Former Las Vegas showgirl Rachel Phelps (Margaret Whitton) inherits the Cleveland Indians baseball team from her deceased husband. Phelps hates Cleveland and wants to relocate the team to Miami. The Indians’ contract with Cleveland contains an escape clause stipulating that the team may relocate if attendance falls below a certain level. That means they have to finish dead last to relocate to Miami. Determined to put together the worst team in the Major Leagues, Phelps hires Lou Brown (James Gammon), the manager for the Toledo Mud Hens, to manage the team and promotes former manager Charlie Donovan (Charles Cyphers) to general manager.
During spring training in Tucson, Arizona, the team’s shortcomings become evident. The team’s lone star, third baseman Roger Dorn (Corbin Bernsen), is an egotistical prima donna whose skills have faded. Staff ace Eddie Harris (Chelcie Ross) has to rely on illegally doctoring the baseball due to his weakening arm. Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert), a voodoo-practicing Cuban import with significant power, cannot hit breaking balls and clashes with the devoutly Christian Harris. Veteran catcher Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger), a former star who had spent the last few years playing in the Mexican League after his knees gave out, has lost so much strength on his throws that he cannot reach second base.
The two players who draw the most attention are brash young outfielder Willie Mays Hayes (Wesley Snipes), who simply showed up at spring training without an invite, and pitcher Rick Vaughn (Charlie Sheen), a convicted felon on work release from a California prison. Hayes claims he can “run like Hayes”, and proves to be the fastest player on the team, and “hit like” his namesake, but is unable to hit the ball very far. Vaughn has a fastball in the mid 90s, but has no control over it, which earns him the nickname “Wild Thing”.
The team predictably starts the season on a losing streak. Lou then discovers Vaughn’s control issues stem from an uncorrected visual impairment. After being fitted with glasses, Vaughn’s performance improves with additional coaching and assistance from Taylor, and the team begins to win. Meanwhile, Taylor tries to reunite with his ex-girlfriend Lynn (Rene Russo) despite her being engaged to another man.
Phelps, angered by the team’s improvement, tries to demoralize them by removing team amenities. She replaces their chartered team jet, first with a rickety propeller plane and then an old bus. She then refuses to fix their workout equipment, and even has the hot water to the locker room turned off. Despite her efforts the team continues to win and brings themselves into contention for the division championship.
Eventually Charlie is able to reveal Phelps’s plan to Lou. Lou then calls a team meeting and announces that all of the players on the current roster would be released or sent back to the minors at the end of the season no matter the outcome. With nothing to lose, Taylor states to the team that they should focus on winning the pennant. For added motivation, they use a cardboard cutout of Phelps from her showgirl days, peeling off sections of clothing for each game they win.
The team succeeds in tying the American League East (AL East) division with the New York Yankees, leading to a one-game playoff to determine the division championship. However, Lou decides to start Harris in place of Vaughn due to his experience. Vaughn then ends up in bed with a woman who he later finds out is Suzanne Dorn, Roger’s wife (Stacy Carroll); who had slept with Vaughn as revenge for her husband being unfaithful during a victory party.
In the playoff game in Cleveland, the game is scoreless until the top of the seventh when the Yankees take a 2-0 lead, but Cerrano finally gets a good pitch and hits a home run to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. The ninth inning begins with Harris loading the bases after recording two outs, with their best hitter Clu Haywood on deck. Lou decides to switch Harris out with Vaughn, who manages to get his revenge on Haywood, striking him out on three straight fastballs. In the bottom of the inning, the Yankees bring out “The Duke” (Willie Mueller), their headhunting closer. The Indians manage to catch the Yankees off guard thanks to Hayes’ speed after singling and stealing second base, and an unexpected bunt from Taylor to win the game.
As the team celebrates, Dorn punches Vaughn in the face for what happened the night before but then quickly pulls him up so they can keep celebrating. Taylor spots Lynn in the stands, no longer wearing her engagement ring. The two rush to hug each other as the city celebrates the victory.