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For Your Quarantine Viewing Pleasure


In normal times, this is arguably the best time of year to be a sports fan.

March Madness, on courts and ice rinks. The Masters. The Bruins and Celtics locking down playoff position.

The Red Sox and MLB.

Suffice to say, 2020 isn't your "normal year," with sports - from high school to professional - on hold around the world as the world tries to combat the Coronavirus.

Even during this mass stoppage, there are plenty of ways to get your sports fix in that don't include playing Madden or NBA2K on your PlayStation 4. I'm talking about some inspiring sports movies.

Here are some great choices from each end of the spectrum, and we'll start with movies, fiction or based on true events.

"Miracle."

Kind of a no-brainer given we're celebrating the 40th anniversary of arguably the greatest upset in sports history when a bunch of college hockey players found a way to beat the mighty Soviets en route to a gold medal in the 1980 Olympics.

Kurt Russell is a dynamo as coach Herb Brooks, and captures the late coach's passion and determination very well.

There's also a UMaine hockey connection. The late Michael Mantenuto, who had a cup of coffee with the Black Bear program under coach Tim Whitehead, played the role of enforcer and Boston University alumnus Jack O'Callahan.

It's hard not to get misty-eyed when the audio of Al Michaels' legendary call is heard.

"Varsity Blues"

While there's no true story here, this late-90's film taps into the real, intense life of Texas high school football.

James Van der Beek was outstanding as backup quarterback turned starter Johnny "Mox" Moxon. Jon Voight's role as gung-ho head coach Bud Kilmer is a powerful one. Backup Mox is promoted to starter when Lance Harbour - played by the late Paul Walker - blows out his knee, and has the leadership and guts to stand up to Kilmer.

"Hoosiers"

If we're missing March Madness, the greatest hoops movie of all time should be a no-brainer.

Don't get caught watching the paint dry. Gene Hackman's character got his players to buy in, but it helped when superstar Jimmy Chitwood decided to play.

The finale is filmed at Butler (now Hinkle) Fieldhouse, an arena that's a must-visit for any hoops fan.

"Rookie of the Year" or "Angels in the Outfield."

Being a 90's kid, I had to throw these mid-90's classics in.

The former is always great for a laugh. A 12-year old kid (Thomas Ian Nicholas) breaks his arm, goes to a Cubs game after getting his cast off, and following Wrigley Field's "you can't keep a homer hit by the other team" rule, throws a 430-foot frozen rope to home plate, prompting the Loveable Losers to make Henry Rowengartner the youngest player in the big leagues.

This was one of those feel-good films that also got Nicholas' career jumpstarted before his well-known role in the "American Pie" trilogy early in the new millenium.

As far as "Angels" goes, that's a great feel-good story with a dynamite cast (Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, Danny Glover, Tony Danza, Matthew McConaughey). Today's athletes, especially baseball players, should give this one a view.

The final scene where Danza's character, an aging star pitcher, believes in angels then leads his team to a division title without divine assistance, can be a tear-jerker.

"Major League"

A classic. Plain and simple.

A young Charlie Sheen - a good baseball player in his time - was outstanding as Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn.

There's also a bit of inspiration to go with the comedy, especially when Vaughn is told "This guy's the out you've been waiting your whole life for" by Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger), who took advantage of his "last chance," using baseball to turn his life around.

Wild Cards: "Glory Road," "We Are Marshall," "The Mighty Ducks"

Next week I'll add some documentaries that you will love!

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