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.
May 12, 2014
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.
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.
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.
For additional reviews, including one for the world premiere of Iverson, go to SI.com/Tribeca
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.
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.
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).
Games played between the Canadiens and the Bruins through Tuesday, the most ever by any two NHL teams.