Thursday, September 29, 2011
Last night Ellen and I went out to see Moneyball. Its a movie that I was interested in pretty much from the first preview I saw. I have to say it delivered very well. Basic premise is that in baseball there is no salary cap, and Rich teams can always afford better players then poor teams. The Oakland A's are one of the poorest teams in the MLB and after the 2001 season their top pitcher and best 2 batters all leave for the richer teams in New York and Boston. Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) the GM of Oakland is forced to rebuild his team yet again. Only this year he gets fed up with trying and failing in the same manner over and over. He is fed up with his scouts and idea men since they continue to toss out the same tired old ideas that have failed his team for the past 10 years. By chance he meets Peter Brand (played by Jonah Hill), a young scout for Cleveland who has a degree in economics from Yale. Brand has an idea about a new way to scout for players. Instead of trying to find the same old 5 techniques, that is constantly looked at by scouts. Look instead at a players ability to get on base and score runs. They turn baseball on its side with their idea, and though it takes a while to come together, as we saw in 2002, the Oakland A's actually had some success with this formula.
One thing I liked about this movie is that even though they show some really complex formulas in how to predict a players abilities, they never try to really explain them. I feel doing so would have bogged down the movie. Instead they boil it down to On Base percentage. It makes the movie flow really well. They other great bit is the chemestry between Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. These two literally could not have less in common, but they are dynamite together in this film.
A quick aside, the film uses all the real names of players, coaches, and GM's except for Peter Brand, who is actually, Paul DePodesta. And he went to Harvard, not Yale. Apparently Aaron Sorkin thought that was hilarious.