Whether it serves as a chronicle of seismic shifts in the baseball business or pure entertainment, Keith Law considers the film adaptation of Michael Lewis’ “Moneyball” to be “an absolute mess of a film, the type of muddled end product you’d expect from a project that took several years and went through multiple writers and directors.” The former Blue Jays adviser / current ESPN columnist waxes negative for some 1407 words, taking issue with flaws including but not limited to factual inaccuracies, realism, generic plot devices and stereotyping of minorities. But Law’s biggest issue with “Moneyball” would seem to be “ the lampooning of scouts, which draws from the book, isn’t any more welcome on screen (where some of the scouts are played by actual scouts) than it was on the page; they are set up as dim-witted bowling pins for Beane and (character Peter) Brand to knock down with their spreadsheets.”
It’s cheap writing, and unfair to the real people being depicted. Current Oakland scouting director Eric Kubota also gets murdered in a drive-by line that depicts him as a clueless intern given the head scouting role after Beane fires Grady Fuson in April after a clubhouse argument (that never really happened). I’ll confess to laughing at the scout referring to “this Bill James bullshit,” although the A’s bought into that bullshit years before the film claims they did – and, in fact, hired Paul Depodesta three years before the movie-A’s hired Brand. (In the film, Fuson refers to Brand as “Google boy,” a term applied to Depodesta by Luddite beat writers in LA three years later.)
Reached for comment by Moviefone.com’s Christopher Rosen, Michael Lewis chose to murder the messenger rather than defend the film. Perhaps after hearing Joe Morgan attribute the authorship of “Moneyball” to Billy Beane on multiple occasions, Lewis feels a responsibility to act as though he directed the movie?
“I don’t understand why he goes from being — when I interviewed Keith Law, and I did, at length — he was so nasty about scouts and scouting culture and the stupidity of baseball insiders. He was the reductio ad absurdum of the person who was the smarty pants who had been brought into the game and was smarter than everybody else. He alienated people. And now he’s casting himself as someone who sees the value of the old school. I can’t see where this is all heading and why. But I learned from experience that the best thing to do is ignore it, because it goes away.”
The thing is, if you actually read Law’s review, there’s no way you’d come away believing he’d sworn off statistical analysis or had suddenly embraced “the old school”. He reviewed a movie, not the legitimacy of Beane’s real-life approach (or even Lewis’ book).