I went to see Moneyball yesterday. This is not a recommendation nor is it a condemnation of the film, merely facts as I see them regarding Billy Beane, what happened in Michael Lewis’s twisted narrative and the movie adaptation.
Take it or leave it, but know that I’m telling the truth.
The Art Howe portrayal.
I don’t care whether it’s Tony LaRussa, Mike Scioscia or Joe Torre, if any manager was as insubordinate, selfish and blatantly disrespectful as the “Art Howe” character in the film was, he’d be fired immediately.
That character is not the Art Howe who’s liked and respected as a dedicated baseball man throughout the industry.
Jeremy Brown was chubby, not bordering on obese.
Jeremy Brown is listed at 5’10”, 226 pounds on his Baseball-Reference page.
That may or may not have been accurate—sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not.
Artistic license? Okay.
A patently ridiculous bit of casting for affect? Not okay.
The real Jeremy Brown wouldn’t “sell jeans” unless it was for a big-n-tall store; the character Jeremy Brown almost needed to have his clothes custom made because that’s how fat he was.
One of the main conflicts in the film is a struggle between Beane and Howe as to whether Hatteberg should be playing first base instead of Carlos Pena.
The implication is that Hatteberg is glued to the bench because Howe insists on having Pena—perceived as a better hitter and most definitely a better fielder than Hatteberg—in the lineup.
The penultimate scene in which Howe finally relents and sends Hatteberg to pinch hit in an 11-11 tie (as the A’s are going for their 21st straight win) is a Roy Hobbs-style moment for the unwanted misfit and Hatteberg homers to win the game.
Here’s the problem: Hatteberg and Pena were both in the lineup almost every single day before Pena was traded—2002 A’s batting orders. Hatteberg was the DH and Pena was playing first base, which made perfect sense because Hatteberg was still a neophyte first baseman and Pena could, y’know, field; and the day in question, September 4th, was a scheduled day off for Hatteberg who’d been playing almost every day anyway. (That story? It’s in Moneyball the book.)
Hatteberg eventually developed into a pretty good fielding first baseman; Pena into a Gold Glover. But the absence of fact in the interest of drama—as they’re taking a book that was supposed to be a “true” story—is glaring.
The tired-and-true formula.
Yes. I did mean “tired-and-true”.
The movie was a half-hour too long for one reason and one reason only: because they jammed the family aspect into the story with the interaction between Beane and his daughter; said interaction is about as painful as listening to Joe Buck.
What was the purpose other than to clumsily tug at the heartstrings and take a character that was relatively unlikable (an impressive feat considering the likability of Brad Pitt) and make him appear human? To say, “look, he’s just like you; he went through a divorce, life dumped on him as he struggled in what was supposed to be his calling and found another calling instead”?
During the scene in the 2002 draft room, Lewis wrote in the book that “this almost isn’t fair” as Beane was nabbing each and every one of the players that Paul DePodesta’s computer spit out; that fit into his “new” template of drafting “ballplayers” and not Abercrombie and Fitch models.
But it was fair.
We didn’t learn exactly how fair until years later, but we’ve learned.
It was fair because life has self-correcting mechanism that no amount of flexibility with the truth is going to eclipse.
Lewis had a planned sequel to Moneyball; it was set to detail the rise of the players who were drafted in 2002.
The sequel went away when the draft was proven to be a failure.
But there was a sequel to the book; just as there will be a sequel to the movie. You won’t see it in bookstores nor on-screen. You’ll see it in the standings; you’ll see it in the baseball record books; and you’ll see it if you really look for it.
It’s called reality.
If people are looking for a point-by-point, in depth refutation of the nonsense in Moneyball without facts pretzelized to suit the agendas of those who cling to it being seen as accurate, trust me, it’s coming.
And hell’s coming with it.