us adults that grew up in the 60s. Sandlot baseball did not really exist when you guys grew up (I’m assuming Nate is about the same age as Ryan.) When I was raising my kids, who are about your age, their was a “sandlot” right across the street from us. Never saw a group of kids playing ball their once.

    In the podcast Nate talked about a time he made a catch by sticking his hand out. Then he talked about the people in the bleachers cheering. I made a similar catch once also, but their were no bleachers . He also talked about learning to do certain things in little league. I grew up in Lockport, at town of 10,000 at the time. We had 6 little league teams for which you had to try out. So about 100 kids actually played little league. The rest of us just played everyday in Clark’s backyard (wiffle ball), Wechter’s farm field (hard or softball), Eunice’s yard (Rubber ball) or actually on the street.

    So, the scene where the uniformed kids challenge them was much more meaningful for someone from my generation. At the beginning, you wondered why the movie had staying power. I believe it to be because of us boomers, who remember life being a bit different than today. It is the same reason things like “The Wonder Years” or “A Christmas Story” are staying around. While all of these have memorable moments that all can enjoy, the nostalgia of them is written for us boomers.

    • That’s great insight, Jeff. You’re right, when we were kids, there were teams for everyone, so the sandlot idea wasn’t our only outlet for sports. I never knew the deeper significance of the uniformed team. I’m glad you could illuminate the deeper nostalgia, specific to the era, rather than just the general nostalgia of being kids. I gather you think The Sandlot did a good job of depicting your memories of childhood? Though it’s nice that kids have every opportunity to play on teams nowadays, I wonder if we’ll see less passion and obsession for sports themselves (rather than passion for winning or competition generally) because it’s part of scheduled activities, and becomes less desirable as a free time activity.

      • Ryan, you are absolutely correct that we see less passion for sport in this country today than when I was young. You are a big football fan. Look at all the organized soccer there is played today in this country, yet we are still not on par with teams from Europe or elsewhere. That is because those kids grow up playing soccer everyday. Give them a ball, four kids and something to use as a goal and they have a soccer game. I think baseball in Latin American countries today is played much like you see in The Sandlot. Probably the only thing comparable to that here today is urban kids playing hoops.

        And yes I loved the movie. It was more than just the baseball. Notice how those kids left home in the morning and basically went back home to eat dinner. The rest of the time they were free to roam and be kids. Their parents did not have to know where they were every minute. That was the freedom of summer when I was a kid. The world is just different now.

        Also, you guys had great insight on the bully thing. The kid who bullied me in 5th grade was my best friend in 6th.

    • Jeff- Thanks for the “boomer” perspective. I love Wonder Years and Christmas Story! The nostalgia went right over my head as a kid right on that borderline between Generation X and Y, but my parents were boomers, which makes me wonder if we often see nostalgic movies geared towards kids of the day, but set in the time period of their parents. Or maybe this is just what happens naturally with movie production as kids grow up to be filmmakers, as I think happened with Judd Apatow and Freaks and Geeks.

      Unfortunately, it seems the studios have grown lazy in their approach to my own childhood. Instead of creating new stories for today’s kids set in the time period of my childhood, they’ve opted to take the pop culture of my day and simply reboot it (ie. Transformers, Star Trek, Goonies, TMNT).

      This is a shame, because while I know my childhood was very different from a boomer childhood, there’s certainly a deep well of quirky, relatable, specifically late 80s/early 90s experiences to draw from.

  2. I am sending Ryan an invite from the House Un-American Committee to appear on suspicions of Communist Activities. It is obvious that Nate is a true, upstanding American and that Ryan’s unsure attitude about this stalwart of American Cinema is further evidence of his true party alliances. Now, I do not serve on HUAC (pronounced like the cross between a sneeze and the stomach flu) but am merely representing their interests and am sure that Ryan will feel right at home next to his bretheren, especially Pete Seeger, who has been asking for him on an daily basis.

  3. As a tried and true patriot and long-time supporter of HUAC, allow me to simply note that I believe this invite is long overdue.

  4. Hey guys! I’m a new listener, hence my response on such an old episode. Regardless of when this episode aired I couldn’t pass up putting in my 2 cents. Sandlot is one of my all time favorite movies from my childhood (top 10 no question) I loved hearing what you guys had to say. But, I had a hard time agreeing with your consensus that this is a boys movie. Even as a girl I was always able to relate to Smalls. After hearing the full discussion, I reluctantly agree it was generally geared towards boys. My turning point was hearing the female coworker compare it to “Now and Then”. But I’ve always seen Now and Then as more of the girls version of Stand By Me (both beloved childhood movies of mine as well). I still think overall Sandlot was geared towards kids and childhood, no gender specified. This is why I was equally baffled when I heard that Nate’s wife had never seen it. Sandlot is like a warm cozy memory for me, almost as though I forget it’s a movie and not a memory of my own. In my opinion no movie depicts the experiences and nostalgia of summer as a kid as well as this movie. Maybe for me that’s because I grew up on a block much like the one in the movie. There were lots of kids my age and we were all friends. At one end of the block was our grade school and at the opposite end was a park equipped with jungle gym and 3 small baseball fields used for little league. Our summers were spent using the entire block for cops and robbers/hide and seek, riding our bikes around the black top of the school, hanging out at the park or at the concession stands during games, and on top of the dugouts after games. So even when I watched Sandlot as a kid I was still reminiscing on summer it was just a much more recent memory back then, where as now reminiscing on those same summers they seem like a whole other life time. I think this is maybe where the dividing line comes as far as absolutely loving the movie or thinking it’s just okay. I’d like to know what the childhood summers of the indifferent crowd were like. I can only assume they weren’t as picturesque and seemingly straight out of a movie as the childhood I was lucky enough to experience, which makes me sad. The same sadness I feel when hearing someone isn’t as in love with Sandlot as I am. Even though this movie has the ability to be loved by all ages, I think anyone no longer considered a “kid” should make a conscious effort to still watch it through adolescent eyes. It’s sort of like what you guys said in your Hook discussion. Don’t prescreen a movie like Sandlot now through the critical eyes of an adult, in doing so you’re robbing yourself of a great movie, experience, and memory. Just watch it and enjoy it for what it is. I don’t think all movies are meant to be dissected so technically or critically. They’re just meant to be experienced. And that’s all I have to say about that.

    Love the show and I look forward to future episodes. Thanks guys!

    • Bri,
      Thanks for listening! I hope we didn’t offend you by calling it a boy movie. We were just trying to figure out why our wives either hadn’t seen it, or didn’t connect with it. I guess we hadn’t heard from many other women on the movie, but now we have, so thanks! You may have some window into my childhood, because although I had a lot of friends, I didn’t have many who lived in my neighborhood. Because of that, when I would play with friends, it would be going to one friends house to play with one or two friends, rather than running around our neighborhood or town getting into one adventure after another. Since your childhood more closely resembled that of the kids in the movie, it would make perfect sense that you might connect with this movie more than me.
      Don’t feel sad for me though! I read A LOT of books, so…yeah.
      It’s interesting you connect our Hook discussion, because I think when this movie does what it seems like it is setting out to do, adults can still approach it as adults and reminisce along with the narrator. Part of what it seems the movie is doing is examining how those childhood summers can still impact our adult years, as long as we don’t forget them. I don’t necessarily think The Sandlot is one that you need to watch with a child-like suspension of disbelief like Hook would benefit from, but you do need to allow yourself to feel a healthy nostalgia and find that sense of play and adventure that made summer days so magical, when bedtime always came too soon, and morning couldn’t get here soon enough.
      Thanks for listening and keep telling us your thoughts!

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