Moneyball is one of the better sports movies made by Hollywood, mostly staying true to the book, while taking some creative liberties to paint the 2002 Oakland Athletics as being more of an underdog than they were.
Not only is Jeff Bagwell not a fan, but the Hall of Famer also took time to rant against the film Tuesday night. During the Houston Astros broadcast on AT&T SportsNet Southwest, the topic of sports movies was broached on the heels of a new Nolan Ryan documentary getting released.
“I just think Moneyball’s a farce,” Bagwell said, scoffing at the film.
Jeff Bagwell…not a fan of Moneyball pic.twitter.com/3l6jAelVh8
— Brandon Contes (@BrandonContes) May 25, 2022
“They had the three best pitchers in baseball. You could have stuck anybody out there. My son’s 15-year-old team, they could have been out there with those three pitchers and they get all this hype,” Bagwell grumbled. “I just – I don’t know – whatever.”
It’s a fair point. Yes, the A’s lost Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, and Jason Isringhausen prior to the 2002 Major League Baseball season, but what about the stars they retained? The movie focuses more on the A’s having Scott Hatteberg and Chad Bradford on their roster than they did Miguel Tejada, Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, and Mark Mulder.
“The Braves won for 15 years, with Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine,” Bagwell said. “Mixed in some other great starters around them, they had to score three runs a game and they won 15 years in a row. Why don’t they call them the Moneyball team?”
“None of these opinions reflect AT&T Sportsnet SW,” play-by-play voice Todd Kalas joked. “This is a guest announcer.”
What’s interesting about Bagwell’s rant, is that he fits the Moneyball model as well as anyone, with a career on-base percentage over .400 and a 79.5 Wins Above Replacement. And his 2000 Astros further exemplified the Moneyball model, leading the league in OBP while having the ninth-lowest payroll in the sport.
Lastly, in 1991, the godfather of Moneyball, Bill James predicted the Boston Red Sox would eventually regret trading Bagwell away.
There are certainly some inaccuracies in Moneyball, but it’s not like the film creators had the A’s winning a World Series. I remember arguing Billy Beane, who has yet to win a championship, doesn’t deserve having a feature film made about him, but I still can’t help myself from getting locked in every time I catch Moneyball on TV.