Sports Column | Les Winkeler: Twitter and its hot takes

Sports Column | Les Winkeler: Twitter and its hot takes

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With no March Madness, NHL, spring training baseball or the Masters, there are a lot of hours to fill while sheltering in place.

Like many Americans, I’ve turned to Twitter for entertainment … with mixed results.

Sports fans are keeping themselves occupied by ranking their favorite sports movies, making Mount Rushmore lists of their favorite teams, or listing the worst player that ever played for the Cardinals, Cubs, etc.

While it can be fun, I seriously question the judgment of many people.

There are actually people who claim “Hoosiers” is a bad movie. Let me make this perfectly clear. They aren’t saying it was OK, or that it was mediocre, they’re saying it was horrible.

One of their complaints is the story is schmaltzy.

Of course it’s schmaltzy. The entire premise is schmaltzy. It’s the David and Goliath story on steroids.

These misguided critics claim Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper aren’t believable.

No. 1 – it's a movie, not a documentary. Superheroes are one of the most profitable franchises in the movie industry today. We’re asked to believe in Iron Man, Wolverine and Batman, but the characterization of Norman Dale and Shooter defy belief.

Give me a break.

“Don’t get caught watching the paint dry,” is one of my favorite movie quotes of all time.

Then, there is the issue of naming the worst player that ever put on a Cardinals uniform.

That’s wrong on its face.

The least talented person to ever make a major league roster is infinitely more talented that 99 percent of baseball fans. The people that play major league baseball beat the odds for a reason. They’re good.

Even more surprising were some of the names thrown into the mix.

Pete Kozma was one of Cardinals’ fans favorite whipping boys.

Will Kozma ever be enshrined in the Hall of Fame? Nope. Not a chance.

Was he a terrible player?

He was good enough to make the 2011 roster when the Cardinals won the World Series. He got the game-winning hit to propel the team to the 2012 NLCS. And, he was a pretty darned good shortstop.

Jason Heyward also took an inexplicable beating from fans.

Heyward played just one season for the Cardinals. Frankly, I thought he was the best player on the team.

No, his numbers weren’t spectacular, but they were solid. He hit .293 with 13 home runs, 60 RBI and a .797 OPS. What’s more, he was a stud in the outfield. He had a fielding percentage of .990 with 10 outfield assists.

Hall of Fame numbers? Nope. Worst player in franchise history? That’s just crazy talk.

Finally, I realized there are generations of baseball fans who haven’t been introduced to the really schmaltzy baseball movies of my youth.

The shelter in place exercise will be an opportunity to go back and watch such movies as “Fear Strikes Out” (the Jimmy Piersall story), “The Stratton Story” (Monty Statton’s comeback after losing a leg in an accident) and “Kill the Umpire” (A William Bendix comedy).

For the record, the five best sports movies of all-time are: “Remember the Titans”, “Tin Cup”, “Major League”, “Bull Durham” and “Hoosiers.”

Of course, if you ask me tomorrow I might opt for “Marshall”, “A League of Their Own”, “For Love of the Game”, “Glory Road” or “Dodgeball, A True Underdog Story.”

LES WINKELER is the former sports editor for The Southern Illinoisan. Contact him at, on Twitter @LesWinkeler.



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