Friday, November 11, 2011

A Friday Night Suggestion

BASEBALL is a mysterious game, over and done by the time cricketers are only just thinking of oranges. If you want to understand the sport, skip the new film Moneyball, based on the book by Michael Lewis. You will be little wiser about the on-field action when the lights come up, certainly no better versed in "bunting" or why first base is, apparently, the hardest position to play.

But none of that really matters, because this flick is actually about productivity, specialisation, how markets work, misconceptions that distort them and how a smart operator can ... well, just go see the flick.

Brad Pitt is terrific as the tormented manager of the Oakland Athletics and Philip Seymour Hoffman is as far removed from Capote as you can imagine.


NOTE: According to the young fellow who arrived at the Sun Theatre in Yarraville from training with the Newport Rams baseball team, "bunting" is a way of striking the ball and not making it go very far, thus confusing the fielding team and allowing the batsman to dash for first base. It has nothing to do with grandstand draperies. His attempts to explain why you must never slide into first base, or why the fieldsman in that position need not have a strong throwing arm, were less successful. If you happen to read this post, many thanks for your efforts to banish ignorance and good luck on the weekend..


  1. mojo, Unrepentant YankNovember 11, 2011 at 7:19 AM


    Not sliding into first base: You don't need to, and it just slows you down - turning right (towards the base line) as you tag it is kosher and counts as "safe". The first baseman doesn't need a "cannon" (strong throwing arm, in the parlance) because he's not throwing much, he catches much more. Which is also why tall first basemen are popular - they can reach out and snag bad throws without leaving the base open.

  2. Bunting usually involves holding the bat straight at the horizontal and simply letting the ball hit it.

    There is no swing.

    It's like the batsman dropping the ball at their feet in cricket (usually off a pace bowler) and then haring off for a quick single.

    P.S. the 1st test is shaping up as a rather interesting match. Looking forward to tonight's play.

  3. You're not wrong about the 1st Test over there in South Africa Rabz. Won't spoil it for anyone who didn't see yesterday's (last night?) play, but the game is definately going to be a real corker. Cannot wait for tonight's coverage.

    Oh, as for baseball... I got no idea. Gridiron (NFL) is more my thing.

  4. I have been hot for Brad Pitt ever since his performance as the ubermensch alter ego of the dweeby yet admirable 'occupy' type Tyler Durden in Fight Club. Grrrrrr....and I aint no queer! I don't bother too much with cinema these days Prof, but will make an exception for this one, cheers.

  5. Baseball or 'Basaboru', if you're Japanese, is a marvellous sport with a history, tapestry of cultural relevance, and statistical catalogue rivalling, if not outdoing cricket. The Babe, Joltin Joe, the poor Brooklyn Jew with the arthritis and gay rumouring Sandy Koufax who was one of the greatest pitchers. That sport has it all. Gridiron is another American sport of value. Basketball and Ice Hockey not so much.

  6. Movies about baseball are always better than movies not about baseball.