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TFD: Moneyball was an enjoyable movie, but we can't escape the facts

Posted by: Michael Rand under Professional baseball Updated: December 28, 2011 - 5:27 PM

We finally got around to seeing the movie version of "Moneyball" a couple of days ago. It lived up to expectations as an enjoyable movie -- with enough baseball to keep us satisfied and enough story to keep the RandBall Better Half interested.

But the facts -- or more so the facts omitted -- are hard to overlook. The movie, of course, centers around the 2002 season.

There is nary a mention of Barry Zito, Tim Hudson or Mark Mulder -- the trio of pitchers that combined to win 57 games as a lights-out force during the regular season. They were all young, and none of them made more than $1 million that season. It also fails to mention thrifty SS Miguel Tejada, that year's AL MVP. That will help you win on a shoestring budget.

There is no mention of what happened to the jettisoned Carlos Pena, who -- in the movie -- was clogging up first base and keeping Scott Hatteberg from getting a crack at the position. Five years after being traded mid-season, Pena hit 46 homers with a .411 OBP for the Rays. That would seem to fit the Moneyball model pretty well.

There is certainly no mention that Billy Beane's A's not only have never won a World Series, they've never even made it to one. They haven't even finished above .500 since 2006.

And, if you want to get really picky, it could be pointed out that the team which defeated the A's in the 2002 ALDS -- the decidedly non-revolutionary Twins -- had almost the exact same opening-day payroll as Oakland that season.

Yes, we know the bigger picture is that the A's were valuing players differently, which has paved the way for other organizations (and fans ... and bloggers ... etc.) to do the same. We get that. And we respect that.

But the narrative still bugs us. It's probably how smarter people feel when they watch political debates or slanted documentaries. When you know the facts, it's hard to not let them get in the way of a good story.


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