Quoth the credit crawl for Mr. 3000: ''Thanks to ESPN. Without sports, this would have been a short film.'' Let's amend that: Without sports media -- faux snippets of Pardon the Interruption, Best Damn Sports Show Period, and, of course, SportsCenter -- this movie would be six minutes long. Beneath all the cross branding, it's the same old rotation: Lessons are learned, players are played, products are placed -- it's a canned clip reel of Heartwarming Sports Comedy, intermittently redeemed by its easygoing boomer vibe. And at its center is the redoubtable Bernie Mac, nicely aged, as he says, ''like USDA beef.''
But this Mac isn't TV's rumbling, suffer-no-fools curmudgeon with the slow-cooked selfpossession and fabled resistance to sentimentality. No, this is Leading Mac, wearing his foibles on his sleeve as self-centered Stan Ross, a sour power hitter who returns from a 10-year retirement to reclaim his 3000-hit sounds especially synthetic in his smart mouth. And since we know darned well where this is going (personal glory versus love of the game -- which will triumph, d'ya think?), the story has all the honest spontaneity of a postgame interview.