Moneyball

My third trip to the movie house this year was to see Moneyball. When I heard about it earlier this year, I has no intention of seeing the movie. I read the book and I’m kind of a sports snob, so I thought I was above it. Well, I feel like a fool. This was a cool, relaxing, and fun sports movie.

It’s amazing how relaxing a Saturday without any Notre Dame football is (bye week). Throw in a slow-paced baseball movie like this, sprinkle in the Lake Theatre in Oak Park, then add my wife and another couple, and you have the recipe for some serious slowing of the heart rate. I doubt I hit my BMR today.

In my old age, I’m watching more baseball. As a kid, when I collected baseball cards and could name the starting lineup of every MLB team, I never watched games really. Now I can sit and watch. I often have it on in the background when I’m working at home. It’s just comforting. I’ve probably watched more baseball this year than I have in five years or so. Heck, I have the Tigers vs Rangers game on right now and I could be watching Auburn vs Florida. Times change.

In fact, Ron Washington, a key character in Moneyball, is now managing the Rangers. The guy who played him, Brent Jennings, did a great job delivering a few deadpan comments about teaching Scott Hatteburg how to play first base. As I write this, McCarver and Buck are talking about Moneyball. McCarver is making fun of Buck for not seeing it. How coincidental is that? Not coincidental that McCarver is making fun, but coincidental that they’re talking about it on the day I saw it and I’m able to witness it because I’m not watching a big SEC football matchup in October.

WARNING: Don’t go into this movie thinking of it as a documentary. And don’t even go see it if you’re one of those baseball snobs, especially one who thinks those sabermetrics guys are fools. Just think of it as a dramatization of a single season based loosely on the facts. In that respect, it feels a lot like Friday Night Lights, which I loved. Suspend your disbelief and you’ll be greatly rewarded.

Pitt portrays Billy Beane, who is often credited for the first full implementation of running a low-cost but highly successful baseball organization using statistical analysis for an extended period of time (A’s, 2000-2006). This is arguable, but don’t try and argue it during the movie.

Sure, it’s highly doubtful that Beane had the leadership conversation with David Justice. It’s probably also doubtful that his ex-wife called him to tell him “great job” when the A’s were up 11-0 over the Royals in their quest for 20 straight wins. It’s a movie.

I left this movie fired up about baseball. I left this movie wanting to re-read Moneyball. I left this movie wanting to read more Michael Lewis books. I left this movie hungry because it was 3pm and I hadn’t had lunch yet. Oak Park to the rescue. Definitely worth the $6 (matinee).