I’m a little behind the times, but I managed to watch Moneyball recently. It’s amazing that a movie based on statistics found mainstream success, but it sure did. The critics loved it, as seen by its 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and the public love it, shown by the $108 million it made at the box office. It only cost $50 million to make, so it earned 100% returns before it even hit the home video market. The story is not really one of statistics though. They play a heavy role, as the whole premise is that the Oakland A’s used statistical analysis of which players contribute to runs and therefore to wins. The “sabermetric” model that is created allowed baseball players to be evaluated in a unique way, which gave Oakland a competitive advantage in scouting and player acquisition. But again, the story was not so celebrated because of the stats. It was a story of breaking the traditions, of redfeining the old boys club mentality; it was really a story of overcoming seemingly insurmountable challenges through the use of modern thought. Oakland did not have the money to compete with the big boys and seemed forever doomed to lose its heroes to the Yankees or Red Sox. Billy Beane, the manager of the A’s, got this message loud and clear. He struggled with his boys club of a scouting department to try to find a new way to compete. It wasn’t until he ran into Peter Brand that things started to change for Oakland. Peter Brand was a young, inexperienced kid who had ideas. Billy Beane listened to Peter and put absolute trust in these new ideas. Together, they gambled the A’s season and both their jobs on the statistical model that Peter created.
I found this theme intriguing. It had some elements of Generation X; of bucking the system and being independent. It also had some elements of the Millennial generation; of youth having the power to change how things are done. There was no collective force working to change the game, but simply two guys who went rogue and employed a brand new way of doing business. At the same time, the two guys came from different generations, so we get a sense of the generations working together to form a better collective team. Billy had the connections and the people skills and Peter had the ideas and formulas. With Billy believing that Peter was intelligent enough to perhaps be right, the two embarked on a storybook season. I believe that the tension between the Gen X independent ideals and the Millenial dreams of collective progess allowed this film to represent both generations, while pushing back just enough to make everyone think. Or perhaps it was just Brad Pitt.