Swing and a miss! This movie tells the wrong story! In fact, Michael Lewis wrote the book too soon as history has shown Moneyball focuses on the SECOND most interesting success story of the “stats will set you free!” baseball era.
On the surface, this is baseball for stat-geeks with Brad Pitt maxing out his “aww shucks I may be wrong but I’m gonna do it my way” charm and Jonah Hill continuing to build a career as a scene stealer.
Michael Lewis - the book’s author - was right when he said he didn’t think the story would make a good movie. And - at its core - this movie is a tragedy! Hear me out…
The stats-will-set-you-free theory that the story is rooted in comes from Bill James. Pitt and Hill’s characters are the first to follow the gospel of Bill James to the letter, and - to their credit, they amass a 20 game winning streak with a bunch of no-names, but ultimately…lose in the first round of the playoffs.
(spoiler alert!) In the final act, Billy Beane, Pitt’s character, then gets courted by the RED SOX - who have HIRED Bill James himself - in an attempt to bring Boston their first World Series in 100 years…and Beane turns them DOWN. Let me say that again: HE TURNS DOWN THE CHANCE TO WORK WITH THE MAN WHO WROTE THE GOSPEL and to take on the biggest challenge in baseball (at the time) which was to “reverse the curse” and bring a championship to Boston! HEROES scale that mountain!
Instead, the A’s go on to return to mediocrity under Beane, and the Red Sox win not one, but TWO World Series with Bill James…and the history now shows that Beane and his bean counter couldn’t leverage the Bill James advantages as much as Bill James himself!
No need to mention the forced-shoe-horn sub-plots of father / daughter, husband / ex, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman in thankless role as “bad guy” manager of the A’s. The “data” shows that this movie is a swing and a miss and all the marketing to the contrary won’t change the fact that the REAL story of baseball-data-junkies as the new titans of industry has yet to be told…and it happened in Boston!