Friday, May 8, 2009

Moneyball: the Movie is Getting Weird

I've been openly excited about the idea of Moneyball: the Movie on this space before. I think the story makes a good baseball movie. I assumed the stats would have little part in it, which makes sense. As much as I'm a stat-head, it just doesn't make a great film.

But, apparently they're going to have a pretty big spot in the movie, since Bill James is going to be a main character.

Oh, and he's also going to be a cartoon.

“My current plan is to animate him,” Soderberg revealed to MTV News while promoting his Tribeca Film Festival entry, “The Girlfriend Experience.”

“We have this sort of oracle character that appears throughout and declaims various issues and he’s essentially supposed to be Bill James,” Soderberg said. “He’s your host in a way…. The background will be real but the person who is supposed to be him will be animated.”

Why the switch between realism and animated fantasy in this case? “It needs a gimmick,” Soderberg explains. “It needs something to make it not Masterpiece Theatre. His writer voice is so big, I thought to literalize it is going to actually harm it. I need to make his voice funny and when he comes on you’re happy to see it.”

No rickroll this time. Bill James is a cartoon.

Um, whatever. I guess we'll wait and see. I guess it has some random potential to be. . . good. . .

Joe Posnanski, though, is the best baseball writer on the planet, and he likes it. And he also contributed this greatness inspired by the Rays cartoon adventures:

“Oh no, Professor Francoeur has taken on-base percentage off the scoreboard!”
“Now we’re stuck with just batting average!”
“Leave slugging percentage up there, man!”
“I have no idea what the true value of Kenji Johjima is now!”

Then, Big Bill James walks over. And he says to the last fan: “Uh, Johjima’s plate discipline isn’t too good. He has only walked once this year. He only walked 19 times in 409 plate appearances last year.”

Professor Francoeur: So, at least we meet, Mr. Bill James.
Bill: Yes, it’s nice to meet you.
Professor Francoeur: Likewise. But now, I will take your statistic, on-base percentage, off the scoreboard forever! Ah ha ha ha!
Bill: It’s not my statistic. It has been around for more than a hundred years. Branch Rickey was a big proponent of on-base percentage, for instance.
Professor Francoeur: Yes, well, if you had not written that book Moneyball …
Bill: I didn’t write Moneyball.
Joe Morgan (special guess appearance): He’s right. It was Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane!
Professor Francoeur: Um, well, fine! So, if Billy Beane had not written that book Moneyball …
Bill: It wasn’t Billy Beane either. It was Michael Lewis.
Professor Francoeur: Michael Lewis? The guy who wrote The Blind Side and Liar’s Poker?
Bill: I guess so, yeah.
Professor Francoeur: Well, um, OK, I’m confused now. Joe, as long as you’re here, can you talk about how you were able to walk as much as you did?
Joe Morgan: It’s about heart, Jeff.

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