One of my favorite baseball quotes comes from Rick Reilly, who wrote that “Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for Brad Pitt to get laid.” Everyone who isn’t a Yankees fan can appreciate what that means, and Yankees fans themselves might even agree that they’ve had it so much better than everyone else over the years.
Given what Reilly said, though, what does it mean to be a Brad Pitt fan? Some of his movies over the years have been outstanding, with Inglorious Basterds at the top of the list. I’m also appreciative of how he uses his celebrity to bring attention to the rebuilding of New Orleans. And trading up from Jennifer Aniston to Angelina Jolie will earn him his own wing in the Man Hall of Fame, if such a thing is ever built one day.
But baseball has always been my favorite movie topic, and for that reason I can’t wait to see Pitt in Moneyball when it opens next week. We’re now almost two decades removed from the golden age of baseball movies, which gave us The Natural, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, Eight Men Out, Major League, A League of Their Own, the Babe, and I would even throw a chunk of The Naked Gun in there for good measure. I would also give an honorable mention to Rookie of the Year, which wasn’t the best of the bunch, but was still pretty enjoyable and holds a special place in my heart, for reasons I will explain in a future post. (Hint: It isn’t just that it’s about the Cubs)
These movies all came out before the player’s strike in 1994, and since that time the cinema seems to have lost interest in baseball. I really liked Dennis Quaid in The Rookie, but Snipes and DeNiro in The Fan didn’t do it for me, and Kevin Costner’s For Love of the Game just didn’t measure up to his previous work. And, to be honest about it, movies aren’t as big a part of my life now as they once were.
But Moneyball could reverse briefly reverse that. I loved the book that the movie is based on, and I think the sabermetric approach to the game has been a revolution that most people still don’t quite appreciate. Brad Pitt will bring a lot of attention to the film, and perhaps more people will come to appreciate what the Billy Beanes, Bill Jameses, and others of this school of thought have done for the game. I’ll probably share some thoughts about it here in the very near future.