Tim Robbins did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh in Bull Durham.
Tim Robbins plays the brash pitcher Nuke LaLoosh who can throw a ball fast, but has some serious problems when it comes to efficiently aiming the ball in the right direction. Robbins portrays Nuke as a brash overly confidant sort, but above all a doofus. The simple thing is that Nuke just is not very smart, and even when told what he is doing is wrong it is a bit hard for him to understand. Robbins although at first wears on you a little at the very beginning as Nuke, but once Costner's character shows up and knocks him down a notch Nuke becomes far more tolerable.
That is not really a problem with Robbins's performance because at that point you are not really suppose to like him all that much at first, and he properly leaves room for certain changes to occur. Also Robbins does not make the mistake many actors make well playing an obnoxious character by nature. Robbins certainly does play up the obnoxiousness to the right degree without going over board. Importantly what he also shows is a certain childlike enthusiasm with his performance that manages to make Nuke endearing even though Robbins never does stray from the brashness of Nuke either.
What really changes his character from his lunkhead approach to throwing though his relationship with Annie and Crash. Annie being a baseball groupie takes it as her duty almost to sleep with Nuke to reach his full potential for the team. Robbins and Sarandon are good together although not through some sort of normal warm filled chemistry, but rather between lust filled student of sorts and a lust filled teacher of sorts. Robbins though is quite enjoyable about how unabashed he is in Nuke's lust for Annie. Robbins is appropriately hapless as there is nothing romantic about his scenes with Sarandon rather the two create the scene amusingly as sex with lessons about how to be a better pitcher.
His relationship with Crash is one of almost pure antagonism at first, although Crash tries to make him hone in his game through tips he gives throughout. Robbins and Costner play this pretty well as the two basically ease on their dislike for each other, and Robbins is particularly effective in portraying Nuke slowly getting over himself. Robbins does not rush it but eases into it well that makes it an enjoyable journey, but as well a believable one. He and Costner are entertaining together as the two mentor/student role grows even to the point in which Crash convinces Nuke to stop sleeping with Annie since he says it will break his winning streak.
Robbins gives a good performance here as Nuke playing up nicely his character's lacking qualities in which a way he still can have a certain likability particularly as he slowly seems to learns how play better. What is important is that Robbins does not show Nuke to really get all that much smarter in in the end, but rather just he portrays Nuke as more of learning to do exactly what he is told to do more than anything else. He does this with a great degree of earnestness that works very well for the part.