Moneyball is a 2011 American film based on the best-selling book of the same name, following the Real Life story of how Oakland A's GM Billy Beane built a winning team on a shoestring budget despite baseball's the-rich-get-richer environment, using overlooked advanced statistics and players to make up the competitive advantage.Billy goes through a bit of a depression after a post season loss to the New York Yankees as he realizes that with his ballclub's meager salary, they just can't compete with the likes of teams that spend three times the amount of money they can. Destiny along with the Cleveland Indians put Billy together with Peter Brand as they start using Bill James-style statistics (aka: Sabermetrics) to rebuild the Oakland Athletics into a League powerhouse once again.The film stars Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill; Aaron Sorkin served as a co-writer of the movie's screenplay. The movie was nominated for six Academy Awards: Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Editing and Sound Mixing.
Carlos Pena is portrayed as a roadblock for Scott Hatteberg in the film, but had already been demoted to the minors by the time he was traded in real life with Hatteberg firmly entrenched as the starter (and also sporting an above-average fielding percentage). Hatteberg has also said Howe was actually his biggest supporter.
Beane "shakes things up" by trading Jeremy Giambi and Carlos Pena on the same day; they were traded a month apart in reality.
Chad Bradford and Jeremy Giambi are depicted as risky newcomers to plug the holes on the roster; in reality, they were already on the team the previous season leading into the 2002 season depicted in the film.
The film makes no mention of the A's biggest strength that allowed them to compete with the slugging American League teams: their tremendous starting pitching, featuring three young frontline starters drafted by Beane, with the film focusing instead on the patchwork offense. They also had both the 2002 AL Cy Young award winner (Barry Zito) and AL MVP (Miguel Tejada). See Demoted to Extra below.
It's nighttime when the final out of the Division Series is made. The real game was played in the afternoon and ended well before dark.
Based on a True Story: One could argue Very Loosely. While the on-field results and details of player transactions are mostly accurate, there is a fair bit of rearranging of characters and lines, including the complete omission of Michael Lewis (the author of the original book), and a number of people who claim they were portrayed unfairly, particularly Art Howe.
Bitter Sweet Ending: The A's go on an unprecedented 20-game win streak (setting an American League record) but lose in the playoffs. Billy is offered a 12.5-million dollar contract — the highest offered for a baseball GM at that time — to GM for the Red Sox and seriously considers it but ultimately decides to stay with the A's, content to know that he's changed the game for the better.
Broken Streak: Averted. The A's go up 11-0 on the Royals and look like they'll cruise to their record 20th straight victory. The Royals gradually chip away at the lead and manage to tie the game 11-11... and then the A's Scott Hatteberg hits a walk-off home run in the 9th inning. (This scene is historically accurate.)
Boring, but Practical: The various players that Beane wants on the team, in spite of their various faults, simply because they can get on base reliably.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The players chosen have flaws but are still good enough at what they do to be good.
The Cameo: Bobby Kotick of Activision/Blizzard as team owner Stephen Schott.
Composite Character: Peter Brand was based on a group of Beane's assistants/deputies, primarily Paul DePodesta, whose request not to have his name used in the film is what partially led to this.
When director Steven Soderbergh was attached to direct, DePodesta was one of the characters. Demetri Martin was to have played him but production was shut down a few days in.
Daddy's Girl: Casey Beane and her adorable song where she repeatedly calls her father a loser.
Deadpan Snarker: Coach Ron Washington in the scene where Billy offers Scott Hatteberg a contract with the idea of putting him at first base, a position Hatteberg had never played:
Beane: [First base] is not that hard, Scott. Tell him, Wash.
Washington: It's incredibly hard.
Hatteberg: I'm taking Giambi's spot at first? What about the fans?
Washington: Yeah, maybe I can teach one of them how to play first base.
Demoted to Extra: The biggest strength of the winning early-2000's Oakland A's teams, including the 2002 squad depicted in the film, was the elite starting rotation headed by three young, homegrown studs: Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito (who won the 2002 Cy Young award). Only Hudson is depicted in the film, and it's when he starts letting the 11-0 game get away, although during a clubhouse scene you can see the back of an extra playing Barry Zito (recognizable due to his rare "75" uniform number). In addition, the offense sported 2002 MVP Miguel Tejada and a budding star in Eric Chavez (34 HRs each), who are shown but not really featured nor depicted as dangerous sluggers for the otherwise station-to-station offense.
Downer Ending: Surprisingly averted. In real life, although the system espoused by Beane seemingly hasn't been that successful for the A's, as they've won their division only a handful of times in the 13 years since Beane took over, and they only won the divisional series once, a lot of people seem to forget that given the disparity between the amount of money being spent the A's and the big teams, they've never have and never could be competing directly with them. Just making it to the playoffs is a big result in itself and better than they could ever hope of.
To some degree the point is that Billy succeeded: he changed baseball even if he didn't win with the A's. Hence mentioning the Red Sox winning the World Series two years later using the A's model.
Epic Fail: Subverted. They watch a video of a minor league game, in which an insecure player note in the book, this is future A's catcher Jeremy Brown trips rounding first base and crawls in a panic to get his hand back on the base, only for the bemused first baseman of the other team to tell the player he smashed the ball over the fence for a home run.
Flipping the Table: Beane flips his desk in frustration when Howe steadfastly refuses to play Hatteberg over Pena.
Game of Nerds: Naturally. Beane uses statistics to change the way the Oakland A's recruit players and play the game.
Historical Villain Upgrade: This is one of the main complaints about the film's accuracy, especially given that the guys being portrayed as villains were all still alive when it came out and capable of coming to their own defense.
Insult Backfire: David Justice calls out Beane for his "just-for-show" antics with the team, and that with his resume and $7 million salary, he's above Beane's style. Beane reminds him that the Yankees are paying half his salary as part of the deal with Oakland:
Billy: That's what the New York Yankees think of you. They're paying you three and a half million dollars to play against them.
Intelligence Equals Isolation: Peter Brand is frequently depicted as working in his office alone on his computer (this portrayal is apparently what led DePodesta to withdraw permission to be portrayed). Beane has to coax him to go on a road trip with the team, where he sits next to David Justice still typing away.
Opposing Sports Team: Highlighted with the Yankees, as per their contractual arrangement to be the villain in any baseball movie not starring them. They don't appear as villains on the field (the team's final defeat comes at the hands of the Minnesota Twins, as it did in real life), but they are held up throughout the movie as the shining example of the big-market team against whom the small-market Athletics are trying to compete financially.
Put Me In, Coach!: Manager Art Howe refuses to play Scott Hatteberg at first base because of Hatteberg's lack of experience. Beane trades the player ahead of Hatteberg on the depth chart, forcing Howe to finally play him. The A's become very good very fast.
Reality Subtext: Paul DePodesta's change of heart about how he was portrayed led to the composite character of Peter Brand being written in his place. Miller did note that DePodesta was still helpful with the production despite this.
Shown Their Work: With a few liberties taken with the A's roster for dramatic purposes, just about everything else, from the rosters and front office personnel of other teams to the correct 2002 signage on the outfield wall, is just about accurate, right down to referring to Eric Byrnes as "Byrnesy" as he was known around the league.
Shout-Out: Peter Brand is watching film on minor leaguer Kevin Youkilis, dubbing him the "Greek God of Walks" note which is a bit of a misnomer, Youkilis is a Romanian Jew and talking about how scouts dismiss him due to his unnatural batting stance. Youkilis would go on to play on two World Series-winning Red Sox squads and become one of the best hitters in the game in the late 2000s.
Tantrum Throwing: The fiercely competitive Beane likes to hurl and hit things when the frustration level is high.
Tempting Fate: With the A's gunning for their record 20th consecutive win, Billy's daughter implores him to break his routine and watch the game for once to enjoy his accomplishment; with the A's up 11, she insists, "You won't jinx it!" The Royals make up the 11-run difference once Billy arrives at the Coliseum.
Unlikely Hero: Light-hitting Scott Hatteberg hits a walkoff homer (although he did have a respectable 15 during the actual 2002 season).
What Could Have Been: The movie began production with Steven Soderbergh directing and Demetri Martin in the Jonah Hill role. After Soderbergh turned in his first dailies, Sony found his part-scripted, part-documentary, part-animation (which had Bill James voicing himself, explaining the idea of Sabremetrics) approach unmarketable and he was fired after about a week of shooting. The production was shut down for a year while Aaron Sorkin was brought to do rewrites and after Bennett Miller was hired to direct, production finally restarted.
Work Hard, Play Hard: Jeremy Giambi's philosophy as a ballplayer; he was noted for his frequent partying.