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Sunday, October 2, 2011

"Moneyball" the movie

“Moneyball” the book is one of the greatest baseball books out there and is now a movie starring Brad Pitt as Billy Beane. Beane must figure a way to put together a championship team in 2002 after winning 102 games in 2001 and losing 3 key players to free agency. Beane embraces Jamesian computer-generated analysis over old school scouting to selecting players, whether by drafting, trading or signing through free agency. After a dreadful start to the 2002 season, the A’s turn things around and eventually win the AL West, winning 20 games in a row along the way.

Movies frequently don’t do justice to books, but director Bennett Miller does a great job of telling Beane’s back stories in addition to the amazing story of how the Oakland A’s almost took down the Evil Empire of the New York Yankees not once, but twice, on a shoestring budget as compared to the money fountains the Yankees use to cash whip their players.

The whole cast put forth best efforts in this movie. Pitt stars as Beane, and Jonah Hill is his dorky, economics degree holding Assistant GM. Brent Jennings as Ron Washington is but one of several scouts who appear in the film capturing the essence of the methods of crusty, road weary scouts.

There is another big reason why Red Sox fans will be interested in this movie. Before there was Theo, there was Dan Duquette. Beane was courted as Duquette’s successor. Arliss Howard does a great job of portraying John Henry, and there are familiar scenes of Yawkey Way and Fenway Park, (including the press box from which this humble scribe has had the pleasure of covering a game.) Find out why Beane turned down Henry’s lucrative offer.

The Fenway and Henry scenes were unexpected but quite satisfying to this Sox fan, but there was one reason in particular why I made it out to see this movie on its opening weekend. I had the opportunity to be an extra in this movie during filming of the scenes in game 20 (of the win streak) and just had to see if I made it to the final cut. I’m the guy wearing the A’s hat.

Click here for the trailer.

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