Baseball economics has long a source of serious debate amongst fans, players, and teams. The contentious issues of how to divide the revenue in an equitable manner led to the cancellation of the playoffs and World Series in 1994 and is still largely unresolved today. While smaller market teams are given funds from a luxury tax imposed on larger payroll teams, it still fails to provide an even competitive playing field when large market teams, such as the New York Yankees, can field teams with a $225 million-plus payroll while the smaller market teams have to make do with budgets often under $40 million.
Naturally, this has put many teams at a competitive disadvantage and most feel that they have no chance to win long-term, even as they develop cheap homegrown talent in their minor-league systems. They lose said talent to the larger market clubs once players become eligible for free agency. It is against this backdrop that the new film “Moneyball” starring Brad Pitt is set.
The film was based on the book of the same name which tells the story and philosophy of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane. Beane was a highly recruited baseball player at a high school who turned down a scholarship to Stanford for his shot at the major leagues. Unfortunately for Beane, his career was a major disappointment punctuated with numerous stops between the pros and the minor leagues which resulted in a very mediocre and forgettable career.
Beane got himself a job as a scout and in time worked his way to being the general manager of the Oakland A’s. As the film opens, Oakland has just lost a deciding Game 5 the New York Yankees, whose payroll at the time was almost $120 million greater than Oaklands. Adding further insult to injury, Oakland is unable to re-sign its three biggest stars as they accept large contracts with the Yankees, Red Sox, and other large market teams.
Unable to get any additional funds from his owner, Beane travels to Cleveland in an attempt to find affordable talent via trades. Beane is categorically rebuffed and told that he couldn’t afford many of the players that he’s asking about and that the ones he can afford are not be available to him.
Beane notices a young man, Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) during the negotiations, whose quiet input was heeded by the Indians, even though this is Peter’s first job since graduating from Yale with an economics degree. Beane gets Peter to confide in him about his beliefs that the traditional baseball method for evaluating talent is all wrong and that there is a better way to do it.
Intrigued, Beane hires Brand to be his assistant general manager and the two set out to rebuild the Oakland A’s on a budget. Needless to say this does not sit well with many of the talent scouts or manager Art Howe (a very believable Phillip Seymour Hoffman), who sees the recruiting of washed-up has-beens and never-weres by Beane as misguided and ridiculous.
But Beane and Brand are determined, and using statistical formula that looks at such things as on-base percentages and runs scored as opposed to batting average, home runs, and RBIs, the A’s quickly put together an unlikely team. It doesn’t immediately play out well for the hopeful general manager because Howe is unwilling to play many of the new players that have been brought on. Oakland quickly sinks to the bottom of the league, and many begin to question the sanity of Bean’s approach, to the point that even his young daughter worries that his days as a general manager are numbered.
The film does a good job at showing the inner workings of baseball and Pitt does an amazing job showing the complex nature of Beane. He is a single father dealing with the failure of his playing career, and his inability to get Oakland to be a consistant winner. He puts everything he has into this so-called outrageous scheme and is willing to see it through no matter the cost. Chris Pratt does great supporting work as Scott Hatteberg, one of Beane’s reclamation projects as does Stephen Bisop as aging major-league slugger David Justice.
The film stays very true to historical events and shows the characters as they are, flaws and all. While a true story, Peter Brand, is a fictional charcter based on Paul DePodesta who introduced Beane to the analytical principles of sabermetrics. The movie remains a very interesting character study as well as an examination of the delicate relationships between players, front offices, and ownership where wins and dollars are paramount even when many teams are struggling to make do with less.
That being said the film was a very enjoyable and realistic look at the inner workings of baseball that should not be missed.
4 stars out of 5
First off, the good news is the latest Gerard Butler movie is NOT another romantic comedy.
“Machine Gun Preacher” stars Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Kathy Baker, Michael Shannon, Madeline Carrol, and is directed by Marc Foster (previously directed “The Kite Runner” , “Quantum Of Solace” , “Monsters Ball” , and “Finding Neverland”).
The movie follows the true life story of Sam Childers (Gerard Butler) a former biker gang member/drug dealer who, at a major crossroads in his life, experiences a spirtial awakening and becomes a devoted preacher and family man. One day, after hearing another preacher speak about the plight of the thousands of kidnapped and orphaned children in africa as the result of civil war, Childers makes the life changing decision to go to Africa and assist in the building and repair of homes and ‘safe zones’ for refugees that have been damaged or destroyed by the chaos engulfing the countries of Sudan and Uganda. However, upon seeing the destruction and widespread horror inflicted upon the people (in particular the children) Childers decides he cannot stand idly by and do nothing to help.
Ignoring the warnings of overwhlemed peacekeepers and aid workers in the area, Sam decides to construct an orhanage where he thinks it’s needed the most – right in the center of the most volitile area in the Sudan, which also happens to be controlled by the brutal and ultra-violent LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army). The LRA roam from village to village kidnapping children and forcing them to become soliders for the LRA or even worse. In the beginning, Childers meets with success finding as many orphaned children as he can and ferrying them to his orphanage where they find food, shelter, and medical aid. But it is not enough. After several attacks and ambushes, Childers decides he cannot let the LRA continue to sadistically destroy lives. Sam begins to lead missions deep into LRA territory, taking the fight to the enemy while struggling with the knowledge that the situation grows darker every day for the people he is trying to help – in the Sudan and for his family back home.
This movie is definately intense and NOT for the faint of heart. I have not had the chance to read Sam Childers book which the movie is supposedly based on. As far as redemption tales go, this as realistic as it gets, in the sense that sometimes in order to find the salvation or spiritual awakening you seek, you’re forced to sacrifice all and risk losing everything you hold dear in this life in order to find it. Even with the knowledge that once you arrive at the end of that journey, you may not find the awakening you so desperately fought for.
The performances in this movie were all excellent. Kudos to Gerard Butler and Michelle Monaghan in particular. The young actors who portrayed the orphans and child soldiers definately knocked it out of the park as well. Butler also produced the movie which lends more credence to the whole theory that if one of the lead actors has a hand in the behind-the-scences work of the movie, chances are it’ll be a movie worth seein’. I’d encourage you to go see it regardless of the time of day in theaters or grab it on DVD. Rated R for extreme violence throughout and some sexual content.
4 out of 5 stars
It’s your friendly neighborhood freelance photographer and fellow movie junkie with my take on of the VERY late summer movie release “Killer Elite” starring Jason Statham, Robert DeNiro, Clive Owen, Yvonne Strahovski, and Dominic Purcell.
First off, I’m just going to say that the cast alone warrents giving this movie a look. If you know at least one name on this list, you also know it’s worth watching once.
“Killer Elite” stars Jason Statham (The Transporter Trilogy) as Danny Bryce. A retired speical forces soldier who is lured out of retirement when is mentor Hunter (Robert DeNiro) is held hostage by a mysterious Middle-Eastern sheik. With the help of his former comrade Davies (Dominic Purcell Of Blade:Trinity And TV’s Prison Break), Bryce must complete the task of killing three assassins who are reponsible for the deaths of all but one of the sheik’s sons. Which also means going up against retired SAS comando Spike (Clive Owen Of Sin City, Children Of Men, And The Bourne Identity).
Despite less-than-stellar buzz, when I saw this line-up amongst the cast, I knew the movie had to have some potential and for me it did NOT disappoint. Honestly, I don’t get the beef some critics have with the movie. “Killer Elite” is a an action movie. Typically, action movies concentrate on a basic plotline or little to no plot. Action movies are all about ACTION coupled with good actors/actresses. Killer Elite is not just an action movie … it’s a GREAT ACTION MOVIE.
(Sidenote: The 1975 film of the same title, starring Robert DuVall and James Cann has a similar story line, but the movies are based on entirely different events. Both movies are worth checking out though).
“Killer Elite” is based on a book entitled The FeatherMen written by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, which he claimed to be based on true events to much controversy. It follows the assassinations of members of the British Special Air Services, by a hit squad known as The Clinic. The FeatherMen was a group of retired/vigilante special forces members who went head to head with the hitmen of The Clinic to protect members of the regiment.
Look, if you like action movies, this is one for the books. Even the flashbacks with Statham and his love interest are good. There’s even a litle bit of comic relief provided courtesy of Dominic Purcell who looks alot like Lemmy from Motorhead in this movie, just 30 years younger. There is NOT a dull moment int the movie. Pay the cash. Whether it’s in theaters or DVD or other digital medium. An excellent movie for a Friday night!
3.5 out 5 stars
I took some video of one of my first gameplay sessions with this very impressive looking game.
The Puyallup Fair once known as the Valley Fair originally opened its doors in October of 1900 and netted a profit of $583 from a total of 3,000 visitors. This year the Puyallup Fair expects over 384,000 guests offering new and exciting entertainment along with old favorites to provide you a memorable experience.
The Big Aerial show can be enjoyed in the Thrill Zone and is one of the new shows this year. It offers guests exciting and daring entertainment that involves aerial artists, extraordinary jugglers and acrobats who use an 85-foot sway pole in their act. The MBS Mountainboard Big Air Show located near the Green Gate brings the excitement of mountainboarding to the fair. This amazing stunt show combines speed, flips, rail sliding and much, much more.
There is a lot of other entertainment to be found at the Coca Cola stage (Tina Marie-Hypnotist, Fables of the West, Stoddard & Cole- Musical Comedy, Peter Gossamer-Illusionist and my personal favorite Vocal Trash) and at the Fountain Plaza (Billy Hill and The Hillbillies, Hanna Michelle Weeks, Varlee for Ransom, Fortune Dwellers, Mad Silence, Dennis Lee and Band, The Konzelman Family, Seniors and Perscription Drugs, Gospel Explosion and Catch A Rising Star Talent Show). There are a number of strolling entertainers as well, such as: The Flying Carpet Magician, Linda Hulet the clown, Mango and Dango who are stilt characters, The Procrastinators who are an urban percussion band and we can’t forget about those famous Storm Troopers, although these guys only come out on the weekends.
A couple of other new additions to the fair this year is a thrill ride called Vertigo. The tower is 100 feet tall which is about 10 stories high that spins a total of twenty four riders at 30 MPH almost like a crazy adult version of the regular swings at the fair. Just watching people on this ride make you dizzy. Because this year marks the 200 year anniversary of the fair you can step back in time and view the history of the fair from past to present in the Made in America: The Story of the Modern Fair display at the Americraft Showplex.
The one and only thing I can’t leave the fair without is one of the famous Fisher scones. This year marks the 100 anniversary of these scones. The lucky customer who orders the 100 millionth scone will be the owner of $1,000 and a years worth of scone mix so that you will never be without those yummy scones. With over 160 food locations and two new food stands there is always something to satisfy everybody’s palate.
There are plenty of activities for kids and kids at heart. There is the all time favorite face painting, Let’s Pretend Farm Time, Mutton Bustin’, Kids Tractor Pull, World of Music, Giant Pumpkin Carving and the Pioneer Farm Planting Patch. The requisite animal exhibits always make for a fun walk-through, and this year there are even camel rides.
The 2011 Puyallup Fair runs until September 25th, 10am-10pm Sunday-Thursday and 10am-11pm Friday-Saturday. Admission is $11 for Adults, $9 for Youth (6-18yrs), $9 Seniors (62+), Five and under are Always free! While Pierce Transit no longer offers bus service to the fair, there is a “Fair Express” that leaves from the South Hill Mall, Tacoma Mall, Lakewood Towne Center and on River Road. Cash only, $3 one way and $4 round trip. Please visit www.thefair.com for more information.