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Nine years after retiring in the middle of a pennant race, Brewers slugger Stan Ross (Bernie Mac) learns that a corrected clerical error has left him three hits short of the titular milestone. Since Ross's Bonds-like relationship with the sportswriters has put his Hall of Fame status in limbo, he returns to the field in search of the elusive 3,000. The movie gets plenty of comic mileage from the disparity between Ross's superstar ego and his aging body's abilities (Deion, take note), but the real news is that Mac has finally found a movie that taps into the dark side displayed in his best stand-up work. A hilarious elementary-school scene plays off the comedian's ambivalence toward kids, and the dynamic between Mac and Angela Bassett lends the requisite romantic subplot a rueful weight that transcends sports movie formula. There's also a refreshing attentiveness to baseball nuance—a key scene deals with the fine art of reading pitchers—and indeed, most hardcore fans will guess the final redemptive twist several innings in advance.


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