A Serious Analysis of Air Bud 4: Seventh Inning Fetch

By Cyrus Sarfaty

When I was seven or eight years old, as part of a summer camp, I watched a grainy VHS tape of Charles Martin Smith’s Air Bud (1997) on a rainy day. From the little that I remember, an insecure pre-teen boy who struggles on his youth basketball team “adopts” a golden retriever (aptly named Buddy) who just so happens to dominate on the hardwood. A box office success, Air Bud may be best known for the referee’s pivotal line in the rising action: “Ain’t no rule that says a dog can’t play basketball.” This semi-skewed logic has greatly influenced pop culture: the so-called ‘Air Bud rule’ has its own Urban Dictionary page, a fifteen-minute John Oliver rant, and appearances in comic strips. Air Bud was created as a “classic Disney movie”, one of the 111(!) films the company churned out in a span of six years, from 1997 to 2003. As a result, it should not be taken seriously, and Disney should have been satisfied that it outperformed its $3M budget ninefold. In other words, there should only be one Air Bud movie. However, Disney was riding high and capitalized on their half-decent idea. Over sixteen years, they created an astounding fourteen movies as part of the Air Bud Entertainment franchise, including two spinoff series and dozens of dogs. Only the first four films featured the original human cast, the last of which I will analyze today.

That’s right: despite its pun-ishable title, it gets worse than Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch. But after countless rewatches and many pages of notes, I can assure you that, to use an appropriate baseball analogy, the movie is a game-ending pitch-clock violation. Let’s go through the lowest moments of the movie chronologically. You can follow along for free on Tubi.


On the first day of school, it’s established that the high school baseball season is about to start. That is odd, especially for Washington, where the temperature ranges from 16ºC to 4ºC with on-and-off showers throughout the fall. Also, how is the first mention of baseball 24 minutes into the film? If Disney completely omitted the sports aspect from the film, it would be a perfectly acceptable Hallmark family movie.


A junior high school baseball game would never be front-page news in any city, regardless of its size. Let’s investigate this newspaper further. I bet the director wasn’t expecting me to press pause.

  • This newspaper was published the day after 9/11. Not only is that noteworthy in its own right, it’s common knowledge that 9/11 happened on a Sunday, not a Tuesday like this newspaper is suggesting.
  • In the third paragraph it says that the opposing pitcher– who is in junior high, I must reiterate– threw a 91 mph fastball. Even future Hall-of-Famer Adam Wainwright couldn’t top 90 in the recent World Baseball Classic.
  • In the fourth paragraph, the Timberwolves are now suddenly named the Stallions. Basic continuity error.
  • In the fifth paragraph, apparently the Timberwolves’ Mike Miller hit his 35th home run of the season during the Opening Day game. I have a feeling the journalist just took a real MLB article from September 2001 (late in the season) and changed the players’ names.
  • In the sixth paragraph, there’s no way that Andrea could have a pitching record of two wins, five losses in the very first game of the season. She didn’t even get any playing time during that game! Also, apparently she walked Tammy, despite the fact that they are on the same team.
  • In the seventh paragraph, the team has changed its name again; now Buddy’s squad is called the Bears. As well, in the first game of the season, there’s no way pitcher Richard Welles could be 15-9. (Moreover, he wasn’t on the Opening Day roster at 32:08.)


Watch this ultra-rare 6-5-4 double play in a junior high school baseball game, where the players should reasonably possess minimal baseball IQ and arm strength. I could only find one example of a comparable play in the MLB over the past few seasons, turned by one of the best defensive infielders in Javy Báez.


Another article means even more room for error.

  • In the second paragraph, we read that Tammy just earned her 20th victory. This doesn’t make any sense, as she clearly caught the game, something evidenced by the caption “Tammy strong behind plate”.
  • In the third paragraph, it is apparent that the Timberwolves currently hold a record of 106 wins and 36 losses, something impossible three weeks into the season and meaning the team is seventy games over .500. Any struggles should not matter. (It’s also worth noting that the “junior-league record” for single-season wins was apparently established by the 1906 Bears, who were 116-36. This just so happens to be the win-loss record of the winningest MLB team up to that point, the 1906 Chicago Cubs. When this movie was being produced, the Seattle Mariners were deep in a chase to overtake this record, so likely once again, the producers just ripped off a local newspaper from a week prior.)


The Timberwolves lose, dropping down to a horrendous 106-37 record. I don’t understand why they didn’t bat in the bottom of the ninth, however. Throughout this movie, they are always the home team.


We’ve reached the one-hour mark, and this slog is ramping up ever so slightly. Still, I don’t think old Mini Coopers had steering wheels on the left, as they are a British car brand. (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the entire poorly-constructed subplot of this movie, in which two mad scientists are trying to harvest Buddy and the other local golden retrievers– Shooter, Striker, Zack, and Duke– to extract the “super sports gene” which they can sell to professional athletes. Why would they have to harvest all of the dogs when Buddy can play all of their sports? Isn’t he enough?)


Just like the national anthem, no junior high baseball games ever play “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”. Still, this makes sense for the movie’s title, “Seventh Inning Fetch”. (Also, the fans got the words to the song wrong: it’s “take me out the crowd”, not “take me out to the show”.)


How could it be the top of the seventh inning if they just did the seventh inning stretch?


This is the most obvious home run setup in any baseball movie ever. The team is down 7-1 in the championship game, and just when it looks like they’ll never be able to come back, they sure do. Andrea, Tammy, and Buddy arrive from having just saved all the dogs from being dognapped, and every character arc is resolved when Andrea hits a bottom-of-the-ninth, two-out, two-strike, walk-off homer in front of her brother Josh, who returned home from college to watch her in the stands. Somehow Andrea does all this with the worst home run swing I have ever seen. An enormous lunge with zero power or weight shift somehow causes the ball to roll to the wall and cause her to score on an inside-the-parker. Look at the freeze frame below. Terrible. Or “great”, in the words of Randy.


Nine months later, it just so happens to be the next year’s MLB postseason, even though it’s currently October, so the math doesn’t add up. Notwithstanding that, Buddy has been drafted by my Anaheim Angels, who are playing the San Diego Padres in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series. (They actually predicted the Angels to play in Game 7 of that year’s World Series, albeit against a different team.)

Well, what I covered doesn’t even scratch the surface of the movie’s agonizing gaffes and inconsistencies. I hope you can get the last hour and a half of your life back.