It's always dangerous when the worlds of sports and Hollywood collide. I personally find myself offended when the details are often overlooked. Sometimes though they get it right, and when that happens I wind up adding to the DVD collection.
When I first heard that Brad Pitt was going to play Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane in the movie "Moneyball" I was more than skeptical.
Pitt is a great actor and one of the biggest names in the business and often that works against the person as they attempt to disappear within the role. The movie was spot on in a number of areas. Player acquisitions, scores of the game etc. It was also off in a few areas including the fact that the season ending game in the playoffs vs the Twins was a day game and the movie version was at night. The movie also had a pop fly to Twins third baseman Corey Koskie that sealed Oakland's fate when in reality it was a catch by Denny Hocking down the right field line. I know, like I said it's the details that make or break it for me.
Jim Souhan wrote a fantastic column in Sunday's Star Tribune about the way baseball has changed in terms of payroll and wins. Just because a team spends the most amount of money doesn't guarantee any type of success. This was the philosophy adopted by Beane and his brain trust back in the 2002 season. Taking a chance on players who are not nearly as valued as others. Placing more of an emphasis on things like on base percentage and walks and less on homeruns and stolen bases.
The Boston Red Sox tried to acquire Beane and his credo after the 2002 season and win a World Series themselves for the first time since 1908. Sox owner John Henry made him an offer to become at that time, the highest paid executive in professional sports. He turned them down to stay in Oakland. His decision was made because as he stated. "You can't make decisions in your life because of money."
The movie had several touching scenes including my personal favorite. Peter Brand who was played by Jonah Hill approaches Beane and says he needs to show him something. What he needed to see was a clip of one of the A's minor league teams. The catcher for this particular team was an over-weight prospect who would never reach the big leagues. He was also terrified to run to second base because of his lack in confidence and fear that he would be thrown out. He hit a ball and ran so hard with his head down that he ended up tripping over first base and frantically raced back. This was followed by the first baseman and coach informing him that he had just hit the ball 60 feet over the fence for a homerun. What was the message? If you don't focus on the big picture, you will lose yourself focusing too much on the little things.
Yeah, sometimes in Hollywood they get it right.