TOP DOCS

The Tribeca Film Festival had a lot to offer among sports documentaries, including these SI favorites
May 12, 2014

BEST RAGTAG SUCCESS STORY

The Battered Bastards of Baseball

In 1973, after 11 seasons as Deputy Clem on Bonanza, Bing Russell founded the independent Class A Portland Mavericks. With a roster assembled from a classified ad—plus Bing's son, Kurt (yes, that Kurt Russell)—the team reflected its owner, who was never far from his cigar or his drink. No one saw it coming, then, when the club that was more apt to "lead the league in paunch" had the third-best winning percentage (.667) in all baseball in '78. Later that year Organized Baseball squashed the franchise. The film, made by Bing's grandsons, like the team deserved a happier ending.

—Rebecca Shore

BEST FANBOY DIRECTOR

When the Garden Was Eden

This love letter to the 1970s Knicks earns its laughs through the players' sartorial choices (Clyde Frazier's minks, Phil Jackson's overalls) and their idiosyncrasies (Jerry Lucas's and Bill Bradley's secret language). Then, too, there's filmmaker Michael Rapaport, whose off-camera interjections sound more like a fan yelling at the TV than a seasoned documentarian conducting sit-downs. "Are you f------ serious?!" he says when a player claims he was paid so little he had to take a second job. Another reason to see the film: It's always a treat to relive Willis Reed's miracle return for Game 7 of the '70 Finals.

—R.S.

ULTIMATE UNDERDOG TALE

Next Goal Wins

This documentary by Mike Brett and Steve Jamison follows the American Samoa national soccer team, perhaps the biggest underdog the sports world has ever seen. Victims of the worst defeat in FIFA history (31--0 to Australia in 2001), the team hadn't won a game in 17 years when former U.S. coach Thomas Rongen arrived before qualifying for the '14 World Cup. By the end it's hard to tell which is sweeter: the players' pure love of a game that's never loved them back, or the sound of the ball hitting the back of the net when they score their first goal since '07.

—Alexandra Fenwick

CUTEST ATHLETES

The Pink Helmet Posse

Six-year-olds Bella, Sierra and Rella like ponies, tutus—and shredding at a skate park. So far the trio, who go by The Pink Helmet Posse, have had to confront only mean older brothers and the occasional bumblebee as they chase their dream of one day skating in the X Games. But as this nine-minute short explains, other obstacles await: In 2013 only 16% of X Games skaters were female, and in general girls are twice as likely to drop out of sports as boys. The Posse has yet to learn the odds against them, and watching them jump, scrape and flip, you hope they never do.

—A.F.

For additional reviews, including one for the world premiere of Iverson, go to SI.com/Tribeca

GO FIGURE

+40

Bill Belichick's plus-minus rating against the spread, the best among all NFL coaches since 1978, according to footballperspecitive.com. Bill Walsh ranks second at +30, while Bum Phillips is the worst at -17.

$1.5 million

Amount won in federal court by Lawrence Blatterfein after he sued New Brunswick, N.J., for not letting him name his bar Buck Foston's Road House. While the town's mayor, James Cahill, is a Red Sox fan, he said he had blocked the establishment because of traffic concerns.

10,000

9,963

Wins by the Yankees through Sunday, meaning that this summer they will become the fifth MLB team to reach 10,000 victories, joining the Giants, Cubs, Braves and Dodgers (who reached that total on April 30).

898

Games played between the Canadiens and the Bruins through Tuesday, the most ever by any two NHL teams.

PHOTOCOURTESY OF BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL (RUSSELL SCREEN GRAB) PHOTOCOURTESY OF ESPN FILMS (WHEN THE GARDEN WAS EDEN) PHOTOJASON KENWORTHY/JRKENWORTHY PHOTOGRAPHY (PINK HELMET POSSE, 3) PHOTODAVID BERGMAN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (BELICHICK) PHOTOKABIK/FOTOLIA.COM (NEON SIGNS) TWO PHOTOS ILLUSTRATION

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)