Moneyball worth the cash

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The latest sports movie to hit theatres joins a lengthy history of baseball classics

Ed Kapp
Sports Writer

Throughout the history of film, baseball movies – at least baseball movies that have stood the test of time – are rarely just movies about the sport, itself.

When looking at the history of ball diamond flicks, one can’t forget Bull Durham, a 1987 coming-of-age story that dealt more with off-the-diamond romance than the dynamics of a minor league baseball team. Field of Dreams spoke far more to the relationships that we hold with others than a makeshift baseball field that hosted some of the late, great baseball stars of the past. The list, including The Rookie, The Sandlot, and even the Major League series, goes on and on.

The latest baseball movie to hit theatres, Moneyball, which was released on Sept. 23 to much fanfare, is no exception to this strong tradition. Based on a true story, Moneyball follows Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) and Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) and their efforts to turn a cash-strapped Oakland Athletics ball club into a squad capable of competing with big-spending outfits like the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.

After losing their three biggest stars in the off-season and lacking the necessary funds to make a sizable splash on the free agent market, Oakland finds themselves in turmoil, Beane and Brand, defying conventional baseball wisdom, began to build a team primarily of castoffs from various other organizations around the league. Throwing his scouts advice into the wind – much to the chagrin of his manager (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) – Beane and Brand assemble their team based almost solely on the on-bas percentage of prospective Oakland Athletics. Oakland was most likely the first baseball team to be assembled based on on-base percentages.

The film, which has thus far received rave reviews from nearly every critic that has reviewed the piece, follows the Athletics’ 2002 season.

Although the film revolves around baseball and Beane and Brand’s efforts to turn their squad into a low-cost winner, at its core the film is, not surprisingly, much more than just a baseball movie.

Bolstered by award-worthy performances from Pitt and Hoffman, Moneyball is a film based on the struggle between conventional thought and pursuing new ways of thinking.

If you’re a baseball fan or not – statistically speaking, you’re probably not – Moneyball is most likely worth your time.

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