Brad Pitt gives a fantastic performance as Billy Beane, Oakland Athletics’ General Manager, in “Moneyball”. Based on Michael Lewis’ book of the same name “Moneyball”, rated PG-13, chronicles the A’s 2002 season in which Billy Beane builds his team within the strict confines of a mediocre budget.
After three of his top players are lured away to other teams with promises of bigger salaries, Beane decides to take a long hard look at how he and his staff evaluate players. On several occasions we find Billy arguing with his scouts over the importance of skill before outward appearance or how pretty their girlfriends are. Billy is met with extreme opposition when he chooses to sign Chad Bradford as his relief pitcher simply because Chad throws funny. Billy argues Chad is one of the greatest relief pitchers in MLB, but his pitching style has kept Chad from being hired by prominent teams.
When Billy meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a recent graduate from Yale with a degree in Economics, he finds a kindred spirit who focuses on the statistics of a player’s performance and who believes you can build a team with significantly less money simply by scouting the undervalued players and using them in positions their stats determine to be best suited to their abilities. Things in the A’s clubhouse get a little chilly when the A’s Manager, Art Howe (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), defiantly refuses to follow Billy’s instructions. However, Billy stubbornly will not back down and firmly supports Peter in their quest to becoming a great team built strictly on statistics.
I confess I am not an avid baseball fan, but I found this glimpse into the inner workings of a professional sports team to be fascinating. The cold hard truth is if you are a professional athlete they essentially own you and can trade your life like you are stock on the NASDAQ. I recommend this movie to those who are sports fans, avid or mildly interested. I did feel that “Moneyball’s” two and a half hour running time could have been cut to at least two hours, but then I remember Baseball season is very, very long so wouldn’t the movie reflect that? That realization, however, did not stop me from thinking it drug on a little too long. There is no sexual content and foul language is kept to minimum. “Moneyball” does a masterful job of showing that professional sports is an unpredictable world in which to live. Unless you are Derek Jeter, Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriquez or Ichiro Suzuki….Stephanie Spurgetis