by Nathan Braised
Baseball season is right around the corner, and I for one cannot wait. “Moneyball” is the pinnacle of sports movies to me; it is simply magical to those who love the sport of baseball, and I am definitely in that group.
With that being said, the uniqueness of the film can keep it from being a casual watch for non-baseball fans. “Moneyball” is a 2011 dramatization following the Oakland Athletics during its miracle 2002 season. It’s largely based on the 2003 book of the same name.
Major League Baseball (MLB) is notorious for its wealth disparities across the league, and the monopolized teams with massive salary caps tend to dominate. The Oakland Athletics (A’s) are at the bottom of the MLB totem pole. After falling to the powerhouse New York Yankees in the 2001 World Series, the A’s are looking to bounce back for the 2002 season.
Tribulation starts to arise right off the bat as the team’s two best hitters, Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi, are at the end of their contracts, and the A’s don’t have the funds to re-sign them. The central plot focuses on General Manager Billy Beane’s attempts to get the struggling team back on track.
Beane goes to visit the Cleveland Indians to try and get some players. The meeting is unsuccessful, but Beane comes across Peter Brand, a Yale economics graduate who has revolutionized the understanding of a player’s worth, based solely on stats. Brand’s method opens Beane’s eyes to undervalued players who are mainly disregarded due to minor dysfunctions.
The A’s sign four overlooked players for the price of one big-ticket player.
Chad Bradford throws an unconventional submarine pitch but commands the plate. Scott Hatteburg is an ex-catcher who has knee problems but draws a ton of walks to get on base. Jeremy Giambi has the talent of his older brother but is a loose cannon obsessed with partying. The last pickup, David Justice, was deemed too old to stay relevant in the league by other scouts, but also had the On Base Percentage (OBP) that Beane and Brand needed.
Brand faces backlash from critics and fans alike, and is even opposed by the team’s head coach, who refuses to play the team Beane wants.
To give the coach no other options, Beane trades away rising star Carlos Pena and cuts Jeremy Giambi. The team has no choice but to play Hatteberg in a secondary position and stick Justice in the lineup.
The A’s end up going on a record-breaking 20-game win streak and shock the baseball world by clinching a playoff berth. Unfortunately, they lost in the American League Division Series, but the story of the 2002 Oakland Athletics remains one of the greatest enigmas in all of Major League Baseball’s history.
“Moneyball” is by far and large my favorite movie and makes the game of baseball even more impactful to me than it already is. Again, I feel like it primarily appeals to baseball fanatics, and seems to lose the more casual fans in its nicheness, but to those that have even the slightest of adoration for America’s pastime, this movie will change your love for the game.
“12-year-old me still thinks he just catches an expensive baseball”