“Moneyball” the Book looks like it really, finally will become “Moneyball” the Movie.
Stepping back for a moment, Grantland is new as well, having launched only a couple of weeks ago. It is managed by “The Sports Guy” Bill Simmons and affiliated with ESPN.com. (yes, ESPN has its hooks in this too…) At first glance Grantland.com is friendly enough on the eyes, quite hybrid in its subject matter and features some intelligent writing. The only negative I see early on is the length of some of the pieces is challenging if the goal is to consume everything as it hits the site. Worth a look…but I digress…
Back to “Moneyball,” based upon a novel I read when first published in 2003. Written by Michael Lewis (who among his other accomplishments wrote the Michael Oher book “The Blind Side“…which was developed into a hit motion picture), “Moneyball” is based on the work of Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane and his innovative approach to putting a winning major league team on the field with principles quite counter to the usual way of doing things within the grand old game…emphasis on the word old.
The book traces the history of using sabermetrics (i.e. statistical analysis) to better select candidates for success on the field, rejecting reliance on old-school scouting and player development strategies.
I enjoyed the book for a couple of reasons…one, my favorite team growing up was the Oakland Athletics. I was not a bandwagon jumper-on during their dynasty in the seventies…I was already seated. Saddest day of my childhood was when Rick Monday was traded to the Cubs…but I digress again…
Two…the book itself was consistently reviewed then as possibly the most influential sports book in ages. It was a no-brainer to get it.
And back in ’03, I read “Moneyball” a couple of times. I plan on giving it another reading now since at long last, after many starts and stops along the cinematic development trail, the movie appears to be finding its way to a theatre near you. The scheduled opening date is now September 23rd (just as baseball preps for its Playoffs). Since Brad Pitt is the star, there is a strong likelihood it will as they say…”open wide.”
I can say when I first heard a movie was being made based on “Moneyball” I was scratching my head. It didn’t seem to translate to a big screen event, to be digestible as a film. The subject matter – statistics and their analysis – was intriguing enough for baseball fans…but overall the main subject is an intellectual concept first and foremost and never did I see it as anything more than a great read for a limited audience.
But give the producers credit…sprinkle a little Hollywood “movie magic dust” on what you think is made for just the library shelf…and here ya go…
Most sports teams – not just baseball teams – have adopted at least some of these analysis principles since Beane’s philosophy went viral in 2003. It was breakthrough, cutting-edge back then. I don’t know how breakthrough or cutting-edge a feature-length film will be about “Moneyball,”…but I do suggest if you are interested in seeing the film to read the book first.
Statistically speaking, we know Hollywood these days has more experience with making large-scale mindless entertainment than films that require the use of one’s mind. I hope they do “Moneyball” justice but just to cover the law of averages…read the book.