Everything about Moneyball sounds like it should be a hit movie. It has Brad Pitt in the starring roll. Jonah Hill and Robin Wright are part of the supporting cast. Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh is involved. But then there's the subject matter. Sabermetrics.
Yeah. Hollywood is making a movie about the obscure world of using statistical analysis in baseball recruitment. To be even more specific, Pitt is cast as Billy Beane, manager of the Oakland A's, made famous for his particular use of statistics to build a million-dollar team on something more akin to a thousandaire's budget in author Michael Lewis' 2003 non-fiction bestseller that bears the same title as the movie. So why isn't this a problem?
Underdog teams are the stuff of successful -- even great -- movies (Major League, Bad News Bears). Just based on the trailer seen thus far, it looks like they're going for glitz over the nitty gritty. With Brad Pitt playing Beane, telling Beane's personal story rather than the details of his recruitment style is the obvious one, anyway, but on behalf of America's baseball fans, can I say thank you? Lewis' was a story with so much meat, we can leave out some of the potatoes.
I'll admit I'm not the "numbers" kind of baseball fan to begin with. I can't tell you how many home-runs Derek Jeter hit in 2000 or Mark Teixeira's on-base percentage last year. I'm married to someone who is more into that, and I love him for it, not despite it.
But the truth is, I can't see either of us sitting through a straight up rehashing of front office politics and baseball team budgets, through the minutiae of player contracts and the exact details of how a manager figures out how to get a pitcher on the cheap. That's interesting reading, sure, but not blockbuster movie material. Not even Friday night on the couch with the fam movie material. No, Hollywood had to "cool" up the geek speak.
Fortunately, Beane himself has a story to tell that weaves right into his use of sabermetrics. He's a part-owner and manager, a former player, a guy known as much for his quirks as his talents. And it's who he is that helped him turn Major League Baseball on its head with his recruitment strategy. It's hard not to make this guy seem Hollywood cool. Check out the trailer and tell us if you think it seems to be "too Hollywood"?
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