“Moneyball” is terrific. On the surface, it’s the story of the Oakland Athletics 2002 season and General Manager Billy Beene’s attempt to compete against the big-money likes of the Yankees.
That alone is a great story, but Brad Pitt’s production runs at deeper levels. It probes the challenges of defying traditional wisdom not just in baseball, but in any field. The movie also a fascinating character study on Beene, a great prospect who didn’t live up to expectations as a player.
The movie skewers the scouts who in early scenes are sizing up potential replacements for three talented players the A’s lost after the 2001 season. To the scouts, the question is how to replace each of the three marquee players, but to Beene, the question is more fundamental: How to compete in an unfair game in which the A’s bankroll is a fraction of those of the rich teams.
Beene hires away stats geek Peter Brand (wonderfully played by Jonah Hill) from the Cleveland Indians and trashes the old-school way the A’s pick players.
The character who gets the most caustic treatment is A’s manager Art Howe, who defies Beene at every turn. But Beene trades away Howe’s favorites and imposes his will on the team.
How much is fact, how much is fiction, I don’t know. But the movie is outstanding, and just two hours after walking out of the theater I’m already trying to figure where it fits not only among my favorite baseball movies, but among my favorites overall. It’s in the heart of each lineup.