Baseball season is officially underway which means summer is right around the corner. Having already put out a top five baseball movie list, albeit to some controversy for leaving out Field Of Dreams, it’s time to take a deeper look at the movies on the list and we will include Field Of Dreams when we look at each movie.
“It’s hard not to be romantic about baseball” could have easily been the best line in a baseball movie in sometime and basically summed up last summer’s great movie and Brad Pitt’s best movie in a while, Moneyball.
Moneyball is the true story of the second poorest team in the major leagues in the Oakland A’s and their determined general manager Billy Beane and how he changed the way teams are built and players are evaluated. Sabermetrics is a mathematical system that evaluates the hundreds of stats that baseball has kept track of for 100 years and finds the most productive player at each position and for the best value. Sabermetrics was developed by Bill James many years ago and he was nearly ostracized from the game for trying to change the way people look at this beloved game. Billy Beane’s very controversial use of this system to try and put a winning team on a minimal budget was not well received until it started to work. The A’s of 2002 shocked the baseball community by being competitive and setting records, most notably winning an astonishing 20 games in a row.
Written by Academy Award winner of the previous year, Aaron Sorkin, Moneyball is one of the finest made movies of the year and certainly one of the finest baseball movies in many years. Brad Pitt’s wonderful performance as the beleaguered GM is one of the best of his career. With near perfect dialogue delivery and a comfortableness with his role, Pitt makes you forget you are watching an actor and draws you in and has you pulling for him and the A’s within minutes of the movies beginning.
Moneyball truly shows how romantic baseball can be and how deep the love of the game goes and shows the parallel business side of the game which can be as heartbreaking as any postseason loss there is. Baseball is first and foremost a business despite the passion it’s fans have and the love of the players. It can be a hard and ugly business that shows that unfortunately in the baseball world money talks and money walks. It is near impossible for the poor teams like Oakland and Kansas City to compete with New York and Boston. Beane mentions early on, it’s an unfair game, and it is but that doesn’t curb it’s fan’s love for the game and doesn’t stop it from having those feel good stories like Oakland and Tampa Bay.
Billy Beane changed the near 200 year old game of baseball. He has no ring or banner or pennant to show for it. He turned down the largest contract in GM history after his historic 2002 season because of his love for his team and the game.
Baseball has a special place in Hollywood, it has made some of it’s most romantic scenes and movies. Hollywood makes everyone see how special it is. Hollywood has not made nearly as many memorable football or hockey or basketball movies as it has about baseball.
Moneyball may be a niche movie that could easily be lost on people who don’t like sports or baseball or the statistics that go along with baseball but its a great movie non the less. Pitt and Jonah Hill are a great unlikely team and they make you root for them and the team the whole time.
The movie did show one thing, Billy Beane was right, it’s hard not to be romantic about baseball.