We’ve just emerged from a profoundly shitty weekend for lovers of the arts, what with the passing of rocker/filmmaker/raconteur numero uno Ricky Luanda of Chain Gang and yesterday’s death of Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman. Both were certainly tops in their respective fields, but neither have a particularly strong connection to the sporting sphere represented in this space, though I did see Ricky in the Shea Stadium parking lot once, distributing free copies of the New York Daily News to persons leaving the ballpark. How many of these depressed/drunk Mets fans realized they were being greeted by the most unique chronicler of NYC underground culture this side of the late Bill Landis, I cannot say for sure, but it was a pretty thrilling moment for me. Keep in mind, however, this was the Jeff Torborg era, so thrills were hard to come by.
As for Mr. Hoffman, aside from his attempts to keep current with the basketball playoffs in Todd Soldonz’ amazing “Happiness”, his most lasting connection to the sports world is almost certainly his portrayal of saber-skeptic Art Howe in the film adaptation of Michael Lewis’ “Moneyball”. While Howe has expressed his sadness over Hoffman’s death, in 2011, he made it clear to the Houston Chronicle’s Zachary Levine he’d not be waiting in line for the Criterion Collection version.
Q: What was it like to be portrayed on screen and how did you feel you were portrayed?
A: First of all, Philip Seymour Hoffman physically didn’t resemble me in any way. He was a little on the heavy side. And just the way he portrayed me was very disappointing and probably 180 degrees from what I really am, so that was disappointing too.
Q: Do you feel that this (movie and book) affects your name in baseball circles?
A: It certainly doesn’t help it the way I was portrayed. I think the book hurt me and now the movie. I want people who don’t know Art Howe – that’s the problem with the movie – I’ve spent my whole career trying to build a good reputation and be a good baseball man and someone who people like to play for and all of the above. Then in two hours, people who don’t know me – and Brad Pitt’s a big name, people are going to see his movies – and all these people across the country are going to go in and get this perception of me that’s totally unfair and untruthful. So I’m very upset.