My Complicated Relationship

…with baseball movies.   The last baseball movie I liked was, well, never.

There.  I said it.

I’ve tried to avoid this fact for much of my life (minor exaggeration, but still), but I can no longer avoid it.  Every so often, for whatever reason, everyone starts talking about their favorite baseball movies on the internet and those are some of the only times in my life that I am quiet.  Because I have nothing to contribute.

I’ve tried, really, I have.  I watched Field of Dreams with a tissue box by my side, sure I would be as affected by it as everyone else but I was snickering at the dramatic/heart-wrenching moment.  I snored through Eight Men Out.   And I absolutely hated Sandlot.

Which is why I’m worried about the Moneyball movie, which opens this Friday.   I loved the book and have a bit of a Billy-Beane-is-a-rockstar thing going on, so I want to like it with all my heart.  It’s just that my track record isn’t promising.

I think what I don’t like about baseball movies, actually, is what I don’t like about most “genre” movies.  I don’t like horror or romance, although I often enjoy movies with horror or romance elements.  I feel like so often baseball movies are too much about the baseball and not primarily a good film.  Good cinematography, good acting, good script- that all seems to go by the wayside.

So my fingers are solidly crossed about the Moneyball movie. 

And may I also just comment on what an absolutely bizarre looking cover this is?

Diamond Girl


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7 responses to “My Complicated Relationship

  1. Shea

    Did you ever see “The Natural” or “For Love of the Game”? Kevin Costner was pretty good in them. Love your blog

    • Shea

      Whoops, meant Robert Redford in the second flick. First one came out in late ’90s and I think Redford starred in the latter, maybe early 80s.
      Your Giants are having a second wind of late. My Red Sox are hanging on to Wild Card by the skin of their teeth. Rays are breathing right down our backs. My nails and cuticles are toast the way I’ve been watching the games lately.

      • sfdiamondgirl

        I haven’t seen either of those, but I will definitely check them out! And it’s been quite a roller coaster for the Red Sox this year, hasn’t it? For the Giants, too. Believe me, my nails are the same. That’s the thing about baseball is that even when things end up well for your team you can never appreciate it until it’s over, like last year with San Francisco winning the World Series. Just sitting tight and crossing my fingers at this point :)

        Anyhow, good luck to Boston and thanks so much for reading and commenting!

      • Have you seen “A League of their Own”?

  2. Robert Seeds

    1) The book was good and I like Michael Lewis as a writer. You should see if you can find his article about the New Orleans hurricane (he is a native). I love the film Blind Side, because I am kind of a softie and to me Sandra Bullock is the girl next door. .

    2) I cannot imagine this story as a film. Apparently without Brad Pitt, this film never happens.

    3) Aaron Sorkin is credited as a writer. He wrote the second to the last screenplay. I love his work (West Wing, Sports Night, A Few Good Men, Charley Wilson’s War [I have not seen Social Network]).

    4) I kind of view that draft as a dud. Jeremy Brown was one first round pick who retired after a cup of major league coffee because he could not hit and had no position. Nick Swisher is a pretty good player, and I think Joe Blanton was picked then.

    5) I think the film features Tejada’s home run against the Yankees to extend the A’s lengthy winning streak (21 games?). I was there with my sister and nephews, he really crushed the ball.

    • sfdiamondgirl

      I like Michael Lewis as well. I read a great piece he wrote for Vanity Fair about the Irish economy and was impressed by his writing, outside of Moneyball. I am also heartened to see that Aaron Sorkin is doing the script- I haven’t seen any of the movies you referenced except The Social Network, but the script for that was absolutely brilliant, in my opinion.

      As for the draft, I agree with you, to some extent, but if I’m remembering correctly (haven’t read the book in a while) part of the point is that there were players who Beane et al. wanted to draft and the rest of the front office or ownership talked them out of it or wouldn’t allow it. People always say the Moneyball thing just failed, since the A’s didn’t win the World Series that year and are obviously not succeeding now, but I think the book makes a much broader point that didn’t start with the 2002 A’s and certainly didn’t end there either. I think everyone would agree that the theories behind Moneyball have changed the game very much and had resounding implications. Which is, I guess, part of why I’m skeptical of the movie. I think in a film, you’d have to turn it more into a specific story about specific people and perhaps lose the point along the way. Which would make for a better film, but not really a good representation of the book.

      In any case, I’m very curious to see it and thanks for the comment!

      • First, I made a misstatement. The home run featured in the film is Hatteberg’s walkoff against KC that broke an 11-11 tie and extended the winning streak to 20 games. The walk-off HR I saw hit by Tejada was three days earlier, against Minnesota (the team that would later beat them in the division series 3 – 2).
        Apparently the film focuses on Beane, a character loosely based on Paul dePodesta, and on Hatteberg. The theme of the story is how the scouts can be wrong — Beane was a can’t-miss prospect who did miss — and how the A’s attempted to take advantage of that. The Moneyball concept was to identify characteristics that would help you win but that the market under-valued; at the time it was on-base-percentage, with power being over-valued. The As needed to focus on undervalued characteristics because they did not have the money to compete for the over-valued ones. It worked because the As ended up being more competitive than their income would have otherwise allowed. Scott Hatteberg was a free agent catcher that year who had a pretty good on base percentage and some power; the As hired him to play first base, a position he had not previously played (they had a good hitting catcher, Ramon Hernandez). Of course, especially after the book, on base percentage stopped being undervalued, so the As had to find something else. I’m not sure what that was.
        Lewis lives in Berkeley with his wife and kids (they went to preschool with my kids). You should see if he needs an intern. I think that this is the New Orleans story I told you about.

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