Where’s The Next Dream Game?
With the success of Major League Baseball’s Field of Dreams game, which sports movie classic is next?
Social media is still buzzing over Major League Baseball’s Field of Dreams inspired match-up between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees. Like the 1989 film, the game took place in an actual Iowa cornfield and had everything, including Mr. (cinematic) Baseball himself, Kevin Costner. There was even some well-placed Twitter shade for good measure. The game ended in true Hollywood fashion, as Chicago’s Tim Anderson hit a walk-off homer to give the White Sox the victory and baseball’s highest television ratings in nearly 20 years.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has already confirmed that baseball will be back in the heartland for another match-up in 2022.
But why should MLB, or professional sports for that matter, stop there? There are dozens of iconic sports movies that warrant the Field of Dreams treatment to the delight of millions of sports fans and moviegoers. Here now are some iconic cinematic settings other leagues should consider capitalizing on in the future.
Venue: Venice Beach, California
Cinematic Inspiration: White Men Can’t Jump (1992)
Teams: Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Lakers
After the success of #MLBatFieldofDreams, Rucker Park, the famed NYC playground, was trending on Twitter. Many hoop junkies thought that a match-up between the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks should be the NBA’s answer to the Field of Dreams game. Points for nostalgia and having the star-studded Nets team in the game but this suggestion is not the right answer.
First, outdoor basketball in New York at any time other than the summer sounds dreadful. And second, the Rucker idea doesn’t capture the Hollywood tie-in. The idea is to create a synergy between the game and an iconic cinematic setting. While full of basketball reverence, the Rucker idea lacks star power.
Luckily for the Association, its biggest star resides in Tinseltown on the most iconic franchise. Picture it. LeBron James and Kevin Durant trading buckets on a nice 72-degree Southern California evening. Russell Westbrook and James Harden each showing up in their best Sidney Deane and Billy Hoyle ensembles.
You could have Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson courtside. Rosie Perez could join the ABC broadcast crew for some color commentary. L.A. legend and star of White Men Can’t Jump Marques Johnson could serve as the Grand Marshal of the game. And after the offseason the Lakers had, James and his crew are literally the NBA version of The King and The Duck.
The game practically writes itself.
Venue: San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, California
Cinematic Inspiration: The Longest Yard (1974)
Teams: Dallas Cowboys vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Ok hear me out. Yes, I am suggesting that the NFL, with its problematic past with players and their criminal misgivings, should host an NFL game at one of America’s most famous prisons. And yes, I am suggesting that the Cowboys, with exploits so legendary that the team has been the subject of countless books and a movie starring Nick Nolte, should play the Raiders who count these folks as fans, in said prison game.
Love them or hate them, America’s Team and the Silver and Black are the only two national franchises in the NFL. Save your protests to this fact for somebody else, because regardless of how these teams perform, their respective fans are everywhere. No two teams more accurately embody the richness of America’s diversity than the Cowboys and Raiders. And entertainers from all parts of show business have devoted time to entertaining inmates, so the concept is actually not that novel of an idea.
And part of that fandom is the renegade nature of those teams. Whether it’s the aforementioned North Dallas Forty, The Autumn Wind narrated by John Facenda, or the (in)famous White House, these teams are no stranger to some rogue behavior. Hell, if Commissioner Roger Goodell is a good sport, there is even a Warden heel turn that he could definitely lean into. Kind of a Vince McMahon “Bret Screwed Bret” evolution.
Assuming Goodell is not that fun-loving or self-deprecating, the game at San Quentin could be a part of a larger goodwill mission by the NFL. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, blacks make up 13% of the U.S. population but 40% of the prison population. According to a 2017 report, 70% of the players in the NFL are black, so criminal justice reform is an issue that impacts the communities of a majority of the league’s play. There is potential for this game to accomplish a number of the goals described in the Social Justice Initiative announced in a joint statement between the NFL and NFLPA last year.
A week of mentoring and outreach culminating in some football would actually be a pretty dope move by the NFL. You could even have Adam Sandler do the coin toss.
Venue: Bushwood Country Club (Grande Oaks Golf Club, Davie, Florida)
Cinematic Inspiration: Caddsyshack (1980)
Teams: PGA Tour
Give me Chase with a Zen like, nonsensical ode to golf voiceover, punctuated with a “nanananananana”. Give me Murray in the booth with Jim Nantz. And give me Loggins. Lots and lots of Loggins.
Like the raunchy 1980 classic, this event would be a great opportunity for golf to let its hair down.
As Tiger Woods, the transcendent talent who carried the sport from the 90s to the aughts, has declined, interest in the sport has followed. The generation after Tiger was talented but not Tiger talented, and lacked the personality to carry the sport on Masters Sunday.
But we are now two generations removed from Tiger Mania and this group of golfers has the right amount of skill and personality to keep a casual audience entertained. (I would definitely take more of this beef between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau). Throw in a million-dollar purse and a mock Caddy Day tournament trophy for the winner and we got something. For an added bonus, mic up the golfers and pair them with celebrity caddies. It’s in the hole!
Others receiving votes: A basketball game between the Knicks and the Nets on the rooftop from 1994’s Above The Rim, Whoopi Goldberg coaching the Knicks for a game a la 1996’s Eddie, the Los Angeles Dodgers against the San Francisco Giants in a sandlot, like the 1993 movie Sandlot, a UFC fight island reimagined as the set of the 1995 film Mortal Kombat.