Tuesday, October 04, 2011


I laughed when I saw Moneyball. I cried when I got to relive some of the moments from the glorious 20-game streak. But I ended up angry at the end.

Moneyball isn't so much of a baseball movie as a look at what happens when you go against 100 years of tradition in a sport, as Billy Beane actually did in the 2002 season. What the movie explores is how people reacted to him when Beane found a way to compete in a sport where money actually talks and he had none. What the movie doesn't tell you is that the Moneyball treatise -- that is, the use of sabremetrics, or on-base statistics, to determine which players to play -- stopped working for the Athletics within a year after they employed it. Bigger baseball teams with more payroll caught on right away, and used money and stats to improve their game.

Brad Pitt is very engaging in this role, the most I've ever witnessed. but he's no Billy Beane. Beane isn't as flippant, is rather studious, not like the buffoon Pitt often imagined. Art Howe's portrayal by Phillip Seymour Hoffman is just wrong. Howe has never been a curmudgeonly old man, and was a communicative coach. Some of the scouts have argued that the script played loose with their characters, but still kept their names. Why couldn't they have just changed a name or two? Jonah Hill, for instance, was really Paul DePodesta, or actually an amalgam of several analysts; they changed his character's name.

While I realize it was a fictionalization of the story, they changed history quite a bit to suit the story. I enjoyed the story -- laughing, crying -- until I got to the character assassination part.

Thumb's up with reservations.


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