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Moneyball

Billy Beane was a mediocre professional ballplayer on his best days and some thought when he was made GM of the lowly Oakland Athletics his front office career would be even shorter.  Working for an owner who refused to spend money on acquiring the ball players necessary to lift the “A’s” from the basement of the league added to his mounting frustrations.  Then in 2001 after a crushing loss to the New York Yankees he meets Peter Brand and his whole world suddenly changed.

Before I saw this movie I was trying to figure out if this was a baseball movie like “The Natural” or “Bull Durham” or if it was a family type movie like “Angels in the Outfield.”  As it turns out it is a little of both.

This movie based on “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” written by Michael Lewis and published in 2003, is more about the life of Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, than about major league baseball.  Divorced and sharing custody of a young daughter he loves dearly and refuses to be separated from, Beane desperately fights all who get in his way to make the Oakland A’s a winning and more important, a profitable team.  Then steps in the bean counter, Peter Brand, played rather lack lusterly by Jonah Hill.  It appears that Brand has found a way to break America’s past time down to a set of statistics, then use that formula to pick ball players.  And the real scary thing is….it works….not only in the movie but in the real world too as most MLB teams use it or a form of it to draft players today.

But like I said this is not a baseball movie but more a movie about the choices we make as we go through life.  This is evident when Beane (Pitt) is offered a very lucrative job as GM of the Boston Red Sox’s.  Since taking the job meant he would have to move to Boston and be separated from his daughter he turns it down.   Two years later the Red Sox win the World Series using the formula Beane put in place at Oakland while Beane is still fighting to find that winning combination in Oakland.

Moneyball released by Sony Pictures is well scripted by Steve Zaillian, Stan Chervin and Aaron Sorkin of “West Wing” fame and skillfully directed by Steven Soderbergh with Kerris Dorsey, of TV’s “Brothers and Sisters” fame doing an excellent job of playing Billy Beane’s daughter Casey.  Some of the film’s best moments are between Pitt and Dorsey.  This film has been nominated for six academy awards; Best picture, Lead actorSupporting actor, Film editingSound mixing and Adapted screenplay.  Moneyball is now playing at a pay per view station near you.  It is worth the money.

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