Moneyball makes powerful statement

Aaron Sorkin won an Oscar for writing the screenplay for 2010’s “The Social Network.” He, along with co-writer Steven Zaillian, may very well win that award again for their riveting script for the biographical sports drama “Moneyball.”

The best way to describe the movie is to compare it to “The Social Network.”

The latter’s audience aimed to draw in computer geeks, while “Moneyball” is geared toward baseball geeks.

“Moneyball,” based on a book of the same name by Michael Lewis, details the 2002 Oakland Athletics season and their success using unconventional scouting to build a team.

The film begins with footage of the 2001 American League Division Series between the A’s and the New York Yankees.

As the A’s play in an elimination game at Yankee Stadium, their general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) listens nervously on the radio back at the A’s stadium.

After the Yankees win the game, Beane goes back into the clubhouse, frustrated that his team, with a payroll of about $39 million, couldn’t compete with the Yankees’ $100 million-plus payroll.

The following offseason, the A’s lose big-name players Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi and Jason Isringhausen to free agency.

Beane must rebuild and declares that he needs to change his philosophy when it comes to building a championship team.

After aggressively trying to deal players in the offseason, he comes across a young scout named Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) while in Cleveland.

Impressed with his philosophy of analyzing each player’s value to the team, Beane recruits him to come to the A’s and names him assistant general manager.

Rather than talent, a player’s physical appearance or their off-the-field issues, Brand instead focuses more on their numbers and their value to the team.

For instance, to replace Giambi and Damon, he suggests getting players who have high on-base percentages.

Since many GMs will overlook these players, he claims that these players can be purchased cheaply. Desperate to try something new, Beane takes on this philosophy, much to the dismay of his scout team and the manager, Art Howe (Phillip Seymour Hoffman).

The team has little success at the start of the season. And Beane begins to feel pressure from the fans, media and team itself.

This movie will make you interested in the sport if you weren’t already. To many, baseball is thought of as a dry sport. Making a movie focusing solely on the games themselves would have been too dull as it has been done too many times.

Director Bennett Miller, who surprised many with his 2005 film “Capote,” does the audience a favor by focusing more on the drama unfolding in the organization rather than worrying about what happens on the field.

The end result is a powerful film and by far one of the most polished examples of American cinema. The film constructs a powerful message in baseball: it’s not just about winning, but it’s rather about the ride and enjoying the game. The same can be said about life in general.

JACOB TARR

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