A Review Of “Moneyball”


The film Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, came out in 2011. The current year is 2013. That means I’ve been sleeping on this movie for two years.

I get that.

Reasonably speaking, I never wanted to see the film, because I knew it would be unrealistic. It’s not Moneyball‘s fault; it’s a symptom of most movies focused around baseball. Typically, either (a) I don’t buy the actors as actual athletes (because often times they look like they’ve never thrown or hit a baseball in their lives), or (b) the actual story is primarily directed away from the diamond — rather in the personal lives of the actors — where they excel, since, you know, they are used to playing dialogue-driven roles. This is why the movie Major League is probably the best baseball account of all-time, because I buy the characters as baseball players. Plus, it’s hilarious.

Moneyball was a mild surprise, in a good way, but I can’t pass it as a “good” film, because I’m just way too anal about how Sabermetrics are presented in the context of everyday life.

Brad Pitt is good in everything. He’s one of my favorite actors. In Moneyball, he plays a detached Billy Beane, uncompromising on his belief that his system will be correct, although he can’t bear to watch his team play. I buy the off-the-field stuff with his daughter, and ex-wife, and am mildly fine with how he portrayed Beane. After all, if you’re looking for a good-looking replacement for Billy Beane, you could do a hell of a lot worse than Brad Pitt.

Jonah Hill carries the film. He plays Peter Brand, the individual who introduces Sabermetrics to Beane (Pitt), and it appeared like he did his research. I bought everything he said, which is good, because the SABR aspect of the film is what I prepared myself to analyze with a fine-tooth comb.

The real issue I had with the movie was the presupposition I carried with me before it started: The non-reality. The film focuses on the transition of Scott Hatteberg from catcher to first basemen, but the truth of the matter is that Hatteberg’s existence played a substantially smaller roll in Oakland’s 2002 success than pitchers Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson, and Barry Zito. Correct me if I’m wrong, but none of those three players were even mentioned in the film.

Moneyball capitalizes on two major points: The 20-game win streak of the A’s, and the conflict between Beane and his subsidiary scouts. That’s where the cursing and drama come in; all that was missing was the sex. Art Howe, who’s played by Phillip Seymore Hoffman, was also a point of interest, although that drama was also a likely add-in to drive up to drama factor — a lot like how the 2nd Lord Of The Rings film invented story lines that didn’t actually occur in the book.

This is applicable to the Rangers because they operate under the same fashion as Oakland did in 2002, except they have a substantially higher budget. Rather than focusing on replacing Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon with cheaper alternatives, the Rangers can replace them with more expensive options.

The neo-Rangers have cornered the baseball world in that, although they certainly have their deficiencies, they have a small-market mentality with big-market bucks. That type of shit tends to work in the real world as well.

So, yeah. I have love for Moneyball in that it wasn’t a complete embarrassment. I can nitpick all I want, but in the end it appears like they came prepared. There were instances where they had to dumb themselves down so the non-SABR audience could get the picture, but it wasn’t egregious enough where it became a distraction.

On my 2-8 scale (since that’s how scouts conduct valuations), I give Moneyball a 5, which relates to an athlete who’s a solid regular, but nothing special. I’m not sure I’ll want to watch the film again, not unless some girl is trying to impress me by her adventurous sports’ acumen.