‘Moneyball’ tells story of low-budget team learning to compete

Jordan Larimore

 

Rarely do I spend my time, or $9 for that matter, going to see a movie in theaters.  

But when I first saw the trailer for Moneyball, I was sold. No pun intended.

Starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Moneyball tells the story of Oakland Athletics’ General Manager Billy Beane [Pitt] and his plan to replace Major League Baseball stars Johnny Damon, Jason Isringhausen and Jason Giambi, lost to free agency, with a revolutionary statistical strategy.

Beane hires Peter Brand [Hill], a 25-year-old with an economics degree from Yale, and fellow sabermetric statistician, to be his Assistant GM and help him find players to replace Giambi, Isringhausen and Damon.

The conflict in the film is the challenge Beane faces in replacing his baseball stars with one of the league’s lowest payrolls. Plenty of humor ensues when Beane first presents his ideas to the Athletics’ front office personnel, baseball elders and traditionalists. 

Suffice it to say, Beane’s head scouts and war-room men are less than receptive to his idea of somehow simulating the production of the three superstars by combining the abilities of players whom the game itself sees as lesser and has cast aside.

Beane recruits Scott Hatteberg, a former catcher with “irreparable nerve damage” in his elbow, to take Giambi’s spot at first base.

 He also finds the submarine-style relief pitcher Chad Bradford, considered untouchable around the league due to his non-traditional delivery, to become his primary right-handed reliever.

Beane comes into conflict with A’s Manager Art Howe [Hoffman] when Howe refuses to play Hatteberg at first base, instead starting rookie Carlos Peña. 

Beane asserts his control over the team, and commitment to his analytical strategy, when he trades Peña away. 

This forces Howe to start Hatteberg as Beane planned.

The movie continues, documenting the patchwork team’s season from Spring Training to the All-Star Break, to the post and offseason.

Moneyball has a way of drawing the audience in and making it sympathize with Beane and his predicament. 

Even a non-baseball or sports fan would have a hard time not getting invested in the movie, based heavily in truth and modeled after real-life occurrences with the Oakland A’s early 2000s seasons.