The Celtics and Warriors played a game last week that matched up the two best teams in the NBA, albeit through only sixteen games or so. With the Celtics winning, many sports writers are already speculating about their championship potential, while ignoring that the Pistons are actually only a few losses off from Boston and that Houston is (currently) tops in the West.
Point is, the debate of which teams are best will continue, even if we probably already know who the champions will be in all the major sports currently in progress (the Patriots, the Warriors, and, shit, I don’t know, The Las Vegas Golden Knights? Sure, fine.) That leaves us to debate about the best fictional sports teams, the ones that hold the championship of our hearts.
Was that a good enough lead-in? Maybe not, but let’s start the listing anyway.
5. The Bears, (The Bad News Bears, 1976)
This was wish-fulfillment of the highest order because, unless you were actually a gifted athlete, the majority of us were on recreational sports teams filled with miscreants and troublemakers.
I remember being on a soccer team once when I was a kid that, for once, wasn’t hot garbage so they kept most of us (except for the two, actually good players) around for the next season, only to realize that we were still a bunch of uncoordinated misfits who had no discernible soccer skills and we had just outplayed ourselves the year before and that was THE BEST TEAM I EVER PLAYED ON.
So, yeah, who wouldn’t want to be on a baseball team with a bunch of goofballs who actually make it to a championship, lose on a technicality, win the respect of the jock kids in the neighborhood, and gain a wise, alcoholic father figure in the process? No one doesn’t want that.
4. Adams College Atoms (Revenge of the Nerds, 1984)
Okay, so maybe the Atoms (or, to reference them by their fraternity, the Alphas) are the "bad guys." Maybe they act like complete assholes and pick on guys that are physically weaker than themselves, but take a moment to consider their situation.
For one, college sports are demanding. Colleges make a lot of money off of their sports programs, so being the best is of utmost importance, and that can obviously lead the student athletes to become rather myopic in their world views, even if they all look like they are clearly old enough to have graduated college.
Secondly, the Atoms coach (played by John Goodman) is a real dick who forces his players to also be dicks. I mean, are the Alphas assholes or just products of their environment? After all, Ogre joins the Nerds by the end of Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise.
Lastly, if the Alphas are the "bad guys," let’s look at the "good guys." If I told you a movie depicted a group of guys who stole women’s underwear, distributed nude photos of a female student, and then one of the guys tricks that same student into having sex with him, would you call them "the good guys?"
I say, it’s time we look at those Alphas through a different lens. Also, were they any good at football? I can’t remember.
3. Team POW, (Victory, 1981)
There was a time when Pele was so popular that even buying a ticket to watch him play choreographed soccer was something people wanted to do. Hence, Victory, which follows a group of Allied POWs (including Pele and other actual footballers and also Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone) who play an exhibition match against their German captors.
What makes this team so special? For one, they’re literally playing against Nazis. And second, despite there being a tunnel successfully dug under their locker room allowing them to escape, they go back out to beat the Nazis even though they are down 4-1.
That’s suicide, of course, because this is soccer and one side getting three goals in a half while surrendering none is the equivalent of flipping a coin and having it land on its side. It’s not impossible, but it’s not likely either.
However, three goals and a Stallone save later (this is was peak Stallone-era, two years removed from Rocky II and when we thought the worst thing he’d ever be capable of was torpedoing Estelle Getty’s career), the POWs celebrate their tie —
(Wait, a tie?! A fucking tie?! Yes, this is soccer, and Europeans still celebrate ties. Losses amount to losing the whole day in a pub, ignoring your family, and eventually moving to America because you’re sick to fucking death of watching Sunderland break your heart time and again.)
— and then escape due to something the Nazis should have considered a little more thoroughly: hooliganism. Stupid Nazis.
2. The San Diego Padres, (Pitch, 2016 – 2017)
I say, why not let women play in the MLB? It’s exactly the kind of shot in the arm that the sport needs. Who’s going to say no? The Phillies? The Tigers? The Giants? At this point, they could use ANYONE. I say it’s time we turn Pitch’s fictional team of the Padres into an actual, real-life MLB team.
(My editors tell me that the Padres are indeed a real-life MLB team, but I’m not buying it. What fan base would stand for endless years of mediocrity, only to dress that up as endless "re-building," while the team goes through a string of bone-headed, useless owners, who either hold the team hostage during their divorce, or simply milk the team for cash while keeping the payroll in the basement, all the while sporting one of the most boring uniforms in all of baseball? Sorry, but pull the other one.)
1. Milwaukee Beers (BASEketball, 1998)
"Wait, where are the Hickory High School Huskies from Hoosiers?" you’re asking yourself. Well, sure, they’re obviously a great fictional team (based on the real, 1954 Milan High School team), but the Milwaukee Beers are a fictional team of a fictional sport. That’s why it’s the winner.
How many movies are based around a completely made-up sport?
(Editor’s note: cough, cough.)
I can only think of BASEketball, and because of BASEketball we may never have another.
In fact, at this point, a studio would only touch a movie about a fake sport if it was based on some known intellectual property, like something involving quidditch perhaps, but David Zucker, likely because he helped write and direct Airplane!, got the green light to make a movie about people going nuts about a stupid hybrid of basketball and baseball starring two guys who were only known as voices from a cartoon.
As terrible as the movie is, what’s even more audacious is that Zucker walked into an exec’s office and said "I made up this dumb sport and want to make a movie about it." AND THEN HE DID.
Hold onto your dreams, everybody.