Moneyball, the movie, is an absolute mess of a film, the type of muddled end product you’d expect from a project that took several years and went through multiple writers and directors. Even good performances by a cast of big names and some clever makeup work couldn’t save this movie, and if I hadn’t been planning to review it, I would have walked out.

The movie failed first and foremost for me as a movie, not just as a baseball movie. (I’ll get to the baseball parts later.) The general plot here is that the A’s lose their 2001 ALDS to the Yankees and are about to lose three major players to free agency, so Billy Beane goes hunting for a new way of doing business. He runs into a stats geek working in Cleveland’s front office named Peter Brand, hires him, and Brand brings the sabermetric philosophy that we now associate with the early 2000s Oakland teams. This causes friction with Oakland’s scouts, who are all idiots, and Art Howe, who was a stubborn idiot (this is the movie, not my opinion), and Billy might even lose his job until the A’s get hot and win 20 games in a row. Meanwhile, we are to believe that this is all so Billy can purge the personal demons created by the failure of his playing career.

Billy is the only fully realized character in the entire movie, and even at that his disparate pieces don’t tie all that well together. Peter Brand, a.k.a. Paul Antipodesta, is a mousy number cruncher who looks like the lay viewer would expect a stat geek to look – unathletic, dressed in dull collared shirts and ties, intimidated by the players, with no complexity to the character. Howe is nothing but a holier than thou obstacle for Beane whose entire motivation for his stubbornness is his desire for a contract extension – a hopelessly tired plot device that makes for a one-dimensional character. Even Casey, Billy’s daughter, who is shoehorned into this weird plot strand about him possibly losing his job, is nothing more than the plot strand requires her to be.

The lack of multi-dimensional characters is exacerbated by the languid, aimless plot and stop-and-start pacing. The film mopes through Opening Day and the beginning of the A’s season, races through their midyear turnaround, then jumps through most of the winning streak until the twentieth victory, at which point we’re handed slow motion views of the A’s blowing an 11-0 lead … and of Art Howe thinking, with no sound at all. Even the paces of conversations are strange and often forced; one of the “action” scenes, if I could call it that, involves watching Billy juggle three GMs (Shapiro, Phillips, and Sabean) to try to acquire Ricardo Rincon. All three GMs come off as stooges, but more importantly, it’s boring as hell to watch anyone, even Brad Pitt, talk on the phone.

Pitt is very good with the stilted material he’s given and clearly made an effort to look and act the part, from his hair to his tone of voice to his facial expressions. He’s also frequently eating or drinking, which he seems to do in every movie in which he appears. Jonah Hill, as Peter Brand, is very good when he can use his character’s dry, monotonous delivery for comedic effect, drawing laughs from lines that aren’t inherently funny because his timing is so good. Chris Pratt has several funny moments as Scott Hatteberg, very recognizable if youve seen his work as Andy on Parks and Recreation, although he really only has two scenes of any significance in this movie. Philip Seymour Hoffman was wasted as Howe, unfortunately, playing a one-note character who would like you to know he doesn’t care what you have to say about baseball. Robin Wright Penn is also wasted as Beane’s ex-wife who is apparently married to a closeted gay man.

I could have tolerated a lot of flaws if Moneyball had just given me a good baseball movie, with some real tension to it, or perhaps a strong character study of Billy Beane. But the film provides neither, and I spent most of the movie wondering what was really on the line here. The A’s don’t win a playoff series in 2002, so the script can’t set that up as a goal or use the playoffs as a climax. Beane took a $39 million team to the playoffs the year before; he wasn’t going to be fired in May for taking a few risks that his owner more or less told him to take (and if he had been fired, he would have been hired by someone else in a heartbeat, despite the character’s later claim to the contrary). His daughter is worried about him because she doesn’t see the big picture, but neither she nor her father is in any real jeopardy at any point in the film. We’re not playing for anything here.

Then there’s the baseball stuff, which is not good. For starters, the lampooning of scouts, which draws from the book, isn’t any more welcome on screen (where some of the scouts are played by actual scouts) than it was on the page; they are set up as dim-witted bowling pins for Beane and Brand to knock down with their spreadsheets. It’s cheap writing, and unfair to the real people being depicted. Current Oakland scouting director Eric Kubota also gets murdered in a drive-by line that depicts him as a clueless intern given the head scouting role after Beane fires Grady Fuson in April after a clubhouse argument (that never really happened). I’ll confess to laughing at the scout referring to “this Bill James bullshit,” although the A’s bought into that bullshit years before the film claims they did – and, in fact, hired Paul Depodesta three years before the movie-A’s hired Brand. (In the film, Fuson refers to Brand as “Google boy,” a term applied to Depodesta by Luddite beat writers in LA three years later.)

The film also relies on some pretty gross misrepresentations or oversimplifications of the business. The idea of a GM getting on a plane and flying two thirds of the way across the country to meet another GM to discuss a trade for a left-handed reliever is so absurd that it should set off alarm bells in even the casual fan. Do you really think that GMs only talk trades in person? That they fly to meet each other for tete-a-tetes before consummating any deal? Similarly, teams don’t sign injured players to guaranteed contracts by flying out to their houses (on Christmas Eve, apparently) without having them go through physicals.

I wasn’t as concerned with the script having Beane trade Carlos Pena to Detroit for a reliever and some money (as opposed to the actual three-team, seven-player deal including Jeff Weaver and Jeremy Bonderman) as I was with seeing Pena, an intelligent, gregarious person, depicted as a sullen Latino player. I also find it hard to believe Beane would ever say he didn’t care about pitchers’ platoon splits. And the film’s emphasis on Beane not making it as a player seems to point to questions about his makeup, especially his confidence, which hardly ties into a film about how makeup is overrated.

If you do end up seeing the film, and I imagine most of you will, there is one scene towards the end that stood out for me as incredibly spot on, so much so that it didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the film. Beane is sitting in what was then called the .406 club at Fenway Park with John Henry, who is about to offer him a record-breaking deal to become the Red Sox’ new GM. Henry expounds on how Beane’s method of doing things is going to sweep through the industry, and how critics within the game weren’t just trying to protect the game, but were expressing their own fears about their livelihoods. That speech applies just as well to any industry undergoing the kind of creative destruction ushered in by Bill James, Sandy Alderson and Billy Beane. Remember that when you see the next written attack on “stat geeks” who are ruining the game along with a defense of RBIs or pitcher wins.

If you haven’t already done so, go read the book before thinking about seeing this movie, and maybe go watch Brad Pitt steal every scene he’s in in Snatch instead.


  1. You hate my favorite team and now you hate my movie. Next you’re going to tell me my favorite prospect who is doing well as a 23 year old in a ball won’t make the majors.

  2. Appreciate your review, Keith, but I am also a little disappointed.
    I work in politics for a living. Episodes or films that deal with those fields in politics I am most familiar with are always, always – no exceptions – less enjoyable to me than series or films that deal with fields I am less familiar with. No matter how well the material is presented, or how seamless the writing, or how impressive the acting, I simply get frustrated by the – inevitable – shortcuts and simplifications.

    Now, of course that doesn’t mean one should pretend that the movie has no flaws in that respect, but it would only be fair to at least address the possibility that it is much harder for any baseball movie to really satisfy you.

  3. Adrian: I have acknowledged the possibility, and rejected it. But to make everyone more comfortable, I separated my thoughts on the movie as a movie from my thoughts on the baseball aspects of it. I guess for some readers that, plus strict denials of any bias, just won’t suffice.

  4. “Do you really think that GMs only talk trades in person?”

    The scene was used to expose Brad Pitt’s Beane to Jonah Hill’s Peter Brand. Would have worked better if they’d used a winter meeting instead of a visit to Cleveland.

    I’ve seen Moneyball. I thought it was likeable enough, though the “unconventional narrative,” as Pitt described it at a TIFF press conference, translates to “flat story arc.”
    It’s understated, which I guess is pretty rare for a sports film. It’s not Jerry Maquire, that’s for sure. There’s not much drama….I found I didn’t have a lot invested in the team or any of the characters emotionally. I thought it was an odd choice for a feature dramatic film when I first heard about it, and I still do, after seeing it. Nerdy Jonah Hill is quite good. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is absolutely wasted. Don’t understand why Robin Wright bothered with such a small insignifcant part, except for the pay cheque.

  5. Hey Keith thanks for the review.

    I think most baseball fans, and most certainly fans of the book, will be disappointed in the film. Still, I’m counting down the days til this movie releases.

    Movies are rarely better or as good as the books they are based off of. The only movie that I can remember ,off the top of my head, that was better than the book was Goodfellas.

    I have a feeling that this will be a pretty huge commercial success and will get good reviews overall. Hopefully that will lead to people going out and reading the book and becoming more knowledgeable about baseball and advanced statistics. If that happens it will be worth being disappointed.

  6. Now were all movie critics.

  7. That is a good point Keith that people are criticizing your critical review without actually seeing the movie. If I were you I might take it as a compliment as those people were probably looking for confirmation (permission) from you to like the movie as you are viewed by many as one of the most recognizable advocates of sabermetrics in the mainstream media and felt disappointed when you didn’t follow through. Or maybe people just like bitch.

  8. I also saw a screening of the movie last week. I’m certainly not a film critic, but I had a similar issue with the characters in the movie. It just seemed like everyone in the movie except Beane was made out to be sort of an idiot. Even the Peter Brand character seems like he couldn’t really function in society. I went in expecting to be disappointed on the baseball stuff, so I won’t complain too much there.

  9. Duff Soviet Union

    “@Beelachek: Snatch: terrible movie.
    We … we can’t be friends any more.”

    Sorry Keith, but I’ve got to go with the other guy here. That movie sucked. “Lock, stock and two smoking barrels” on the other hand was pure brilliance.

  10. Keith,

    The only reason you love Snatch is because your doppleganger is one of the main characters. Nah, actually Snatch is just an awesome movie.

    And thanks for the Moneyball review. It sounds like it is everything I feared it would be. Oh, well.

    Hope you’re enjoying the Wire. I feel like I should get credit for the being the straw that broke the camels back when it comes to pestering you to watch.

  11. Wow, I just realized that Keith and Stephen Graham look a whole lot a like. Are they identical twins, separated at birth and by the ocean. It would make a great melodrama.

    I enjoyed the review Keith, it reminds me why I like to mix reading reviews and criticisms of movies, books, etc between professional and non-professional critics. You make a great non-professional critic because of your writing and analysis skills, but I know you “keep it real”. While there are plenty of good professional movie reviewers, there are far too many who don’t give a blunt review when warranted. Your bluntness is appreciated. I fully intend to watch this when it comes out on DVD, but my expectations have been set low.

  12. Dear Mr. Law,

    Thank you for corroborating my dismal expectations for this film. When I first saw the trailer, I thought that the A’s were trying to win with Willie Mays Hayes and Ricky Vaughn!

    I appreciate your insider’s point of view. As a baseball fan, I knew there would be some inaccuracies. But it seems that the liberties taken are even more heinous than I could have imagined.

    I liken it to Braveheart…a movie I totally enjoyed, but later discovered that there were several historical flaws.

    The difference is…Braveheart depicted events that transpired 500 years ago. It’s quite possible that even the ‘official’ version of medieval history has been warped by the hands of time. No such excuses can be made for a baseball movie, depicting events that occurred within the last decade, and that most baseball fans could easily pick apart.

    I don’t always find myself agreeing with your analysis, but we appear to be on the same side of the fence with regards to this theatrical release.

    Thank you again for your review.

  13. While reading this review, I couldn’t help but wonder, repeatedly, if you are biased in defense of the scouts. I did not enjoy the way the book painted scouts, but I would not expect the movie to do any differently. With A/V in the tool set, it probably becomes even more gross.

    I would expect you to hate the way it portrays scouts in particular, as well as Howe. I also see how you’ve included detail about other things in the movie that have nothing to do with the Confederacy of Dunces, but they seem petty in comparison. My question: if the movie were fairer to your brethren, how would you feel about it then?

  14. Keith, thanks for the review. I had zero intension of seeing this movie. I read the book, which was very interesting, and any concept of industry shaking makes for good discussion. But a movie? Yawn. There’s much more entertaining films that I’d waste my $12.

  15. Snatch was great, Lock Stock was even better.

  16. I’ve seen the film and am a bit surprised by this review.

    Some background: I’m a baseball fan and sabrmetrics geek. I’ve read the book and I’ve seen the film. The film isn’t perfect, but its a solid film. It isn’t a documentary and it isn’t the book, but it walks a fine line between sticking to the source material and winking at baseball fans.

    If your life is wrapped up in the real baseball world 365 days a year and you lived through the actual events of the Moneyball season(s), then of course it won’t feel right. But as a movie, it works. The reason its getting good reviews is it had to broaden a bit to attract people who HATE baseball, which is does pretty successfully. But there are still plenty of winks and nods to those who live and breathe the subject matter.

    Just my two cents.

  17. To people claiming Keith can’t separate himself from his baseball background, you’re making a pretty flawed assumption. Even if he’s got a scouting/front office background, that doesn’t mean his issues about how the scouts are depicted or the GM’s behave are without merit.

    Are there people who can’t distance themselves from a movie’s subject? Yes. Roger Ebert has said, in fact, that it’s a personal theory of his “That you should never send an expert to a movie about his specialty.” But *that* view is inherently biased towards the individual reviewer. Keith’s done an excellent job of explaining what he didn’t like, in pretty significant detail, about the movie from a film-making standpoint, so disliking his review on an assumption of bias when you yourself are being biased seems pointless

  18. Hi Keith,

    I saw a preview of Moneyball Tuesday night in Chicago, with a Jonah Hill Q&A afterward. I agree with some of your criticisms of the film, particularly the concern that the scouts & Howe were very two-dimensional. All of those individuals could have been developed more and it would have contributed to the movie’s depth. Overall, though, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Here are some of my thoughts… I’d love to read your take on some of them if you’re so inclined.

    1. While Moneyball is ostensibly a “baseball movie” it is as much or more a movie about how information is used in a competitive industry. While the industry is baseball, it could as easily have been stocks, cakes, or widgets and the same story arcs and conflicts could have been presented. In the Q&A following the movie, Hill said that the two movies that were touchstones in the making of Moneyball were “All the President’s Men” and “The Natural.” I absolutely picked up on the ATPM theme running through the film, and I thought they did a great job of it. The early scene of Pitt and Hill in the parking garage was a direct homage. While the movie certainly simplifies the background of sabermetrics and how it has influenced the game, it made a relatively arcane subject very appealing for a wide audience through this approach, and I don’t think you give nearly enough credit to their success is accomplishing this.

    2. You bring up several of the factual inaccuracies in the movie (the early scene in Cleveland, the signing of Hatteberg, etc.) as a significant negative in your enjoyment of the movie. This is an area where your personal experience in the world of baseball has, I believe, made your perception and evaluation of these scenes very different than the average film-goer. I am not in any way accusing you of bias in an intentional sense, but I suspect you were much more put off by these fictions than others will be because they ring so falsely for you. I know you wrote above that you “separated (your) thoughts on the movie as a movie from (your) thoughts on the baseball aspects of it,” but I simply don’t think that is possible. No one can wholly filter their perceptions like that.

    The scene in Hatteberg’s home, I felt, did an outstanding job showing how the A’s took players who were perceived as worthless and used them to help their club. The scenes describing Chad Bradford’s throwing style and how he was identified by Brand were also certainly not close to wholly accurate, but they served the same dramatic purpose.

    3. Brandon above mentioned the cinematography… this is a great strength of the movie. The saturated colors on the field are wonderfully reminiscent of “The Natural,” as are the darker shaded, shadowy scenes developed throughout, particularly those with David Justice on the plane and in the batting cage.

    4. The multiple scenes with David Justice are great, and an example of a character other than Billy Beane who was developed beyond a caricature who grew over the course of the film.

    5. You describe the plot/relationship between Beane and his daughter as “shoehorned into this weird plot strand about him possibly losing his job… nothing more than the plot strand requires her to be” and you also disliked that the movie depicted Beane as fearing that he’d be canned if his plan didn’t work. I thought the relationship between Beane and his daughter worked well. The plot about him fearing that he’d lose his job was closely intertwined with his true disgust with losing. His daughter and Brand were the two characters in the movie with an opportunity to react to him, and both did so in character and in a loving way. I’ll try to write the next bit without it being a spoiler…

    Brand’s story in the film room of the 260 pounder trying to make it to second base and Beane’s daughter’s CD made for a very sweet coda to the film and a nice end to the Beane character arc, followed by the written epilogue about the contract offer from the Red Sox. The selection of that song, and the manner in which Sorkin changed the lyrics of the song were pitch perfect.

    All that said, I really enjoyed reading your critique. Thanks for sharing it.

  19. Guess I have to side with the group that thinks you couldn’t have watched the movie with the same mindset as someone who doesn’t have the same insider information available to you via your profession.

    This doesn’t mean that this is what caused you to dislike the movie. It might, in fact, be a horrible movie and your reivew would represent that. However, I am not sure why you can’t admit knowing that many of the things that bothered you such as:

    1) That Carlos Pena has a different personality…I have no idea what Carlos Pena’s personality is like. I just see him play baseball on the field when he happens to play my favorite team and I happen to be watching.

    2) The Carlos Pena trade itself. Now that you mentioned the trade it is coming back to me and I remember Jeff Weaver being involved. However, the vast majority of the public who goes to see the movie probably won’t even notice that it is a different trade.

    These are just examples of how your vastly superior knowledge of the baseball industry (as compared to the regular movie goer) will inform your critique and if you are good enough to be able to know all that information and still remain impartial then you are pretty impressive, because most people could not.

    • if you are good enough to be able to know all that information and still remain impartial

      I am able to do so. I have no doubt of this. What is rather annoying is all of the people who have never met me who are telling me I can’t. Unless you’re responsible for one of the voices inside my head, you can’t possibly know this.

  20. Keith, but Brad Pitt is still dreamy as hell , right?

  21. How does someone not like Snatch? Thats blows my mind more than Phillip Seymour Hoffman being cast to play the 6’2 Art Howe.

  22. Sheldon Steiner

    My two cents: I do not believe it is possible to be completely free of bias (as many people have pointed out). However, I side with Keith, in that I believe it is fully possible to correct for that bias if you are consciously aware of it. For instance, I am a third year medical student, and my burgeoning knowledge of medicine has nothing to do with my hate for Grey’s Anatomy, and I would laugh at anyone who said otherwise.

  23. Keith, did you equally dislike the way Grady Fuson, Art Howe and others were portrayed in the book? I remember being pretty uncomfortable with it, but being able to understand it for what it was and still enjoy the book. Is that still possible with the movie?

    I think why I and many are questioning you is because you didn’t react to all this with a ‘Meh, it’s a movie’ sort of attitude. I mean, IIRC, the book was pretty bad in most of the same ways, wasn’t it? Is the movie even more over the top?

  24. It is strange to hear so many discount the opinions of someone because they think a close follower of baseball can’t be objective. Besides close followers of baseball, who is the market for this movie? I may not be employed in baseball, but I certainly follow it closely and have for 30 years — I guess my opinion should be readily discarded, too? Funny, because I imagine the producers probably counted on people like me to fork out the cash to see it.

    Maybe we should comb the jungles of Papua New Guinea for lost tribes who don’t know anything about baseball. A small demographic, sure, but at least we can be sure they are not “biased.”

  25. “What is rather annoying is all of the people who have never met me who are telling me I can’t.”

    Keith, while some of those claiming that you are “biased” may mean it as a personal thing towards you, several of us are simply stating that no one is able to do this. It is a cognitive impossibility to wholly remove yourself from your own personal knowledge and experiences when perceiving and responding to stimuli such as a movie.

    While the future Dr. Steiner above uses Gray’s Anatomy as an example to show how he can self-correct for bias in his hatred of the show… well… he’s wrong. He may have 100 other reasons to hate that insipid, mindless drivel… we all do. That said, if one of the reasons why he dislikes the show is the utterly childish manner in which it oversimplifies issues of medical practice and ethics there is no way that he can compartmentalize that part of his disdain and view the rest of the crap on that show through a “neutral” lens. The human mind just doesn’t work that way.

  26. Nick Christie

    Wow, quite a long comment list. It is awfully bemusing to hear everyone yell/write “You can’t be objective: Deal with it!” 🙂

    By the way, now that we know they exist, I would very much like to be one of your voices in your head; all kinds of perks, I am sure. Is there an application process?

  27. Keith, have not seen the movie yet but was very interested in your review & all the ensuing kerfuffle it has generated. Specifically, I was wondering if you can comment on your take on the content of the Michael Lewis interview in which he characterizes your replies to him as antiscout, anti-oldschool, and therefore terms it “intellectually dishonest” for you to criticize the book/movie for echoing and even amplifying that sentiment. I am a huge fan of your work on ESPN, but I have always been curious as to a) did you really see/understand the value of scouts from the beginning of your career, or b) was it something you came to understand and yourself value as your matured in the business? My sense from some of your recent writing is that it’s more of the latter, but would like to hear more on your overall growth process and what you communicated to Lewis when he interviewed you for the book.

  28. Sheldon Steiner

    Jeff: Self-correct does not equal ‘view through a neutral lens.’ I never claimed it to be possible to wholly remove oneself… A smart mind like Keith’s is able to analyze how he perceived and responded to a movie and why, and then write a review taking that potential bias into consideration. (My last comment. Good discussion.)

  29. Nick Christie

    P.S> I have just listened to your podcast today… I found it the most compelling short soundbite I’ve heard/read from you. So thank you for much for your honesty, candor, and explanation of your professional analysis.

    The “evolution of klaw” was really important to hear, I think, especially for people like myself who have read/listened to you for years. I found it extremely cogent… and even slightly moving, in a sense.

    I write this by the way, as someone who has often disagreed with aspects/arguements of yours. I add this so as to charactize this email as not coming from a sycophant, but rather from merely an interested reader.

  30. Herbert Anchovy

    I just can’t imagine dragging my wife to this.

  31. Keith,

    I read the transcript of your Baseball Today podcast ( for those who can’t get to the podcast right away) regarding how you learned the importance of “old school” methods like traditional scouting. There is one part that struck me as interesting, the quote follows-

    “And one of the reasons I left in 2006 was the recognition that this approach– this so-called “new school” or “Moneyball” approach– was not going to work. Was never going to work. And they ended up scrapping it after I left.”

    Were you referring to Moneyball in terms of some of the specific strategies (undervaluing of OBP) that worked for Billy Beane or in terms of the more general context of solely relying on stats to exploit inefficiencies?

  32. “If I hadn’t been planning to review it, I would have walked out.”

    Keith: So, just how early in the film did you decide you didn’t like it?

  33. Evan: I didn’t decide I didn’t like it until the end. Can’t let yourself form an opinion that early when you’re planning to write something up, even in an amateur format. What I was saying by the comment about walking out was that the opening 20-30 minutes were really dull. It moved slowly and offered virtually none of the narrative greed I want in films or books.

    Neel: referring there to JP’s specific implementation of doing it with fewer scouts and less input from the remaining ones, while eschewing high school players and Latin Americans.

  34. “Were you referring to Moneyball in terms of some of the specific strategies (undervaluing of OBP) that worked for Billy Beane or in terms of the more general context of solely relying on stats to exploit inefficiencies?”

    Was the general context about “solely relying on stats to exploit inefficiencies”? I understood it to be about economizing by exploiting market inefficiencies by any means necessary. Figure out what is overlooked and buy that; figure out what is overvalued and avoid or sell that. Using stats was one method of doing so, but only because the use of the stats employed by Beane/the A’s at the time were overlooked. We could just as easily see the pendulum switch the other way, with more and more teams eschewing scouts, leaving open the possibility for a team to go heavy on “traditional scouting” and scoring cheap talent that way. In sum, I understand it to be taking an economical approach to the acquisition of talent, a pretty basic premise that was sorely missing from the baseball industry. It was not, as Joe Morgan argued, a book written by Billy Beane about the value of the walk.

  35. Here is one bit of info that I find interesting:

    As far as I can tell, Moneyball is only the second nonfiction baseball movie made about a specific team. There are plenty made about specific players (Babe, Cobb, Pride of the Yankees, etc.) and plenty made about fictional teams (Indians in Major League, for example), but only Moneyball and Eight Men Out are about real teams. Thus, Moneyball is the first movie ever to tell the story of a real baseball team that did something positive.

    That is, unless I missed one in my admittedly quick and dirty research.

  36. Keith – To those who say you can’t separate your own experiences enough to properly evaluate the movie, I say, “Phooey!”

    Of course you can.

    I don’t think I’m going to be seeing Moneyball. I thought the book was great, and as someone in the information business, i once gave a copy to all my direct reports as an example of how to use data and statistical analysis to change an industry. I never imagined it would make much of a movie (especially without some dramatic event like winning the World Series as its culmination).

    As for Michael Lewis dissing you, let’s face it, he’s kind of an arrogant jerk anyway.

    Still, a great writer, and if Moneyball is all you’ve read by Lewis, you’ve missed out. Liar’s Poker is far and away superior, and I am going to get his latest on the financial mess, on your recommendation.

  37. Keith:

    Read the review, listened to the podcast. Enjoyed both. As per usual, I appreciate your honesty, candor, and foremost your opinion. As the lesson from the old saying tells us, everyone has opinions, and nowhere is that more true then at ESPN. Your opinions stand out, because unlike many of your mouse-eared colleagues, they are supported by fact and reason (whether I agree with them or not).

    I’m sorry to see the attacks that you are receiving for this review but am glad to see the much deserved attention you are receiving. As with the ESPN commentators, angry Twitter followers, or troglodytes like McIntyre over at The Big Lead, it appears that most of the criticism directed at you comes from wounds resulting from your failure to treat their opinion as equal to yours, regardless of how poorly reasoned or thought out those opinions may be. Unfortunately for them, while everyone may have an opinion, they are not all equal, and there is no reason to treat them as such.

    Thank you for the great work, here and at .com. Please don’t ever water it down.

  38. Keith,
    of course you have every right to be convinced that you can separate your background and profession from judging the movie.
    However, as Jeff (#79) has pointed out correctly, it is simply impossible (as much as you may be convinced of it). For some people, the effect of the background may be minor, while for some others, it may be much more prominent. But it’s there. Inevitably.

    You even write in the review that some baseball things that would never happen in real life bothered you (and thus lessened your enjoyment of the movie). Well, someone who doesn’t have the baseball background does not know that that’s unrealistic. So it can’t bother them. That’s the whole point some here are trying to make. I’m sure an expert on the digital revolution, social online networks, or the birth of facebook had some issues of this kind with The Social Network. But neither you nor me were able to identify any of these because we are not experts on these things. So it simply couldn’t bother us and could not weigh on our general impression of the movie (on which we agree).
    I’m a little surprised you can’t, or won’t, concede this. This is clear cut and indisputable.

    What I think is problematic is the “nobody else but me knows my biases/what’s in my head” defense (which you use). That, to me, is an argumentative white flag. Logically, this defense means we can’t call someone a racist (or homophobe, or whatever) unless they admit that they are (not calling anyone anything, just making point on the logic of the argument). This is silly. Of course others, even outsiders, can judge other peoples’ biases based on what people say or write.

  39. Keith,

    I love your work and the perspective you provide to the average fan through your baseball experience.

    For me, the most enjoyable part of Moneyball was the glimpse it provided into the inner workings of baseball. I can see why you would not enjoy this, but it is not because you are biased as others have suggested, but rather the mystery of this world is gone for you. This is a world I will never have access to, so I can look past the movie’s shortcomings and inaccuracies in this regard to get a feeling of how a front office operates (even if it is Hollywood’s version of it). It is why I enjoyed Moneyball, and why I enjoy listening to you on the Baseball Today Podcast. Most of the appeal of the movie is lost for someone who has worked in the industry as you have.

    The other problem for the writers of Moneyball is the book it was based on was not a story. Couple this with the fact the underdog takes down the giant theme has been beaten to death in sports movies and you have a very tall order to write this movie. The movie was not earth-shattering, and the story probably had too many elements, but it was enjoyable. I think the most important thing for people to know before they go see it is the movie is very baseball centered. I am glad I did not take my wife as I planned because there was little there for her to like. If you love baseball, I would recommend it.

  40. Thank you for saving me whatever it costs to go see a movie!

  41. Another great crime of this film is the wasted character actor talent available to them. I think there must have been much more in the Scouts’ Room in previous versions, where in the release version actors such as Jack McGee and Nick Searcy are reduced to gaping maws of shock at Beane’s attitudes and ideas.

  42. Keith,

    What’s your opinion on the overall portrayal of Mark Shapiro? I don’t know how personally you know him, but he came off in the movie as a dumb, condescending jerk who deferred to Brand before making a final decision on trading Garcia (?). While there’s a faction of mouth-breathing Indians fans that will eat this up, it seems to be a 180 from how Mark has come off publicly both during his time as GM and now as President.

  43. I did not love the movie, but I did love the book. It wasn’t quirky enough, although I do agree Hill shined. I can’t see how moviegoers who don’t love baseball are going to love or even get this movie, apart from the universal appeal of the struggle Beane is in with himself. Throwing in Wright for one scene seemed pointless.
    I think there should have been one punch or jolt…kind of like in Crazy Heart when he looses the boy. It could have been like a final scene with Pitt and Hoffman, the perfect adversaries.I thought that battle between the two of them was left hanging.
    I missed the real characters from the book, Hatteberg and Bradford. They appeared, but in body, but not personality in the movie. Flat.
    One thing from the book….on page 275 Beane says “My shit doesn’t work in the playoffs.” Those who don’t get why the A’s get to the playoffs, but never win need to read the end of chapter 12…or maybe the whole book.
    I read in one interview that Brad Pitt wanted to do this movie because he likes an underdogbut also, Brad Pitt doesn’t follow or have any interest in baseball
    in my opinion Billy Beane, the GM Pitt plays, is not an underdog..
    he is just a bright guy who made a wrong decision in his young life and has been bitter about it ever since..

  44. Sheldon Steiner

    To Jeff:

    No review will ever be perfect. As Will Leitch states, all a critic can do is “attempt to be the platonic ideal of a viewer.” I absolutely think Keith attempted to when he reviewed this movie from a non-baseball prospective. He claims to have been successful (read: not perfect) and you can either choose to take him at his word or not.


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