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A Quick Moneyball Review

Took my boy to Moneyball this afternoon, after a long morning at the Medi Center. He jammed his wrist into the ground playing football at school yesterday and it wasn't feeling any better this morning and there was some swelling. The doctor figured it was a 'green stick fracture', but after x-rays he said it is just a soft tissue injury. He'll be fine, but won't be playing hockey for a few days.

Anyway, the movie. I liked it. I'm an easy sell, I liked the book and I like Aaron Sorkin. His characters talk the way I wish real people talked. I liked the movie, maybe not as much as The Social Network, but it was good.

I love the 'Adapt or Die' line. That's true in any industry, you always have to be willing to embrace new ideas. If you aren't young enough to believe you can do things better the world is going to pass you by. It still amazes me how much baseball was against the idea of change. Poor teams were expected to compete with other teams spending several times as much on player salaries, by doing the exact same things the rich teams were doing.

I've seen a couple of reviews complaining that the movie made the scouts look stupid, and yeah it did. You have to short-hand a few arguments that, I'm sure, went on a lot longer between Billy Beane and his scouts. Having the scouts talk about how a player had a 'good face' or that because a player had an ugly girl friend means that he had no confidence, were a little much. But then I'm sure there were scouts that have said things like that.

Brad Pitt was fine as Beane, he was in every scene, but the role didn't ask him to stretch to the limits of his acting ability. The ability to smile disarmingly seemed like the most important part of his role. I liked Jonah Hill. Philip Seymour Hoffman was good as manager Art Howe, playing him as someone that was more worried about playing for his next contract than about winning. He didn't buy into Beane's program. The movie made me wonder why Howe wasn't fired before mid-season.

One of the things I found myself doing was to look at the books on shelves in Beane's office and Peter Brand's office. It looked like it could have been shot in front of any random book shelf at my house. Various Bill James books, Total Baseball, John Thorn and Pete Palmers book The Hidden Game of Baseball and the Elias Annuals were prominent in many shots.

Bill James' name came up quite a lot. In the scene where John Henry tried to get Beane to work for the Red Sox (who could turn down a $12.5 million contract?) one of the selling points was that Henry had hired James: "I don't know why no one did that years ago". I always used to wonder that.

It was an enjoyable. Not much action, lots of talking, like most Aaron Sorkin shows. But my boy enjoyed it too so it must not have been too boring.