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Moneyball (2011)

Josh Reviews Moneyball!

November 2nd, 2011

Is anyone else as amused as I am by how closely Brad Pitt, in the new baseball film Moneyball, resembles Robert Redford in the classic baseball film The Natural (click here for my review)?  It’s spooky, man!

Anyways, Moneyball is adapted from the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis.  The book (which I have never read, but it’s been on my to-read for a while now and has been bolted up to the top of that list after I watched the terrific film adaptation) elaborates upon the technique of sabermetrics, a type of baseball statistical analysis that focuses on in-game performance as opposed to other intangibles (like leadership, heart, etc.).  The book, and the film, focuses on the Oakland A’s 2002 season, and on their General Manager Billy Beane, who was one of the early adopters/pioneers of this strategy.

I’ve always loved baseball, but these days with my incredibly busy life I don’t follow the game with anything approaching the passion and devotion I did as a kid.  Growing up as a die-hard Mets fan, I listened to almost every single game on the radio (WFAN New York) and when I couldn’t (like when I was away at summer camp) I would voraciously devour the box scores (which my parents would faithfully mail to me several times a week).  Moneyball is a fantastic film and, more than that, it’s a fantastic baseball film, and it really brought me back to my days as a kid analyzing, with my friends, the ins and outs of every game and every player.  The film really made me miss those days!!

Baseball is a magical sport, and has always fascinated me the way no other professional sport does.  Although one aspect of Moneyball is to debunk many of the assumptions of the game (and to reveal the inherent unfairness in which certain ball-clubs with enormous payrolls — cough Yankees cough — can spend their way to victory after victory, leaving the small-market teams in the dust), the film also pours over with a love for baseball and a fascination with its complexities and mysteries.  The sequence, late in the film, chronicling the A’s incredible win-streak from the 2002 season is thrilling, an incredibly-realized reminder of the powerful pull of baseball at its best.  It’s as good a celluloid love-letter to the game as I’ve ever seen.

I also really love the scene in Mr. Beane’s office right before the trade deadline, in which he works the phones, wheeling-and-dealing to acquire the players he thinks he needs.  All that talk of trades is a bit inside baseball (to use a very appropriate metaphor), steeped … [continued]