Fifteen members and guests of the Rogers Hornsby Chapter enjoyed "Moneyball" on Saturday, September 24, finding lots to like for die-hard baseball fans and non-fans alike. The statistical approach to baseball gets the royal treatment — with mentions of Bill James, the importance of having players reach base and small-market tactics against big, rich ballclubs.
Scouts don't get portrayed real well, but as you may have heard, this movie, which is based on the book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis, focuses on Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane. The movie opens with the A's losing to the New York Yankees in the AL Division Series, after a 102-win season in 2001. In the offseason, the A's lose stars Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi and Jason Isringhausen to free agency. Looking for a different strategy, Beane recruits a sabermetrician who argues that players with high on-base percentages can help a small-market team compete against the richer clubs.
Beane's relationship with his daughter also figures in the story-telling, providing character development to balance out the baseball talk. But it is a baseball movie, so it's no surprise that the film devotes a lot of time to the team's 20-game winning streak in 2002, which is still an American League record.
Afterward, we were joined by Brian McNulty (pictured above, center), a production manager on a number of Hollywood films, including "A Perfect Storm," "A Bug's Life," "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," and most recently, "The Help." While he was not involved with "Moneyball," he gave his insight into the movie making process and discussed what he liked about the film.
Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, he said he was impressed with the movie's accurate depiction of Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. He also noticed the sharp work on art design. Brian is a friend of Jim Baker's and participates in Jim's fantasy baseball league. Brian's wife, Jennifer, and a couple of their friends also joined us at Hyde Park Bar & Grill.
Much thanks to Brian for visiting with us to share his insight about the movie, and to everyone who turned out for our change-up meeting, a movie and dinner.
In other news, Connie Larson announced that she won a week-long Caribbean cruise in a drawing at the Dell Diamond. She is taking a good friend of hers who missed an Alaska cruise earlier this year when her friend broke her foot. No word yet if Winter League games are on the cruise schedule. We hope Connie and her friend have a great time.
— Gilbert Martinez