The book by Michael Lewis
June 2, 2011
Moneyball is a new movie to be released in September starring Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jonah Hill. It is based on the true story of how a successful baseball team was put together while on a tight budget, by employing computer-generated analysis to select their players.
This Bennett Miller directed movie was previewed tonight for audience feedback. The reviewer felt it was true to the real story as well as entertaining, amusing, and even heartwarming.
• The acting seemed realistic, the clubhouse and ballpark scenes worked well.
• Very good, key moments involving specific players, Scott Hatteberg, David Justice, and Jeremy Giambi.
• The script captured Billy’s idiosyncrasies, such as his inability to watch his team play, being too uncomfortable.
• The baseball seemed authentic.
• Touching moment when Billy’s 12 year old daughter sings him a song
• The movie dragged a bit after telling the story of Oakland’s 20 successive wins in September 2002. (Movie people, this is where you apply the tweak)
• Another viewer with me had trouble following some of the trade talk, too confusing for the non-baseball crowd.
• Too many flashbacks to Billy’s days as a ballplayer. We got the point that he never got over being unsuccessful as a first round draft choice.
• Didn’t use enough of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s talent, his part was too shallow and one dimensional.
• Would have liked to see more conflict between Art and Billy.
• A needless moment when Billy goes to pick up his daughter from his ex wife’s home and has to kill a few minutes. Waste of time.
Billy Beane, the general manager of the A’s played by Brad Pitt, fought his scouts, his players and his manager, to learn a new way to evaluate player talent. Before sabermetrics, players were often evaluated by how good they looked on the field, how great guys they were, or in one case even how ugly a player’s spouse was (a player with low self-esteem).
The A’s could not compete with the big budget teams, they had to learn a new way, and Peter Brand, played by Jonah Hill, showed Billy the statistics that became better predictors to success on the field.
Billy wanted his manager Art Howe, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman to use his players, not the ones Art favored, because Billy's analysis showed it would lead to more wins. When Art refused, Billy traded Art’s favored players forcing him to play Billy’s guys; amusing scene.
It would be fun to re-read the book now, to see how some of those players identified as diamonds in the rough actually fared. Let’s see, there was Kevin Youkilis, the greek god of the walk, Nick Swisher, and Jeremy Brown. Two out of three is pretty good.