Friday October 21st, 2016

The Indians have won the pennant, which means over the next few days, you can expect to see a lot of references to Major League, the 1989 comedy about the team's unexpected underdog chase of championship glory. The fact that the idea of the Indians making it to the World Series was considered to be a laugh riot should tell you plenty about where the franchise was at that point in time—in 1989, Cleveland was 35 years removed from its last pennant, which was also its last playoff appearance. It should say even more that the Indians (spoiler alert, albeit for a 27-year-old movie) don't even win the World Series in Major League; the movie ends on the team winning the pennant, which was apparently as fantastical as the writers felt they could get before things became truly unbelievable.

All that aside, Major League remains one of the best and funniest movies about baseball ever made, and it's become a touchstone for Indians fans. It helps that it's eminently quotable ("Yup, we've got uniforms and everything, it's really great!") and as solid a 1980s comedy as can be. It also helps that the characters, if not exactly realistic, are funny and ridiculous, particularly Charlie Sheen's Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn, the ex-felon turned fire-balling rookie who gets a huge strikeout in the Indians' pennant win. Vaughn is pretty much a stand-in for Sheen himself at the time of the film—wildly talented yet constantly in trouble—and, with the movie coming as it did during the height of his career, it's one of the roles he's best known for.

MLB
Indians’ belief in Terry Francona shown in magical World Series run

It's not surprising, then, that in the wake of the Indians' pennant win, Cleveland fans online have been asking the team to have Sheen throw out the first pitch of a World Series game. On Thursday, Sheen took to Twitter to say that he—or rather, Vaughn—would be down to do it.

It's nice to imagine a scene in which reality and fiction merge into one perfectly pop-culture referencing moment—the crossover of a fun role with a fun moment for Indians fans who haven't had much to celebrate over the last two decades. But reality isn't that easy to wrangle into a script, particularly given Sheen, who has been accused of domestic violence several times in his life. In 2009, he was arrested in Aspen, Colo., on charges of assaulting his third wife, Brooke Mueller; he pled guilty to misdemeanor assault. In 2016, Sheen was reportedly under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department for threatening to kill Scottine Ross, a former fiancee. There's also the time back in 1990 when he accidentally shot fiancee Kelly Preston in the arm, and the multiple accusations of violence from Mueller and second wife Denise Richards. That's all to go with Sheen's seemingly endless list of other legal issues, including substance abuse and possession.

Major League is a fun movie and Rick Vaughn is a fun character, but Charlie Sheen is a serial abuser of women who deserves no national spotlight for a person he pretended to be nearly 30 years ago. The Indians are a franchise with plenty of former stars in their employ or orbit; instead of putting Sheen front and center and implicitly glossing over the horrible things he's done, Cleveland should find an actual link to its past and celebrate that instead. Or hey, if they're really desperate for a Major League tie-in, I'm sure Dennis Haysbert or Tom Berenger aren't too busy.

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