From ages 5-12 my favorite movie was The Sandlot. There was no second place. If I had to rank a top 10 movies for me they would all be The Sandlot with maybe Blades of Glory sneaking it at 9 or something just because it was the only PG-13 movie I was allowed to watch at 11. So when one of my favorite writers, Shea Serrano, wrote a piece titled “You’re Killing Us, Smalls: The Only ‘The Sandlot’ Character Rankings You’ll Ever Need,” I knew I was in for something special.
The piece captures everything I love about both The Sandlot and Serrano’s writing style. Serrano’s range is apparent in this piece; he covers everything from the importance of Benny ‘The Jet’ Rodriguez being the Latino leader of an otherwise (Kenny DeNunez notwithstanding) homogenous, white group to the subtle nod by the movie that Bertram was undone by drugs in sixties (the foreshadowing being that Bertram is the member of the team to steal chewing tobacco for the rest of the boys.) Serrano also uses other pop culture comparisons to make his point. He defends his high rating of Smalls due to potential by comparing it to when Shaq was included as a top 50 NBA player in 1996 “even though at that time everyone knew he wasn’t one of the 50 greatest players yet.” Serrano doesn’t only use sports metaphors, but includes scenes from other movies to justify his rankings of Sandlot characters. For example, he juxtaposes Michael “Squints” Palledorous unflappable confidence with a scene from the movie Moneyball where scouts dismiss a prospect due to the fact that his ugly girlfriend means he has no self-esteem. These comparisons not only keep the reader entertained but also enforce Serrano’s points in a unique and effective way.
Beyond simply serving as a medium for Serrano’s style to flourish, this piece also serves as a fantastic ode to The Sandlot. The movie has many famous moments (“YOU PLAY BALL LIKE A GIRL”), but the beauty of the movie is the relatability of the characters as well as the small things in the movie that make the viewer smile. Sure, Benny Rodriguez can hit a baseball 200 feet into a 4 x 4 piece of leather. Why wouldn’t he be able to? Serrano highlights many of the movie’s underappreciated scenes, and his piece succeeded in bringing back that feeling of contentment and satisfaction that The Sandlot gave me throughout my childhood.
The piece: https://grantland.com/hollywood-prospectus/youre-killing-us-smalls-the-only-the-sandlot-character-rankings-youll-ever-need/