BY JEFF FALK
Competition and the pursuit of athletic excellence are pure concepts. What corrupts them are the involvement of man and his money.
Moneyball is the story of the challenges and struggles faced by the Oakland A’s to remain competitive in major professional sports’ most economically-driven pasttime – baseball. The recent movie release stars Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, Oakland’s 44-year-old general manager whose job it is to assemble a team with Major League Baseball’s smallest payroll.
Set in 2002, the film combines theatrical production with actual historic footage – including a short shot that spotlights the A’s time in Philadelphia. Many of the scenes are shot at Oakland’s Alameda Coliseum, and the A’s home serves as the film’s backdrop.
Moneyball suggests that some modern baseball players simply aren’t worth their exuberant salaries, and that other, more economically-friendly players can be just as productive on the field. Yet it goes beyond that, and challenges our entire capitalist society and the wisdom of the pursuit of the Almighty Dollar.
Beane, who grew up in San Diego, was selected by the New York Mets with the 23rd overall pick in the MLB’s 1980 amateur player draft. After choosing the Mets over a scholarship to Standford, Beane spent six unproductive seasons as a major-league player with the Mets, the Twins, the Tigers and the A’S.
In 1990, Beane approached then Oakland GM Sandy Alderson about becoming an advanced scout for the franchise. One of a few major-league general managers who were once players, Beane became Oakland’s GM in 1998 and is under contract with the club through 2012.
Jonas Hill plays Beane’s assistant Peter Brand.
The flim is based on Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.
Moneyball also reminds us how dramatic, entertaining and intriguiging sports can be, and that the subect of baseball might just make the best sports movies. While certainly not a masterpiece, Moneyball falls historically somewhere between Rocky and Slapshot, and Caddyshack II.
Personally, I give it three stars on my four-star scale.
The flim, which is directed by Bennett Miller, is rated PG-13 for adult language. The running time is two hours and 23 minutes.
It is currently showing at the Lebanon Valley Great Escape Theatre at 12:50 p.m., 3:45 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 9:35 p.m. Tickets are $9.