Trailer: 'Moneyball' aims for 'The Blind Side' sweet spot

The Blind Side proved that Michael Lewis’ non-fiction books about a sport’s intricacies could be successfully sold at the box-office if they are wrapped in an old-fashioned underdog tale. In Moneyball, out Sept. 23, general manager Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, attempts to pull the cash-strapped Oakland A’s out of mediocrity with a contrarian new philosophy on scoring talent. Clearly, that alone won’t draw in folks who don’t yet know what WHIP stands for, so Aaron Sorkin’s script delves deeper into Beane’s homelife and his relationship with his awkward baseball-geek assistant, the blandly-named Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) instead of the real-life Paul DePodesta. Watch the trailer:

The trailer works on many levels — the Friday Night Lights-esque score doesn’t hurt — and I’d like to think this film could be be Pitt’s Jerry Maguire. He just seems so likable and comfortable in this character’s skin.

Is this a baseball movie non-fans can root for? Do you think Park and Rec’s Chris Pratt can hit a curveball?

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  • E.B. Berman

    This looks AWSEOME. Loved the book, can’t wait for the movie.

  • Mr. Holloway

    Solid trailer, really good cast (Pitt, Pratt, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Jonah Hill in a toned-down supporting role). Pitt, in particular, looks like he’s really good in this.

    The only problem is that Beane’s story would be a lot more impressive if his Oakland A’s teams had won more than a grand total of ONE playoff series in his dozen years as the A’s GM.

    • ggal

      Brad Pitt looks like he’s taking the play right out of Bob Redford’s playbook… The similarities are amazing… cannot wait to see this movie!

  • Jay

    Well, if you want to make any kind of baseball movie captivating, you’re going to have to remove as much actual “baseball” as possible

    • Dan

      Oh I see what you did there! Clever. Unfortunately, some of the most captivating sports movies ever made have been baseball movies. For those of you with the attention span of a chimp, there’s always “Unnecessary Roughness” or “The Replacements.”

  • ohno

    Pass. This does not look like Pitt’s best work. LoL

  • Fla Fla Flunky

    If you look up overrated in a dictionary, a picture of Billy Beane appears.

    • Mr. Holloway

      The word “overrated” gets thrown around WAY too liberally these days…but in this case, that’s exactly right.

  • harry

    he reminds me so much of Robert Redford here.

  • Dean

    As a baseball nut and a fan of the book I am very much looking forward to this. Will it find a big general audience? Probably not, but who cares? All that matters is that it’s a quality film that makes dramatically compelling cinema out of the ideas put forth in the book.

  • LOL

    It might make a good movie, but the theory of “moneyball” is a failure. While the A’s had some success early in the decade, they’ve fallen flat the last 5 years. Moneyball will never will a World Series.

    • Mike

      It already has. Basically every team that’s won since Moneyball has employed its techniques. Ever heard of Bill James? He works for the Red Sox.

      • Jason

        You’re kidding, right? Only *some* elements of what Moneyball was at the time contributed to the Red Sox success. Or perhaps you’d like to run down the list of position players and pitchers the Red Sox paid for that helped them win, but would never be part of a PURE moneyball team with a much lower payroll? Please.

  • Brit

    I doubt many thought The Blind Side would be as successful as it was. If you have a good story behind the actual game, even non-sports fans will enjoy it.

  • Robin

    If you actually read the book, you would know two things. One, the whole point of “Moneyball” was to exploit inefficiencies in the baseball scouting system to maximize performance relaive to dollars spent. That meant paying for players who were undervalued by other clubs in free agency, but who could contribute more in the performance of one specific attribute (In that time period, “getting on base”). And two, the playoffs are a crapshoot. Beane said himself his strategy doesn’t work in the playoffs. Did he change the game like in the trailer? Probably not. Did he succeed where so many others would have failed? I say yes.

    • Mr. Holloway

      “Beane said himself his strategy doesn’t work in the playoffs.”

      Ok, my mistake. All this time, I’ve been operating under the assumption that baseball teams didn’t just want to reach the playoffs…they actually wanted to do well there.

      Your first point, however, is very well taken.

      I still say Beane is wildly overrated. Sorry, but I’ve watched the Tampa Bay Rays win their division in two out of the last three years (beating out the Yankees and the Red Sox, with two of the highest payrolls in the game) and reach the World Series in ’08 (which Beane’s teams have never done), so I’m just not super-impressed.

      Where’s the trailer for the movie that makes it seem like Rays GM Andrew Friedman changed the game of baseball?

      • E.B. Berman

        The strategy doesn’t work in the play-offs because the strategy is based in statistics and the play-offs are too small a sample size. Of course Beane and the A’s WANTED to win the division and world series, but NO strategy GUARANTEES success over 5 or 7 specific games. Too small a sample size.

        You think the Rays don’t employ tactics Beane popularized? They do. So do the Red Sox. So do the Yankees. As these strategies bore fruit, more teams adopted them. As more teams adopted them, the inefficiencies the A’s were exploiting disappeared. Once cheap players became more expensive, poorer teams were pushed back toward square one. Billy Beane moved on to scouting in new areas which have not been as successful. But he still changed the game.

      • Mr. Holloway

        @ E.B. Berman

        You bring up some really excellent points. Although I’d once again counter that the three times we’re talking about — Rays, Yankees and Red Sox — have EACH had more postseason success than Beane has during his run. Obviously, that’s for a variety of reasons. (You can probably guess why the Yanks and Sox have been able to be more consistently successful.)

        The fact remains that, whether or not they employed his tactics (and to whatever degree), they (along with several other teams like the small-market Twins) have had greater or similar success to the genius of Billy Beane.

        The bottom line for me is this guy getting the Brad Pitt movie treatment is a bit much…especially when I keep hearing that other (apparently smarter) teams used his tactics and philosophy to actually achieve success.

        (That being said, I’m a baseball junkie and I’ll definitely check this movie out…even if I’ll probably end up rolling my eyes at the glorification of Beane.)

      • E.B. Berman

        Well, it’s not that I don’t hear what you’re saying about other teams doing better, but the A’s did it first. The A’s doing it is what got other teams doing it which is what changed the game. (To the extent it has changed.) Firsts often aren’t bests, but first is still a big deal. I think the guy deserves a lot of credit. Even considering the A’s were toying with these tactics prior to Beane taking over as GM.

      • Mr. Holloway

        “…but the A’s did it first.”

        But, see this is where I continue have my issue. What did Beane ultimately “do”? Win a couple of AL West titles? Maximize his roster with a limited payroll during a 5-6 year run.

        Once again, both of these things are very admirable…but not exactly revolutionary.

        I’ll give you that he was influential to the game. (Despite the fact that, as you mentioned, the A’s were already exploring some of the methods Beane employed.)

        However, if you think a GM’s job is to build a team that can win a title (which I do), I still say he’s wildly overrated

        Either way, thanks for the fun discussion…I don’t usually come to EW expecting to talk baseball.

      • E.B. Berman

        Well, OK, you’re done with this conversation, and that’s cool. We disagree about Billy, and that’s cool too. But even though I’m guessing you won’t even read this now – cool – I have to respond to “What did Beane ultimately ‘do?'” He fielded a team that decades of theretofore unchallenged reigning baseball wisdom said would fail miserably . . . and succeeded with it. I guess when we throw around bland phrases like “exploit inefficiencies” and “maximize the roster” it has a way of sounding like, “Well, of course. Everybody tries to do that. So what?” But he went after guys that everybody else dismissed as losers, he asked them to do things that everybody else thought was embarrassing and absurd . . . and he won! And then other teams started copying what they previously derided. His victories were qualified, yes, and the degree to which any of this – indeed, anything that happens in sports, period – can fairly be called “revolutionary” is up for debate. But it WAS new. It was a risk. It was impressive. Not WHAT he did, but HOW he did it. And it made for a good read. And it looks to me like it’s going to be a cracklingly good movie.

      • Mr. Holloway

        We DO agree on one thing…I think it’s going to be a good movie.

        PS: Didn’t mean to sound like I was trying to end the conversation on my terms or anything…I just felt a little bad about somewhat hijacking this post about a movie that I actually want to see.

        PPS: Those teams had Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada, who each won MVPs with the A’s. I’m sure you know that, but I felt like I needed to point that out because when you talk about Beane taking on players who were “dismissed as losers,” you’re making it sound like he heroically won with the Bad News Bears. He had SOME “conventional” (steroidal?) talent on the team. (Both Giambi and Tejada were already there when Beane took over.)

      • E.B. Berman

        I didn’t think you were sneaking out the back door. We’re on an Internet comment board and one not about baseball. How long were we going to keep this up? But it was fun.

      • Jason

        @EB Berman

        Billy Beane was, and still is, wildly overrated. Yes, some of the things he is credited with “inventing” are useful in today’s game, but the scoffed-at “old way of thinking” is still proportionally more valuable to winning championships than what he ever tried to do to with the A’s. I have to agree with the other poster: you should be building a team to win a TITLE. Moneyball alone never–and WILL never be able to do that.

  • Person

    I will see it just for AARON SORKIN!

  • Lauren

    I will see it because I’m a DIE HARD OAKLAND A’S FAN!

  • Amy

    Especially seeing as Aaron Sorkin penned the script, I feel like the actual movie could be sharper than it looks in the trailer, but as it was, it seems decent. I’m definitely getting a The Fighter (inspirational sports prestige pic) meets Jerry Maguire vibe. And Brad Pitt looks really good. Could be interesting.

  • Abraham

    The Trailer looks solid I really hope this movie is a success because it looks like a good dramatic baseball movie.I can’t wait till it comes out i am going to go watch that movie.

  • Kelli

    As a female fan of basebsll…who cares about all this baseball “what if” or “trivia” talk? It looks like a good movie, with a handsome lead and an interesting story in the history of baseball. Think that is why it will draw out movie goers and exactly why the movie execs backed it along with Pitt’s production company. I know I want to see it. Pitt looks as solid as Bullock did in the Blindside.

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