I don’t think BOTTOM OF THE 9th is based on a true story, but other than that, it fits neatly into the inspirational sports movie category. Twenty years ago, hotshot baseball phenom Sonny Stano makes a tragic mistake, gets sent to Sing Sing Prison, and has to forget his dream of becoming a New York Yankee. When he finally gets out, he returns to his old neighborhood, struggles to get a job and fit in, deals with old enemies, tries to rekindle a relationship with his former girlfriend, and then gets what seems like a lucky break when he runs into his old minor league coach and winds up with an assistant coaching job on the local farm team. But Sonny can still hit, and the dream of making it to the bigs isn’t completely dead . . .
Most of these movies are pretty predictable, and BOTTOM OF THE 9th is no exception. I knew pretty much everything that was going to happen in it, and chances are, you will, too, if you watch it. The appeal is in the cast, the writing, and how well the whole thing is executed. In those respects, I thought this was an entertaining movie. Joe Manganiello, who I’ve always found to be a likable actor, turns in a good, believable performance as Sonny. Sofia Vergara, who’s married to him in real life, is okay as the former girlfriend, but the script really doesn’t give her a lot to do. The supporting cast is solid, there are a few funny lines here and there to break up the slow-burn drama, and basically, I’m a sucker for baseball movies and have been ever since I saw THE BABE RUTH STORY when I was a kid. This doesn’t go in the top rank of baseball movies, but I liked it and thought it was a decent way to spend a couple of hours.