‘Moneyball’ a cynical look at America’s pastime

Chanel Saidi

This movie is great for anyone who is either a hardcore Oakland Athletics fan or someone who really likes to know what goes on with the behind-the-scenes business aspect of Major League Baseball. “Moneyball” focuses far more on the business and financial aspect of baseball rather than the game itself.

Before reviewing the movie two disclaimers must be made. First, I am quite possibly the most unqualified person when it comes to Athletics history; I have been a huge San Francisco Giants fan since childhood. Second, this is definitely not a date-night movie unless the girl is just as big of an Athletics nut as the guy she’s going with. If this date-foul is made, there just might not be a second movie date in the near future. Possible remedies would be to try a restaurant.

The basic story is that Brad Pitt plays Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane. The movie is a biography about the 2002 Athletics season and how Beane created a strong team with virtually the most measly payroll in baseball at the time by using statistical data to analyze the value of players.

Brad Pitt’s character at first comes off as a bitter wannabe baseball player who just could not cut it out on the field. Most of his anger is pointed toward the recruiter who told him he saw great promise in his baseball future, which ended up not working out causing him to lose his free ride to Stanford. Maybe that is one of the reasons Beane had so much faith in the new system of recruiting that was based more on mathematical numbers versus recruiting intuition.

As the plot develops though, Beane’s softer family man side comes out allowing viewers to sympathize more with him. The cuts throughout the film to his own conversation with recruiters who had visited him when he graduated college help viewers empathize with why he is so bitter. The recruiters had given him an ultimatum of playing for their MLB team, versus going to Stanford on a full-ride scholarship. They were wrong in their intuition on how well they thought he would do as a major league ballplayer.

The use of real baseball footage in the film itself was one of the strongest parts of the movie. Also one of the greatest scenes in the film is the intense trading scene where Brad Pitt works the phones trying to recruit Ricardo Rincon, literally leaving viewers on the edge of their seats.

For what it is, the movie is great. But it would have been nice to see more on-field action. Too much of the focus was behind the scenes. Fans of the Athletics who followed them in 2002 may enjoy this more because they would know what was going on with the teams’ on-field action. However, going into the film not knowing anything about the team will put viewers at a disadvantage because the film offers a one-sided view into management with very little about the season itself.

“Moneyball” focuses far more on the business and financial aspect of baseball vs. the love of the game itself. Although having thoroughly enjoyed movies such as “For the Love of the Game” and “Field of Dreams,” and having watched “Sandlot” more than a hundred times, this movie was definitely not enjoyed as much. Maybe it is because when you have a genuine love for the game itself, the brutality of the financial and business aspect of the game destroys the beauty of the on-field action. This movie ruins the traditional view of baseball as portrayed in movies such as the three aforementioned films, tearing away from the ballgame itself and focusing on the fact that money drives the game.

 Chanel Saidi can be reached at [email protected]