Since its release last September, Moneyball has been an astounding success. Now, with two Oscar nominations, actor and producer Brad Pitt and his co-star Jonah Hill are taking a victory lap.
All this jubilation, of course, is much to the chagrin of former Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein.
When author Michael Lewis was first writing the book, Epstein was upset that Oakland Athletics manager Billy Beane was giving Lewis full access to the A’s front office. In a Sports Illustrated article surrounding the release of the film, Epstein’s distaste for making statistical analysis mainstream became all too clear.
“Lewis was working on a book about baseball’s nascent information age, but Epstein wanted nothing to do with him. ‘I can’t believe Billy is letting him write this book,’” the article read. “Billy Beane, Oakland’s general manager, had granted Lewis access to his front-office operations, which meant revealing how the A’s were mining information from statistical analysis, a tool used extensively at the time by only the Athletics, Indians, Blue Jays and Red Sox. ‘He’s handing out the blueprint.’”
Now Epstein has taken over as the president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs. Moneyball is far from his mind as he tries to lead another long-suffering team to a World Series title.
In an interview with Today, Pitt relived the stress of finding new directors and producers as the film’s uncertain fate left many of the people involved fearing for their jobs.
Pitt said the movie “almost didn’t get made about three times,” but despite the near-failures, he stuck to the values he felt Beane represented: Even when no one believed in a project, there was often more value than met the eye.
Now with two Academy Awards potentially on the horizon, the overwhelming success of the project is drowning out all the criticism.
Check out the Today interview in the video below.