Moneyball is a movie in fact, and not the glued-together ball of $74 in change that my father threw at me when I decided not to play sports. I jest of course (It was probably more like $25 in change. ZING!) I didn’t see Moneyball in theaters back in the fall, but I knew that I would eventually watch it on DVD because it would get some Oscar buzz. Starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, Moneyball is the story of how statistics changed baseball forever. Math AND sports? That is a tall order indeed for this guy. Nevertheless, I sallied forth.
Ok, so there is a good chance that my summary will turn into an unintended parody, so bear with me sports fans. Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, who in 1980 decided to forgo a full ride at Stanford in order to play for the New York Mets. After a series of missteps and disappointments, Beane is traded from team to team until we find him in present day (2001) as General Manager of the Oakland A’s. Beane is struggling with how to improve Oakland’s next season with a limited budget and the loss of three star players. He then discovers Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), who uses an economical eye in valuing players’ worth. Beane hires Brand and together they put together a new Oakland A’s based on this system. Beane’s methods are met with a lot of criticism and opposition, and early on in the season, the A’s don’t seem to be improving. Eventually the method pays off, leading the A’s to a 20-game winning streak. Sadly, this phenomenon doesn’t mean anything in the postseason, where they lost to the Minnesota Twins.
All logistics aside, Moneyball is a great underdog film. Billy Beane seems to be one of the unluckiest guys in baseball, but his sabermetric approach to the game became his legacy. Brad Pitt played Beane in a very Brad Pitt fashion, no complaints or praises there. Oddly enough, I was most impressed with Jonah Hill. Hill is most known for the Judd Apatow School of comedic films, where sex, drug and fart jokes run rampant. It was refreshing to see him blend into the role of Peter Brand as effortlessly as he did. Place another one of his peers in that role, say Seth Rogan, and it could’ve been disastrous. (Though 50/50 was a good movie, check it out if you haven’t already.) Overall, I would say that Moneyball is one of the classic sports films that a non-sports fan like me can appreciate.
Final Grade: B+