Friday, September 23, 2011

'Moneyball': Maybe the Best Baseball Movie Ever

If you're looking for an affirmation that life is a metaphor for baseball (yes, I said that right), then "Moneyball" is your movie. It's also my movie: I think it's the best baseball movie I've ever seen and one of the top three or four sports movies in my experience.

The book, a long-time bestseller by Michael Lewis, was one of the top two or three baseball books I've read--and I've read a whoooooooole lot of baseball books. Don't much like the game, but I love its literature.

In any case, this telling of the story is informative, uplifting, dramatic, touching and there's not an explosion in the entire two-plus hours (as my date happily noted), except maybe for some post-game fireworks, which don't count because they're celebratory.

People are going to try to convince you that this is a movie about everything in the world except what it's about: baseball. It's inside baseball about as far as you can go. There was a point where I thought lead character Billy Bean's (Brad Pitt) bad marriage was going to slobber all over us and turn it into a chick flick, but it didn't. It was played more for WOW! effect as in, "Why the hell did his ex trade him in for that nerd sitting on the couch with her?" There's also a little to-do with Billy and his young daughter, who sings a song that sticks with you (I'm sitting here humming the tune, "The Show" by Lenka), but that's all the girly stuff. Promise. The rest is baseball as you've never before seen it, like the book was.

The movie is based on the improbable rise of one of baseball's small-market have-nots, the Oakland A's (I hate that damn apostrophe, but I grew up loving Charlie Finley, his ugly mule and his A's) whose expenditures for players amounted to a small fraction of what teams like the Yankees and Red Sox spent. But under Billy Bean, Oakland became a contender with players nobody else wanted.

He did it with math and a Yale economics major ( played convincingly by Jonah Hill), selecting players who could get on base, who could foul balls off, wearing out pitchers and playing the game in the GM's office better than anybody else played it.

What Billy Bean did in Oakland ultimately led the Boston Red Sox, using his methods, to break their god-awful World Series drought. Bean wanted more than anything else to change baseball. He did. See how with the movie (or, hell, read the book; it's great, too).

No comments:

Post a Comment