Monday, September 26, 2011

DJ: What's your biggest fear?

Scott: A baseball getting hit in my general direction
DJ: That's funny. Seriously, what is it?
Scott: No, seriously. That is..
(Scott walks away)
DJ: Well, hey, good luck with that!

One of the reasons that I love baseball is there is no time clock. Both teams get three outs per inning and at least nine innings, regardless of how long it takes to play. Sometimes the pace feels slow and sometimes the game seems to fly by. There are no plays where the only purpose is to stop the clock or waste time. One team cannot take time away from the other team. Each game takes as long as it takes and each team gets the same amount of outs to make something happen.

The pace of Moneyball felt like a baseball game to me. At some points there was not a lot going on, you were just waiting to see how things unfolded. At other times you were on the edge of your seat, holding your breath, crossing your fingers, hoping for the winning play to be made.

It is based on the true story of Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane. In 2001, after the A's lost to the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs, they lost their three best players. With a tight budget, he had to find a way to fill the gap that these three left. After meeting Peter Brand and learning about his mathematical player analyses, Beane set out to change the game of baseball and the way players are assessed. Throughout the film, you also see flashbacks of when Beane started out in baseball as a player himself.

It was a story that I had never heard before, but it happened during the 2002 season so it was fascinating to see it in context with what I remember from that year, which is not actually a whole lot. I do not remember hearing anything about what the A's were doing that season, but I do remember Jeremy Giambi coming to the Phillies. It was interesting to learn why he was traded. It was also fun to hear familiar names like Ed Wade and Raul Ibanez.

I remember reading in Entertainment Weekly that if you are not a baseball fan you will still enjoy this movie. I am not so sure that is true. They talk a lot about statistics and specific players and teams. I really think if you do not know anything about baseball you might be a little confused about what is going on at certain points. That being said I think this was a pretty great film. I am not sure if it is the best baseball movie ever made. But it is definitely among the best.

Jonah Hill was funny and endearing as Paul Brand. Philip Seymour Hoffman in excellent form as A's Coach Art Howe. The writing was also excellent, but Aaron Sorkin was involved there, so I am not too surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. Brad Pitt was fine as Billy Beane, but as an actor, is not overly impressive to me. There is a reason why he has never won an Academy Award. He has been in some good movies and I am not saying he is a bad actor, I just do not see what the big deal is.

Overall, I would not say the acting sold this movie for me. I would say it was the heart and spirit of the characters that gets you invested in their story.