Oakland A's GM Billy Beane is handicapped with the lowest salary constraint in baseball. If he ever wants to win the World Series, Billy must find a competitive advantage. Billy is about to turn baseball on its ear when he uses statistical data to analyze and place value on the players he picks for the team. Written by
Douglas Young (the-movie-guy)
Bill James, noted as the statistical influence for the main characters' analysis, is regarded by many to be the father of sabermetrics. This study of advanced baseball statistics is named after the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), an organization to which James and other sabermetrics pioneers belong. The film puts a heavy emphasis upon on-base percentage (OBP), though concepts like on-base-plus-slugging-percentage (OPS), now a widely-accepted measure of a player's hitting ability, are not mentioned. Concepts like runs created (RBIs plus runs scored), ERA+ and others widely used by statisticians are also not mentioned, perhaps owing to their increased acceptance in the years since the events portrayed in the film. See more »
In an aerial shot of the Oakland stadium the Oracle Arena can be seen but the film takes place in 2002 when it was still known as the Oakland Arena. It was not renamed to Oracle Arena until 2007. See more »
For forty-one million, you built a playoff team. You lost Damon, Giambi, Isringhausen, Pena and you won more games without them than you did with them. You won the exact same number of games that the Yankees won, but the Yankees spent one point four million per win and you paid two hundred and sixty thousand. I know you've taken it in the teeth out there, but the first guy through the wall. It always gets bloody, always. It's the threat of not just the way of doing business, but in their minds ...
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The Mighty Rio Grande
Written by Christopher Royal King, Jeremy Adam Galindo, Raymond Joseph Brown, and Andrew Thomas Miller
Performed by This Will Destroy You
Courtesy of Magic Bullet Records See more »
Possibly the best baseball movie I have I ever seen.
In a league where the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox regularly field teams with $100 million-plus payrolls, how do you field a competitive team with a payroll that is a mere fraction of that, at $37 million? This question could have been the basis for a dry documentary, only appealing to a legion of die hard statistical analysis baseball geeks, but instead, it forms the basis of a film that shows a great deal of heart and spirit which moves it into a statement I never thought I would be making, but here goes: Moneyball is possibly the best baseball movie I have I ever seen.
Granted, I've never seen Bull Durham or Major League, but even with that deficiency in my sports film-viewing I can say with some confidence that this is at least as good or better than Field of Dreams and at least as good or better than The Bad News Bears.
The answer to the conundrum of fielding a competitive team with a limited budget is in fact the one sought by Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics. In 2001, after sending a team to the divisional playoffs only to lose in a heartbreaking game 5 to the big market big money New York Yankees (who went on to lose the World Series to Arizona), he was losing three of his star players and he simply could not afford to replace them. He hit the realization that in order to compete, he had to re-think the way that baseball business is done. No longer could he think in terms of buying his way into the playoffs (as the Yankees seem to do every year), but instead he would devise a system that would revolutionize the way that baseball is played or at least they way a team is constructed. To this end, he constructed an unorthodox and unconventional system which at the time was completely unheard-of. Suddenly, players were valued not for home runs or batting average, but for walks and runs scored. Under this system, 3 players making 250,000 each were worth the same as one player making 7 million. And in doing so, Beane managed to field a winning team who set an American League record for consecutive wins. Critics may point out that as yet, under this system, the A's still haven't won a championship. But they were always competitive, which is more than we can say for the majority of the teams in the league who also are not winning championships and are in fact spending a lot more money.
These ideas have been around for about ten years now and are now pretty much commonplace in baseball, but at the time Beane was ridiculed for trying them. The writing is excellent (Aaron Sorkin has a screenplay credit) and draws you in even without a lot of "action." We know that Oakland will not win that final game of the series, we know that Beane will continue to strive for that elusive championship, but we still have a lot to root for and cheer for. Even my personal feelings about my own team (sigh--long-suffering Orioles fan) did not in anyway prevent me from cheering the A's improbable drive toward history. The relationship between Beane and his daughter is a nice, and helps to drive in the fact that to some, baseball is more than a game. You might even argue that this film is not so much about baseball but about the effect our choices have on our lives and the lives around us--the supposed threat that unconventional thinking presents to the status quo.
Ultimately this film is the Bad News Bears of the new millennium--a ragtag group of veterans and rookies and cast-offs come together under the visionary leadership of a general manager who dared to think outside the box. It is possible that if you have absolutely no interest in baseball, you would still like this movie for its message about resisting the urge to do what is safe and easy in favor of what is odd and maybe even crazy...and works.
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