No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old
cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak,
and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put
into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and
the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but
new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both
Director Bennett Miller and screenwriters Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin’s film focuses upon the management of a team rather than its players. Thus, like other baseball films, this is not about the sport so much as it is about those who participate in it. Actually, it is about change, about those who initiate it and those who resist it. The film is based on the Michael Lewis book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.
Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), an ex-big leaguer himself, grows tired of not having enough money to either attract or keep good players, the result being his team always trails in the league standings. Even when he obtains a good player, the Yankees with their bottomless bag of money lure them away with an offer they cannot refuse.
Then comes the day when Billy meets Peter Brand, played by Jonah Hill, a recent Yale graduate who has never played the game, yet who is a wiz ar crunching statistics, the latter being the lifeblood for babseball fanatics. Peter convinces Billy that the players who are the best buy are not the flashier ines with high batting averages, but rather those who manage to get on base the most. Whether this is achieved by hits or walks does not matter. What is important is that they are able to get on and thus in a position to score. Against the opposition of his seasoned scouting staff, Billy follows Peter’s advice—at first with scant success. He endures ptrssure to give in not only from his scouts, but his general manager, and the fans and sports commentators. Eventually he comies up with a team that achieves one of the longest winning streak in his league.
Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are excleent as the principals, and Philip Seymour Hoffman turns in his usual competent performance as the team;s general manager puzzled by Billy’s program. This would be a good film for church leaders convinced that their church needs change to watch and discuss. For every change proposed there is always someone resisting it, convinced that the old ways are best. Billy is the kind of leader most needed in a rapidly changing world, one who is open to new ideas and persevering against both criticism and the disappointment engendered over the length of time the process takes.
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