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Moneyball

Brad Pitt in Moneyball
5
Saturday October 1st, 2011

Moneyball is a triumph for Brad Pitt who follows his memorable performance earlier this year in Terrence Malick's Tree Of Life with his role as a baseball Rocky in this intelligent, perceptive sports drama.  Adapted from the Michael Lewis book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, Moneyball is the true story of Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) a baseball maverick who challenged conventional wisdom by building a competitive team with the help of underachievers and cast-offs from other clubs.

It all began with the conclusion of the 2001 season when Beane confronted a catastrophic loss of talent lured away by lucrative offers elsewhere. Unable to compete in bidding wars for high-priced players with teams like the Yankees, Beane turned to Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) a soft spoken proponent of a statistical analysis approach to the game. Predictably the veterans in the Oakland clubhouse weren't thrilled with Brand whom they regarded as a glorified pencil pusher whose statistics were no substitute for their good old-fashioned baseball instincts.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is reunited with Bennett Miller who also directed him in his Oscar-winning role in 2005's Capote. Hoffman is hilarious as Oakland manager Art Howe. Howe is old school and convinced that Beane's experiment will blow up in his face and he has no intention of joining him on the unemployment line.

People love a good underdog who must build a better mousetrap to compete with the big dogs and at the theater where I saw Moneyball people were applauding at the end of the picture.

This battle between those who would rely on statistics predominantly and those who feel that the human element can't be reduced to a mathematical formula is one that isn't going to end anytime soon. One of the reasons that analysts gave for Terry Francona recently ending his tenure as manager of the Boston Red Sox was his tendency to make decisions based on instinct as opposed to the statistical approach favored by team owner John Henry.