“It’s hard not to be romantic about baseball.”
A tear was dribbling down my cheek when Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane (General Manager of the Oakland Athletics) spoke this (DAMN good) line in the Oscar-nominated film, Moneyball. If the tear admission didn’t cover it, I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment.
Baseball, for those who have never felt any connection through playing or otherwise, is what I’m sometimes told is “incredibly boring”. I will not fight those who are of this camp; I pity them. I apologize if that sounds pretentious (I’m lying, I do not apologize), but not everyone is going to love baseball – it’s just that if you do, you get it. You get why this marathon of a sport plays on our collective flair for the dramatic, for rooting for the underdog, for wars waged between heroes and villains, for triumph of spirit or sheer talent, for comebacks, for getting to watch grace under pressure emerge in front of you. In each season, for each team, there are trends, streaks – and they read like very different chapters in a lengthy book.
As a lifelong sports fanatic and athlete, and almost-as-long romantic, Moneyball, for me, captured the intricacies of both. It brought to life the minutiae of baseball (statistics are an integral part of the story), provided characters whose lives revolve around the game, while still being identifiable humans outside of it, or at least adjacent to it. The film’s dynamo and star, Beane, searches for what it means to do anything meaningful. And your guts (and heart) get tied up in this mystifying journey with him, his team of castaways (specifically former catcher Scott Hatteberg, played by Chris Pratt) and assistant GM Peter Brand (Jonah Hill’s portrayal earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination) during the Oakland Athletics’ 2002 season, whether you know what happened or not.
Baseball lover or hater or indifferent football fan, watch this movie. And maybe find something to love. After all, how can you not be romantic about baseball?