Movie Mirrors Index


(2011 c 133')

En: 8 Ed: 8

Adapted from the nonfiction book by Michael Lewis, a former baseball player working as general manager for a financially poor baseball team finds a young expert who helps him use statistical  and scientific methods to build a better ball club.
      On October 15, 2001 in the playoff series Damon hits a double. Jason Giambi hits a single, and the A’s lead. The Oakland Athletics who have players worth less than $40 million dollars are playing the New York Yankees who are paid more than $114 million. Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) is listening to the game in an empty stadium. The Yankees win the game and the pennant, and Beane feels frustrated and angry.
      Billy is driving his pickup truck and listening to a sports report on the radio saying that the Athletics feel like a farm team for the New York Yankees.
      Billy sits in the office with his boss Steve Schott, and they agree that the A’s played their hearts out and came very close this time. Beane says they will not do as well next year because they are being gutted. They are losing Giambi, Damon, and Isringhausen, and they are in trouble. Steve says he will find new guys like he did before. Billy says he cannot compete with teams with a $120 million payroll with only $38 million, and Steve admits they will not. Steve says he cannot pay players $17 million a year; but Billy asks him to get a little bit closer so that they can have a championship team. Billy says this is a high bar to reach. Steve says they are a small-market team, and Billy is a small-market general manager. Steve tells him he can’t spend money he does not have, and he asks him to find replacements for the stars they are losing with the money they have. Billy says he can’t leave with that. Steve asks if he can help him with anything else.
      Billy comes home, makes a call, and tells a player who says he has a good offer that he needs another day. Billy takes another call and learns that a deal has changed from $7.5 million to 8, and Billy says he thought they had a deal. He says the other guy wins and hangs up.
      In a meeting with scouts with names of players on the board one man says he likes Geronimo. Billy asks if he can hit, and Matt Keough (Nick Searcy) says he has a beautiful swing. Pittaro (Vyto Ruginis) says the ball pops off his bat. Billy asks if he is a good hitter, why doesn’t he hit well. He asks how he is going to hit in the big leagues. The scouts says he is improving and can play. The head scout Grady Fuson (Ken Medlock) asks Artie who he likes, and he recommends Perez. They talk about how he can’t hit a curve ball, and his inferior girlfriend shows a lack of confidence. Billy says they are just talking, and Grady says they are trying to solve the problem. Billy says they are not looking at the problem and asks what he thinks it is. Grady says the problem is that they have to replace three key players in their line-up. Billy says there are rich teams and poor teams and below thirty feet of crap is them. The game is unfair, and they have become organ donors for the rich; but they are still talking about their good body. He says they have to think differently because they are the last dog at the bowl, the runt of the litter. Grady says they are aware of what they are facing, and they have a lot of experience and wisdom in this room. He asks Billy to have a little faith that they can replace the players. Billy asks if there is another first baseman like Giambi, and if there were, they could not afford him. If they play in here like the Yankees, they will lose to them out there; that is logic. Grady asks him to let them replace Giambi with someone they know can play.
      In 1979 scouts are impressed by young Billy Beane, and they say he will go in the first round. They tell him he can do it all.
      Billy is shown in to the Cleveland Indians office to see Mark Shapiro (Reed Diamond) with several men gathered around. Billy says he is looking for $50 million in additional payroll. Mark tells him to try Giambi. Mark asks about Steve, and Billy says he is supporting him. Billy says he is looking for a left-handed reliever, and he would like to get Ricardo Rincon. Mark says that will not happen because they love him and won’t let him go. Billy says he has a Venezuelan kid coming up, but Mark says they moved him to Detroit. Billy asks about outfielders to replace Damon and rejects three names. Then he asks if Garcia is healthy. They admit he had back problems but say he will be ready in spring. Billy offers Guthrie and asks for $200,000 with Garcia. Mark looks around the room. Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) whispers something, and Mark says no. Billy asks for a straight trade with no money, and Peter looks worried. Mark says Garcia is a no, and Billy asks what they are doing. Mark says this is how they do business in Cleveland.
      Billy goes into an office, finds Peter, and asks who he is and what he does. Peter says he is doing mostly player analysis. Billy asks if this is his first job in baseball, and Peter says it is his first job anywhere. He asks whose nephew he is and why Mark listens to him. Peter says he does not do so very often, but Billy says he just did. Billy asks him what happened in that room. Billy asks why he likes Garcia. Peter looks around and says he does not know. Billy leaves, and Peter follows him.
      In the parking garage Peter tells Billy that there is an epidemic failure in the game now that is causing them to misjudge their players and mismanage their baseball teams. Billy tells him to go on. Peter says that people who run ball clubs think in terms of buying players. He says their goal should be to buy wins, and to do that you need to buy runs. Owners see Damon as a player worth $7.5 million, but he sees him as a misunderstanding of where runs come from. He says he has a great love and is a decent lead-off hitter who can steal bases, but he thinks he is not worth that money. He says baseball thinking is medieval, and they are asking the wrong the questions. If he tells people this, he is ostracized; that is why he is cagey with him. He respects Billy and tells him he thinks it is good he got Damon off his payroll because it opens up interesting possibilities. Billy asks where he went to school and what he studied. Peter says he went to Yale and majored in economics. Billy says he is funny and gets in the elevator.
      On a plane Billy is looking at a scientific paper on baseball with complicated statistics.
      Scouts are telling Billy’s parents that their son can be a superstar in New York. A scout from the Mets offers them a large check. His mother says he has been accepted by Stanford on a full scholarship, and he can do both. The Mets scout says he will have to do one or the other. If he wants to be the Mets’ centerfielder, he has to choose baseball as his first career. He says this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. His father tells Billy it is his decision.
      Billy calls Peter late at night and asks if he would have drafted him in the first round. Billy admits he looked him up in his computer and says he was a good player. Billy tells him to cut the crap and tell him when he would have drafted him. Peter says he would have taken him in the ninth round without a signing bonus. Peter asks him to imagine what would have happened if he had taken the scholarship. Billy tells him to pack his bags because he just bought him from the Cleveland Indians.
      Peter arrives at the Oakland stadium as the pennants of Giambi, Damon, and Isringhausen are being taken down. The A’s won championships in 1973, 1974, and 1989. He calls from the garage.
      Billy finds Peter has already moved into his office. Peter hands him some papers and says these are the player evaluations he asked him to do. Billy says he asked for three players, but Peter did 51. Billy says okay. He asks Peter to walk him through the board.
      Peter goes into another office with computers.
      In his office Peter explains to Billy the board with numbers that shows how many runs they need to get and to allow in order to win the pennant. Peter shows him charts and codes on a computer based on the data they have on the players. He says by using these statistics they will find valued players that others do not notice. He says people are overlooked because of biases and flaws such as age, appearance, and personality. He says Bill James used mathematics to cut through that. Peter believes that of the 20,000 players available they can put together a championship team of 25 players they can afford because everyone else undervalues them. He says that Chad Bradford is the most under-rated relief pitcher because he throws funny. He could be the best relief pitcher in baseball and should cost $3 million a year, but they can get him for $237,000.
      Peter brings Billy two pages of information.
      Billy and Peter see Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in the hall. Billy says he is busy now, and Peter meets him. Billy has Peter go into the meeting with the scouts while Billy steps out in the hall. Art asks who the kid is, and Billy says he is a friend. Art says he can’t manage this team on a one-year contract, but Billy says he can. Billy says he wants to get the team together, and then they can talk. Art says a one-year contract does not help confidence, and they won 102 games last year. Billy says if you lose the last game of the year, nobody gives a shit. Billy says it is on him, and the kid is the new assistant general manager. Art says okay.
      Grady asks who Billy wants to talk about first, and Billy says none of them. He says they can recreate Giambi in the aggregate. His on-base percentage last year was .477. Damon’s was .324, and Olmedo’s was .291. Peter says those average .364, and Billy says they need three players like that. Grady asks who that is and asks if he really needs to be there. Billy says he does. Billy says they want Jason’s little brother Jeremy Giambi. Scouts mention his problems off the field; but Billy says he gets on base a lot for a guy who only costs $285,000. Billy says the second one they want is David Justice. One scout says that Steinbrenner is ready to eat a large piece of his contract just to get rid of him. Scouts say he may draw fans early in the season, but he is old and late in the season may not hit his weight. Another says his legs are gone, and he asks why he likes him. Billy points to Peter who says he gets on base. Number three is Scott Hatteberg. The scouts say he can’t throw and is a .260 hitter, and Boston will cut him; no one wants him. Billy says that is good because they can get him cheap. Billy says he gets on base, and Rocco says he walks a lot. Billy says that does not matter if he is on base. Grady asks if he is going to bring in three defective players to replace Giambi. Billy says this is the new direction of the Oakland A’s; they are card counters at the blackjack table. An old scout says Billy answers only to the owner and God, and they are there only to advise him. Grady complains that they have been working for weeks, and he is shitting on them. Billy say it is not a discussion. Ron Washington (Brent Jennings) says that Billy may be forgetting that none of those guys knows how to play first base. Billy says they will teach one of them.
      At home Scott Hatteberg (Chris Pratt) gets a call from Billy and asks if he can come in to talk. Scott says okay. Billy and Washington sit in the living-room with Scott who admits he can’t throw. Billy says he does not have to throw because they want him to play first base. Scott says he is a catcher, but Billy says not anymore. Otherwise his would not have been the only call he got after his contract expired. Scott says he appreciates that. Billy says they will teach him how to play first base. Billy says it is easy, but Washington says it is very difficult. Scott asks if they want him to take Giambi’s place. Billy says Giambi is gone. His child comes in. Billy gives him a contract and says a copy was sent to his agent. He tells him to discuss it with his wife and let them know. As they leave, Billy tells Scott not to tell anyone about the first-base thing. Scott embraces his wife and daughter.
      Billy rings a doorbell, and Sharon (Robin Wright) says she is out with friends and invites him in. Alan invites Billy to sit down. Alan says New York was heartbreaking; but he says the A’s played very well, and that was an accomplishment. Sharon sits next to Alan on the sofa and asks how the team is shaping up. Billy says they are rebuilding. She says losing those three players is a tough situation, but she says he will figure something out. Alan says he talked to her on her cell phone and that she is coming up the hill. Alan says it is for emergencies, and Billy says it is big parenting decision. Alan says they all should discuss it, and Billy says he will discuss it with Sharon.
      Billy and his daughter Casey (Kerris Dorsey) are looking at guitars in a store, and she tries one out. She plays and sings, and he says it is beautiful. He asks her to sing for her dad in the store. She sings “The Show.”
      In 1984 young Billy Beane is batting for the Mets, and the announcer says he could have been a great quarterback. He strikes out. An announcer says it did not pan out, and it happens every year; some make it, and some don’t.
      In 1986 Beane is playing for the Minnesota Twins and is frustrated. The announcer says you can sign a player based on his ability, but he has to be successful to be confident.
      In 1989 Beane is playing for the A’s and strikes out.
      In an office Peter tells Billy that Kevin Youkilis is the Greek god of walks because he walks more than anyone except Barry Bonds. He says Boston snagged him. Grady asks Billy if they can talk, and Billy goes with him. Billy asks why he is unhappy. Grady says baseball is going to throw Billy under the bus because you don’t put a team together with a computer. He says baseball is more than a science. No one can do it without knowing what they know from their experience and intuition. He says he has a kid with a degree in economics from Yale while he is a scout with 29 years of baseball experience. He is listening to the wrong one because there are intangibles that only baseball people understand. Grady says he is discounting what baseball has been doing for 150 years. Billy says he must adapt or die. Grady says twenty years ago a scout got him wrong, and now he is declaring war on the whole system. Billy says it is his turn. He says he does not have a crystal ball. When he tells those parents that he knows their kid will make it, he does not really know. Grady says he does not care about friendship. He says major league baseball thinks like he does, and he says Billy is not going to win. He predicts he will never get another job after he is fired after this catastrophic season. Billy says he will not fire him; but Grady puts his hand on Billy’s shoulder and says “Fuck you!” Billy says now he will fire him and walks off. Grady tells the manager Art good luck as he walks by his office.
      Billy goes to Kubota and tells him he is the new head scout. Billy goes back and tells Peter that it is just the two of them.
      At spring training people on a radio show talk about Bradford as a freak who only throws the ball 83 miles an hour. They say David Justice is too old. Art tells the coach to hit harder grounders to Hatteberg at first base, and he muffs one.
      In the clubhouse the scout Bob tells Billy that Scott Hatteberg is not making it at first, but Billy says this is only day one of the first week. The manager Art says he likes him, but he can judge him. Billy says that Giambi was the worst first baseman in baseball. Billy asks Washington, and he says he lacks confidence. Billy tells him to give him some time. Washington says he will, but they have Peña who can play first. Billy says he wants to go with Hattie.
      On the field Hatteberg starts playing first better. Billy tells Peter that this better work and then says he is kidding him.
      Reporters interview players. Jeremy Giambi says the organization made some deals to fill out the team. A woman asks Justice how he will do at the age of 36. She says she asked him if he was 100%. Chad Bradford (Casey Bond) thanks Billy for giving him a chance in the big leagues, and he says he will be praying for him and his family.
      On opening day Billy tells Peter he is going in and tells him to text him play by play. Peter asks why, and Billy says he does not watch the games. The national anthem is played on an electric guitar.
      Billy goes into an exercise room. He gets a message from Peter that Peña is playing instead of Hatteberg. Peter sees that Art is changing the pitcher and putting in Magnante.
      Billy tells Art in his office that he should have explained to him what they are trying to do. He says it does not matter what moves he makes if he does not play the team the way they are designed to be played. Art says he is out of his depth. Billy asks why not have Hatteberg at first, and Art says he can’t play it. Art says he can’t hit either. Billy says he gets on base and keeps them in the plus column. They need to be seven over .500. Art asks what else. Billy says he would rather have seen Bradford in relief, but Art says he is a righty. Billy says he does not care about righty-lefty, but Art says he does. Billy asks if this is about his contract. Art says no; it is about each of them doing their jobs. Art says Billy assembled a team for him, but he is the manager. Billy says he did not assemble it  for him. He says it was a good meeting and walks out.
      Billy is in his pickup truck listening to the radio as the host interviews the former head scout Grady who explains that they call it “moneyball.” He says it was a nice idea, but it is not working out. A man explains that Billy Beane built this team based on the ideas of Bill James who wrote a book on baseball statistics. Grady says James never played baseball and was only a security guard. Grady says he came up with a new approach, but it won’t work.
      Billy tells Peter he wants him to go on the road with the team. Peter says Billy does not do that, and Billy says that is why he wants Peter to do it. Billy says he can’t develop personal relationships with these guys because he has to trade them, send them down, and even cut them. He tells Peter he should learn to do that and tells him to practice with him. Peter says no because it is stupid. Billy says it is part of the job. Peter pretends he is talking to Billy as a player and says he is sorry. Billy says he just bought a house in Oakland, and his kid just started school. Peter says he shouldn’t pull him out in the middle of the term. Billy tells him to be straight with them and just say he has to let them go.
      On the plane David Justice (Stephen Bishop) asks Peter why the boss does not travel with the team. Peter says he does not like to mingle with the players. He asks why soda is a dollar in the clubhouse; he never saw that before. Peter says that Billy likes to keep the money on the field. Justice asks where it is, and Peter says it is hard to see.
      Billy meets Casey at an airport.
      Oakland has won 20 and lost 26, and they are last in the American League West. On radio they say the experiment has failed. Art Howe is not the problem which is in the front office with Billy Beane. People say they want him gone. They are not scoring enough.
      Billy and Peter are meeting with Steve. Billy says he believes in what they are doing. Peter says their goal is to be within seven games of first by mid-season. Steve asks what will prevent them from accomplishing that. Billy says they are not afraid of anything.
      Billy is fixing food for Casey, and she asks if he is going to lose his job. He asks where she heard that. She says she goes on the Internet sometimes. He tells her not to do that or watch TV or read the newspapers or talk to people. He says everything is fine. She asks if he loses his job, will he have to move away. He says he will not lose his job; she does not have to worry.
      Billy is shaving in his office, and Peter tells him it is Peña. Billy says okay and overturns his desk.
      Billy tears the lineup sheet off the bulletin board and goes to Art in the dugout and tells him that he wants Dye in right, Justice DH’ing, Peña on the bench, Hatteberg at first, and anyone but Magnante first out of the bullpen. Art says that Peña is their only first baseman, and Billy says that Hatteberg gets on base 20% more. Art asks about his fielding, and Billy says it does not matter. Art says he disagrees, and he is playing his team the way he can explain it at job interviews next winter. Billy tells him Hattie, not Peña.
      When Billy sees that Peña is playing, he throws something.
      Billy passes Art in the hall, and he sees players dancing in the locker-room. He goes in and uses a bat to stop the music. Billy asks the dancer Jeremy Giambi if losing is fun, and he asks him why he is having fun. He throws the bat and says that is what losing sounds like. He throws a large ice bucket against a wall and goes out.
      Billy tells Casey that she is doing it again and tells her not to worry. She says he is in last place. He asks if he looks worried, and she says yes. He says she is getting on an airplane and tells her to stop worrying about her dad. They hug and say they love each other. He says her dad is not in trouble.
      Billy is driving at night and stops and starts.
      Billy comes in and asks a secretary to get him Ed Wade on the phone. He sits down with Peter and tells Ed that he needs help on defense and is willing to trade Jeremy Giambi for it. Peter asks what he is doing, and Billy says he is cleaning house. Ed offers him Mabri, and Peter says he can’t trade Jeremy. Billy tells Ed it is a deal. Ed wonders why he feels he is picking his pocket. Billy says Giambi’s name is worth it. Billy asks for Dombrowsky on the phone and says Peña is going too. Peter says he should not do that. Billy says he wants Hatteberg in the line-up tonight. Peter tells him to think seriously about what he is doing. Peter says these are hard moves to explain to people. He warns him not to make an emotional decision. Billy says he is shaking things up. He tells Dombrowsky that he wants to trade Peña, and he is his first call. Billy says he will probably be rookie of the year, and Billy says probably an all-star. Billy says he wants a reliever and cash. Billy gives him five minutes and hangs up. Peter says if this does not work out the way he wants, it could get him fired. Billy admits he could lose his job and says he is 44 years old with a high school education. Peter went to Yale and is 25. Billy says they are not asking the right question. He asks Peter if he believes in this thing or not. Peter says he does. Billy says they do not need to explain to anyone. He is going to see it through for better or worse. Billy asks if they will win more with Peña or Hatteberg at first. Peter says it is close but with Hatteberg. Billy makes a deal with Dombrowsky and says he needs to stock his dugout with free soda pop for three years. He sends Peter to tell Peña he has to pack, and he will tell Giambi himself.
      Peter waits in the hall for Peña, takes him in a room and tells him that he has been traded to the Tigers. He gives him a number of a man who will take care of everything for him. Peña asks if that is it, and Peter says yes. Peña says okay and goes out.
      Billy asks Art if he has a minute, and he invites him and Peter to take seats. Billy says he can’t start Peña tonight. Art says he won’t fight; the line-up card is his. Billy says he can’t start him because Peña plays for Detroit now. Billy names three players who are being sent down, and Art says he is cuckoo. Jeremy Giambi knocks on the open door, and Billy tells him to sit down and that he has been traded to the Phillies. He gives him Ed Wade’s number. He says Buddy will help him with his plane flight. He tells Jeremy he is a good ballplayer, and they wish him the best. Jeremy walks out. Art says he is killing this team. Billy says he can do this all day long and walks out. Art asks Peter if he agrees with this, and he says 100%.
      Billy and Peter go into the locker-room, and Billy tells Scotty H to field some grounders. He tells them to listen up. He says they may not look like a winning team, but they are one. He tells them to play like one tonight.
      Peter tells a player when he gets his pitch, he is hitting .625; but when he swings at low-and-away pitches he is batting .158. Peter says every time the first pitch is a strike, your batting average goes down 75 points. Peter says they should be throwing a hundred pitches before the fifth inning. Billy says they should knock the starter out and get deep into their bullpen. A player asks if he wants him to walk more. Billy says that was a good question, and the answers is yes.
       In a batting cage Justice tells Billy he never saw a GM talk to players like that, and Billy says he never saw a GM who was a player. Billy asks David if he has a problem. David says it is patter for them, not for him. Billy says he is special. Justice says he is paying him 7 million a year, and that makes him special. Billy says he is not paying him seven because the Yankees are paying half his salary. He says that is what the Yankees think of him. Billy says he is 37 and suggests they be honest about what they each want out of this. He wants to milk the last baseball out of him, and Justice wants to stay in the show. Billy says he is not paying for the player he used to be but for the player he is now. He asks him if he will be an example for the younger guys and be a leader. David agrees to do that.
      In a kitchen Justice asks Hatteberg how he likes playing first base, and he says he is getting used to it. Justice asks his biggest fear, and Hatteberg says a ball being hit in his direction. Justice tells him good luck with that.
      Billy tells Hatteberg to be social, use his education in talking, and relax.
      Billy and Peter talk to players about walking and getting on base so that they can win. Billy tells them no bunts. If the other team bunts, throw it to first; don’t try to be a hero and throw it to second. He says let them make the mistakes. If they give you an out, take it. Billy says no more stealing. He says it is a process.
      By June 6 Oakland moves up to third place. Hatteberg walks again. The A’s have won seven games in a row. Commentators says Art Howe is the reason why the team is winning.
      Billy walks through the locker-room and advises and encourages players.
      Billy looks at pitching records on a computer. At the 2002 trade deadline Billy asks for Shapiro on the phone. Peter asks if he is thinking Rincon, and Billy says they are going to dump him. Shapiro knows he is after Rincon and says he has at least one other suitor. Billy knows that means one, and Peter says it is San Francisco. Billy says he will call him back. Billy finds out from Peter that Venafro’s contract has 275 left on it. He asks for Sabean on the phone and offers him Venafro for Anderson and some money. He calls Shapiro again and tells him the market for Rincon is softening. He advises him to call whoever is interested in him. Billy gets Steve Phillips on the line and says he will give him Venafro for a left-handed reliever. Billy goes on hold, and Peter recommends Eckerton. Peter answers his phone and says it is Steve Schott. Billy asks for Eckerton and $225,000 for Venafro. Peter says Schott hung up. Shapiro calls, and Billy says he will talk to his owner. Peter calls Schott back, and he says Billy needs $225,000 for Ricardo Rincon. Peter shakes his head. Billy says he will pay for him, and when he sells him next year for twice the money, he gets to keep the profit. Peter indicates he agrees. Shapiro calls back, and Billy says he got him $225,000 for Rincon. Peter and Billy realize they have to send someone down.
      In the locker-room Magnante tells Billy he has been working on some things. Billy tells him to stop getting dressed, and he asks if he is traded. Billy says he is sorry for the crap news. Billy says he can’t have 26 guys in the clubhouse. Billy sees Ricardo Rincon in the hall with Peter and says it must have come as a shock.
      The Athletics have won fourteen games in a row, and they are now in first place in the West. They keep on winning. They win 19 straight and tie the American League record.
      Billy is driving his truck, and Sharon calls and says he did well and that she is proud of him. Casey asks if he is going to the stadium. He says he is going to Visalia to see a farm team, and she tells him to turn around. He turns on the game, and the A’s are leading 11-0. He gets off the freeway and goes to the stadium.
      Peter is watching the game and sees Billy. On a double-play chance the shortstop makes an error. Then two outfielders let the ball drop between them. The score is now 11-2. Billy goes inside. Justice falls down in left field, and the score is 11-5. Another long hit makes it 11-6. The bases become loaded, and Art Howe changes the pitcher. A home run makes it 11-10. Billy remembers how he gave up playing to become a scout. The game becomes tied. Howe has Hatteberg pinch hit, and he hits a home run, winning the game. Players mob him at home plate. The Athletics have won twenty consecutive games and broke the American League record.
      Peter tells Billy they got the record. Billy says he has been in the game for a long time. He is not in it for a record or a ring. He says if they don’t win the series, they will dismiss them. He says if they win on their budget with this team, they will change the game. He wants it to mean something.
      In the playoffs the A’s need a win to advance, but the Minnesota Twins defeat them. A commentator says the A’s could not win with statistical gimmicks.
      At home Billy drinks beer. He answers his phone.
      Billy is dressed up in the back of a limousine. He gets out at Fenway Park in Boston and goes into the empty stadium. He and John Henry (Arliss Howard) have lunch in the press box. John asks what he should give his wife, and Billy suggests a scarf. After more questions Billy says he just lost in five for the second year in the row and asks him what he wants. John says that Steve has offered him a new contract and wonders why he returned his call. Billy says it is the Red Sox, and he believes that science might offer an answer to the curse of the Bambino. He heard that John hired Bill James, and John says he does not understand why it took so long for someone to hire him. Billy says baseball hates him. John says money buys some things and allows him to disregard what baseball likes or thinks. Billy laughs and says he was grateful for the call. John says that for $41 million he built a team that won as many games as the New York Yankees who paid $1.4 million per win while he paid only $260,000. He knows Billy is taking it in the teeth; but the first guy through the wall always gets bloodied. They think this is threatening their livelihoods and their jobs, the way they do things.  When that happens, the people holding the reins go crazy. He says those who are not tearing their teams down and rebuilding them on his model are dinosaurs. He says they will be watching the Boston Red Sox win the World Series. He puts a paper down and says that is his offer because he wants him as his general manager. Billy looks at it.
      Billy is in the empty locker-room, and Peter comes in and throws a baseball at him. Billy calls him a “knucklehead.” Peter asks if Henry made him a good offer and asks what it was. Billy puts it on the table, and Billy reads it and says it makes him the highest paid GM in the history of sports. Billy says so what. He says he made one decision in his life based on money, and he swore he would never do it again. Peter says he is not doing it for money. He does it for what the money says, the same as for any player who makes big money, that they are worth it. Billy says he really wanted to win here. Peter says he thinks he won pretty big. Billy says they lost. Peter advises him to give himself a few days to get over it. Billy says he does not get over these things ever. Peter asks him go to the video room so that he can show him something. Billy says he is not up to a film now. Peter tells him to come on and gets up.
      Peter shows him a 240-pound catcher for the Visalia Oaks who is afraid of running to second base. He hits a long ball and decides to try for second; but he trips and falls and crawls back to first base. It is his worst fear, and Billy says they are laughing at him. Peter explains they are laughing because he did not know that the ball went over the fence. He hit a home run and did not realize it. Billy watches him round the bases and asks how one cannot be romantic about baseball. Peter says it is a metaphor, and Billy realizes that. Billy says Pete is a good egg and says he will call him.
      Billy is walking in the outfield. From his office Peter sees Billy lying on the field.
      In his truck Billy puts on a CD and listens to a letter from Casey who asks if he is changing his mind about staying in California. She sings “The Show.”
      Billy turned down the $12.5 million the Red Sox offered him and stayed as Oakland’s general manager. Two years later the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time since 1918 using the methods he pioneered at Oakland. He is still trying to win the last game of the season.
      This true story depicts a major change in the way professional baseball is managed by using statistics and scientific methods. Yet the fact remains that the differences in how much the owners spend on their teams still distorts the fairness of the competition. Oakland’s early success only shows what other teams can do by using similar methods. Yet the financial differences continue to make professional baseball and other sports unfair. In a larger sense this mirrors what has happened in the American and world economies because of how the capitalists have used their wealth to increase their power and their wealth much more in the last forty years than ever before.

Copyright © 2012 by Sanderson Beck

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