Monday, January 2, 2012

Moneyball (2011): Change the Rules of the Game to Be Competitive

Moneyball is about balls more than it's about money. Moneyball is in fact about shortage of money (although it's hard to call having millions of dollars an actual lack). What we have in excess though are balls. Because Moneyball shows not only a lot of baseball balls but also men that have balls to experiment, to go against everyone else and to risk their reputation, professional relationships and careers. Changing the rules requires a lot of courage and it is not always a successful initiative but if you are brave enough to commence it and persistent in doing the changes even after a series of failures, you have good chances to succeed. Moneyball confirms this statement and offers even more to enjoy.

Moneyball is about the 2002 season of the Oakland Athletics, a baseball team of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. The club has had a low payroll for the recent years and the team's general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) has grown frustrated of the situation and his unsuccessful attempts "to win the last game of the season". He desperately seeks for an efficient way to achieve more while on a limited budget and thus he encounters Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a Yale economics graduate who suggests that Billy's goal should be to "buy" wins instead of players. Together they embark on an interesting experiment that makes the team competitive and amazes the baseball world.

Moneyball's cast is quite strong with Brad Pitt having the task to present the emotional depth of the lead character in a role not so typical for him. Billy Beane is not only a manager trying to change the rules of the baseball game but also a former player who feels the system has misjudged him and probably has turned his entire life in a wrong direction. Billy is constantly bothered by his past and Pitt brings out the general manager's inner pain well enough. Jonah Hill is very believable as Peter Brand. He is smart, quiet, shy and not so extreme as his superior. Philip Seymour Hoffman appears in the role of the Oakland Athletics' manager who has the hard task to manage a team of players he does not approve. The rest of the cast is Ok although not having a lot to do really.

The narrative of Moneyball is fairly absorbing. I suppose it should be more interesting to a baseball dilettante compared to a baseball fan cause the latter one would be most likely familiar with many of the events that have happened in the baseball season of 2002. One possible issue I see that might or might not bother you is how much of the movie is actually true. The statistics cited in the film are probably correct but what part of the Oakland Athletics' success has been due to the new approach is hard to be judged. Moneyball does not offer a typical happy end which again could be treated as good or bad depending on your particular preference and film perception.

Independently of the season's outcome for the Oakland Athletics, the movie is quite inspiring. Moneyball demonstrates that although it's rather dangerous to change the rules of the game, you can often get a big advantage by doing so. The film has a strong potential to change your thinking and eventually to revise your strategies in life, love, work, etc. and this is what makes Moneyball interesting and deserving of your attention. It's a movie good to be seen not only by sports people but by anyone who frequently faces challenges.


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