Saturday, February 25, 2012


Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 24th February, 2012 (India)
Time : 133 minutes
Director : Bennet Miller; Writers : Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin based on the book by Michael Lewis ‘Moneyball : The Art of Winning an Unfair Game’; Music : Mychael Danna
Starring : Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Phillip Seymour Hoffman

"Okay. People who run ball clubs, they think in terms of buying players. Your goal shouldn't be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins. And in order to buy wins, you need to buy runs. You're trying to replace Johnny Damon. The Boston Red Sox see Johnny Damon and they see a star who's worth seven and half million dollars a year. When I see Johnny Damon, what I see is... is... an imperfect understanding of where runs come from. The guy's got a great glove. He's a decent leadoff hitter. He can steal bases. But is he worth the seven and half million dollars a year that the Boston Red Sox are paying him? No. No"

I wonder when they will begin to buy IPL teams this way was one of the many thoughts in my head as I left the hall. It’s a true story and once again proves that neccessity is the mother of invention.

Brad Pitt is a failed baseball player and currently heading the Oakland Athletics. As he so eloquently puts it “there are rich teams and poor teams, then theres fifty feet of crap, then there is us”. He is referring to his annual spending budget on players. His is miniscule compared to the top teams and not only that, even his best players are being sold to make money. He is not going to be able to put together a competitive team for the year, given his budget.
Billy Beane: Would you rather get one shot in the head or five in the chest and bleed to death?
Peter Brand: Are those my only two options?

Along comes Jonah Hill, who comes up with a new, fiercely statistical way of looking at players, ignoring the conventional wisdom of scouts, managers, coaches, journalists and the entire establishment. He and Brad proceed to put together a team that has the support of no one, does miserably at first but then proceeds to go on an unprecedented winning run.
It’s a really thought provoking film and its principles can be applied to many fields, not just sport. Anyone who has done research or looked at statistics will know that the conclusion lies in how its interpreted and that can vary quite dramatically from person to person. So to find that quite a few players are undervalued because of the way we humans evaluate athletes is not altogether surprising. We judge based on looks, build, hair, recent form, our own preferences of playing style etc instead of focusing ruthlessly on the numbers, a kind of results per dollar spent kind of metric.

Scott Hatteberg: [Responding to being asked to play first base for the Oakland A's] I've only ever played catcher.
Billy Beane: It's not that hard, Scott. Tell him, Wash.
Ron Washington: It's incredibly hard.

Interweaving a human angle into the story, with Brad Pitts own failures as a player haunting him, his superstitions, his daughter, his personal style, his inability to deal with the obstinate coach (Hoffman) who refuses to buy into his methods make the film a gripping one. And the wry sense of humour that pervades the film helps a lot as does the diffident nature of Jonah Hill’s character and the way Brad and Jonah interact throughout the story.

Today moneyball, the system developed by the Oakland A’s is used in most league teams. What is surprising is that its not used in more business areas…food for thought…

“I know you've taken it in the teeth out there, but the first guy through the wall. It always gets bloody, always. It's the threat of not just the way of doing business, but in their minds it's threatening the game. But really what it's threatening is their livelihoods, it's threatening their jobs, it's threatening the way that they do things. And every time that happens, whether it's the government or a way of doing business or whatever it is, the people are holding the reins, have their hands on the switch. They go bat shit crazy.”

PS : I saw this movie during the MAMI festival last year but omitted to write the review then so its been a while…

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