Money Ball

Money Ball -based on the best-selling book and starring Brad Pitt, Jonna Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

I remember the 2002 Major League season very well. Mostly because of the final game in the ALDS when the Oakland Athletics lost to the Minnesota Twins, which Twins fans get to see at the end of this movie. Everyday Eddie closed it down to advance the Twins to the ALCS, making it a glorious moment for Minnesota fans, who had not seen the playoffs in over a decade. I believe the Twins have been playing Money Ball for as long as I can remember. Even in 2002 we had a 41 million dollar payroll (ranking 27/30 of thirty teams) same as the Oakland Athletics ranking 28/30. After losing Jason Giambi, Johhny Damen, and Jason Isringhausen, Oakland still had a some solid pitching with Barry Zito, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder. It took their great pitching to end up with 103 wins on the season. They also had not too bad of bats in the lineup including: Jermaine Dye, David Justice, Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez. This team had some studs on it, it just took the right players that Billy Beane went out to get to make it all happen. Without them, I think they still would have had a chance at a playoff run. But with the 41 million dollar payroll, they sure made it work. It would have been amazing if the Athletics would have went on to win the World Series. It probably would have been up there in top 5 all time come back stories in sports.

The 20 game winning streak Oakland had was obviously a record breaking and stunning performance from a payroll of that caliber. The philosophy of On Base Percentage (OBP,  hits + walks + hit by pitch / at bats + walks +hit by pitch + sac flys) giving you the overall percentage that a player gets on base. Billy Beane used this strategy to get low salaried players to fit his payroll. Using them to get on base and produce runs, more efficiently than any other team. This is the normal procedure for teams of a smaller market, I believe. Smaller budget teams just don’t have the power to swing for the fences, they don’t because most of the time those players cost big bucks. If you get a team to believe in that system, great things will happen, and in this case the 2002 Oakland A’s.

I love great sports movies, I would recommend seeing Money Ball. It is a great story, the odds are against you and everyone counts you out. Then something magical happens. That’s what makes stories like this so special.

– Matt Ingle

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