Results tagged ‘ Moneyball ’

Casey at the Blog

This past August, I wrote an article for MiLB.com about Minor League player turned Major League actor Casey Bond. The one-time Giants prospect, now 27, hung up his spikes after the 2009 campaign and soon thereafter began a new life as a Hollywood thespian.

Bond’s big break came when he was cast in the film adaptation of Moneyball (now out on dvd) playing undervalued submarine pitcher Chad Bradford. This put him in close proximity to the Hollywood A-list (a scene with Brad Pitt!), and represented a significant step upwards in his still-fledgling acting career. Moneyball has since been nominated for six Academy Awards — including best picture, best actor (Pitt), and, of course, best portrayal of an unorthodox middle reliever — so now seems to be as good a time as any to catch up with Bond and see what’s been percolating in his post-Moneyball life.

Photo: Peter Hurley

Ben’s Biz: Last we spoke, Moneyball had yet to be released. What has been your reaction to the film’s critical and commercial success?

Casey Bond:The response to the film has been AMAZING.  We are all so proud to have been a part of a film which has brought in so much success, not just in a box office standpoint, but also now in award nominations.  We picked up a Critic’s Choice Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, were nominated for numerous Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and now for six Academy Awards.  I truly hope that we can pick up as many awards as possible along the way, as people have really gravitated toward this film, and it deserving!

BB: Speaking of awards, will we be seeing you walking the red carpet at the Oscars?

CB: [T]he plans for that are not yet determined.  However, I did attend the festivities for the Golden Globes which was quite an astonishing event.  I was fortunate enough to mingle with most everyone in the industry, and many that I grew up watching on the big screen.  It was quite a night.

Bond as Bradford

BB: How has your life changed since the film came out? Ever been stopped on the street by awestruck Chad Bradford fans?

CB: It has been a ride I would never give up.  This film as led me to so many great opportunities, and wonderful people…. I was actually stopped in the gym yesterday by a really nice fella who first off asked me if I was an actor, and my “Yes, sir” answer was followed by him simply saying, “What a great film…you did a great job.”  Personally, I love meeting new people and learning about their story. As opposed to some, I love it when people come up and say something to me.

BB: Speaking of Bradford, any chance that you’ll break back into professional baseball as a submariner?

CB: As far as breaking back into professional baseball as a submariner, I would NEVER count me out!  I’m obviously going to continue to put my efforts into the entertainment industry, as this is where I have been led and need to be right now, but don’t get caught with your back turned because I still go out and throw.  That will always be a part of me, and I am still young, so you just never know.  Not to mention that I really do have a great feel for this whole submarine thing once I get on the mound.  I don’t know why, it just seems to work.  It would be quite a marketing ploy for a team to pick me up right now about too…wouldn’t you agree?

Bond, as Bradford, with Moneyball author Michael Lewis

BB: In addition to plotting an improbable comeback, what else have you got lined up? Anything currently in development?

CB: Currently, I have been working on producing a film.  That has been at the forefront of my efforts, and its coming along quite well.  I wish I could tell you more on that subject, but it’s simply too early to discuss at this point.  Believe me, I will certainly let you know when we are far enough along to release more information on the project.  I am definitely excited about making it happen though!  If anyone wants to check in on some of the latest happenings, feel free to check out my Facebook page for all the latest updates.

So there you have it, folks: the latest update from Bond. Casey Bond. He’s certainly riding one of the more interesting ex-Minor League player career arcs out there right now, and I do enjoy following those sorts of stories. If YOU have any recommendations as to who else could be featured on this blog, then of course don’t hesitate to get in touch.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Guest Post! In Which Moneyball Gets Its Comeuppance…

spork.gifIt would be quite easy to forget, but way back on December 23 I launched the “Ben’s Biz Blog-ojevich” contest. The premise was simple — the first person to contact me with complimentary words about my blogging skill would “win” a free post.

That person turned out to be “BeesGal”, writer of “The Sporkball Journals“. Who is BeesGal? I’ll let her answer that in her own words:

Well, my day job is running a one-woman business that
provides writing and editing services for a diverse
Thumbnail image for beesgal.gif assortment of
audiences–commercial, journalistic and scholarly. My labors of love are split
into two seasons: fall/winter is spent pursuing a degree in Japanese language,
while spring/summer is spent immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of minor
league baseball. I’ve been a season-ticket holder with the Salt
Lake franchise since 1998 and
devoted fan of minor league baseball since 1994–except for a one-night stand
on October 2, 1995 when I
watched Randy Johnson pitch 6 innings of perfection in the ALDS tiebreaker
between the Mariners and Angels. I can be contacted via email: editor@chiburibird.net.

For her guest post, BeesGal has provided a thorough dissection of Michael Lewis’ “Moneyball”. In essence, it is a contrarian view of a contrarian book, and one of the most cutting critiques of the “Stats vs. Scouts” debate that I have ever read. So, without further ado, here it is:

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Legerdemain
(noun) The use of skillful
tricks and deceptions to produce entertainingly baffling effects:
conjuration, magic, prestidigitation,
sleight of hand
.

$ball.jpg

As incredible as it may sound, I didn’t get around to reading Moneyball
until this fall of 2008. Not surprising to me, since I am a lousy stathead.
It’s not that I’m bad with numbers; I’m actually quite the nimble
digit-cruncher. It’s simply I don’t find statistics to be the most interesting
perspective from which to view baseball. I don’t own stock in a baseball team,
real or rotisserie. I don’t bet on sports. I don’t follow the draft.

But I digress. I finally read Moneyball on the recommendations of so many
people whose baseball experience and expertise far exceeds mine. And the
published reviews seemed to promise an enjoyable, entertaining read, regardless
of whether I care about the stats vs. scouts debate. (I don’t.) Hence my
disappointment to discover I didn’t care for it all that much. I didn’t dislike
it. I was, um, …underwhelmed.

So when the opportunity came to guest-write for Ben’s Biz Blog, this seemed
like the perfect opportunity give Moneyball another shot. Was my indifference
justified, or not? More importantly, where the h*ll did it come from?
Unfortunately, I must announce liking the book even less the second time, albeit
for an entirely different reason than I expected.

As everyone in the English-speaking world knows, this book investigates how
the

a.jpg

Oakland A’s were able to win so
many games with so few financial resources. I would say it uses primarily two
techniques to make its case: deductions based on statistical analyses and
detailed character profiles. One method appeals to reason and the other to
humanity. Obviously, you can’t use charisma as the basis for scientific proof.
On the other hand, you can use it to influence the way the information is
perceived. Here’s how Michael Lewis does it.

Chapter 2 is a mesmerizing recreation of the Oakland
A’s draft room on June 4, 2002.
It sets up the premise for the book and introduces the main characters. In the
second reading, I noticed something that annoyed me to no end. The scouts were
very difficult to identify except as a vague collective of nameless,
barely-humans–the “Greek chorus.”

radar.jpg

At first, it was unclear why some scouts were named and described, while
others remained literally faceless. For example, eight scouts were mentioned by
name in chapter 2: John Poloni [1], Ron Hopkins [2], Kelly Heath [2], Billy
Owens [3], Matt Keough [6], Chris Pittaro [16], Dick Bogard [20], Grady Fuson
[26] and Erik Kubota [30]. The numbers in brackets indicate how many times they
were referred to by their names. My favorite character reference was Hopkins,
who got introduced in four words, “Ron Hopkins is ‘Hoppy,’” after which we
never read of him again. Grady Fuson was the penultimate “bad guy” in this
chapter; singled out as the personification of all that is wrong with
traditional baseball thinking.

Aside from this handful of names, virtually every other scout was referred
to by job title, “scout” or “scouts.” What is particularly odd is these
nameless entities spoke or acted about 149 times without us knowing who is
doing what. When the scouts were somewhat more identifiable, it was by physical
attribute. Old/older [31] tops the list, followed by fat [5], vocal [5], folded
arms [2], lean [1], pleading [1]. Notice how many of these generic attributes
were also rather unappealing. Also notable was how the physical descriptions
seem to have been selected for their power to metaphorically reinforce the
philosophical differences between the two sides of the room–the forces of
ignorance resisting enlightenment.

There were a few scout descriptions offering greater detail, none were
flattering. For example, here is one that seems particularly negative and
conjectural: “This old scout is pushing fifty-five but still has a lean
quickness about him, as if he hadn’t completely abandoned the hope that he
might one day play the game.” Out of all the possible explanations for this
nameless man’s low percentage of body fat, I’m supposed to presume it’s an
unwillingness to accept old age? Weird.

As chapter 2 came to a close, I felt as though I’d been handed a media guide
with the information for L.O.O.S.R.S.(Luddites On Other Side of Room, Spitting)
consisting of a handful of names, four bios, couple of anecdotes and little
else. They’re wearing road grays, no numbers or names.

The media guide for Team Beane, on the other hand, is filled photos
(in home

bbeane.jpg

whites, of course), names, positions, biography, career stats and
uniform numbers. Among the scouts, Chris Pittaro is someone “Billy had long ago
identified as a person willing to rethink everything he learned, or thought he
had learned, playing baseball.” Dick Bogard was characterized as “the oldest
scout of all,” Erik’s “baseball father;” a supporter of statistics; the one
scout to admit “Billy made us take Zito;” having “vast experience to which he
had no visceral attachment;” and having scouted Billy Beane the ballplayer.
Erik Kubota [30] is Beane’s hand-picked scouting director [3], hired to replace
Grady Fuson. And of course there was Billy Beane [92], general manager [3], and
Paul DePodesta [61], assistant general manager [2].

borg.jpg

Seems as though purpose of chapter 2 is to create an sense of emotional
detachment from a certain group of people, namely the scouts. If you can render
the opposition less than human, good; if you can demonize it, even better. For
centuries, this effective psychological technique has been used in sci-fi 
(such as the “Borg” of Star Trek: Next Generation), advertising, politics and
war.

I’m not sure if this was kept nagging at me the first time. Once my “covert
ops” alerts were triggered during the second read, however, it was impossible
for me to shake the feeling I was being played. In the end, I cannot help but wonder
why Lewis did it? Since I’m not Lewis, I haven’t a clue. All I can offer is my
opinion; namely, I would have preferred the chance to decide whether Beane is a
great GM or just lucky, or sabermetrics is superior to scouting without the
B-movie caricatures. Certainly I would have enjoyed the book considerably more
without the syntactical sleight of hand.

——————————————————————————————

Well, that’s it. I suspect my 15 minutes of glory was used up about 400
words ago. In closing, I’d like to thank Ben for letting me crash his blogspace,
not to mention handling the crush of email he’ll undoubtedly be getting in
coming days. 

;-)Bye for now!
.  .  . BeesGal

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