A few words on Moneyball

Somehow, I never watched Moneyball: The Movie before Friday night, when a friend burned me a copy (word to the MPAA).

Uncannily, a wise and knowing baseball guru acquaintance (a.k.a. “Rob in Iowa”) wrote me out of the blue the same night—probably as I was watching Moneyball: The Movie, in fact– urging me, whatever else I do, to watch Moneyball: The Movie. Preferably more than once.

So we exchanged a few e-mails.

From: Rob in Iowa
Sent: Friday, January 20, 2012 11:29 PM
Subject: moneyball
Baseball is a national treasure – and so is Moneyball. If you haven’t already, take 2 hours and see it. Maybe 4. I repeated right away.

From: dejesus54@comcast.net
Sent: Saturday, January 21, 2012 10:44 AM
Subject: Re: moneyball
Oddly enough, I watched it last night for the first time– a friend just burned it for me. Not enough Jeremy Brown (the catcher who didn’t know he hit the home run), but an excellent, thoughtful, sad but hopeful film. One of the better baseball films in recent years, if not ever (& I’m a Kevin Costner fan too*).

On a personal/local note, I love that the one human counterexample of the “Billy Beane only cares about numbers” argument was trading Jeremy Giambi to the Phillies (in exchange for John Mabry) for not giving a fuck. BaseballReference tells me he actually hit .244/.435/.538 for the Phils in 156 at bats (52 walks!!) for an OPS+ of 162 (100 is league average), even better than I remembered, and was such a fucking asshole they still couldn’t wait to trade him to Boston for Josh Hancock, who would pitch 12 innings of 7.50 ERA for them over two forgettable seasons.

(Of course, this was the Ed Wade years. The Phillies couldn’t wait to trade just about anyone on their roster for a borderline reliever.)

According to Twitter, Joe Posnanski recently watched Moneyball on video with his wife, whose response was: “Was Ricardo Rincon good??”

On a related note, now I can actually allow myself to read this:

* more so Bull Durham, honestly, but Field of Dreams is up there

From: Rob in Iowa
Sent: Sunday, January 22, 2012 8:52 AM
Subject: Re: moneyball
Many many thanks for your latest to include Posnanski. Been thinking about the movie. No one has made mention with regards to the ‘boys club’ mentality that permeates throughout. Had to be intentional. The woman were all ‘get me so and so ‘ on the line – ‘is the coffee ready’ etc. Scott’s wife waits in the kitchen while her future is decided by ‘guys’ on the couch. And finally the kicker — if we’ve somehow missed the prelude; that whole weird ‘scarf present’ scene with the Red Sox guy – a millionaire owner who doesn’t know where to buy one. It’s a 1950’s ‘women in the home’ thing. I’m thinking they bent the movie that way cause that’s the way it is in baseball.

Calling Scott Boras an asshole on the phone. Giving ‘players for hire to the highest bidder’ like Johnny Damon (“you’re better off without him on the payroll”) a twitch in the ass. Two moments of sublime satisfaction.

Was the metaphor at the end with the catcher made up by the writers or did that actually happen? I truly loved the way the first baseman bent over and circled his finger, then gave him a pat on the butt to get him on his way towards second. Despite all the assholes, the cringe inducing salaries ( so cheap at $275,000?), the game somehow always wins.

From: dejesus54@comcast.net
Sent: Sunday, January 22, 2012 6:14 PM
Subject: Re: moneyball
Jeremy Brown was one human, walking metaphor from what I recall. So yeah, it’s true.

Yeah on everything you wrote. $275,000 ain’t cheap for most folks, but I would rather ballplayers than Wall Street CEOs…or ExxonMobil CEOs….or record label CEOs (“If you don’t own the masters, the Master owns you,” in the immortal words of Chuck D)….or any CEOs, for that matter. Occupying Citizens Bank Park is still pretty low on my list of places to occupy.

(Insert my usual rant about how we should roll the tax brackets back to 1960s levels, so it wouldn’t matter if we pay a declining ARod $33M a year because he’d owe 90 percent of it back in taxes….)

The scarf thing was excellent in a small, almost unnoticeable way too. Millionaire owners, most millionaires I would gather, are that clueless about how the world works when they’re not just delegating someone else to work it for them. And scarves as ornamental rather than just utilitarian as some novel concept? Fenway in October can be mighty cold, but not THAT cold. There are many uses for scarves, just ask John the Baptist.

From: Rob in Iowa
Sent: Monday, January 23, 2012 11:06 AM
Subject: Re: moneyball
Moneyball is aptly titled. The only scene missing is the haggard fan at the concession, two wide-eyed preteens in tow; hanging onto two dogs, two Pepsis, one pennant, and one logo cap — while forking over $85 hard earned bucks.

The above would have nestled in comfortably alongside 7 mil Justice whining over a dollar-a-pop.

photo: Morris Kantor, “Baseball at Night” (1934)


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