Will “Moneyball” be the Baseball Movie of This Decade?
“There are rich teams, there are poor teams then there is 50 feet of crap and then there is us”. How perfect is that sentiment by actor Brad Pitt who is playing baseball genius or folly Billy Beane in the upcoming flick “Moneyball”.
I will be honest here, I have not read the book, but now I am sorry I didn’t think it was required reading to be a fan. But now my mind has been altered. Not by the way that Pitt played the brash and combative mastermind behind finding victories through scientific manipulation and statistical dissect.
There is another line in the movie where Jonah Hall, who plays : “Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins” In order to buy wins you need to buy runs”.
Prophetic thinking for that time when the rank and file of baseball scouting never turned an ear or eye to a player’s past statistics as a measure of his future potential.
In a time when theories were just that, Beane took a chance on not only his ideals but a young team that was considered on the downside of their success. Wild how a few of those players selected by Beane at that time made their way through the halls of Tropicana Field, and not just in the visitor’s clubhouse.
A young First Baseman that once had MLB stardom tattooed on his resume found himself a part of this revolutionary idea. That player was Carlos Pena. After the success Pena showed in Detroit before a fall from the Tigers’ grace, Beane still saw the potential, saw the talent, saw a hitter with a great eye for the ball, and could pop it skyward and beyond the fence with every swing.
There was the young country boy who threw from an angle almost unheard of today, but has a crisp and clean bite to his pitches, and provided a unique angle and ball flight that disrupted even the best hitters of the time. Chad Bradford was another Beane disciple who was plucked off the “what if” pile and found himself again throwing darts, and providing victories.
Is it because of the evolution of these two players that I want to see “Moneyball?” You could say that, but the honest truth is I want to see how the film shows how this young Oakland team with Beane at the front took on the old school scouting combines and turned them on their heads. I am intrigued by the way Beane stood his ground to the status quo and produced not only a perfect example of his new system, but a viable winner within a highly structured budget.
I want to see how the success of this same “run production equals wins “thought process morphed and expanded to be the template that teams like the Tampa Bay Rays, Kansas City Royals and Seattle Mariners have twisted into their own unique blends to compete with the MLB teams that sport high 9 digit payrolls.
I have heard more than a few people in the past refer to the book “Moneyball” as the inherent “New Testament” of baseball’s revival. That is exploration into things as simple as taking pitches, good eye concentration at the plate, and solid contact with the ball could produce a team that could be competitive with anyone on any given day/night. If you believe that is what transpired with “Moneyball”, then I can understand the religious connotation or reference.
Oakland might not have a logical chance to compete in this seasonal event, but the A’s impact long ago started by Beane will surely have its own crowning moments as a few of the low budget teams who use variations of Beane’s philosophy sweat and try and prove his logic once again works, and can bring success.
Still, I wonder to this day just what Beane thinks of Pitt playing him. They do not look alike, with Beane being more of a Pee Wee Herman prototype than the female friendly Mr. Jolie. But that is one of the great things about the film industry, creative license can be used, things can be tweaked, even making Beane look like one of the most desired men in the World.
Beane turned baseball’s scouting and player development annuals on their ears. He provided a stampede of copycats, provided a different pattern to winning that eliminated multi-million dollars deals by utilizing the basic tools each ballplayer learns from his Little League days. Sure he might not be Brad Pitt, but Billy Beane definitely has been one of the influential figures in baseball over the last 10 years….think the talents of Pitt possibly as a General Manager…