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#6 Moneyball (2011)
Based upon the Michael Lewis best-selling novel by the same name, the movie does the book enough justice, but wasn’t nearly as good as the read (I watched the movie first). Brad Pitt plays Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane, and the team has just been eliminated AGAIN by the New York Yankees in the American League Divisional Series.
As with most small market teams of the time, several of the team’s biggest stars were due to hit free agency, including Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi and Jason Isringhausen. Beane didn’t have the finances to bring any of the three back, nor compete for other top name free agents in the open market. After pleading with his owner for increased payroll, Beane is left to put the pieces back together.
It was a chance meeting with Cleveland Indians analyst (fictional character) Peter Brand, that Beane began to take a different approach to how to acquire cheap talent, that could get the job done. Whether it was relative unknowns such as reliever Chad Bradford, or players who had seen better days (Scott Hatteburg and David Justice), Beane sought to squeeze the most victories out of the talent he and Brand (who by the way was based upon former executive Paul DePodesta) assembled. Opposing Beane and Brand were an entire A’s scouting department and field manager Art Howe.
Beane and Howe clashed so badly over how to use the team that had been assembled, that Beane’s hand was forced, and he either sent down players or traded them away to force Howe into playing the right players for the system, including a young power-hitting first baseman named Carlos Pena.
As much as I enjoyed the movie, it took my watching it two or three times before I fell in love with it. Between the first time I watched it, and the subsequent times, I read the Lewis novel, which was GREAT! The thing that bothered me about the film, is that the director portrayed the A’s as having absolutely no talent whatsoever. This is inaccurate and simply wrong. The A’s were able to compete because they had some of the brightest young stars in Eric Chavez, Miguel Tejada, Tim Hudson, Barry Zito and Mark Mulder, yet there isn’t a mention of any, if at all. If you’re going to tell a historical story, and try to sell the process of the way Moneyball works, then you need to tell THE WHOLE STORY.
Well, that does it for the first half of my personal top ten favorite baseball movies of all-time. Are you surprised to see some selections and not others? Don’t worry, you can sound off about your favorites and why as well, and be sure to check back in, as my top five will be coming in a couple days!
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