Tag Archives: billy beane

Best Baseball Teams On Film

On the heels of one hell of an introduction to the MLB Postseason, a lot of us have received the shot in the arm we needed to get captivated by baseball in the form of a dramatic 162nd day of the regular season. Even though the A’s failed to qualify for the postseason for the fifth straight year, my season isn’t quite over yet. Today I’ll finally be heading out to the theater to check out the new Billy Beane flick, “Moneyball.” I’m really curious, and in some ways scared, to see how I feel about it. The movie looks great on paper. A-List actors, well-respected writers, and a critically acclaimed director make it an immediate favorite to win the World Series of baseball movies. Even the reviews are pretty much nothing but solid. I’ve even heard the word OSCAR tossed around. But I’m scared to get my hopes up to high for a movie I’m about to see, let alone one about my beloved A’s.  I’ve found over the years, that the way I feel about the team is reflective of the way I feel about the movie, and vice versa. So, I’m especially curious to see how I digest Moneyball, which documents the 2002 season, which will forever be etched in stone in my memory. I went to somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 games that year, including the historic 20th win in a row, as well as the game 2 victory over Boston in the ALDS (Dyslecix and I left the Coliseum with little doubt that this series was a wrap). For that reason, I expect plenty of goosebumps as some of Hollywood’s finest reenact some of my most memorable A’s moments. Every clip of the movie I’ve watched so far has looked pretty bad. I didn’t see The Social Network or Capote, so I don’t really know what to expect when it comes to screenplay and directing. All I can hope for is that the movie doesn’t change the way I feel about the A’s. If anything, I’m worried it’ll make me long for the good ol’ days when my team was a winner. We’ll know, though, if that happens, then the movie was a success. In the meantime, I’m going to take a look at other famous movies about a particular MLB Baseball team and see how it helped form opinion – either about the team or the movie….

Minnesota Twins: Little Big League I’ve always been neutral on the Twins. On the one hand, they’re a fellow low-budget, moneyball-type team. On the other team, they seem to pop up against the A’s in the playoffs every few years. I love this movie though, for two reasons. The fella who plays Lou is Timothy Busfield, who’s from Sacramento. Even more impressive is that Billy Heywood is played by Luke Edwards. Many of us remember him as the little brother of Fred Savage in the classic Nintendo film, The Wizard. Few of us remember him as the title role in the based-on-a-true-story, I Know My First Name Is Steven.

Chicago Cubs: Rookie Of The Year The only way you don’t love this movie is if you’re over 30. Otherwise, you dreamed of breaking your arm and magically being able to throw 105 mph. This movie always reminds of a relaxing weekend day, probably because that’s always when it’s on TV. It’s also probably because it’s about the Cubs, so all of the game footage is during the day. People often fail to make the connection between Henry Rowengartner and Kevin from American Pie, but overall, he was good in this movie – except when he struck a guy out and said, “Kewl!” The Cubs have been scouring the Little Leagues ever since, and have yet to find a pitcher as good as Rowengartner.

Cleveland Indians: Major League I & II I probably would have liked the Indians no matter what, since my best childhood friend’s cousin was the manager of the team from 1991-1999. Even if that weren’t the case, I’d always be a closet Indian fan thanks to the Major League movies. Know what else? I probably would have never picked them to go to the World Series this year either if it weren’t for these movies.

Los Angeles Dodgers: The Sandlot I’m pulling this one out of my ass here. I’ve seen most of the Sandlot a thousand times, but mostly on TV, and therefore rarely in its entirety. So, if I’m wrong about the kid ending up on the Dodgers, please forgive me. But if it’s true, it’s only fitting that one of that classic group of kids ended up on a good team. I liked the Sandlot gang and I like the Dodgers (with the exception of 1988)

New York Yankees: *61, Pride Of The Yankees, The Scout – For all the movies about the Yankees, I don’t think I’ve seen any of them. That’s pretty reflective of real-life, where I have a vague grasp of Yankees history, but haven’t really made the effort to get to know all the facts.

Anaheim Angels of California: Angels In The Outfield Don’t like the Angels. Never saw the movie. Looks like a pretty star-studded cast with Danny Glover, Tony Danza, Christopher Lloyd, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Adrien Brody, and Matthew McConaughey. I’m still not gonna go and watch it though. My life seems to be better without the Angels around.

Boston Red Sox: Fever Pitch I gave this movie a chance, because I thought it would at least be entertaining. Negative feelings about Boston aside, this movie was so bad, so bad, so bad. If this movie was about my favorite team I would stop liking them. I’m trying to picture the Oakland version of this movie, but all that comes to mind is Poetic Justice…

Detroit Tigers: For The Love Of The Game I’ve never seen this, but it stars Kevin Costner, so perhaps I’m better off steering clear. I know of one friend who swears this is a great movie, but she’s a Red Sox fan, so perhaps I’m better off steering clear.

San Francisco Giants: A League Of Their Own Tom Hanks plays Bruce Bochy in this touching film about a bunch of women who came together to build a winner. Geena Davis stars as Buster Posey, and Madonna shines as pitcher Matt Cain. Lori Petty scored a breakthrough performance in her role as Tim Lincecum. But perhaps the star of the show was Rosie O’Donnell as Pablo Sandoval. The physical resemblence is out of this world.

Oakland Athletics: Moneyball TO BE DETERMINED…..

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“Moneyball” Means The A’s Will Be Around In September

While Chappy and I have spent the majority of the 2011 season calling for Bob Geren’s head and preaching conspiracy theories about ownership sabotaging the team, Moneyball the movie has begun to emerge and take us back to the good ol’ days. The movie has been in the works for years now, but it looks like it’ll finally come out this September. It’d be really nice if the A’s were still playing when it comes out, but I’m not holding on to much hope for that. Hopefully it’ll force fans outside of Oakland to wonder, “what the hell happened to the A’s?” A star-studded cast gives the movie credibility, and the presence of Brad Pitt as A’s GM, Billy Beane, will help a lot of guys convince their wives and girlfriends to go with them to see it. Aside from Pitt, I’m interested in seeing Jonah Hill in a serious role, as the fictional Peter Brand, who is actually based on Paul DePodesta. I’m also excited for Andy from Parks & Rec to play Scott Hatteberg. The cast is so stacked that Phillip Seymour Hoffman doesn’t even have any lines in the trailer, and Robin Wright is nowhere to be seen, from what I can tell. The best part about all this for me is that I noticed former Royals pitcher, Jason Grimley, appears on the list of characters. That can only mean one thing – that the incredible 20 game win streak of 2002 is going to be recreated. In fact, I can tell just from the swing that Hatteberg’s walkoff homer from that game is in the trailer. Having been in attendance that night, I already have goosebumps just thinking about that moment being in the film. The downside is the list of filming locations includes Fenway Park, which was the site of games 3 and 4 of the ALDS that year, when the A’s squandered a 2-0 series lead and lost to the Boston Red Sox. That’s going to be a harsh reminder of walking out of the Coliseum after Game 2, thinking the series was in the bag. Nonetheless, you can bet that I’ll be hitting the theater to catch this one when it comes out….

 


Werthwhile Move For The Nats?

This post isn’t really about Jayson Werth, but his signing did trigger a chain of events that caused me to take notice of the Washington Nationals. In regards to his huge contract, Werth said something to the effect of it shows that the Nats are ready to win. He and Ryan Zimmerman make a solid nucleus. I immediately got curious to see where the Nationals were at in terms of talent on their roster. So I checked out their depth chart, and I’m not impressed. I like to think I’m a pretty big sports fan, but I literally have not heard of half of their roster. Half of the guys I do know are probably just the result of scouring the fantasy waiver wire. I mean, I’ve heard of Nyjer Morgan and Ian Desmond, but I couldn’t really tell you much about them. They have a pitching rotation full of marginal number five starters and I couldn’t tell any of the guys in the bullpen from a group of sales reps at my local Lowe’s. Then today, they dealt one of the few remaining familiar faces, Josh Willingham, to Oakland. Are they really ready to win now, like Werth believes? Hell, if my employer gave me $18mil a year, I’d be unjustifiably optimistic as well. But this brings me to another topic….. the A’s.

We try to not to overdo it with A’s coverage, but Chappy and I are diehards. With the exception of Athleticsnation, there’s not a lot of A’s blogs out there, no matter what Rob Neyer tells us. (Seriously, a blog that’s been around less than two months?) Anyway, people are starting to take notice of the moves the A’s have made this offseason. None are worthy of Carl Crawford or Cliff Lee type press, but Billy Beane is quietly putting together a team that many feel may be able to contend – especially while the Angels, Rangers, and Mariners seem to be hibernating for the winter. So far, they’ve added David Dejesus, Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham, Rich Harden (pending a physical –  never a sure thing with Harden), and Brandon McCarthy. The only notable prospects given up were Vin Mazzaro and Henry Rodriguez. I liked both of them, but neither were a sure thing in the big leagues. Besides, in typical A’s fashion, there are plenty of young arms in the farm system. I can’t help but wonder if the Giants’ World Series victory has forced the A’s hand a bit. They’ve maintained that they’re waiting for a new stadium before they try to contend again, but clearly they’re getting tired of waiting. While I don’t really expect them to make any more major moves (not that I’d call any of the aforementioned moves major), I’m curious to see what happens with Adrian Beltre. He spurned the A’s original offer, which I’m not really complaining about because it was a lot of money and I’m not sure he’s worth it. But it doesn’t seem like anyone else is really making a play for him. Combine that with the bats they’ve added this offseason, and maybe Beltre is warming up to the idea of playing in Oakland. He may not have any choice, unless he wants to take less money to stay in Boston or go somewhere else. While I don’t think Beltre would single-handedly put the A’s over the hump, his addition would give the team a legitimate big-league lineup, as opposed to the AAA roster they’ve been trotting out for the last two seasons. Perhaps it’s time to take part in a favorite pasttime over at AN, and pleasure myself with a little rosterbation. Let’s say the A’s do manage to acquire Beltre. Here’s what the 2011 lineup would look like…..

CF – Coco Crisp

LF – Josh Willingham

RF – David Dejesus

DH – Hideki Matsui

3B – Adrian Beltre

C – Kurt Suzuki

1B – Daric Barton

2B – Mark Ellis

SS – Cliff Pennington

Rotation: Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, Dallas Braden, Brandon McCarthy (or Josh Outman, or Tyson Ross, or Bobby Cramer, or Rich Harden)

Suddenly, 2011 is looking A LOT better than 2010!


Who is Trying to Kill the A’s? Selig? Wolff? The Giants? Or the City of Oakland?

A common sight at the Coliseum, empty seats.

It’s no secret; the A’s have needed a new stadium for the past 15 years. What’s crazy is there’s still a few cracks from the 89 earthquake. I’ve wanted to break down the whole A’s moving somewhere situation, but I knew it would be a long winded effort. Since the Raiders moved back into town, the Oakland Coliseum has been less than adequate for a baseball team. Brad Ziegler recently tweeted that he was disappointed in the fans for not coming out, and why wouldn’t he be? The A’s sported the lowest attendance in all of baseball averaging a measly 17,392 per game last year. This year they’ve only played 15 games, but still have only averaged 17,056  per game. Ziggy later tweeted “I understand some come in late, but it’s frustrating to be at this level and know that at Triple-A (Rivercats), there are twice as many fans at the game.” I’ve been to both stadiums, and sadly it’s true, the Rivercats are a bigger draw in Sacramento than the A’s are in Oakland, and the crowd is probably louder in Sac too for AAA games. It’s also a reason Mceezy and I feel they would be a nice fit in Sacramento, but the feeling there seems to be that it’s too small of a market to support an MLB franchise. The Rivercats stadium was built in a way that it can be added on to easily, but I’m sure A’s Owner, Lew Wolff, has looked into that option, and most other possible options over the past seven plus years he’s been looking for a new stadium deal. The former owners pretty much sold Wolff the teams majority stake, because they were tired of getting rejected on their new stadium proposals. The saddest part is, that the few fans that are showing up, are being thrown out if they have negative signs ala Washington Redskins style. I don’t buy that Lew Wolff is a Sam Presti, so we can squash that rumor that he hasn’t tried in the city of Oakland. He wants to keep the team in the area, so I think or I’m sure he would’ve tried to move them. He reportedly released a 227 page book on his efforts to stay in Oakland from 2003-2006 when the Freemont deal sort of went through. Either way, the A’s need a new stadium somewhere, and whether that’s going to be in Oakland or not remains to be seen. Continue reading


Optimism For Athletics Fans, Once Again: A Rebuilding Process in Review

Even Stomper's excited!

Even Stomper's excited!

The A’s had their fans hopes sky high going into this season after making many moves and signings to acquire talent, instead of their normal MO of trading away talent. One thing led to another, and we found that the guys we signed either weren’t that good in an A’s uniform, or were just plain old. This season has been a disappointment to say the least especially with some of the experts picking them to win the AL West at the beginning of the year. Those dreams were quickly dashed as we saw Matt Holliday consistently getting fooled by pitches, and taking the crown for most fly ball outs since Eric Chavez was healthy and playing. Once his trade to the Cardinals went through Oakland once again had hope for the future.Rivercats Brett Wallace 3-Run Home Run At the time of the trade all A’s fans wanted was a bag of peanuts for Holliday, but instead we got what looks like a great hitter in the near future with Brett Wallace, and a possible good end of the rotation pitcher in Mortensen.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t been paying that much attention to them since they dipped below the 20 games out of first. Alas, they have been playing very good as of late, which has inspired me to pay attention to them again. Maybe it’s because the games don’t matter, or maybe it’s because they have finally adopted a new style of play since their most recent rebuilding began. Since being swept by Seattle on August 26th, they’ve won or tied every series since, going 16-6, and are currently on a seven game win streak. Once again, A’s fans will be able to go into the off-season hoping that a fresh start will rid us of our recent losing ways.

The A’s main failings over the past couple season’s have all pointed to their incompetence on offense, and since getting rid of Holliday, Giambi, and Cabrera they’ve surprisingly done much better in that department. Post All-Star break, the A’s have led the league in stolen bases, doubles, and are third in runs scored. For a team that never used to steals bases, and isn’t known for manufacturing runs, it’s refreshing to see them make a change for what suits their players. The always referenced “Moneyball” will finally be an afterthought, as they seem to be turning to a new page. I haven’t read anywhere that they’ve had a change in philosophy, but it’s pretty obvious if you ever pay attention to them. Even Rajai Davis, a guy I never thought I’d like, is tearing it up. He stole his 40th bag of the season last night against Cleveland, and is the first big threat on the base-paths since Rickey Henderson was around. Rex Hudler, the Angels announcer, whom I completely despise, actually made a good point about the A’s and how they have adapted to so called “Angel way” of manufacturing runs. He likes how they are putting pressure on opposing defenses to worry about runners taking off at any given moment, which opens holes in the infield for more of those dribblers to get through. In a post steroid era the A’s can’t rely on power as much as they once did as we all know it was rampant in the Bay Area. So the shift to stealing bases and manufacturing runs has looked like the a good change in their philosophy, and is starting to pay dividends in the win column late in the season.

Chris Carter hits his fourth home run of the playoffs and is tied for most by a Rivercat in one series.

Chris Carter hits his fourth home run of the playoffs and is tied for most by a Rivercat in one series.

The greatest part about these late season stats is the fact that this isn’t even the reason I’m optimistic for next season. I’m excited about the guys going to be in our offense of the future. Sure guys like Kurt Suzuki are going to be mainstays in the lineup for awhile, but since everybody digs the long ball, A’s fans should be very excited about the two power hitters coming to Oakland sooner rather than later. 3rd baseman, Brett Wallace (#2 in Baseball Prospectus) and 1st baseman, Chris Carter (#4 in Baseball Prospectus) are the new reasons there is optimism in Oakland. They’ve already contributed to the Sacramento Rivercats (AAA) team during their playoff run for a PCL championship. Carter had three home runs in one game since being called up from AA about a month ago, and he is the closest to Ryan Howard type hitter the A’s have in their farm system.  Many point to Carlos Gonzalez as the biggest position player gained in the Dan Haren deal, but Chris Carter has the potential to have much more power than C-Gon. It also looks as though we kept the best pitcher from the Haren deal as well in Brett Anderson, who has had a rocky season, but has shown that he has ace type stuff. Brett Wallace should be on the other corner for the A’s infield solidifying a position that’s been a problem since Chavez went on the DL, about three seasons ago. Personally Wallace reminds me of Troy Glaus, and if we got that I’d be pretty happy. If the A’s can continue to steal bases and hit doubles the way they have been at the end of this season, and add the power of Wallace and Carter to the lineup they will undoubtedly have a chance to challenge the Angels for years to come.

Brett Anderson has won two straight decisions for the first time in his career over his last two starts.

Rookie, Brett Anderson, has won two straight starts for the first time in his career.

Their pitching has been shaky at times this year, and may continue to stay that way as their under 25 year old rotation learns the ropes. Between Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Vin Mazzaro, Gio Gonzalez, and maybe Justin Duchscherer (if he snaps out of his depressed mental state) we should have a solid rotation come next season. The young guys have taken their lumps this season, but they have also shown that they can shut teams and shown glimmers of domination. This year should have taught them the ropes as they find out what types of adjustments they need to make going into the off-season to prevent those crooked numbers from going up on the score board. Michael Inoa is a long way from being called up, but he’s another young guy I will be keeping my eye on, especially since we gave him a Strausberg like contract for a 16-year-old, which I still feel is kind of ridiculous. All in all I couldn’t ask for much more from our management on a tight budget. You just have to hope it all pans out!


Renewed Faith: In Beane We Trust

Billy Beane

Although Matt already wrote about the Holliday trade today, I felt there was a need to analyze how ingenious this move was. As Matt wrote Oakland teams are never shy from making a trade to at least give us hope that we are trying to make things better. Beane has consistently been one of the masterminds behind the bay area movement to give their fans hope, and the deal today sounds like we have these new guys to once again give us that hope.Brett Wallace Oakland A's The 2009 Baseball America Prospect Handbook says, “Brett Wallace, think batting champ with the ability to be a big bopper. “ This is one of many interesting players that the A’s have acquired as the rebuilding is starting to take some shape.

The A’s have historically been a mover around the trade deadline. In the past two years Beane has been very active as he traded ace Dan Haren for Brett Anderson, Greg Smith, Carlos Gonzalez, Dana Eveland, Chris Carter, and Aaron Cunningham. He then traded Huston Street, Greg Smith, and Carlos Gonzalez, for Matt Holliday. Today he traded Holliday and cash for Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen, and Shane Peterson. Since most haven’t heard of a lot of these guys you may not understand why it’s so significant to the A’s organization. These moves have laid a solid foundation for a much more competitive team in the near future. Fans seemed to think that it was going to take a few years to rebuild, but I’m confident that we could have the next Tampa Rays on our hands within a year or two!

So far it appears that the A’s have kept the best piece in terms of major league play so far from the Haren trade, with Brett Anderson. He has been dominant over his last four starts as he seems to be figuring out the way to pitch at the major league level tossing 26 1/3 IP, 2-0, 25 K, 0.34 ERA, and a 0.69 WHIP over the last month.Brett Anderson Oakland A's Tonight he is facing the Yankees with a 21 inning scoreless streak going into the game. The guy I was excited about for awhile, Carlos Gonzalez, was traded away in the Holliday trade, and he hasn’t impressed so far hitting only .229 in 97 at bats for Colorado this season. Street is having a pretty good year for Colorado, but even when he was on the A’s last year he wasn’t even the closer as Brad Ziegler took the spot from him. Beane has never seemed to highly value the closer’s role, so losing Street and C-Gon, hasn’t hurt them.

The Holliday trade today was amazing in the sense that I don’t think they could have got any more than they did for him from any other team. Were the Cardinals that desperate to help Albert to not notice the A’s situation? They dealt away three of their top prospects that appear to be major league ready when it seemed like a week ago the A’s had no interesting offers for Holliday. The Tigers made an attempt, but it wasn’t enough for Beane. The Cardinals knew all the A’s would get was two draft picks if he left, and Holliday is very likely to accept an arbitration offer in this struggling economy. This was a match made in heaven for Beane. He escaped the trap of log jamming millions for an underachieving star next season, and now he has three promising young players to show for it. I don’t know how he does it! I wouldn’t trade Beane for any GM in the league.


The Curse of the Wash!

ron-washington

With the A’s clearly on their way to another losing season, I’ve tried to figure out what is wrong with them for awhile now, but nothing seems to make sense. This has been one of the least fun A’s teams to watch, especially since they are constructed to win now, as far back as I can remember. Their defense is horrendous kicking around 56 errors so far this season. This definitely isn’t helping the confidence of the plethora of under 24 year old pitchers they are throwing out there on a nightly basis. It got me wondering how we got to the point where we just keep tallying the loss column. This year I blamed it on the signing of players that are past their prime and “the trade” (Holliday) which hasn’t panned out so far. So now, I have to boil it down to where everything started going wrong. Aside from their last playoff run under Bob Geren, he hasn’t kept the team competitive. 00I watched the Macha era, and he is about as boring of an interview as you’ll hear, but it seemed like the team was having fun playing for him. Maybe they overachieved for some of those division title years, but they always looked like they were having fun and were battling every game. This year’s team doesn’t have that same feel, they have the feel of the Bonds era Giants clubhouse, and rarely give me the feeling that they will come back when they are faced with any adversity in a game. I’ll attribute their downfall on two areas that sunk them: the fun and loose clubhouse, and the loss Ron Washington 2006!

Ron Washington resided with the A’s from 1997-2006 as their 3rd base and infield coach. He was credited for transforming many players, including six time gold glover Eric Chavez, into the defensive players that you expect to make every play. 040328_ron_washington_vmed_3p.widecHe was well documented in Moneyball for the role he played in transforming Scott Hatteburg into a serviceable first baseman. He’s an old school type coach, that preaches his philosophies with many examples and details. Wash wasn’t just the infield coach to the players, he was a mentor and the soul of the team that kept them loose all the time. In years past I didn’t worry about defense, because I expected them to make every play, even the tough ones! Instead of getting hired as the head coach, which I lobbied for heavily, he was picked up by the Rangers, and we hired Bob Geren. bgerenWhen you lose a coach of Washington’s status from a leadership standpoint,  it doesn’t matter who you sign in the offseason, or what savvy decisions you made to get some young prospects if there’s nobody helpful coaching them.

His time with the Rangers started rocky, but he has changed the culture there, as they are now in a tie with the Angels for first and on a five game winning streak replacing the lackluster A’s squad in the perennial  divisional battle with the Angels. It was either the A’s or Angels who has won the division since 2002, but this year Texas looks to change that. The Rangers have never lacked talent, they just lacked a guy like Wash to make them realize that they could win! The Rangers look like a loose team having fun, and playing well every night. Sound familiar A’s fans? It should! We gave away the most constant thing we had over our run of six winning seasons making the playoffs most of those years.

When the season mercifully comes to a close, I hope the A’s first order of business is to find a new Manager. If it isn’t, then I hope it’s because they are finalizing our new stadium deal. Since that second scenario will never happen, I’m praying for the first. If it isn’t then this will not be the last you will hear about the The Curse of the Wash!