Moneyball hits stores on Tuesday
When Moneyball hit the theaters, I stayed away from the wave of reviews. In some senses it was like reliving the countless discussions that had taken place about the book: lots of love, hate, and a smattering in-between. But, as I watched the movie again over the weekend in advance of its release this Tuesday on DVD and Blue-Ray, I couldn’t help but think about it all.
The “numbers revolution” has been around now for some time, a fact that some viewers new to the whole concept of sabermetrics may fail to miss.
In other words, Moneyball is a historical movie at this stage. As of the 2009 Winter Meetings it was believed that all but one club in MLB (reportedly the Braves) had one form or another of an Analytics Department (when you have had John Schuerholz at the helm, maybe it’s easy to understand why they had yet to go there).
If you were weaned on Bill James, Baseball Prospectus, or Rob Neyer, you may have been one of the many that had “Occupy MLB” tattooed on your lips, but the reality is, while it might have taken some time, if sabermetrics works, then it’s going to be adopted at some point. Bill James may have been screaming from the highest mountain for a long time with nobody listening, but when Beane (or, if we want to get technical, Sandy Alderson) took notice and applied it, and it worked, it (slowly) began to take off.
Back to the movie, what almost always gets lost is that it’s more than just a numbers story. The reason so many copies of the books were sold, and why it resonated to the point of making it into a movie is that it’s a character study as much as a baseball movie. No throwing of chairs, drives around town when games are played, or turning down the job with the Red Sox in the best interest of Beane’s daughter, and Moneyball likely doesn’t work.
Or, it doesn’t work with those that aren’t baseball geeks.
I am repeating what has been said ad nauseum, but most know that the book (and movie) fail to mention Zito, Mulder, and Hudson. It’s a glaring hole that is purposely removed from the story. It doesn’t make the book or movie nearly as intriguing when you have to add that the three were one of the best rotations in the league at the time.
But, I like – no love – the movie and book. If it is a gateway drug, as it has been for so many others, into the world of sabermetrics, then it’s fine by me. While the revolution has long since passed, it doesn’t mean that bringing more into the fold is a bad thing.
- Numbers are not the be-all-end-all in baseball. Scouts not only matter, they’re critical to assembling a winning team. If you’re seeing the movie or reading the book for the first time, please remember that.
- Much is made about overpaying players, and it happens, a lot. But, there’s a difference between overpaying ignorantly and doing so based upon how the free agency market is set. “Overpaying” for the Yankees and Red Sox of the world is different than “overpaying” by the Indians or Pirates. You don’t have to be nearly as efficient when you have truckloads of revenues to work with, even if it is bad form.
- Moneyball is a book and a movie and shouldn’t be confused as the perfect historical snapshot of the A’s, White Sox, Indians, et al at the time. Heaven knows, there’s a bit of dramatic liberty taken.
- If you watch the movie, enjoy it as such. It’s not a documentary. For every baseball nerd that picks holes in the story, there’s some boy or girl out there that never made it great at playing the game, but still loves baseball and wants to be connected to it. The movie might make one of them become the next Bill James of the baseball world.
- If the movie shows anything it’s the wisdom leads to enlightenment and that even in all the searching through the numbers; all the watching of film; all the games we can attend, in the end, there is no ultimate truth when it comes to sports. In that, every GM, player, scout, and geek, can never stop in learning. Now, isn’t that a great story?
On Moneyball, which is available via DVD, Blu-Ray, and DVD Combo pack Tues, Jan 10th (source: Sony Pictures):
MONEYBALL Special Features include:
- Deleted Scenes
- Blooper with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill
- Billy Beane: Re-Inventing the Game
- In this featurette we introduce the real Billy Beane, ex-professional baseball player and current General Manager of the Oakland A’s and reveal the history behind the story of “Moneyball”. Billy Beane explains his struggles being a small market GM and how having a third of the payroll of the Yankees or Red Sox forced him to think differently in drafting the 2002 team and to find value in players using On Base Percentage and Sabermetrics. We will also look at how the “Moneyball” concept is still influencing players and teams today. Director Bennett Miller, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and author Michael Lewis round out the story of “Moneyball” and how Billy Beane took on an institution and beat the odds of an unfair game.
- Moneyball: Playing The Game
Exclusive to Blu-ray:
- Drafting The Team
- Adapting Moneyball
- No book adaptation is without its challenges and “Moneyball” was no exception. Author Michael Lewis, Screenwriters Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian and director Bennett Miller discuss the themes of the book; being an underdog, taking on an institution and re-thinking tradition as well as what drew them to the project and why this story has meaning beyond the world of baseball. Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman introduce us to their characters and tell us why this was a project they wanted to be a part of.
- Exclusive MLB 12 The Show Preview Trailer
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).
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