After seeing The Blind Side last year, I went on a Michael Lewis kick, reading The Blind Side, Liar’s Poker (about his life as a bond salesman in the late 1980’s) and finally Moneyball. As much as I enjoyed his two other books, I thought Moneyball was the best.
We saw Moneyball the film, as a family on Saturday night. It’s not only a great flick, but also a great story, a story largely about second chances. The Oakland A’s just lost in the playoffs the previous year (2001), and had three stars (Giambi, Damon and Isringhausen) taken by other teams in free agent bidding–so now they were MLB’s version of “the island of misfit toys”. Scott Hatteberg, the catcher with a blown-out arm, is attempting a comeback as a 1st baseman. Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, is attempting to succeed as a general manager in the sport that he never found success as a player, despite enormous potential. (Curiously, the young Billy Beane looks nothing like the middle-aged version played by Pitt.)
Ironically, or perhaps appropriately, the scouting system that predicted stardom for Beane, is the target of Beane’s radical new paradigm shift. The “Prophets” of this new emphasis on statistics are Bill James, who we never met in the movie, and “Peter Brand” (based on Paul DePodesta, Beane’s real life assistant/statistical wizard). As is the case for any new understanding of reality, there’s conflict between the old (scouts) and the new (statistics).
As a Bible teacher, at this point I should probably try to offer a profound spiritual insight combining baseball, statistics, new paradigms and the gospel, but nothing comes to mind. Sorry.
We’re not really a baseball family. I played a lot growing up, but we lived in England when the boys were young, so we played more cricket than baseball. None one plays baseball now, but we all loved the film.
Predictions: Oscars for best picture and script (Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian), oscar nominations only for Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill (Peter Brand).
What profound spiritual insight do you have to offer about Moneyball (whether you’ve seen it or not)?