In honor of Major League Baseball gearing up for its postseason, this month’s shot comes from 2011’s Moneyball. For those who haven’t seen it, Moneyball deeply embeds itself in moments off the diamond; moments where century old rituals and expired scouting tendencies are slowly overthrown by unexpected sources of perseverance and unsuspecting data mining. Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) brazenly defies baseball’s tradition with a zealous statistician (Jonah Hill) and a collection of baseball players who scouts buried. Based off the real ascension of the Oakland A’s in the early 2000’s, Moneyball follows the team’s growth through impractical methods, culminating in a playoff berth and an improbable 20 game winning streak in the team’s 2002 season. This month’s shot is born from the latter accomplishment, where the A’s, reeling after giving up an 11 run lead and any assurance their streak will survive, send up Scott Hatteberg (Chris Pratt), a player scouts refused to waste their ink on.
In a transcendent moment, one where the weight of an entire fan base’s hopes and a movement’s legitimacy rests on the worked over knees of a once forgotten man, history is made. The actual placement of the camera allows us to feel the pressure a player faces in such a significant at bat. The stadium lights burn brightly, eliciting a nervous boil within our stomachs. The angle of the shot even provides us with the overpowering depth of a MLB stadium. How can a man undermined with injuries contend with such a beast? Yet, the mere fact Hatteberg stands defiantly under the glowing lights of an MLB stadium, fulfilling a dream offset by unforeseen circumstances, ignites a hopeful spark within. Our hope is rewarded when a piece of timber launches a leather ball into the stratosphere, ushering in a new era of baseball where the diminutive, damaged, and lost reclaim their value. Much like Pitt’s Beane in the film, I can’t help but ask: “how could you not be romantic about baseball?”
Cinematographer: Wally Pfister
Director: Bennett Miller
P.S.: I’ve taken the liberty to actually post the scene in which this shot emanates from. Honestly, one of my favorite scenes from any film.