Released in 1998, Major League: Back to the Minors is the third installment of the Major League series, and last night, I sat down to take in the show. I haven’t yet seen Major League II, so that’s on the list for future viewing, but Back to the Minors is a standalone installment, so it didn’t impact my understanding of things to skip to this one.
The movie stars Scott Bakula as Gus Cantrell, a veteran pitcher for a minor league team, the Fort Myers Miracle. After Gus gets ejected from a game for pulling the “frozen ball trick,” Roger Dorn, the owner of the Minnesota Twins, recruits Gus to be the manager of the Buzz, the Twins’ AAA minor league affiliate.
Much like the Cleveland Indians of Major League, the minor league Buzz is a team filled with dysfunctional players, including Lance “The Dance” Pere (a ballet dancer turned ballplayer), pitcher Hog Ellis, and pitcher Carlton “Doc” Windgate, a medical school graduate who throws a fastball so slow, it doesn’t even register on the radar gun. Even Pedro Cerrano, of Major League fame, now plays for the Buzz. The star of the team is home run hitter Billy “Downtown” Anderson, who suffers from supreme arrogance due to his success at the plate. Gus makes it his mission to help Downtown become a more well-rounded, and humbler, ballplayer.
Gus also has a rivalry with Leonard Huff, the arrogant manager of the Minnesota Twins. Huff challenges Gus to a game between the Buzz and the Twins, which ends in a tie after Huff turns off the stadium lights to prevent potential embarrassment. Huff then invites Downtown Anderson to play with the major league team, but Downtown fails against major league pitching and returns to the Buzz, admitting to Gus that he should’ve listened to him more.
Gus leads the Buzz to a division title and challenges Huff again, this time with his job on the line. The Buzz manage to defeat the Twins, and Gus is offered the opportunity to become manager of the Twins. Gus declines, however, opting to stay with the Buzz.
All in all, I enjoyed this flick. It’s not as good as the original Major League, but no sequel is ever as good as the original. It’s definitely not high art, but I didn’t expect it to be, and it makes for an amusing and relaxing evening.