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The hidden meaning in Moneyball

Spoilers for Moneyball (2011) Director: Bennett Miller


"You're not doing it for the money, you're doing it for what the money says. And it says what it says to any player that makes big money. That they're worth it"


"Its a metaphor"


"I know its a metaphor"


Well, not really. Jonah Hill pretty much sums it up in this one line. It isn't uncommon for a character to have one line in a film that applies to both the subtext and content of the movie. While others like to be more mysterious.


"With great power comes great responsibility" - Spiderman (2002)


"You don't have to be the bad guy" - The Lego Movie (2014)


"Carpe Diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary" - Dead Poets Society (1989)


You know, all that cliche, motivational bullshit.


If I were to elaborate on the central theme of Moneyball, at least my interpretation. Society undervalues people for stupid reasons, this is symbolized in one way by Chad Bradford, a pitcher with an awkward, underhand pitch who throws out hitters more than almost any relief pitcher in the league at the time, yet no one in baseball wants him. Scott Hattenberg, a catcher with unrepairable shoulder injuries who can't throw to second, but he gets on base a lot. David Justice, an outfielder past his prime and washed up, so much so that the Yankees would pay him to play for someone else, even though he made a great designated hitter for Oakland.





Scouts go on in the movie about arbitrary characteristics of free agents:

"Do they have an ugly girlfriend?"

"Does the bat make a good sound when they connect?"

"Do they have off-field issues?"

Billy Beane asks one simple question:

"Do they get on base?"

This could be translated to:

"Are they a good person"

Does it really matter how good looking someone is? Or how rich they are? Is their skin the right color? Are they tall enough? Do they drive a nice car?

Why aren't we asking the right questions when judging someone's character?


I don't care how gorgeous the guy's girlfriend is if he doesn't get on base and I don't care how fast your car is if you're a shitty person to everyone around you.


Okay, you get it. I hope.


But the film elaborates even more, sometimes a person is undervalued simply because they're in the wrong position. Billy Beane failed for half the clubs in baseball as a player, but he was offered the highest salary in all of sports as a GM.

Pete accomplished nothing in Cleveland, and wasn't successful until he came to Oakland.

Scott Hattenberg made a dreadful catcher, but led the A's to a 20 game win streak as a first baseman.

How can you not be romantic about baseball?


This is pretty easy to understand, but what I like about this film is that sometimes people just need to be reminded. You might just seem worthless because you're in the wrong place at the wrong time. This theme even resonates within the main cast. Jonah Hill wasn't taken seriously as a dramatic actor because of his weight and being typecast in comedic roles prior to Moneyball. He was nominated for an Oscar for this very role. I assume Brad Pitt could probably relate to this theme since he was apparently a major outcast while growing up in Springfield, Missouri, yet he became a huge star after relocating to California.


Einstein once said "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid."

Everyone loves that quote.. because Einstein said it and he's famous.

Except, Einstein didn't say that.

Matthew Kelly wrote that in a self-help book 50 years after Einstein died.

Now you don't like that quote because you've never heard of Matthew Kelly.

Start focusing on a person's words and actions, not if they were rich, famous and attractive while doing and saying them.

"I don't care about those things, what do I care about, Pete?"

"Do they get on base." "That's right"



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