How Moneyball Captures the Greatness of Baseball
Posted on March 3, 2022
Baseball has this reputation of being the “boring sport” and honestly, I don’t blame the people who think that. On its surface, baseball can seem pretty uninteresting. It doesn’t usually have the flashy plays that sports like hockey have or the big personalities we see in basketball. The appeal of professional baseball is harder to describe, but I think that Moneyball perfectly encapsulates what makes baseball so great. It’s also a really incredible movie.
Image Credit: IMDb
If you’re unfamiliar with the plot of the movie, Moneyball is about the 2002 Oakland Athletics, and how they used numbers and sabermetrics to build a great baseball team with far less money than anyone else. It stars Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, the Athletics general manager, and Jonah Hill as Pete, a Yale grad who’s created a new numbers-based system to evaluate players. The film also has an excellent supporting cast, including Philip Seymour-Hoffman, Chris Pratt, and Robin Wright. While this covers the main plot, in reality, it’s a classic underdog story about a “ragtag group of misfits” who have been overlooked for one reason or another, coming together to make something great.
Moneyball does a great job of appealing to two different audiences by both being about baseball, and also not just being about baseball, I’ll explain. For baseball fans, I think this is the perfect movie. I’m not exactly sure how to describe it, but movies like Field of Dreams, or Major League, all feel like movies with baseball as the main plot point. Moneyball actually just feels like baseball though. The way they talk about it, the way it’s shown, the way the players are portrayed, all feel so real in a way that I don’t think is replicated anywhere else. This movie, and the book that it’s based on, are what really brought sabermetrics into the mainstream of baseball knowledge, and the way this movie presents them has almost certainly created countless new fans of the game.
Image Credit: Bennett Miller/Moneyball
As I said though, this movie isn’t just perfect for baseball fans. Regardless of the aspects baseball fans will enjoy, it’s just a good movie. By every objective measure, this is a fantastic film. The writing is fantastic, every conversation has a perfect flow to it and every line sounds fluid and natural, which makes sense considering it’s co-written by Aaron Sorkin, who also wrote The Social Network, and The Trail of the Chicago 7. This movie is also shot incredibly well.
The scenes of actual baseball in particular provide a great mix of the original recordings of the games being shown and the cinematic versions shot for the movie. What I find are the best parts though, are the interactions between Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. There’s this one scene where Hill’s character is showing Pitt’s character a series of players who have been “overlooked for a variety of biased reasons and perceived flaws” and how using his method of player evaluation, he can find the combination of players that can win them baseball games.
This is what I mean when I say that this movie perfectly encapsulates what makes baseball so great. Baseball isn’t at its best when teams like the Yankees who are filled with superstars are always winning. It’s at its best when the players that everybody counted out prove everybody wrong. Brad Pitt’s big line in the movie is “How can you not be romantic about baseball” and honestly, how can you. As much as it boils down to winners and losers, more often than not, baseball is about overcoming the odds. Moneyball perfectly represents how what might just seem like numbers, represent so much more.