On Tuesday night I headed to cheap night at the movie theatre to take in Moneyball.
I’d been looking forward to seeing this movie since I had heard it was in production, having read the book a few years ago. While I’m no film buff and a novice at best when it comes to sabermetric principles, I figure I’d share my thoughts on the movie.
Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill
I had read that this movie was basically Brad Pitt’s baby. The idea for a movie had bounced around for a few years but it wasn’t until Pitt took an interest in the project that it became a reality. Overall I thought he gave a good performance, bouncing from mood to mood of his Billy Beane character. One minute, he’s high energy and happy-go-lucky as he’s negotiating trades, the next he’s vulnerable and miserable while listening to a few seconds of his team’s struggles on his radio.
Jonah Hill does a good job of bringing a comedic twist to the movie as the fictional character Peter Brand. His lines explaining how sabermetrics work are also well written so even a non-baseball fan can understand the value in the numbers.
No doubt for me, one of the reasons I enjoyed this movie so much is because I can remember the Oakland teams from the early 2000s. Scott Hatteberg in particular, is a player I remember well, although more for his time with the Boston Red Sox. I remember how badly his throwing arm had deteriorated which created two distinct memories for me.
I remember one Saturday afternoon, a FOX game of the week that had the Red Sox visiting the Yankees in the Bronx, saw Joe Buck and Tim McCarver rip on Hatteberg’s bad arm after his throw failed to catch the Yankee runner stealing second even though a pitch-out was called. The only thing that saved Hatteberg was the fact that the Yankee player over slid the bag and was tagged out.
Another memory is being in Cape Cod at a restaurant. I remember walking by the bar area as I was leaving the restaurant and listening in to a grizzled Red Sox fan talk about Hatteberg’s defensive game.
“He’s a disgrace! was the verdict, delivered in a high pitched and defeated tone.
More than a Sports Movie
My sister, who isn’t as big a baseball fan as me, asked me if I thought she would enjoy the movie. I told her I think she would.
Moneyball is as much a movie about business as it is about Baseball. The movie is two hours long and it only features a few minutes of on-field action. Most of the story takes place in the bowels of the Oakland Coliseum and pretty much anywhere Beane has his cell phone.
It’s a movie that channels the spirit of David and Goliath and the overachieving underdog. ‚ Those are themes anyone can relate to, not just in sports.