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Those two all-American impulses – capitalism and the love of baseball – are at odds when the Oakland A’s lose to the New York Yankees in the 2001 postseason. Why? The Yankees’ spend is about $75 million more than that of the A’s’ – which is to say, “poor” teams simply cannot compete. When the loss on the field leads to the loss of key players, A’s General Manager Billy Beane, whose measure of success is winning the championship, has to devise a way to build a competitive team despite the meagre budget he has available.
Enter Peter Brand, a Harvard grad in economics, whose statistics-based theorising Beane harnesses to come up with an affordable team of undervalued players – an approach that might not only send a team to the top, but also revolutionise the way the American national pastime works. At least, that’s the plan.
With ‘Moneyball’, director Bennett Miller takes real-life events and brilliantly melds the adrenaline-fuelled tension of high-profile sports with the emotional wallop of rooting for the underdog, as Beane’s new-fangled approach faces stony resistance from the game’s establishment. As the pressure mounts and the stakes get higher, the chess game behind the ballgame reaches fever pitch.