Hello, Yankee fans! God, it’s been so long. I usually wait until pitchers and catchers day to resume the CYC site updates, but my blogging muscles are starting to atrophy.
Admittedly, I’m not a big hot stove/rumors-follower in the off-season. I’m more of a bottom line type of person, so instead of getting agitated amidst the constant browser refreshing, I’d rather just hear the final verdict.
So instead of boning up on baseball, I’ve been mired in launching Xalkori and converting oxygen to carbon dioxide.
I was gonna make a list of “notable off-season” happenings, but then I realized I can basically only remember as far back as the last 2 weeks. I can tell you who was pitching in a game 5 years ago, but I can’t remember what I did in the last 5 months.
Except for these:
I found the best thing on the internet ever. As in, game over, this wins. The search for the holy grail of funny has culminated in this monument to awesome.
I haven’t thrown out my Christmas tree yet, and now I’m starting to worry that it’s like not asking someone what his name is after you’ve been working together for a while. It’s so far gone that at this point, calling my doorman and telling him my tree is ready to be picked up, may just be ridiculous. Additionally, my tree looks too much like a corpse for this to be a normal interaction.
I’ve been helping my good friend and fantasy guru/consultant on his application to the MLB Fan Cave. (I highly recommend you all follow him @realtimeball, he’s honestly probably one of the most knowledgeable sports fan I’ve ever met ever. Also, he’s easily more nuts than me. I’m not kidding. It’s mind-blowing the depths of his insanity.)
I tried to get into Words With Friends, and I’ve not only learned that I suck at it, but I’ve learned that in terms of the English language, I probably only know about 30% of the words.
I quit my job. Well, I “tendered my resignation” and will be starting a new job on the 23rd. I don’t think I have to remind anyone the effect this job has had on my relationship with baseball, specifically the time it afforded me to actually enjoy said sport…
I saw Moneyball.
So in an effort to get back into the swing of blogging, I’m going to warm up with a review of this movie.
Not that I’m so arrogant that I think anyone cares about my opinion on a movie (the whole concept of reviews impacting the popularity of something is sad to me), but I just keep going back and forth on the movie, and usually I can figure shit out if I just start putting the proverbial pen to paper (finger to key).
Here’s where I’m at though (in classic bulleted list style…and maybe a little compliment sandwich style):
- I don’t think the movie could have been done any better than it was. I’m thrilled they didn’t try to shoehorn in some kind of nonexistent love story, as has been done in pretty much every other based-on-book movie ever.
(Love and Other Drugs? Based on the story of Viagra marketing. The movie made it out to be a shocking tale of a lothario who falls for the girl who’s not into him. OMG! The Blind Side—f’n incredible book, Michael Lewis is such a good writer it makes me sick—but the movie made it out to be some desperate housewives charity project.)
I digress (as always). Anyways, point being, I thought the movie was extremely well done, the acting was immaculate, perfectly cast, funny when it warranted it, etc. PLUS, I NEVER like movies longer than 1:45. I think anything longer than that is self-indulgent and superfluous.
But this was good, never felt like it was dragging.
There were a couple of parts I didn’t know where they were going, though. Between being an English and Theater major, the whole Chekhov’s gun thing was practically laser-printed on my brain, so I get a little uppity when things don’t pay off in movies.
Not in the “being worth it” sense, but in the “will this come into play later?” sense.
1.) The relationship between Billy and his ex-wife. It was friendly, but I kind of got the feeling it was working too hard at convincing us they have a perfectly healthy ex-marriage.
2.) The 20-game win streak. When he goes to watch the game, they start giving up an 11-run lead. So he goes back into the clubhouse and then they manage to pull off the W. Was he supposed to be framed as bad luck? Jinxing it? He didn’t watch the games all year, so that would suggest he’s an uninvolved jerk, but then he starts to watch and leaves when they start doing poorly, which would suggest he’s a Red Sox fan (oh! Rim shot!)
- Which brings me to my next point. Brad Pitt does not play an asshole well, if that’s what he was trying to do. He’s too adorable. And people have mixed feelings on Beane, I’m sure he’s an asshole to some extent, but there’s 2 kinds of assholes: the ones whose assholery is a point of pride (suggested by condescending, self-important behavior) and there are the ones whose assholery is a necessary evil to the job. Pitt was coming across as both, which was confusing.
- As far as I could tell, almost everyone in the movie used their real names. I love when that happens. Because I hate suspension of disbelief. And I feel like the real name usage almost puts more pressure on the producers to not default to the whole, what it’s fiction now, we can say whatever the hell we want about what happened.” HOWEVAH, Mr. Best Supporting Actor Nominee’s character, the alleged crux of the whole thing, used the weirdly fake name Peter Brand.
- I have to assume this is less for legal issues, and more because he appreciates the fact his insights were made out to be genius in the movie…whereas the real Peter Brand is Paul DePosdesto. And the brilliance purported in the movie might be somewhat diluted by the fact that he is currently one of the head guys of player development and scouting for the wildly successful New York Mets.
- That catchy song that his daughter sings. I’m an idiot and had no idea that was even a real song, I was like “Wow! They should actually record that, it’s good!” So I looked it up and saw it actually WAS recorded, in 2008. So even then, actually, I thought Billy Beane’s daughter was the original lyricist, because otherwise how would she be singing a song that wasn’t released until 6 years after the movie took place?
And here’s my number 1 issue with the entire story as a whole: they lost.
The movie began with them losing to the Yankees (what what) in the ALDS, the league leader in payroll dominating the poor small market A’s ($33,810,750 for the entire team, where the Yanks averaged over $3 million per player.) So success MUST be a function of payroll! How can the A’s compete?
So sets up the story. The A’s patch together a team by acquiring people who get on base rather than hired guns and sluggers.
The movie ends with the A’s in the exact same position. Losing in the ALDS. The only difference was in 2001, they had won an extra game, losing 3-2 to the Yanks vs losing 3-1 to the Twins in 2002.
Yeah, the Twins. A team whose salary was a paltry $545,754 higher, while both teams were nestled in the bottom 5 of the league.
The 2001 World Series champions had the 8th highest payroll. The 2001 World Champions had the 15th. What’s the significance? The significance is there is none. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. The lack of pattern is what’s notable.
In other words, I think this movie demonstrates exactly the opposite of what it may be attempting to highlight: it doesn’t matter how much money your team has or doesn’t has. Baseball success is not governed by money, and payroll is not a factor when predicting results.
Billy Beane and his constituents spent a year flapping their arms and crying “Visionary!” only to reach the exact. Same. Endpoint.
And in 2002, they couldn’t blame it on an ability to compete with the flush bank of the Yanks.
I guess you could say that they managed to still reach the playoffs despite being in the uncomfortable financial situation. Ok, good for them for not getting evicted from their homes, but does that warrant commendation? The Twins did it, too. And no one is making movies about them, unless you count Little Big Leauge.
It’s like in that movie where Freddy Prinze, Jr., after being dumped by his smokeshow girlfriend, makes a bet that he can take a huge loser and transform her into a prom queen. So the perennially homely Rachel Leigh “I’m naturally pretty because I have brown hair and brown eyes” Cook loses her glasses and ponytail and awkwardly hangs with the cool crowd…only for her to lose to the smokeshow in the end.
You’re right back where you started, only this time you’ve spent the last year struggling with mascara and the tribulations of cliques.
So, no, I’m not on board with lionizing the A’s for being the feel good Cinderella team. A lot of this has to do with the fact that I hate the term Cinderella team, to begin with. Cinderella has the aid of a magic godfairy who made her a sweet dress and transported her to the ball in a mobile pumpkin. How is she at a disadvantage when everyone else at the ball is without the aid of a super powers??
But the weird thing is, there’s a chance I could have gotten past all these grievances with the Moneyball story. There’s a chance I could have just been happy to watch Brad Pitt for 2 hours and more importantly, elated I got to watch baseball for 2 hours. (I loved the real-life clips interspersed throughout.)
I could have just done what my sister has been begging me to do since probably the dawn of time, which is not nitpick. To not scrutinize every detail of a movie and question the validity of everything. To just be entertained without stipulation.
Maybe I could have done that. But then the epilogue happened.
Blah, blah, blah, stuff about his daughter, stayed in Oakland, turned down the Boston job, even though it would have made him the richest GM in the history of life, blah blah. Then:
"Two years later, the Red Sox won their first World Series since 1918 embracing the philosophy championed in Oakland."
Whoa. Really? To say nothing of the egregiously absent comma after "1918," I don’t doubt that the Red Sox SAID they used the Moneyball approach. But unfortunately, real detectives have to worry about a little thing called evidence.
Whatever, you know and I know that the Red Sox f’n suck. I don’t want to talk about 2004, and my going away party is in an hour, so I can’t beat the horse to death anyway. Let’s just leave it at, in 2004, the Red Sox paid more for their championship than any other team, including the Yanks, had ever done ever.
Thrifty, my ass. They loovvve referring to themselves as the small-market Sox. Like Abe Lincoln said, “If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”
Anyways, in the spirit of the aforementioned compliment sandwich, I’ll say I can’t be too critical of this movie because, like I said, it proved that payroll is immaterial. I got to watch baseball. And I was impressed by the ability to communicate the story set out in the original book. I disagree with what was said, but I’ll defend to the death the right to say it.
And, of course, Moneyball has now allowed me to sidestep the whole blogging muscles atrophy.
Which is a sentence I never thought I’d say.
Happy Friday the 13th! And happy 34-days-until-pitchers-and-catchers-report-to-camp day!