Durham County

How could ESPN diss "Bull Durham"? Iconic sports flick's fans demand answers. Do you?

Tim Robbins (pitcher "Nuke" LaLoosh), left, and Kevin Costner (catcher Crash Davis) starred in the movie "Bull Durham."  To honor the 30th birthday of this classic sports film, the Durham Bulls will celebrate "Bull Durham"  June 8 and  June 15.
Tim Robbins (pitcher "Nuke" LaLoosh), left, and Kevin Costner (catcher Crash Davis) starred in the movie "Bull Durham." To honor the 30th birthday of this classic sports film, the Durham Bulls will celebrate "Bull Durham" June 8 and June 15.

The movie "Raging Bull" made it but "Bull Durham" didn't.

How soon ESPN forgot about the "the finest baseball movie ever made."

Five short years ago the movie "Bull Durham" was celebrated by ESPN writer Jim Capel as an iconic flick, regardless of genre.

But a new reader-engagement ploy by ESPN called "Sports Movie Madness" completely leaves off the tale of veteran catcher Crash Davis' summer in Durham tutoring pitching prospect Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh and their relationship with Annie Savoy.

It's not the first time the movie seems to have slipped from the baseball's collective memory.

Just two short months ago this classic movie was left off another list of all-time great baseball movies thrown together by Major League Baseball.

Granted, MLB chose only four movies — Major League, The Natural, The Sandlot and Field of Dreams — for its Twitter survey. But ESPN couldn't find room for "Bull Durham" among its field of 32?

In 2008, ESPN even celebrated the 20th anniversary of the movie with a "Bull Durham Week" filled with interviews, including Kevin Costner (Crash Davis), Tim Robbins, who played LaLoosh, and writer/director Ron Shelton.

What gives?

The so-called "Worldwide Leader in Sports" gave little or no similar treatment to any of four baseball movies identified by MLB.

Page after page of results pop up on ESPN.com when you search for "Bull Durham."

For the others, mostly crickets.

ESPN did recognize the Milwaukee Brewers with an Associated Press report about the team re-enacting a scene from "The Sandlot" for the movie's 25th anniversary last week. For what's its worth, that movie finished in fourth, a spot behind "Bull Durham" when ESPN polled fans for its "SportsNation Speaks: Best Baseball Movies Ever Made" poll.

There are more results returned for boxers than batters when you search "The Natural" on ESPN.

Now, "Field of Dreams" was deserving and it got a top seed from ESPN in the bracket. So what if Costner also starred in it, too.

ESPN even threw "Moneyball" into the bracket over "Bull Durham." That's four baseball movies ahead of "Bull Durham" and five when you count "A League of Their Own," which is in the bracket, too.

The Durham Bulls certainly took notice of the snub.

“Pound for pound, Bull Durham isn’t just the best baseball movie ever made, it’s the best sports movie ever made," said Durham Bulls spokesman Matt Sutor. "For a movie that’s stood the test of time like Bull Durham, it’s a shame ESPN didn’t feel it was worthy of a spot in its bracket of 32.”

The ESPN bracket had deserving movies like "Rocky," "Hoosiers," "Rudy," and "The Karate Kid." But is also had lesser movies like "Bring It On," which got a bottom seed by ESPN, "Bend It Like Beckham," another one likely to fall in the first round, and a pair of Adam Sandler movies "The Waterboy" and "Happy Gilmore." Both of the Sandler movies are good, but do there really need to be two in the bracket at the expense of "Bull Durham?"

Well, if you want to see the real thing, the Durham Bulls open their season April 5 at home against the Charlotte Knights. The Bulls are coming off a championship season in which they captured the Governors' Cup for winning the International League championship as well as the Triple-A National championship.

There was plenty of support for the movie in ESPN's Twitter timeline.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6678, @JEJ_HSNews

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