What the fuck, Air Bud?

A late night discussion between the Board members here at Talking To A Fade brought something to my attention that requires immediate discussion. And it has to do with Air Bud.

Yes, that Air Bud. You know him … that furry Golden Retriever who is the star of a series of films, all focused around a different sport? Cute, right? Fluffy, sweet, loyal. Well, I have news for you: HE’S A FUCKING MONSTER.

Don’t believe me? Here are my receipts.

You may all be familiar with Buddy. Buddy is a stray golden retriever who escaped from a cruel owner … and because of his circus background (stay with me) turns out to be an amazing basketball player. (Let’s just skip past the fact that I’ve never been to a circus with a basketball hoop, and allow for the magic of cinema to take over.) Buddy is suddenly Air Bud, and as devoted viewers of this timeless cinema classic knows, he helps lead to good things all around. He’s a canine hero!

Buddy didn’t stop there, of course. And honestly, that’s where it’s time to pay the piper, Bud. Listen, I get that it was your time to shine, and you did what anyone in Hollywood does when it’s time to get paid – you made a sequel. In fact, you made a lot of them.

Next up was football in Air Bud: Golden Receiver. Let’s table the question of how effective an animal without opposable thumbs could be at catching something the size of a football because THIS WILL come back later. But nobody can argue with football as a choice – it’s the true national pastime and honestly, “Golden Receiver” is just too good wordplay to ignore. I’m in.

That was followed up with a frankly pathetic attempt to woo both American children everywhere and the European set with Air Bud 3: World Pup, a movie featuring Air Bud and his litter of puppies playing soccer (or “football” as those … everywhere else call it). Open question – what percentage of American ticket buyers even understood that the title was a play on the phrase “World Cup”…? 10%? 25%? Whatever line you want to set, I’m taking the under.

As for choosing “footie” as the next sport to promote, I’m all for expanding the game, and while this wouldn’t be MY call, I get it. Listen, I really do. Soccer makes sense, it’s easy to envision a dog with a big round ball…it’s virtually in their nature. The American egg-shaped football still is an outlier, but I get where the franchise is going.

But then, it’s what happened next that chaps my hide. Because, Mr. Bud, you then headed to the baseball diamond in Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch. (Once again, NO complaints with the pun-laced title. These guys are earning their money.) It’s not the title, it’s … well, I present the following picture for the prosecution:

Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch (2002)
Perhaps it says something about me, but that raccoon looks like he could be throwing a spitball. Where’s the commissioner NOW?
Photo courtesy of Disney

Of course, this is just what industry folks call a “one-sheet.” This is something that could easily be photoshopped, and god knows it would be pretty hard for a dog to hold a bat in its mouth and do anything with —

Photo courtesy of Disney

Jesus Fucking Christ, Air Bud. I’m not even going to get into the travesty of that uniform – that’s not your fault. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

But if you’re telling me you can swing a baseball bat — and you ARE telling me just that – then why, WHY, are you not swinging a golf club? It’s not for lack of skill – let’s be clear, we are led to believe that Air Bud was the World Series MVP in this film. Yep. The dog can play.

Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch came out in 2002. What happened in 2002 on the PGA Tour? Oh, just Tiger Woods winning The Masters, the U.S. Open, Ernie Freakin Els winning The Open and the improbable Rich Beem holding off Tiger in the PGA Championship. We are talking the very sweet spot of Tiger Woods’ prime. Golf was and likely never will be as big. You’re telling me that Air Bud looked at Eldrick “Tiger” Woods and Scott Spiezio of the World Series winning Anaheim Angels and decided that Spiezio was what team he wanted to be on? THIS GUY?

Yes, I know he’s part of the band Sandfrog, but you can’t choose this guy over Tiger Woods, AIR BUD.

I get that the whole country was still under the delusion that baseball was our national pastime. And I need to point out that as a San Francisco Giants fan, even re-litigating the 2002 World Series (the one without Air Bud playing) after three subsequent titles hurt. BUT THIS IS IMPORTANT WORK WE’RE DOING HERE. I’M TAKING A BULLET FOR YOU.

And what did Air Bud do after baseball? I mean, we now know that he can rise above the lack of an opposable thumb and catch footballs, and he can swing a long instrument via the power of what surely must be a magical jaw. Clearly, it was time to hit the links.

I would be fairly concerned about that parrot, too. Photo courtesy of Disney

VOLLEYBALL? This feels like a cruel prank. Seriously, volleyball? This is a sport for unfairly hot people to play on the beach, or a high school sport that ranks with badminton and water polo as what people do when they’re not chosen for the “real” sports. (Also, “Spikes Back” is clearly the worst subtitle in the franchise. This was a stretch every way you slice it.)

But, if I’m going to be fair, perhaps Bud had a real talent for the game and it was just inevitable …

Photo courtesy of Disney

I mean, that’s just unacceptably bad form. It’s disgusting, honestly. That ball is hitting sand, Bud, and while I know you’re a good boy, there’s no I in TEAM. What would possibly get you to think you could play volleyball, instead of going up against Tiger, Phil, Ernie and Vijay?

Meet the other star of Air Bud Spikes Back: Gabby Reece
Photo courtesy of Disney

You know what, Air Bud? HOW DARE YOU marginalize the talented Gabrielle Reece by turning her into a sex symbol? This is one of America’s great sporting talents and I, for one, am insulted. You’ve found a new low. (Side note: Did you know Gabby Reece was 6’3″? I did not. That’s remarkably tall.)

As if to add insult to injury, there are actually NINE more “sequels” in this franchise, though they all focus on Air Bud’s puppies (“buddies”) and have little or nothing to do with sport. So, that’s it. No golf for Air Bud. Think of the potential titles!

Air Bud 5: Mutting for Par

Air Bud 5: A Ca-Nine Hole Loop

Air Bud 5: Golden Ball Retriever

(OK, not gonna lie. These aren’t up to par. Get it? ZING! But there’s something there.)

Air Bud had a chance to build upon and even grow the game that I (and you, a reader of a golf blog) love. And what did he do? He went and played baseball, volleyball and then hung it up and let his kids screw around. You’ve let us all down, Air Bud, while coasting on that cute dog look. It’s wrong, it’s unjust and this tyranny cannot stand.

Air Bud … you’ve got some explaining to do.

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