You're well within your rights to obsess over House of Cards, or Orange Is the New Black, or maybe even Lilyhammer if it's been a particularly rough month. But the best Netflix original isn't a TV series. It's a documentary. Specifically, it's The Battered Bastards of Baseball.
It's possible (likely?) that I'm very specifically conditioned to feel this way. I'm a lifelong baseball fan who hasn't been alive long enough to know the Portland Mavericks story before watching BBB. I enjoy Kurt Russell more than I can rationally explain. And group-of-misfit-underdogs-done-good movies should really be the only category Netflix ever suggests to me. This one, though, happens to be real.
I won't spoil much about what happens here, for those who fit the same particular mold I'm in. But the bare bones are enticing in and of themselves. In the early 70s, established character actor and part-time baseball fanatic Bing Russell (father of Kurt, who plays a prominent role here) founds an independent baseball team in Portland, Oregon. The team fills out the roster with open tryouts; flouts baseball conventions; drinks pretty much constantly. Watching the Mavericks come together and evolve as a team is like watching Bad News Bears crossbred with Major League, with a larger than life ringmaster making it all somehow work.
Consider this a gentle nudge if you're someone who likes baseball, but loves the idea of what baseball could be if it would just let its hair down a little. The next time you have an 90 minutes to kill, you'll have way more fun with Bing Russell than you ever have with Francis Underwood. [Netflix]