Secaucus, N.J., September 21, 2011 – Actors Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill join Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane and author Michael Lewis to discuss the upcoming film adaptation of Lewis’ book “Moneyball” on a special edition of MLB Network’s Studio 42 with Bob Costas this Saturday, September 24 at 1:00 p.m. ET. Excerpts from the interview will air across MLB Network’s studio programming beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET tomorrow, Thursday, September 22.
Filmed at the Oakland Coliseum in an exclusive interview on September 19, Costas talks with the group about the development of the Moneyball concept and the eventual book, how Pitt and Hill translated the story to the screen, and the impact of Beane’s approach throughout Major League Baseball. Clips from the Sony Pictures film are featured throughout the interview, which will re-air on Saturday, September 24 at 6:00 p.m. ET.
“You could tell right away that Brad Pitt has genuine respect for Billy Beane and that the two really seem to enjoy each other’s company,” said Costas. “Very often a real-life figure who’s depicted in a film has some misgivings about that depiction. Just as often, a writer will feel that too much of his book is lost in translation between the page and the screen. My impression from this interview is that both Beane and Lewis feel that the film version of “Moneyball” is faithful to Beane’s story and Lewis’ book.”
During the interview, Beane also addresses his clubs’ current standings in the A.L. West, his frustration with the club’s struggle to get a new ballpark, and the rumors about whether he is a candidate to become the new general manager of the Chicago Cubs.
Highlights from the interview include:
On the translating the Moneyball story to film:
Pitt: It wasn’t an easy feat. Economics, sabermetrics, not nail-biting stuff by movie standards. But at the heart of it there were these people – Billy, and so on – that were asking big questions by necessity. … They can’t fight the other guys’ fights, so these guys were stopping and asking those big questions and looking for different knowledge. This was a very intriguing story for me and one that resonates throughout everything we do.
It doesn’t have that ending that kind of suggests a happily ever after, like everything’s in its right place now and we’ll have no more problems. This is more true to life, and that very wrestling became the crux of the story, that wrestling with that decision and maybe finding one’s own value in the process.
I’m a sports fan and I want the best to win. But if it’s rigged in any way, if there’s a sense of unfairness, then I want my sense of justice, I want that righted in some way. I’m sure that’s why I’m also a sucker for what these guys did at that time.
Hill: For me, baseball was always just a backdrop to a story about underdogs and being undervalued. … Whether it’s the players, like Chad Bradford or [Scott] Hatteberg or my character, it felt like people having a light shined on them for the first time.
Beane: The best part about the movie is that there’s a lot of strong characters everywhere. And in baseball, no matter what job you’re doing, you have to be a strong character. … Once you get below, it’s a different world. I thought they did a great job of capturing that in just about every scene they had.
Pitt on what he learned about baseball: I didn’t understand the strategy involved. There’s a reason why this game is our pastime. There are parables that relate to our daily struggle. … I get a bit romantic about it even though I’m not supposed to.
On the impact of Moneyball throughout Major League Baseball:
Beane: I always thought that with what we were doing, there was some momentum starting to happen. There are some really smart guys out there, far brighter than I’ll ever be, and some of those guys are running some very good clubs, some very wealthy clubs – the Theo Epsteins, the Brian Cashmans, Jon Daniels in Texas – and so my response is: good ideas travel quick. … If you believe in an efficient market, at some point, you get closer to that. I mean, you’re going to have aberrations, you’re going to have a few years of a club here and there, but the universe is getting back in order, so to speak.
Lewis: You’re back to small market teams not having a way to get an edge. This was a moment in sports history and it’s passed.
Beane on the A’s trying to get a new ballpark: I love this franchise. That’s one of the reasons I’m here. It’s got an incredible history. … That being said, the venue has been a frustrating thing. I’d like to see the people who follow this team, myself, and the people who work here have at least a fighting chance. Until we get a new venue it’s going to be an uphill climb, and we’re slipping down that slope.
Beane on being a candidate for the Chicago Cubs’ GM opening: Commenting on speculation is both presumptuous and arrogant, so I refuse to do so.
Beane on declining the Red Sox GM job: I kid with Theo [Epstein] that I taught him everything I know in 12 hours. … They got the right guy, I’ve always said that. The guy who’s running that franchise was the right guy. There’s some great things about being out here that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Beane on whether the Moneyball concept works in the Postseason: The great thing about baseball is the best eight teams get there. There’s no Cinderellas at the end of 162 games. … Sometimes, in many cases, the best team doesn’t always win. The best teams win the most games, that’s my opinion.
Beane on feeling satisfied with his legacy: Winning a World Series is the reason we all try to put a team together, but there is something certainly satisfying about the process. I know there’s some things we’re very proud of that I’m not sure will ever be done again. But getting a ring, I think, is certainly the apex for everybody who’s a general manager of any sport.