So I’m trying something new with this post.. I am actually dictating this into my phone’s keyboard app so we’ll see how this works.
I’ve noticed over the years that my favorite sports movies aren’t exactly about sports at all…at least, not in the way we usually think of sports movies. I’m not really into the “chasing the championship” kinds of movies, like Hoosiers; for me the best sports movies always illustrate the world of sports without necessarily pursuing a “quest for the trophy” story. I’m thinking movies like Field of Dreams or Bull Durham.
I missed Moneyball when it came out, but I was highly impressed when I finally watched it. It illustrates one baseball general manager’s work to overcome the unfair nature of Major League Baseball’s economic system, in which small-market teams with little TV revenue are trying, and often failing, to compete with the deep pockets of the New York Yankees. It’s a good movie that packs a lot of data and what should be boring talkiness into a compelling drama. (It’s co-written by Aaron Sorkin and Stephen Zaillian, which is one reason I think it works so well: the presence of another excellent writer helps put Sorkin’s good points on display while hiding his more annoying tendencies.)
Moneyball features a meditative score by Mychael Danna, but what always catches my ear in this movie is the title song, which I have just discovered isn’t even a part of Danna’s work, but a song by an instrumental rock band called This Will Destroy You. The song, called “The Mighty Rio Grande”, is long and dreamlike, meditative and rhythmic and driving. It fits well with the decidedly un-romantic nature of Moneyball‘s approach to baseball: there’s something slow and methodical about baseball, but a look at its use of numbers and statistics reveals a kind of industrial heart to what is generally seen as a pastoral game.
It’s fitting that Moneyball ends with Billy Beane, having turned down a rich offer to be GM of the Red Sox, driving through the drab industrial landscape of outer Oakland.
Here is “The Mighty Rio Grande” by This Will Destroy You.
(Oh, I stopped the dictation thing after the first paragraph. Nifty capability and I do plan to get better at it, but for now I got a bit too “um” and “er” and “uhhh” for my own good. Still, moving forward and all that!)