"The Natural", "Bull Durham" and "Field Of Dreams." All 4 star movies and now comes "Moneyball" continuing the long line of great baseball movies. "Moneyball" is about baseball, but it's also about a sense of belief when few, if any, share that belief.
Brad Pitt (in one of his best performances ever) plays Billy Beane, the Oakland A's General Manager who had to rebuild his team in 2002 due to economics. Beane was losing Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, as well as Jason Isringhausen, and had to come up with a way to replace them on the cheap.
Enter Jonah Hill, who plays a character named Peter Brand. Actually Beane was assisted by Paul DePodesta (now with the Mets) but that's not important. The part that is important is that here you had two men who were adamant in their belief that there was a better way of building a baseball team.
There's a scene early in the movie where Pitt and Hill are sitting in a room with all the old time scouts and they just don't see eye to eye. What's also fun is that the producers of the movie used real scouts who I have seen over the years to enhance the reality of the scene.
Beane ends up making his moves, but at first manager Art Howe (played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman) doesn't go along with them. Howe comes off as a real dumb-dumb, and I wonder how he'll feel being depicted this way. The same is true for a bunch of former players whose reputations will take a real hit.
That season, the A's started off terribly, and at one point lost eleven in a row, and it looked like a bad ending for Beane. But, he stuck to his guns and overcame Howe's resistance. Later on that year Oakland set an American League record with 20 straight wins.
Unfortunately for Beane and the A's, they were defeated in the playoffs for the second straight year, but his methods started a revolution in the sport that has continued ever since.
Every team now has computer savvy specialists who view the game from a different stand point. As far as this goes I'm not a complete believer myself in sabermetrics. However, I do think there is a place in the sport for it along with good old fashion scouting and knowledge of the game and it's players.
By the way, I have interviewed and spoken at length with Beane on numerous occasions and I have always come away impressed with the man. I'm further impressed after seeing this movie and even more so that he got Pitt to play him.
This truly is an outstanding flick that covers a lot of territory. Baseball for sure but it's also tender, moving and thoughtful. I really enjoyed it and rate it a grand slam- four stars.