Saturday, September 24, 2011

"Moneyball," the movie

Brad Pitt as Billy Beane: The real Beane is said to be
far more profane and less patient with fools than his
Hollywood depiction, but the movie got
his refusal to watch his team in action right. 
The Twins have won more postseason games this century than I've made trips to movie theaters, but there I was Friday night at the late showing of "Moneyball."

(I therefore missed the walk-off homer off Matt Capps that beat the Twins yet again; on the other hand, I'd rather have seen that than the 20 minutes of trailers for films I will never see unless somebody wants to pay me Brad Pitt money to do so.)

Moneyball, the book, is both the most influential and the most misunderstood piece of baseball writing of the past decade. That a watchable movie could be made of it speaks highly of the skills of the people involved; this is, at its core, a movie about sabermetrics, a movie about an idea. Michael Lewis, the author of Moneyball (and of The Blind Side) freely admits he never thought a a movie could be made from Moneyball.

As a baseball nut, and as a multiple-times reader of the source material, I can easily pick out what Hollywood changed for the movie, some of which bugged me a bit and was immaterial — for example, the wrong Twins player catches the popup that ended the 2002 Oakland A's season.  And some of it was necessary to simplify and narrow the story — specifically the Peter Brand character. An accurate depiction of the A's front office — and the conflicts therein — would be too sprawling. Art isn't just what's put in; it's also what's left out.

This is the fictionalization of a non-fiction book. Many traditionalists — including Dan Gladden — have either never read the book or didn't comprehend it. Far more people are likely to watch this movie than tackle the book. I don't know if that is good or bad for sabermetrics, but at least the movie got the basic notion right, and the people who won't/can't accept the analytical approach have already failed with the complex truth. Maybe simplified truth will get through.

1 comment:

  1. Here's to hoping this is mandatory for Gardy and Billy to attend...