The Sandlot: When It was Cool to Play Outside

This Pokemon Go thing is a real trip. It’s damn near caused as much of a stir as Pokemon did about 20 years ago when it first burst onto the scene. People are going out of their way to catch as many of these things as they can. As a result, they are spending more time outside, enjoying a healthy competition with their friends and are making new ones along the way. And when you get right down to it, that’s more or less what The Sandlot is all about.

Tonight, Film on the Rocks will be playing The Sandlot and making sure that all of the 90’s kids in attendance get the nostalgia trip that they are looking for. And yes, I will be among those frantically scurrying around in order to catch more Pokemon.

In this day and age, it’s hard to get kids to go outside. Not because playing a game of pickup has lost its appeal or that the weather isn’t as accommodating (I mean, that is one good thing about Global Warming, right?), but because there are too many distractions and devices that keep them inside. When your kid can stream their favorite movies on Netflix, play games online with their friends and watch TV while messing around on their smartphone or tablet, it makes it hard to convince them that their time would be better spent in the great outdoors. That’s also why parents everywhere should be thanking God for Pokemon Go, as it’s done more to fight childhood obesity than anything in recent memory. Just resist the urge to strike your child if they steal a Pokemon from you, okay parents?

The Sandlot was released in a much simpler time when streaming was unheard of, video games had wired controllers and when you did watch TV, you certainly didn’t want anything else to distract you. Scotty Smalls is a young boy in the 50’s when he moves to his new town, so he couldn’t just go outside and hunt down Pokemon, though as a kid with no friends I’m sure he would’ve greatly appreciated it. That’s when he meets Benny “The Jet” and is fully introduced to the wonderful and bizarre game of baseball. “We need need another guy,” is the sole reason that Smalls is included in the first place. Much like in life, you don’t always get to choose who you’re associated with in baseball, but the game falls through without other people.

I watched The Sandlot fairly recently, and for me it held up quite well. However, the nostalgia will always be there for me, which probably won’t be the case for the newest generation. The kids will laugh at the jokes, feign disgust at Squints’ pursuit of Wendy Peffercorn and ask why their mom is upset when Porter dishes out the ultimate insult: “You play ball like a girl!”

And if they find themselves wondering why the boys go to all the trouble of getting a new baseball when they could just go inside and play MLB: The Show, well hopefully a rational adult will be there to enlighten them.

Yes, it’s still okay to play outside, people, and that makes The Sandlot even more relevant than it was back when I was growing up. After I watch it again, I’m gonna grab my glove and go throw the ball around.

And probably go search for more Pokemon. It really is a genius game.

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